‘I Am Not Universal’

The third season finale for the unstoppable Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam filled Buddies to the rafters. That this queer slam circuit would become so quickly establish & vital clearly reflects the power of poetry and the hunger there is for queer performers to have a safe, inviting, encouraging space to share their work. If you think, what the fuck is he going on about – trust me covert & not so convert homophobia is always present – in the local poetry scene.

As always Charlie Petch opened the show with an homage to the people whose stolen land we live on & then with the queer national anthem. No time was wasted before the open stagers (not in performance order) Fira Astrali, Niambi Leigh, D’Scribe, Ossian Maceachern, Shawna Dimitry, & Darcy Alemany (title of this blog post is from one of his pieces) tore up the mic with the first round of pieces:

black girls never win the Bachelor – Trump didn’t invent racism – I want to say best & breast comes out – saying I’m sorry more often than I say I love you – how much am I allowed to love you – I don’t speak the language of my ancestors – the nail is not a fashion statement – Justin: just in time for Time magazine – what right angle explains attraction – straight because I never had  to prove I was straight – a love that doesn’t need to be gendered – you can be attracted to people of who are more than a single gender – sudden onset of requests for threesomes – this mouth keeps you warm at night -nthis mouth starts forest fires on Saturdays – this mouth tries not to remember – Dear Love, don’t find this creepy, but I like to watch you – are you the devil, is that why I worship you – I’m am not universal I am just here –

Next up was Queen Sheba. Can I mention the feature’s fashion sense without coming off as a typical shallow gay man? Whatever, as if I have a reputation to lose, right? She was fly in smart hat, tight red skirt & heels for days. Her pieces were powerful, funny, emotional & directly from the heart. – riding the rainbow – bruises as medals of honour – only as strong as out last execution – no place in a woman’s house is a hiding place, God will give you the gift but you’ll never know what it is until you open it – dive too young to know what a diva is – directly from lips to your curiosity – I cool-side-of-the-pillow love you. She finished with truncated version of her Period piece that was hilarious, explicit & made me grateful I’m male.

After a brief break Charlie launched the second round – her scrubs are dancing too – maybe that’s just my IV lines – I smell like a Wes Craven movie – he has lost most of who he is – our pain is not illegitimate – compassion was a childhood myth – still leaving myself in dreams – this is what a leaving hurricane looks like – lets talk the theology of the margins – better to shut up & pay the bills – one day you’ll be okay – edges of edges you wish you didn’t know – pray your medication protects you from evil – my God is made of the arms of my friends – no one deserves to pray alone –
I look forward to seeing winner D’Scribe  wow them at Capturing Fire in Washington DC this June. Stay tuned for season four of Hot Damn!

 

on Friday I took in Queen Sheba’s writing workshop. One of the exercises was a free-write with a new word introduced every 30 seconds. This is my very incoherent product?

The Caffeinated Dragon

the cup is a vessel

of unstoppable thought

caffeine sets off in its way

my conscious mind

can’t contain the words dancing

irritation on the page

spelling trips over its feet

trying to keep up

with the love of the flow

the place we go off the page

where I scatter

these steps skipping lines

with double dutch infections

the ship of schools

requires attention

I can’t attend to

not that the open window

distracts me

distances me

I know the page

isn’t a glass

yet I see through it to

food for the next

trip trippy world

to the next dance

each a pas de paradox

a menu of random improvisations

that call for bigger letters

sloppier writing

to empty the free flying feet

to the reading of the

window of the mind

under the eaves of distraction

the shudders

shutters

shooters in schools of thought

not caring

not daring

to find more

than the flow

of the caffeinated dragon

snorting the fire dance

sword dance

half-a-chance to catch breath

deep in the mines

not digging

dragging more

thoughts up the stairs

catching the eyes

that dread the dead end

the last drop of coffee

 

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check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

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‘handcuffs and stomach pumps’

The Damned launched their move to Q Space with another stellar line up – Philip Cairns hosted, his bejeweled emerald outfit brought out the Irish in him for sure. A jam packed open stage ran the gamut of 15-year -olds getting on stage for the first time to tired old bald guys, like myself. It’s good to see so many new, to us, faces on the open stage.

leg less
leg less

First feature Shawna Dimitry give us a set of emotional and romantic pieces some dealing with mental health – ‘the pills are dissolving, so am I’ ‘handcuffs and stomach pumps aren’t the luxuries we wished for.’ Her powerful, direct images connected with us all. She mixed in some tender love poems – ‘you cracked my fear with a kiss.’ A strong set delivered with a sense of humor and acceptance of the issues many deal with ‘I’m sorry I didn’t live up to your expectations/ stop looking at me as if I were dead.’

a growing up green
a growing up green

It’s been a few years since I last heard second feature Phlip Arima. His set was polished and emotionally complex. Reading from ‘Breath Now’, and from his new collection ‘Pin Pricks’ – I enjoyed the multi-layer images that sometime seem random but with theme and variation new resonances are set off as images contrast, collide then add up. His narrative piece Be Quiet ‘there’s something different about the house,’ captures a child’s fear and need to understand and yet be protected from that understanding. He summed up the paradox of Facebook: ‘why do we play alone when our list of friends gets longer.’

the red pillow
the red pillow

Music feature Matt Gerber was a delight. Accompanying himself on ukulele, tin can
ukulele, kazoo he channeled the fun and politics of Pete Seeger, Jim Kweskin – made the 60’s folk style fresh for this decade. His spelling song about the difference between US & Canadian spelling was hilarious ‘there is no flavour without u.’ Even if he is Mr Furious he brought us a set of bright summer-perfect music.

……