Thursday, February 27, 2014

'Of Ash & Dust' in Winter 2014 Issue of 'Digital Americana'

The audio version of 'Of Ash & Dust: a Tribute to the Crew of STS-107, Space Shuttle Columbia' appears in the Winter 2014 issue of Digital Americana.

Friday, February 21, 2014

World Premiere Screening of Full-Length Documentary, "3-Minute Activists; the Soul of Slam"

ROSWELL, Ga. — Atlanta-based Cogitate Productions, in association with Mad Mouth Media, is proud to present a special, free screening of 3-Minute Activists: The Soul of Slam, a new feature-length documentary filmed entirely on location during 2013's Roswell Roots Festival.

The screening, part of this year's festival—which features 24 exhibits, concerts, workshops and competitions—is scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Aurora Cineplex, 5100 Commerce Pkwy., Roswell. (Event was originally scheduled for Feb. 12, but postponed due to snow).

A question-and-answer session with selected filmmakers and featured poets will immediately follow the film.

The documentary includes performance pieces from the 2013 "Slammin' in the Suburbs" poetry event, as well as in-depth interviews with and discussion among some of the Southeast's premier spoken-word poets, including Jonida "Gypsee Yo" Beqo, Theresa Davis, Ashlee "Miss Haze" Haze, M. Ayodele Heath, Gabe Moses, and long-time political poet and spoken-word legend Alice Lovelace.

3-Minute Activists: The Soul of Slam is a thought-provoking conversation regarding the activist roots of spoken-word poetry. It's also a collection of emotional contemporary performances—some funny, some infuriating, some tear-inducing, all heart-felt and real— underlining the continued social commentary indicative of the artform.

A trailer for the documentary is available at

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

$1000 Grand Prize Roswell Roots Slam, Thursday, 2/20/14, 7:00 P.M.

: 6:00-7:00PM
(Must sign-up in person at the event. Sign-up list closes at 24 participants.)

Competition begins: 7:00 pm

Host:  M. Ayodele Heath

Historic Roswell Cottage
972 Alpharetta Street
Roswell, GA 30075

1st- - $1000
2nd - $200
3rd - $100
4th - $50
5th - $25

NOTE TO POETS: Change in format for this year (2013 going forward)

1st round (24 poets): 1-minute time limit
2nd round (14 poets) : 2-minute time limit
3rd round: (7 poets): 3-minute time limit
4th round (3 poets): 4-minute time limit

After the 1st round, scores are wiped clean.
Then, the prizes will be given based on cumulative scores over rounds 2, 3, and 4.

What are the rules?

-Each poem must be of the poet's own construction;
-No props or musical accompaniment
-If the poet goes over time, points will be deducted from the total score (0.5 points for each 10 seconds over the grace period);

Sunday, February 09, 2014

REVIEW: Educated Gangster 101: a Spoken Word Hip-Hop Musical

DECATUR, GA: Poet/Playwright Tommy Bottoms' Educated Gangster 101: a Spoken Word Hip-Hop Musical is a glimpse into the radical mind of Dr. Ugly (Tommy Bottoms), an eccentric, schizophrenic professor whose life mission is to socially engineer the “new-nigga” for the new millennium.

Tommy Bottoms, Playwright
Set in 21st century Atlanta at the fictional Nat Turner Institute, this freewheeling social comedy follows Dr. Ugly as he teaches a course to re-engineer the minds of two experimental test subjects: neo-conservative Raekwon Jackson (Cola Rum) and suburban sorority girl Jazmin Love (Theresa tha Songbird). Rounding out the cast of characters are co-faculty members, Nation of Islamist Malcolm Farrakhan (Malik Salaam) and corporate Ivy-leaguer, Madam Beautiful (Tamika “Georgia Me” Harper), along with Dr. Ugly's thugged-out split personality, A Pimp Named Felonius Nigga (Derrick “Abyss” Graham).  The plot is somewhat secondary as Bottoms explores a no-holds-barred conversation on the current state of Black America—one that tickles the funny bone as skillfully as it opens the third eye.

The storyline updates Black Arts movement concepts with a Web 2.0 twist, and provides a slick platform for Dr. Ugly to provide a history lesson for the Crack generation, one that will never appear in any history textbook.  Waxing poetic on subjects including the destruction of the Black family, the legalization of drugs, the economy fueling the prison system, and the media's reappropriation of the Black male image, Bottoms uses comedy as counterbalance to play out Dr. Ugly's well-intentioned aim of awakening Raekwon and Jazmin to consciousness, to see themselves in the context of Black struggle in a way that will ultimately uplift and transform their people.

The spoken word numbers, which range from a cappella solo pieces to musical group poems backed by the complementary CJ Baker Band, are woven nearly seamlessly into the fabric of the dialogue, so much so that you're sometimes transported halfway into a poem before you realize it. While I was familiar with some of the material from the cast's individual spoken word repertoires, the poems were integrated so well into the dialogue that they seemed to emerge organically from the play's text.

Red Summer, Director
Under Red Summer's direction, individual performances were stellar, as dialogue morphed into spoken word cadence, into outright song--from Jazmin Love's bebop-inspired riffs in "Superman" to A Pimp Named Felonius Nigga's hip-hop inspired lyrics to Raekwon Jackson's homiletic, Baptist delivery.  Each performance was a masters class in itself. Malcolm Farrakhan and Madam Beautiful's performances also did not disappoint, setting the audience afire with amens and applause.

The cast carries the torch originally lit by African griots, passed on through the poets of the Black Arts movement, dropping science in the tradition of the best Golden Age era Hip-Hop artists—Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, and KRS1.  This is edutainment at its finest.

Starring: Malik Salaam, Tamika Harper, Tommy Bottoms, Derrick Abyss Graham, Theresa Tha Songbird, and Cola Rum

*This review was of the world premiere performance on 8 Feb 2014 at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center in Decatur, GA.

Saturday, February 01, 2014