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Archive for February, 2006

30 Hour Famine Event @ American University

Friday, February 24th, 2006

written by Brendan Kiernan

Around 30 American University students fasted for 30 hours to raise awareness in the AU community about hunger in the developing world. The performance aspect of the event came after a speaker about hunger and policy. It was interesting to see the energy in the room change so much so quickly. There were differences in politics amongst some of the participants/speakers and the Guerilla Poets, and it all went smoothly.

We played with my friend Travis’ band the Exclamation Brothers, which included guitar, bass guitar, a cello, and a jembe. I have been trying to get us to collaborate for a while and we all thought it went well. We all listened to each other. All of the Guerilla Poets at the event (Mark N, Gustav, Jess, and Brendan) each had the space to do their own pieces. Mark sang Bob Dylan, Jess did “Down to Oppression,” Gustav did an original piece, and I did a piece I wrote specifically for the event about hunger.

My friend Carney was the only person in the crowd to take advantage of the open mike. He is a straight vegan punk who is the singer in a hardcore band. It was his first time doing spoken word and he drummed the beat on his chest.

The crowd of about 25 was interested, we had their attention, and people danced in their seats. Jess and I felt encouraged by the crowd. It was a good outreach opportunity for AU students to see us in action. CASJ (the Community Action Social Justice Coalition) which is a conglomerate of all the activist groups on campus possibly will want our support for upcoming events.

Lyrical Ambush in DuPont + Post-Ambush Mobile Poetic Insurgency

Monday, February 6th, 2006

The DC GPI’s latest Monday night lyrical ambush was the shiz nizzety bam bam bangitty bidnasteh.  DuPont Circle was chill, with the biting cold intense enough to keep most folks indoors, but once we left the Circle and hopped on the METRO system, all hell broke loose.

Riding the Red line down from DuPont Circle to Gallery Place was typical, with passersby seeming to appreciate the content of our performance, while unsure how to react to it in person.  We did have an especially rousing rendition of “the War on Terror” on the platform that actually caught applause from across the entire station.

But it was in the station at Gallery Place where things got crunk.  Once we got to the Green Line platform, a circle formed around us and people started moving in closer.  A brother passing by gave me mad props on “We all Strive,” before an entire crew of young women MCs rolled through.  One of them jumped into the cipher, and we passed the imaginary mic back and forth a few times.  They were all thoroughly positive, and offered seemingly sincere salutations as the last of our crew took our leave at Columbia Heights.

 

100 Best Friends

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

By Yacob, Ben Sawyer and Ben Weiss , participants in the GPI's workshop at the 2006 National Conference on Organized Resistance:

100 Best Friends
that were before unmet
breaking polite standards
of a silent bus gets
me exposure to a country
not localities
not ages, races, genders
but hopes and personalities
kids who hate or love
wanna fix or leave their hometowns
we’re all patriots of
this new built country underground
I’ve never been at a slumber party this big before
huddled blanket conversations on a hundred kid church floor

100 Best Friends
that I never knew
came to DC
formed the NCOR crew
100 best friends that I never met
Not concerned with old conventions or the etiquette
Or phoney new renditions of the government
Seize the reigns to the gains of self-betterment
Which usually includes the removal or individuals
Whose detriment is imbedded and seems oh so residual
But no I’m not a slave to the words of the president
‘cause I’m bound to be a citizen, not only a resident

100 Best Friends
that I never knew
came to DC
formed the NCOR crew
We’re patriots of a different land
Celebrating diversity
with our hearts and minds
from Maine to Miami
the activists came
working toward change
instead of hunting for blame
hipsters, punks and metalheads
witches, Christians, jews
different kinds of patriots
in black and green, red, white, and blue

100 Best Friends
that I never knew
came to DC
formed the NCOR crew
100 Best Friends
4 grand in my hat
A slap on the wrist
Like a thunder clap
Blast to DC ‘cause
money never lies
Grey skies, quick lines
Teach me how to rise
DC like I never knew

100 Best Friends
Formed the NCOR crew!

Performance + Presentation @ National Conference on Organized Resistance (NCOR) at American University

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Written by Laila Shereen

Facilitators Jessica, Laila, Kristen, Jeff set up the room in a circle. There were about 30 participants, including Brendan. Things started five minutes late, so we chatted and introduced ourselves while people were filing in. Jessica asked Brendan to tell them about how he linked up with the GPI. He did. Good stuff.

Jess gave a brief intro, asking participants, “what is guerrilla poetry?” Somebody volunteered and talked rather well about the word “guerrilla.” I talked more about lyrical ambushes (concept, gateway for activism in DC, etc.), gave them the outline of the workshop, then somehow segued to collaboration and the RWU, and I introduced Kristen and the drumming section began.  

She did an awesome, kick-ass, quickie, comprehensive (for 20 minutes), drum workshop. I can’t remember the beat that she taught them, but I want to learn it—it seemed more fun than “cuckoo cuckoo.” I liked how she incorporated examples from us to demonstrate drumming with poets. We used a short group piece—War on Terror and one person’s short verse—and people seemed to dig it. There was a big drum jam; everyone did very well. Laila and Jess boogied and yelped “aii! aii! aii!”

Drumming ended. Jess said a few words as a segue from drumming to poetry about how like Kristen said the drums enhance the words and their message, a coordinated rhythmic group piece can be a powerful method of getting a message across. Laila at the same time started passing out books. Then Laila started the poetry workshop.

First, Laila told them to get into groups of three. They did that pretty easily and began introducing themselves. Each group quickly chose a poem. Laila said that since it was a short workshop (only thirty min.), we couldn’t go into too much detail about imagery metaphor and rhyme. They quickly chose a poem. She explained more about how they were going to do collaborative pieces in their groups. She talked about different kinds of collaborative pieces (we had already done War on Terror), so she explained the hook concept. Then she said let’s write a poem, asked where do we start, and said we start with inspiration—think about what inspires you. Laila asked participants to stop, put everything down, and listen while the some volunteer to read the poem they chose (intention with asking them to choose poems was to have them read aloud).

Three people read poems—interesting selections, not necessarily political, but great examples like a two-line poem, then the one about Television (“pay attention to me, look at me…”), and then another one that I can’t remember. Then Laila asked them to sit and brainstorm—just write words, in groups or individually, free-flowing for about 5-10 minutes. Laila also briefly talked about chants (as more examples of words and rhythms) and gave out chant sheets. One person read a chant, which was great. Then Laila reminded them that the group piece can look different ways, using hooks, alternating lines, etc. And then they gave them 15 minutes to write (minimum should be 15 min to write). Laila collected books after they were done writing and while Jess talked.

Jess said a few words about how we do it on Dupont Circle. We had only 15 minutes left in the whole workshop at this point, and so we were going to touch on sister groups like the Richmond crew, but we were running out of time and since Preston was not there we just scrapped it (also, Brendan seemed to have plugged in the “how I got involved part”. Words about all the various elements of the circle, from getting a permit to having people of all ages show up, were scattered. Tried to be clear about it, but you really need a rehearsed 5 minutes to do it, and at that point, I just wanted us to start sharing those poems. So we did a 10-12 minute open mic. Jeff ran the stack.

Everybody was pretty open to sharing their group pieces, and they were varied in style and subject. One of the groups copied theirs for us by hand on the spot and gave it to us. (See below.) It should go on our website as a feature somehow, because I said that we could do that. We got almost everyone to sign up on the contact sheet, and we will blast them with a thank you, here’s-how-you-can-find-out-more email (see attendance list for email addreses). We flyered them as they left for their next session. 

Peep the poem, "100 Best Friends " by Yacob/Ben Sawyer/Ben Weiss!

The DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency (GPI) is an anti-authoritarian, collaborative, pro-humanity artists' collective incorporating music, rhythm, spoken word, community and resistance.

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