Gabriel Ramirez | On Realizing I Am BLK

Gabriel Ramirez | On Realizing I Am BLK

I could write this whole blog post about the last line of this poem….The last line of this poem is better than the last line of your poem, or whatever it is you are writing be it a grocery list, a short story for school, or an e-mail at work. Stop whatever your doing look at the last line of the last thing you wrote, mark through it and give it another go.

The last line of this poem gave me a chill and made me sit up in my living room and screw my face up like

will gif

This poem “On Realizing I am BLK” by Gabriel Ramirez really explores the never ending paradigm of what it means to be black in America and who can calm that heritage. It brings up some very poignant moments about how sometimes, people who identify as hispanic shun the black in their blood. This is a narrative that most know all to well and something that I want to explore in more depth on this platform at sometime in the future.

This is a counting poem; my favourite stanza was number three where he flips the persona to a black person telling him he is not black enough. Its ill how Gabriel switches voices several times in this poem and does it with an ease that speaks to the maturity in his writing.

I don’t know Gabriel personally and there is not a lot of bio info out there on him but I was able to pull this off of youtube:

Gabriel Ramirez is a 19 years old writer, actor, poet, playwright, and lover of all things love. Gabriel is the 2012 Knicks Poetry Slam Champion, a member of the 2012 Urban Word NYC slam team. Gabriel was featured in a production of one man shows entitled “Black Ink” where he debuted “Sankofa” a one man show he wrote and acted in himself. Gabriel has performed at New York Live Arts, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Lincoln Center, New Amsterdam Theatre, Apollo and other venues around the nation. Gabriel was ranked 2nd in New York City in Youth Slam and won the 2013 National Youth Poetry Slam Championship in Boston and wants to save himself before the rest of the world.

Do yourself a favour and check out the poem!

Find out more about Gabriel by following the links below: 

Twitter
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gabriel-ramirez

Drew Law | Amin

Drew Law | Amin

I love poems about identity, about connecting yourself to the past, about finding your piece of soil on this planet. This poem by Drew Law entitled “Amin” explores all of these themes. A beautiful personal narrative that encompasses that feeling of belonging – but not belonging – that a lot of people that have been cut of from their roots can identify with. There is a dynamic that exist for people that are connected to the country where they are from through relatives, friends, etc but did not grow up there. Do not know the language or all the customs, are considered not quite american enough where they live but not quite [Japanese, Greek, Portuguese, etc]  where they are from. You exist in a purgatory of sorts and it can be damn confusing figuring it all out.

That is what I love about this poem, and the turn it takes, rather the stand it takes. Drew goes from a trepidation of shouting his heritage proudly in the beginning of the poem, to planting his flag in the ground as if to say, from this day forward I will not shy away from who I am. I am Drew, I am Amin, I am a collection of my grandfathers stories. I am Tabbouleh and at the same time I am a steakhouse in georgetown. I am not ashamed of this globe in my throat or the complexity of my name, or my heritage…

This is a very honest poem that I have listened to about three times now!

Drew Law is a nationally touring spoken word poet and teaching artist. Born in southern West Virginia to Palestinian and American parents. He is passionate about his multicultural roots. Drew looks to bridge the gap between the two cultures using his spoken word. He has performed at multiple colleges including the University of North Carolina, Georgetown, Winston-Salem State University, George Washington and several others. A two-time member of the D.C. Beltway Slam team, and a member of D.C’s team “Treat Yo Self,” that took first place at the 2013 Southern Fried Poetry tournament. As a spoken word poet, he has shared stages with artists such as Method Man, Redman, Pitbull, Biz Markie, Slick Rick, Sunni Patterson, Blaq Ice and Andrea Gibson. Drew was chosen as a RAW artist, a highly selective, international community of all genres of art as one of the few spoken word poets accepted. He has toured in over 25 cities and featured at venues such as The Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the Green Mill. He is also active as an advocate for Palestinian affairs and performed at the 2012 DC Palestinian film festival.

Listen to the poem and follow the links below to connect to this awesome poet

 

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drew law eternal graffiti

Jon Sands | What I Know

Jon Sands | What I Know

I can’t really say enough about Jon Sands work, he has a way to pull you into ANYTHING he is talking about. He is deliberate with each word, it makes you feel as if he is not writing them, but that the words are selecting him.

There are some poets that I feel are good, or even great. I categorize those poets based on how they execute their craft. Jon does not fall into those categories because when I listen to him I don’t feel like he is executing anything; I am not thinking about the rabbit in the hat, he just is. Brilliant.

I will probably say this alot but, the hardest thing about choosing Jon Sands to spotlight was what poem to use, I choose “What I Know”, because it combines all of the things people love about Jon, his ability to bring you close, his command of story, language, and concept. And the fact that he does it all while being oh so fresh.

I encourage other poets new and old to take some notes from Jon Sands, he breaks a ton of molds, and has developed a way to move in and out of a poem without sticking to a defined rubric. He has managed to put some of his own ‘breaking bad’ in the normal poetry formula, Jon Sands definitely is the new clean, check out the poem below

 

 Follow Jon:

Website: http://www.jonsands.com/

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Jon Sands

Mahogany L. Browne | Things You Will Never Understand

Mahogany L. Browne | Things You Will Never Understand

Before I get to Mahogany’s actual poem, I want to take a second to celebrate the person she is. I met Mo in 2007 in Austin Tx, at the national poetry slam. I don’t naturally gravitate towards poets, but there was something very genuine about her from the first time we met. We spoke in passing a couple times during the competition, but did not really kick it until final stage when Slam Charlotte and Nuyorican were both competing. After finals, when all the teams go back to the host hotel for the finals after party, I got a chance to talk to her a bit more. Although it was brief, I knew then that we would be friends for a long time to come. Through the years Mahogany has continued to be one of the realist poets in the game, and someone I have grown to see as a mentor and friend.

Quick story – In 2008 (I believe) I got invited to be a part of the SoundBites Performance Poetry Festival she was planning in New York, long story short there was a lot of “he said she said” things going on between a poet in my city and Mo around where we were supposed to be staying, (I can admit now that it got a bit gossipy) I will never forget the message I got from Mo that said simply (Brother, Listen Brother, we need to talk, this is MO Call me back) I was instantly nervous, it was akin to when your teacher would say she is calling your parents and you wait all night jumping every time the phone rings. I was hesitant to call her back because her tone in the message was all (you know you done F’ed up)! But when I did call back I was actually met with grace and counsel.

Mo probably does not remember this but during that conversation she broke down our subculture and all of its dynamics, the actors, the pitfalls and things to avoid, she taught me how to engage with honesty and integrity when dealing with poets. How to be generous but not waver, she did not mix words with me, it was harsh in spots, I was getting a personal letter to a young poet as I sat on the phone. That conversation set the framework of how I would interact and move through the poetry community forever, how I would value my name, and the integrity that comes with it. I am eternally grateful to Mo for taking some time, for her mentorship, for how she manifested love without even knowing it.

To me she is the Brooklyn Bridge, she is art and van rides through alphabet city, she is old bookstores and house parties in bed-stuy, bottomless mimosas and strange restaurants on the Lower East Side.

She has always been there. And for that I want to publicly say thank you!

Now to the poem, this poem is gorgeous, its silk, as all her poems are. Mo has a way to slow you down, her poems say sit down child – I am here to be listened to. There are some poets that shout their face off to capture the energy in a room (nothing wrong with that) but I have always been impressed with how she can capture that same energy with just her words, no pomp and circumstance. I choose this poem because it does what poems I love do, it allows you to get something different out of it each time you watch it, it is direct and abstract at the same time.

I am more than proud to have the honor to present to the Eternal Graffiti Audience

The incomparable Mahogany L Browne

-Mike Simms

 

you can follow Mahogany on:

Twittertwitter.com/mobrowne

Instragraminstagram.com/mobrowne

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mahoganylbrowne

 

G Yamazawa | Home

G Yamazawa | Home

G Yamazawa is one of my best friends. He’s actually on the road right now and crashed my couch three nights ago and six nights before that. He is one of the few poets that I have really great conversations with, particularly about the places and spaces that we ‘poets’ are supposed to fill. I have been lucky enough to watch him grow from an incredible youth poet to a breakout young rockstar at the 2010 Southern Fried Poetry Slam to the reigning National Champion that he is. I’ve seen him continually evolve and find new purpose in his writing.

When he was in town last week, our conversations kept coming back to a mutual urge to craft something that held an audience longer than the average three minute slam poem. We both had a desire to take an audience somewhere further than three minutes could allow and then to build on that journey. We wanted to not just go further than a slam poem but to change lanes, to move through one place and find ourselves somewhere else on the other end. We had some ideas but nothing concrete so we wrote out a schedule and agreed to each write a ten minute poem over the next few months, holding each other accountable structurally and creatively during the process. We even talked about debuting them here on the site (<-Awesome right?).

I’ve been around poets for a long time and I have a theory about artists and the periods they go through, some are personally successful periods, some are creatively successful, some just financial. I had a moment a few nights ago with G, standing outside my local chicken spot where I realized he was on the verge of a new period in his work, an introspective personal and creative period. G has more to say than most of his contemporaries and I’m not even sure how aware G is of that yet. There’s a spiritual center to his work which shows through in his poems but I know from a gut feeling that whatever that thing is, it’s certain to show through even more in the near future. When I talked to G about writing a blog about him, he jokingly told me to make sure I mentioned that he was a handsome genius and a great poet and rapper. Funny thing is, that sells him a little short. It’s not what he is now that’s so impressive, it’s what he’s quickly becoming. He has a depth in his intent that betrays his public persona, but I’m calling it now, we’re all going to see it soon. And that nuance and bravery is on great display in this poem, “Home” as he performed it on TVOne’s ‘Verses & Flow.’

Thanks for watching yall and welcome to the site.
Carlos

 

Follow along with G here:

WEBSITE
http://www.gyamazawa.com

FACEBOOK
https://www.facebook.com/g.yamazawa

TWITTER
https://twitter.com/gyamazawa

INSTAGRAM
http://instagram.com/gyamazawa