Tag Archives: Spoken Word

Modern Griots Reviews: Mahogany Browne and the Mythic Poetics of Redbone

redbone biomythography“Children born in this desert are always thirsty.”

This is a line from poet Mahogany L. Browne’s Poetic Theater Productions and The Wild Project presented production, Redbone: A Biomythography. The Eboni Hogan-directed, hour-long show descends into the depths of the relationship between Browne’s parents for Browne to better understand them and herself, and to highlight the issues of their relationship that still exist today. Named after her mother’s nickname because of the light color of her skin, the production deals with issues of gender, class, domestic abuse, colorism, addiction and prison system.

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Danez Smith

“I have left Earth in search of darker planets…I have left Earth and I won’t stop until I’ve found a place where my kin can be safe…”

I saw Danez Smith‘s “Dear White America” posted on Upworthy and thought it was fitting for here.

Modern Griots Reviews: Aja Monet’s “Inner City Chants and Cyborg Ciphers”

Last weekend, spoken word poet Aja Monet debuted her works from her upcoming collection, Inner City Chants and Cyborg Ciphers, at Kraine Theater, and it was an intimate exploration of Monet’s own personal stories and those stories extending out beyond herself to the cities of new York and Chicago, Paris, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

Monet’s stage set up for the intimate atmosphere — a room of her own filled with her belongings — a chest box filled with family pictures, albums and other items, behind it a table alter of sorts, old street signs (a deli and no standing anytime), wall posters and photographs of James Baldwin and Zora Neal Hurston along with an African-styled mask drawing, on the floor various album covers and posters, a step ladder filled with books and a typewriter on top and an old wooden chair. With this and the jazz soundtrack, the audience situated into Monet’s innerverse.

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Poets Verb + Reggie Eldridge

While watching the past two episodes of the spoken word series, Verses and Flow, on TV One, two poets stood out to me, Verb and Reggie Eldridge.

Verb spoke a critique of our current dependency on hi-tech technology and it reminded me of Louis C.K. rant on smartphones. It does make you think about how technology affects our thinking and affects us socially. Is it the technology’s fault or is it deeper, underlying issues and how were are using them in our cultures that are the problem? Maybe the social structures and codes of our cultures have not caught up with the advanced pace of technology? We do not know how to properly handle all this new technology coming at us at such a fast pace and so we haven’t taught those younger than us how to deal with it either? Instead going deeper, some of us stay on the spectacle of the superficial surface that the technology gives us. Maybe it feels easier that way because it hurts less. But listen to Verb’s spoken word pieces below and go to her youtube page for more videos; I like her autism poem, too.

“Techno Crack”


Continue reading Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Poets Verb + Reggie Eldridge

Gil Scott Heron: A Poetic Revolutionary

Yesterday, I was sad to find out that singer and poet Gil Scott Heron died at the age of 62. Best known for his poem and song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Heron was one of the important links between the 60s Beat poets and the Black Arts/Power Movement, and the Hip Hop and Spoken Word generations. Many poets and writers, such as Chuck D from Public Enemy, Kanye West, Common, Talib Kweli, and poet Lemn Sissay, credit him with teaching them how to speak and write in way that is meaningful to their audience. Also, several rappers, like West, have sampled his music in their own songs. Heron influenced many on the importance of caring about others, about their own community and about those less fortunate, even through his own struggles with drug abuse. Heron was a legendary poet, singer and man, and I wish I had the chance to see him and meet him. But now I hope he is finally at peace. Rest In Poetry.

The Revolution Will Not be Televised 

Home Is Where the Hatred Is 

Kanye West – My Way Home (Sampled Home Is Where the Hatred Is)

We Almost Lost Detroit 

Common – The People (Samples We Almost Lost Detroit)

Black Star – Brown Skin Lady (Also samples We Almost Lost Detroit)