Category Archives: Poetry

Killing Trayvons ~ “American Violence at the Intersection of Race & Class”

kag3with Kevin Alexander Gray

Co-editor [with Jeffrey St. Clair and JoAnn Wypijewski] of Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence, and author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics for an evening of analysis, dialogue and performance.

Killing Trayvons

Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. He is a contributing editor to Counterpunch, on the boards of RESIST & Savannah River Site Watch. He served as a national board member of the American Civil Liberties Union for 4 years & is a past eight-term president of the South Carolina affiliate of the ACLU.  Advisory board member of DRC Net (Drug Policy Reform Coalition), & was Jesse Jackson’s ’88 SC campaign manager. 

“There’s no keener mind, no sharper eye, focused on the condition of black politics. Gray’s take is radical, so his focus is always ample and humane.”

Adam Gottlieb

 joining Kevin will be Adam Gottlieb

Adam is a poet-emcee/teaching-artist/singer-songwriter/revolutionary from Chicago. As a teen, he was featured in the 2009 documentary film “Louder Than A Bomb.” Since then, he has gone on to perform and teach widely throughout Chicago and the U.S. In 2012 he co-founded the Royal Souls open mic in the East Roger’s Park neighborhood of Chicago. He is a founder of the Chicago branch of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade, and performs with his band OneLove.

Also featuring . . . Chicago poets active in the ‘Let Us Breathe’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, along with members of high school teams in the 2015 Louder than a Bomb spoken word competition.

The presentation by Gray and the performances by the artists will be followed by a conversation with the author, poets and audience!

Join Us for an evening of analysis, dialogue and performance!

Saturday, April 11th.  6 – 8 PM
Powell’s Books Chicago
1218 South Halsted

Sponsored by: The Chicago Consortium for Working Class Studies & the RevolutionaryPoets Brigade, Chicago

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Now Available! ~ Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence

Killing Trayvons

Skin privilege. When you’re black it seems the hardest thing to explain to whites. Even the most conscious or liberal whites sometimes don’t quite get it. Or as Langston Hughes once said, “A liberal is one who complains about segregated railroad cars but rides in the all white section.”

The killing of Trayvon Martin in February 2012 rang yet another alarm about the costs of that privilege. Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence tracks the case and explores why Trayvon’s name and George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict symbolized all the grieving, the injustice, the profiling and free passes based on white privilege and police power: the long list of Trayvons known and unknown.

With contributions from Robin D.G. Kelley, Rita Dove, Cornel West and Amy Goodman, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Alexander Cockburn, Etan Thomas, Tara Skurtu, bell hooks and Quassan Castro, June Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Tim Wise, Patricia Williams, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Vijay Prashad, Rodolfo Acuna, Jesmyn Ward and more, Killing Trayvons is an essential addition to the literature on race, violence and resistance.

Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence is set to be released early Summer 2014.

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Editors:

Kevin Alexander Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina and author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike!: The Fundamentals of Black Politics.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the editor of CounterPunch. His books include Whiteout (with Alexander Cockburn), Grand Theft Pentagon, and Born Under a Bad Sky.

JoAnn Wypijewski regularly writes for The Nation and CounterPunch. Her books include Painting by Numbers.

Published by CounterPunch Books.

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Filed under 1ST LOOK | KAG Book Promotion, American Culture, American Politics, Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Cultural Essays, Drug Policy, Human Rights, Law Enforcement, Obama Administration, Poetry, Police Abuse|Brutality|Killings, Protest, The Obama Administration, The Press, white supremacy, Work of Comrades

LIVE AT THE ICE HOUSE: EPISODE 4 ~ “ROCK AND ROLE MODELS”

Judah 1

American roots-rock duo William Pilgrim & The All Grows Up return with a brand new episode of Live at the Ice House, the duo’s socially conscious ongoing music web series. In the latest installment, titled “Rock & Role Models,” Ishmael Herring, aka William Pilgrim, and his musical cohort PM Romero, take the show on the road to East West Studios in Hollywood, CA, where they are currently finishing a new record for Orange County-based label, Moonlight Graham Records that is scheduled for release in early 2014.


Exene Cervenka and Kevin Alexander Gray

Exene Cervenka and Kevin Alexander Gray

In this episode, William Pilgrim and PM Romero are joined by the legendary Blind Boys Of Alabama, and other friends from previous Live at the Ice House segments including Modern Poet and Renaissance Man David “Judah 1” Oliver from Episode 3, singer Lesedi Lo-Fi from Episode 2, and Exene Cervenka of the celebrated band X, who narrated the series’ debut episode that focused on teen homelessness. Social and political blogger/author Kevin Alexander Gray also stops by for a heated but good natured and insightful discussion with Pilgrim and Romero.

Blind Boys Of Alabama at East West Studios In Hollywood

PM Romero with the Blind Boys Of Alabama & friends at East West Studios In Hollywood

The Blind Boys of Alabama are notably featured on a track on William Pilgrim & The All Grows Up’s forthcoming sophomore release, titled Epic Endings. The five-time Grammy Award winning gospel group was in the process of cutting tracks at East West Studios and, drawn to the message of Live at the Ice House, asked to join in the roundtable discussions. The Blind Boys’ soulful style and spirituality prove an ideal complement to William Pilgrim’s haunting, bluesy vocals. X singer Exene Cervenka is also featured in a duet with William Pilgrim on the upcoming release and in this Live at the Ice House episode she speaks on the inspirations and meanings behind that song.

Ishmael Herring, aka William Pilgrim and Kevin Alexander Gray

Ishmael Herring, aka William Pilgrim and Kevin Alexander Gray

“Last episode we tried to demonstrate the power we all have with the words we choose and how we use them,” says William Pilgrim. “In this episode we move to focus more on music.  Music was an integral part of the 60′s fight for civil rights and it spoke out against our destruction of the people of Vietnam and to the tightening grip of American business over our government and public policy.  We believe music, performers and songwriters have a responsibility today to pick up where our 60′s predecessors left off.”

“Music is a tremendously powerful force for change and can inform and raise awareness but also impact people on a deeply emotional level, and this is where the seed for real social change must take root,” says PM Romero. “With no resonating voice within government or the media to challenge our misguided understandings of civics, economics and history, music and the artists that craft songs can become major influences to break through our corrupted common sense and reason.  Music can be the voice that unifies and organizes people around a common good.”

Live at the Ice House, “Rock & Role Models,”  is also available now on http://liveicehouse.com.

Live at the ICE HOUSE

Live at the ICE HOUSE

Additional information on William Pilgrim & The All Grows Up Is available at: https://www.facebook.com/williampilgrimmusic.

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Filed under American Culture, American Politics, Black Culture | United States, Movement & Message Music, Music History, Poetry, Political Ideology, R&B, Rock, Soul, Work of Comrades

Tupac Amaru Shakur | Clinton Correctional Facility Interview ~1995

Tupac~ The Lost Prison Tapes

Shakur [June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996] began serving his prison sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility on February 14, 1995.  He was released after serving eleven months of his one-and-a-half year to four-and-a-half year sentence. 

The Lost Prison Tapes presents a uncensored look into Shakur’s life, as he talks about his involvement with gang life to prisons in America to his relationship with his mother and American culture and politics. 

The Lost Prison Tapes’ were released on January 26, 2011.

“Capturing the intensity and passion of a fierce talent, “Tupac ~ Uncensored and Uncut: The Lost Prison Tapes” offers a glimpse inside the mind of the enigmatic artist whose music is, in his own words, “all about life.””

Shakur had sold over 75 million records worldwide as of 2010.  Rolling Stones magazine named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.

Both of his parents- Afeni Shakur and his father, Billy Garland, along with several other family members, were members of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died 6 days later at the University Medical Center. 

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James Rosemond Admits to Tupac Shakur 1994 Shooting Involvement: Report ~ http://www.billboard.com/column/the-juice/james-rosemond-admits-to-tupac-shakur-1994-1007420552.story#/column/the-juice/james-rosemond-admits-to-tupac-shakur-1994-1007420552.story

I shot Tupac Shakur in 1994 robbery on orders of rap manager, claims convicted murderer Dexter Isaac ~ http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-06-15/gossip/29691900_1_tupac-shakur-james-jimmy-henchman-rosemond-czar-entertainment

Bio ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupac_Shakur

http://www.amazon.com/Tupac-Uncensored-Uncut-Prison-Tapes/dp/B004KPUL4G

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Filed under American Culture, Black Politics, FREE SPEECH, Hip Hop, Historic Black Politics & Figures, Historic Photos - People, Law Enforcement, Movement & Message Music, Music History, PASSINGS | HOME-GOING, Poetry, Political Ideology, Protest, racism, white supremacy

Footnotes to the book of the setback | By Nizar Qabbani

Friend,
The ancient word is dead.
The ancient books are dead.
Our speech with holes like worn-out shoes is dead.
Dead is the mind that led to defeat.

Our poems have gone sour.
Women’s hair, nights, curtains and sofas
Have gone sour.
Everything has gone sour.

My grieved country,
In a flash
You changed me from a poet who wrote love poems
To a poet who writes with a knife.

What we feel is beyond words:
We should be ashamed of our poems.

Stirred
By Oriental bombast,
By Antartic
(Antar, pre-Islamic poet & hero that was a symbol of an uneaten knight) swaggering that never killed a fly,
By the fiddle and the drum,
We went to war
And lost.

Our shouting is louder than our actions,
Our swords are taller than us,
This is our tragedy.

In short
We wear the cape of civilization
But our souls live in the stone age.

You don’t win a war
With a reed and a flute.

Our impatience
Cost us fifty thousand new tents.

Don’t curse heaven
If it abandons you,
Don’t curse circumstances.
God gives victory to whom He wishes.
God is not a blacksmith to beat swords.

It’s painful to listen to the news in the morning.
It’s painful to listen to the barking of dogs.

Our enemies did not cross the border
They crept through our weakness like ants.

Five thousand years
Growing beards
In our caves.
Our currency is unknown,
Our eyes are a haven for flies.
Friends,
Smash the doors,
Wash your brains,
Wash your clothes.
Friends,
Read a book,
Write a book,
Grow words, pomegranates and grapes,
Sail to the country of fog and snow.
Nobody knows you exist in caves.
People take you for a breed of mongrels.

We are thick-skinned people
With empty souls.
We spend our days practicing witchcraft,
Playing chess and sleeping.
And we the ‘Nation by which God blessed mankind’?

Our desert oil could have become
Daggers of flame and fire.
We’re a disgrace to our noble ancestors:
We let our oil flow through the toes of whores.

We run wildly through streets
Dragging people with ropes,
Smashing windows and locks.
We praise like frogs,
Swear like frogs,
Turn midgets into heroes,
And heroes into scum:
We never stop and think.
In mosques
We crouch idly,
Write poems,
Proverbs
And beg God for victory
Over our enemy.

If I knew I’d come to no harm,
And could see the Sultan,
I’d tell him:
‘Sultan,
Your wild dogs have torn my clothes
Your spies hound me
Their eyes hound me
Their noses hound me
Their feet hound me
They hound me like Fate
Interrogate my wife
And take down the names of my friends,
Sultan,
When I came close to your walls
And talked about my pains,
Your soldiers beat me with their boots,
Forced me to eat my shoes.
Sultan,
You lost two wars.
Sultan,
Half of our people are without tongues,
What’s the use of people without tongues?
Half of our people
Are trapped like ants and rats
Between walls´.
If I knew I’d come to no harm
I’d tell him:
‘You lost two wars
You lost touch with children’

If we hadn’t buried our unity
If we hadn’t ripped its young body with bayonets
If it had stayed in our eyes
The dogs wouldn’t have savaged our flesh.

We want an angry generation
To plough the sky
To blow up history
To blow up our thoughts.
We want a new generation
That does not forgive mistakes
That does not bend.
We want a generation
Of giants.

Arab children,
Corn ears of the future,
You will break out chains.
Kill the opium in our heads,
Kill the illusions.
Arab children,
Don’t read about our windowless generation,
We are a hopeless case.
We are as worthless as water-melon rind.
Don’t read about us,
Don’t ape us,
Don’t accept us,
Don’t accept our ideas,
We are a nation of crooks and jugglers.
Arab children,
Spring rain,
Corn ears of the future,
You are a generation
That will overcome defeat.

(Translated by Abdullah al-Udhari) Continue reading

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Filed under anti-war, Free Palestine, Friends & Comrades, Human Rights, Middle East, Palestine | Israel, Poetry, white supremacy, Work of Comrades

Gil Scott-Heron @ BB King Blues Club

Gil Scott HeronGil Scott-Heron

November 4, 2009 – BB King Blues Club, NYC
237 West 42nd Street, between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue.
 
Poet, musician, activist, author, bluesologist. These are all terms that have been used to describe the great Gil Scott-Heron, who more humbly refers to himself simply as a “piano player from Tennessee”. Most famous for his era-defining 1970’s poem, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Gil Scott-Heron’s politically charged material made him a stalwart figure in the 1970’s civil rights movement. His lyrical content covered topics like the superficiality of television and mass consumerism, the hypocrisy of some would-be Black revolutionaries and white middle-class ignorance of the difficulties faced by inner-city residents.  Not only a pioneer of blues, jazz and funk, his honesty, matter-of-fact delivery and fearlessness to address important social issues in the face of media criticism made him one of the foremost progenitors of contemporary hip-hop and spoken word.. Expect an incredible new CD in early 2010.
 
Doors at 6:00pm, Show at 8:00pm
NB:  General Admission – First come, first seated
$30 adv, $35 at door
VIP Booths available for four to six people; must buy whole booth|Tix/Booth for four:  $200  /  Tix/Booth for six:  $300
Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster, online at ticketmaster.com or 212-307-7171.
 
Tickets can be purchased in person at our box office from 10:30 am to midnight every night.
 
Unless otherwise noted, all shows are suitable for all ages and offer general admission seating. Seating for all shows is first come, first seated; we do not take advance table reservation, except where noted as a condition of a VIP ticket.  We cannot seat incomplete parties.  Standing room for all shows is available at our bar.
 
For further show information, directions to the venue and for the latest updates visit us at www.bbkingblues.com  or call 212-997-4144.
 

Produced by Jill Newman Productions

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Filed under The Blues File, R&B, Poetry, Movement & Message Music, Hip Hop, Historic Black Politics & Figures, Black Culture | United States, ART | CULTURE | WRITING

Joni Mitchell | Both sides now | October 1970

Joni Mitchell

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Filed under ART | CULTURE | WRITING, Feminist Leaders, Historic Photos - People, MUSIC | "Blue Eye Soul", Poetry