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Creative Close-Up: Kick Your Fears & Have Faith

Creative Close-Up: Kick Your Fears & Have Faith

May 30 / 18

FEAR

noun

  1. 1.

    an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Fear. What can we say about the word fear? We have fear in a lot of things and for us in the field of creativity its pretty much the same. I don’t know about you or anyone else, but for me, it’s a whole other thing.

For years I let fear take over a lot of things in my life. There were times when I let fear hold me back on a few things. For example, I always wanted to try modeling and I did get that chance, but I was too scared. When I think about it now, if I tried it, I wouldn’t be in the most boring job ever. There were reasons I let fear take precedence over my life. I wasn’t good, special, or pretty enough. I would just think I didn’t have what it takes to try even the simplest things.

As an artist… the same thing. I’ve had this gift for a long time and I just put it in the back burner, because again, I didn’t think I had it in me to be a great illustrator, a great artist. I’m now at the realization that this is a God-given gift and I don’t want it taken away from me. I’ve let not only fear but also procrastination take over.

I know that now is the time to put my gifts to use. I’ve started back with sketching and painting again. I’m always trying to improve my techniques, because let’s be honest, no one is a perfect artist, now matter if your a musician, a singer, songwriter, graphic designer, filmmaker, or even a fashion designer…I’ve learned that you may be at the height of your career, but it never hurts to keep practising, to keep sharpening your skills.

Another thing, don’t let negative people talk you out of your dreams, your goals, a lot of times I just tell a few positive folks about what I want to do. Not everybody wants to see you succeed in life. It’s a sad, but true fact. Don’t get too comfortable with where you think you don’t need any more growth. This falls in where I said about sharpening your skills. Again, there is always room for improvements.

What am I saying? It’s natural to feel fear, but there comes a time to look at it dead in the face and kick it permanently to the side. All you need is faith. How do you think Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and other how they got where they are? Faith. So the next time you feel fear, which you will, do you yield to it or take faith and jump?

 

Image source: Quotefancy

 

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Creative Close-Up: Taking Time Away From Creativity

April 24 / 18

Hello! We’re winding down out of April and into May.

This is just a short and to the point close-up. There comes a time when you really are not at your creative best. Let’s face it, we are so swamped with our day to day activities, parenting duties, extracurricular activities, and other things, that our mind and body get clogged and run down. We don’t take the time to listen, really listen to our bodies.

Then there is social media. Our lives are dictated by what we Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Even that takes a toll on our lives. What I’m saying is that there comes a time when we need to just take a step back from our busy lives and take a break.

Even an artist, musician, any person in the creative field needs a time to themselves. Let’s recharge ourselves by stepping back from our busy lives, put the phone away for awhile and enjoy some time away from everything, from everyone. You deserve it.

We all need to recharge our batteries in order to be even more creative!

 

 

Image source: Wallvie.com

Creative Close-Up: Poets.org Presents 12 Poems for Black History Month

February 26 /18

Good Morning all! The last weekend of this month has passed. Before this month is out, I still have some creative works for Black History Month. Found twelve poems by African-American poets from the website poets.org. They asked twelve contemporary black poets from Tyehlmba Jess, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, to Toi Derricotte to choose one poem to read in the month of February and why. Here are those twelve poems from Gwendolyn Brooks to Langston Hughes.


Credit source: poets.org

 

 

We Real Cool

Gwendolyn Brooks

1917 – 2000

THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL. We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon.

From The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks, published by Harpers. © 1960 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

won’t you celebrate with me

Lucille Clifton,

1936 – 2010

won’t you celebrate with me what i have shaped into a kind of life? i had no model. born in babylon both nonwhite and woman what did i see to be except myself? i made it up here on this bridge between starshine and clay, my one hand holding tight my other hand; come celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed.

Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me” from Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1991 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., boaeditions.org.

 

 

Heartbeats

Melvin Dixon,

1950 – 1992

Work out. Ten laps.
Chin ups. Look good.

Steam room. Dress warm.
Call home. Fresh air.

Eat right. Rest well.
Sweetheart. Safe sex.

Sore throat. Long flu.
Hard nodes. Beware.

Test blood. Count cells.
Reds thin. Whites low.

Dress warm. Eat well.
Short breath. Fatigue.

Night sweats. Dry cough.
Loose stools. Weight loss.

Get mad. Fight back.
Call home. Rest well.

Don’t cry. Take charge.
No sex. Eat right.

Call home. Talk slow.
Chin up. No air.

Arms wide. Nodes hard.
Cough dry. Hold on.

Mouth wide. Drink this.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

No air. Breathe in.
Breathe in. No air.

Black out. White rooms.
Head hot. Feet cold.

No work. Eat right.
CAT scan. Chin up.

Breathe in. Breathe out.
No air. No air.

Thin blood. Sore lungs.
Mouth dry. Mind gone.

Six months? Three weeks?
Can’t eat. No air.

Today? Tonight?
It waits. For me.

Sweet heart. Don’t stop.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Heartbeats” from Love’s Instruments (Tia Chucha Press, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Melvin Dixon. Used with the permission of the Estate of Melvin Dixon.

 

 

American History

Michael S. Harper,

1938 – 2016

Those four black girls blown up in that Alabama church remind me of five hundred middle passage blacks, in a net, under water in Charleston harbor so redcoats wouldn’t find them. Can’t find what you can’t see can you?

From Images of Kin by Michael S. Harper, published by University of Illinois Press. © 1970 by Michael S. Harper. Used with the permission of the University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved.

 

 

Hurricane

Four tickets left, I let her go—
Firstborn into a hurricane.

I thought she escaped
The floodwaters. No—but her

Head is empty of the drowned
For now—though she took

Her first breath below sea level.
Ahhh       awe       &       aw
Mama, let me go—she speaks

What every smart child knows—
To get grown you unlatch

Your hands from the grown

& up & up & up & up

She turns—latched in the seat

Of a hurricane. You let
Your girl what? You let

Your girl what?
I did so she do I did
so she do so—

Girl, you can ride
A hurricane & she do
& she do & she do & she do

She do make my river
An ocean. Memorial,
Baptist, Protestant birth—my girl

Walked away from a hurricane.
& she do & she do & she do & she do
She do take my hand a while longer.

The haunts in my pocket
I’ll keep to a hum: Katrina was
a woman I knew. When you were

an infant she rained on you & she

do & she do & she do & she do

From Hemming the Water. Copyright © 2013 by Yona Harvey. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Four Way Books, www.fourwaybooks.com.

 

 

Middle Passage

Robert Hayden,

1913 – 1980

I

Jesús, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy:

       Sails flashing to the wind like weapons,
sharks following the moans the fever and the dying;
horror the corposant and compass rose.

Middle Passage:
voyage through death
to life upon these shores.

       “10 April 1800—
Blacks rebellious. Crew uneasy. Our linguist says
their moaning is a prayer for death,
ours and their own. Some try to starve themselves.
Lost three this morning leaped with crazy laughter
to the waiting sharks, sang as they went under.”

Desire, Adventure, Tartar, Ann:

       Standing to America, bringing home
black gold, black ivory, black seed.

Deep in the festering hold thy father lies,   
               of his bones New England pews are made,   
               those are altar lights that were his eyes.

Jesus    Saviour    Pilot    Me
Over    Life’s    Tempestuous    Sea

We pray that Thou wilt grant, O Lord,
safe passage to our vessels bringing
heathen souls unto Thy chastening.

Jesus    Saviour

       “8 bells. I cannot sleep, for I am sick
with fear, but writing eases fear a little
since still my eyes can see these words take shape
upon the page & so I write, as one
would turn to exorcism. 4 days scudding,
but now the sea is calm again. Misfortune
follows in our wake like sharks (our grinning
tutelary gods). Which one of us
has killed an albatross? A plague among
our blacks—Ophthalmia: blindness—& we
have jettisoned the blind to no avail.
It spreads, the terrifying sickness spreads.
Its claws have scratched sight from the Capt.‘s eyes
& there is blindness in the fo’c’sle
& we must sail 3 weeks before we come
to port.”

               What port awaits us, Davy Jones’ 
               or home? I’ve heard of slavers drifting, drifting,   
               playthings of wind and storm and chance, their crews   
               gone blind, the jungle hatred 
               crawling up on deck.

Thou    Who    Walked    On    Galilee

       “Deponent further sayeth The Bella J
left the Guinea Coast
with cargo of five hundred blacks and odd
for the barracoons of Florida:

       “That there was hardly room ’tween-decks for half
the sweltering cattle stowed spoon-fashion there;
that some went mad of thirst and tore their flesh
and sucked the blood:

       “That Crew and Captain lusted with the comeliest
of the savage girls kept naked in the cabins;
that there was one they called The Guinea Rose
and they cast lots and fought to lie with her:

       “That when the Bo’s’n piped all hands, the flames
spreading from starboard already were beyond
control, the negroes howling and their chains
entangled with the flames:

       “That the burning blacks could not be reached,
that the Crew abandoned ship,
leaving their shrieking negresses behind,
that the Captain perished drunken with the wenches:

       “Further Deponent sayeth not.”

Pilot    Oh    Pilot    Me

II

Aye, lad, and I have seen those factories,
Gambia, Rio Pongo, Calabar;
have watched the artful mongos baiting traps
of war wherein the victor and the vanquished

Were caught as prizes for our barracoons.
Have seen the nigger kings whose vanity
and greed turned wild black hides of Fellatah,
Mandingo, Ibo, Kru to gold for us.

And there was one—King Anthracite we named him—
fetish face beneath French parasols
of brass and orange velvet, impudent mouth
whose cups were carven skulls of enemies:

He’d honor us with drum and feast and conjo
and palm-oil-glistening wenches deft in love,
and for tin crowns that shone with paste,
red calico and German-silver trinkets

Would have the drums talk war and send
his warriors to burn the sleeping villages
and kill the sick and old and lead the young
in coffles to our factories.

Twenty years a trader, twenty years,
for there was wealth aplenty to be harvested
from those black fields, and I’d be trading still
but for the fevers melting down my bones.

III

Shuttles in the rocking loom of history,
the dark ships move, the dark ships move,
their bright ironical names
like jests of kindness on a murderer’s mouth;
plough through thrashing glister toward
fatamorgana’s lucent melting shore,
weave toward New World littorals that are
mirage and myth and actual shore.

Voyage through death,
voyage whose chartings are unlove.

A charnel stench, effluvium of living death
spreads outward from the hold,
where the living and the dead, the horribly dying,
lie interlocked, lie foul with blood and excrement.

Deep in the festering hold thy father lies,   
       the corpse of mercy rots with him,   
       rats eat love’s rotten gelid eyes. 

       But, oh, the living look at you 
       with human eyes whose suffering accuses you,   
       whose hatred reaches through the swill of dark   
       to strike you like a leper’s claw. 

       You cannot stare that hatred down 
       or chain the fear that stalks the watches 
       and breathes on you its fetid scorching breath;   
       cannot kill the deep immortal human wish,   
       the timeless will.

“But for the storm that flung up barriers
of wind and wave, The Amistad, señores,
would have reached the port of Príncipe in two,
three days at most; but for the storm we should
have been prepared for what befell.
Swift as the puma’s leap it came. There was
that interval of moonless calm filled only
with the water’s and the rigging’s usual sounds,
then sudden movement, blows and snarling cries
and they had fallen on us with machete
and marlinspike. It was as though the very
air, the night itself were striking us.
Exhausted by the rigors of the storm,
we were no match for them. Our men went down
before the murderous Africans. Our loyal
Celestino ran from below with gun
and lantern and I saw, before the cane-
knife’s wounding flash, Cinquez,
that surly brute who calls himself a prince,
directing, urging on the ghastly work.
He hacked the poor mulatto down, and then
he turned on me. The decks were slippery
when daylight finally came. It sickens me
to think of what I saw, of how these apes
threw overboard the butchered bodies of
our men, true Christians all, like so much jetsam.
Enough, enough. The rest is quickly told:
Cinquez was forced to spare the two of us
you see to steer the ship to Africa,
and we like phantoms doomed to rove the sea
voyaged east by day and west by night,
deceiving them, hoping for rescue,
prisoners on our own vessel, till
at length we drifted to the shores of this
your land, America, where we were freed
from our unspeakable misery. Now we
demand, good sirs, the extradition of
Cinquez and his accomplices to La
Havana. And it distresses us to know
there are so many here who seem inclined
to justify the mutiny of these blacks.
We find it paradoxical indeed
that you whose wealth, whose tree of liberty
are rooted in the labor of your slaves
should suffer the august John Quincy Adams
to speak with so much passion of the right
of chattel slaves to kill their lawful masters
and with his Roman rhetoric weave a hero’s
garland for Cinquez. I tell you that
we are determined to return to Cuba
with our slaves and there see justice done. Cinquez—
or let us say ‘the Prince’—Cinquez shall die.”

The deep immortal human wish,
the timeless will:

Cinquez its deathless primaveral image,
life that transfigures many lives.

Voyage through death
to life upon these shores.

Copyright © 1962, 1966 by Robert Hayden, from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden by Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

 

 

We Should Make a Documentary About Spades

And here is all we’ll need: a card deck, quartets of sun people
Of the sort found in black college dormitories, some vintage
Music, indiscriminate spirits, fried chicken, some paper,

A writing utensil, and a bottomless Saturday. We should explore
The origins of a derogatory word like spade as well as the word
For feeling alone in polite company. And also the implications
Of calling someone who is not your brother or sister,

Brother or Sister. So little is known of our past, we can imagine
Damn near anything. When I say maybe slaves held Spades
Tournaments on the anti-cruise ships bound for the Colonies,
You say when our ancestors were cooped on those ships

They were not yet slaves. Our groundbreaking film should begin

With a low-lit den in the Deep South and the deep fried voice
Of somebody’s grandmother holding smoke in her mouth
As she says, “The two of Diamonds trumps the two of Spades

In my house.” And at some point someone should tell the story
Where Jesus and the devil are Spades partners traveling
The juke joints of the 1930s. We could interview my uncle Junior
And definitely your skinny cousin Mary and any black man

Sitting at a card table wearing shades. Who do you suppose
Would win if Booker T and MLK were matched against Du Bois
And Malcolm X in a game of Spades? You say don’t talk
Across the table. Pay attention to the suits being played.

The object of the game is to communicate invisibly
With your teammate. I should concentrate. Do you suppose
We are here because we are lonely in some acute diasporafied
Way? This should be explored in our film about Spades.

Because it is one of the ways I am still learning what it is
To be black, tonight I am ready to master Spades. Four players
Bid a number of books. Each team adds the bids
Of the two partners, and the total is the number of books

That team must try to win. Is that not right? This is a game
That tests the boundary between mathematics and magic,
If you ask me. A bid must be intuitive like the itchiness
Of the your upper lip before you sip strange whiskey.

My mother did not drink, which is how I knew something
Was wrong with her, but she held a dry spot at the table
When couples came to play. It’s a scene from my history,
But this probably should not be mentioned in our documentary

About Spades. Renege is akin to the word for the shame
You feel watching someone else’s humiliation. Slapping
A card down must be as dramatic as hitting the face of a drum
With your palm, not hitting the face of a drum with a drumstick.

You say there may be the sort of outrage induced
By liquor, trash talk, and poor strategy, but it will fade
The way a watermark left on a table by a cold glass fades.
I suspect winning this sort of game makes you feel godly.

I’m good and ready for who ever we’re playing
Against tonight. I am trying to imagine our enemy.
I know you are not my enemy. You say there are no enemies
In Spades. Spades is a game our enemies do not play.

From How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes, published on March 31, 2015, by Penguin Poets, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015 by Terrance Hayes.

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes,

1902 – 1967

Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free. (America never was America to me.) Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed— Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above. (It never was America to me.) O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”) Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars? I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek— And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one’s own greed! I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold to the machine. I am the Negro, servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry, mean— Hungry yet today despite the dream. Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers! I am the man who never got ahead, The poorest worker bartered through the years. Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream In the Old World while still a serf of kings, Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, That even yet its mighty daring sings In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned That’s made America the land it has become. O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home— For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore, And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came To build a “homeland of the free.” The free? Who said the free? Not me? Surely not me? The millions on relief today? The millions shot down when we strike? The millions who have nothing for our pay? For all the dreams we’ve dreamed And all the songs we’ve sung And all the hopes we’ve held And all the flags we’ve hung, The millions who have nothing for our pay— Except the dream that’s almost dead today. O, let America be America again— The land that never has been yet— And yet must be—the land where every man is free. The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME— Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again. Sure, call me any ugly name you choose— The steel of freedom does not stain. From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives, We must take back our land again, America! O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath— America will be! Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain— All, all the stretch of these great green states— And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used with permission.

 

 

 

A Brief History of Hostility

In the beginning
there was the war.

The war said let there be war
and there was war.

The war said let there be peace
and there was war.

The people said music and rain
evaporating against fire in the brush
was a kind of music
and so was the beast.

The beast that roared
or bleated when brought down
was silent when skinned
but loud after the skin
was pulled taut over wood
and the people said music
and the thump thump
thump said drum.
Someone said
war drum. The drum said war
is coming to meet you in the field.
The field said war
tastes like copper,
said give us some more, said look
at the wild flowers our war plants
in a grove and grows
just for us

Outside sheets are pulling
this way and that.

Fields are smoke,
smoke is air.

We wait for fingers to be bent
knuckle to knuckle,

the porch overrun
with rope and shotgun

but the hounds don’t show.
We beat the drum and sing

like there’s nothing outside
but rust-colored clay and fields

of wild flowers growing
farther than we can walk.

Torches may come like fox paws
to steal away what we plant,

but with our bodies bound
by the skin, my arc to his curve,

we are stalks that will bend
and bend and bend…

fire for heat
fire for light
fire for casting figures on a dungeon wall

fire for teaching shadows to writhe
fire for keeping beasts at bay
fire to give them back to the earth

fire for the siege
fire to singe
fire to roast
fire to fuse rubber soles to collapsed crossbeams
fire for Gehenna

fire for Dante
fire for Fallujah
fire for readied aim

fire in the forge that folds steel like a flag
fire to curl worms like cigarette ash
fire to give them back to the earth

fire for ancient reasons: to call down rain
fire to catch it and turn it into steam
fire for churches
fire for a stockpile of books
fire for a bible-black cloak tied to a stake

fire for smoke signals
fire to shape gun muzzle and magazine
fire to leap from the gut of a furnace
fire for Hephaestus
fire for pyres’ sake
fire licking the toes of a quiet brown man
fire for his home
fire for her flag
fire for this sand, to coax it into glass

fire to cure mirrors
fire to cure leeches
Fire to compose a nocturne of cinders

fire for the trash cans illuminating streets
fire for fuel
fire for fields
fire for the field hand’s fourth death

fire to make a cross visible for several yards
fire from the dragon’s mouth
fire for smoking out tangos
fire to stoke like rage and fill the sky with human remains
fire to give them back to the earth
fire to make twine fall from bound wrists
fire to mark them all and bubble black
any flesh it touches as it frees

They took the light from our eyes. Possessive.
Took the moisture from our throats. My arms,
my lips, my sternum, sucked dry, and
lovers of autumn say, Look, here is beauty.
Tallness only made me an obvious target made of
off-kilter limbs. I’d fall either way. I should get a
to-the-death tattoo or metal ribbon of some sort.
War took our prayers like nothing else can,
left us dumber than remote drones. Make
me a loyal soldier and I’ll make you a
lamenting so thick, metallic, so tank-tread-hard.

Now make tomorrow a gate shaped like a man.
I can’t promise, when it’s time, I won’t hesitate,
cannot say I won’t forget to return in fall and
guess the names of the leaves before they change.

The war said bring us your dead
and we died. The people said music
and bending flower, so we sang ballads

in the aisles of churches and fruit markets.
The requiem was everywhere: a comet’s tail
disappearing into the atmosphere,

the wide mouths of the bereft men that have sung…
On currents of air, seeds were carried
as the processional carried us

through the streets of a forgetting city,
between the cold iron of gates.
The field said soil is rich wherever we fall.

Aren’t graveyards and battlefields
our most efficient gardens?
Journeys begin there too if the flowers are taken

into account, and shouldn’t we always
take the flowers into account? Bring them to us.
We’ll come back to you. Peace will come to you

as a rosewood-colored road paver
in your grandmother’s town, as a trench
scraped into canvas, as a violin bow, a shovel,

an easel, a brushstroke that covers
burial mounds in grass. And love, you say,
is a constant blade, a trowel that plants

and uproots, and tomorrow
will be a tornado, you say. Then war,
a sick wind, will come to part the air,

straighten your suit,
and place fresh flowers
on all our muddy graves.

Jamaal May, “A Brief History of Hostility” from The Big Book of Exit Strategies. Copyright © 2016 by Jamaal May. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Alice James Books, www.alicejamesbooks.org.

 

 

Coherence in Consequence

Imagine them in black, the morning heat losing within this day that floats. And always there is the being, and the not-seeing on their way to—

The days they approach and their sharpest aches will wrap experience until knowledge is translucent, the frost on which they find themselves slipping. Never mind the loose mindless grip of their forms reflected in the eye-watering hues of the surface, these two will survive in their capacity to meet, to hold the other beneath the plummeting, in the depths below each step full of avoidance. What they create will be held up, will resume: the appetite is bigger than joy. indestructible. for never was it independent from who they are. who will be.

Were we ever to arrive at knowing the other as the same pulsing compassion would break the most orthodox heart.

Excerpt from Plot, copyright © 2001 by Claudia Rankine. Used by permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc. Any third party use of this material, outside of this publication, is prohibited.

For My People

For my people everywhere singing their slave songs
     repeatedly: their dirges and their ditties and their blues 
and jubilees, praying their prayers nightly to an
unknown god, bending their knees humbly to an
unseen power;

For my people lending their strength to the years, to the 
gone years and the now years and the maybe years,
washing ironing cooking scrubbing sewing mending
hoeing plowing digging planting pruning patching
dragging along never gaining never reaping never
knowing and never understanding;

For my playmates in the clay and dust and sand of Alabama
backyards playing baptizing and preaching and doctor
and jail and soldier and school and mama and cooking
and playhouse and concert and store and hair and Miss
Choomby and company;

For the cramped bewildered years we went to school to learn 
to know the reasons why and the answers to and the
people who and the places where and the days when, in
memory of the bitter hours when we discovered we
were black and poor and small and different and nobody
cared and nobody wondered and nobody understood;

For the boys and girls who grew in spite of these things to
be man and woman, to laugh and dance and sing and
play and drink their wine and religion and success, to
marry their playmates and bear children and then die
of consumption and anemia and lynching;

For my people thronging 47th Street in Chicago and Lenox
Avenue in New York and Rampart Street in New
Orleans, lost disinherited dispossessed and happy
people filling the cabarets and taverns and other
    people’s pockets needing bread and shoes and milk and
land and money and something—something all our own;

For my people walking blindly spreading joy, losing time
being lazy, sleeping when hungry, shouting when
burdened, drinking when hopeless, tied, and shackled
and tangled among ourselves by the unseen creatures
who tower over us omnisciently and laugh;

For my people blundering and groping and floundering in
the dark of churches and schools and clubs and
     societies, associations and councils and committees and 
conventions, distressed and disturbed and deceived and
devoured by money-hungry glory-craving leeches,
preyed on by facile force of state and fad and novelty, by
false prophet and holy believer;

For my people standing staring trying to fashion a better way
from confusion, from hypocrisy and misunderstanding,
trying to fashion a world that will hold all the people,
    all the faces, all the adams and eves and their countless
generations;

Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a
bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second
generation full of courage issue forth; let a people
loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty full of
healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing
in our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs
    be written, let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now 
rise and take control.

From This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems (University of Georgia Press, 1989). Copyright © 1989 by Margaret Walker. Used with permission of the University of Georgia Press.

 

On Being Brought from Africa to America

Phillis Wheatley,

1753 – 1784

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land, Taught my benighted soul to understand That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our sable race with scornful eye, “Their colour is a diabolic die.” Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain, May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.

This poem is in the public domain.

 

 

Great poems are they not? Enjoy the rest of your Monday, be blessed!

Image source: Bio.com, Notable Biographies, The New Yorker, Academy of American Poets, Black Then, My Poetic Side, KUOW, Poetry Foundation, Blue Flower Arts, Wikipedia, California Newsreel

 

Creative Close-Up: DC Extended Universe is Not Dead

January 29 / 18

Question…Is the DC Extended Universe Dead? For some or most people yes, but for those like me, no. Not even. We eagerly waited for Justice League to hit theaters. We were giving the latest superhero film high hopes, but alas, that wasn’t’ the case.

I for one like the film. Don’t get me wrong, it had its share of great and funny moments. There were some scenes that we saw in the trailers didn’t make it to the film. Let’s not forget about Henry Cavill‘s CGI disastrous upper lip. My only complaint is how rushed the film was. Zack Snyder had to leave due to a personal tragedy, so Joss Wheadon finished where Snyder left off. Wheadon wrote the screenplay (along with Chris Terrio) for the film. With both director’s visions put together, what we got was a mess.

 

 

Justice League grossed $655 million worldwide, while domestically the total was $227 million. These figures are low. I would’ve expected more from both markets, but again, that’s not the case. According to Wikipedia, the film’s tone met a polarized reception. While some appreciated the lighter tone than previous DC films, others found it inconsistent. I felt the performances of all the cast were great. Then again, as I said before in my review of the film, Ben Affleck, although gave his best, I have a feeling he may not want to play the Dark Knight anytime soon.

According to another report I read by Chaim Gartenberg for The Verge, Warner Bros., and DC will minimize the interconnected DC Extended Universe for future films. Meaning that they will probably focus on stand-alone films. Wonder Woman was proof of that, but DC can do even more.

AS THE SAYING GOES…HASTE MAKES WASTE

Problem is that DC is playing catchup with Marvel. Marvel has been successful with how they handled their films. They took the time and energy to really build a roster of films that required a great deal of writing and character development. Meanwhile, DC rushed to get themselves noticed. Yes, it’s good to see what your competition is doing, but what worked for them, may not work for you. DC needs to stop worrying about Marvel is doing and focus on what they need to do. When I say focus, I mean they need to figure out what will work for them. How to create a franchise that will work for all is the task they need to focus on.

 

After the box office failure of Justice League, what’s next for DC?

 

DC’S NEXT STRATEGY

Wonder Woman is the only film that did well. Insanely well. What made the film successful? For one thing Patty Jenkins in the director’s chair, screenwriter Allen Heinberg, with Synder, Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs with writing the story, plus the strong and vulnerable performance from Gal Gadot, the film became a box office hit in all the right places. It gave a fresh direction to a heroine icon. I was really happy when Diana was introduced in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Gadot has said, 

“for a long time, people didn’t know how to approach the story. When Patty and I had our creative conversations about the character, we realized that Diana can still be a normal woman, one with very high values, but still a woman. She can be sensitive. She is smart and independent and emotional. She can be confused. She can lose her confidence. She can have confidence. She is everything. She has a human heart.” Need I say more?

I think its’ safe to say that DC’s chances of getting this right are to focus on stand-alone films. Of course, they still have a few things to iron out. For example, The Flash. Loved Ezra Miller‘s take on Barry Allen. We now know that the film will be titled as Flashpoint. The script is ready, but there have been some hiccups, trying to find the right director for the project seemed almost impossible.  Seth Grahame-Smith was the first pick, then came Rick Famuiwa, but due to creative differences with the studio, both left the project. Just recently John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are in negotiations to direct. Let’s hope this turns out well. I can only hope the studio can step back and let these two guys, along with the screenwriters and story writer’s visions come to the screen. I can also hope that the film will come soon. If not 2019, maybe 2020. Maybe it’s time for Synder to remove himself from directing and focus more on storytelling and producing. That will be the best thing for the franchise.

Warner Bros. is slowly and surely setting their roster of more films to come. I really do think that standalone films can pull DC out of its funk make the franchise successful. The extended universe is not dead. They just need to fully put their time, focus, and effort on what they are doing.

Release dates for upcoming DC films:

Aquaman: December 21, 2018

Shazam: April 5, 2019

Wonder Woman: November 1, 2019

Cyborg: April 3, 2020

Image source: Flickering Myth, Nerdist, & Inverse

 

Creative Close-Up: Why I Love DC & Marvel….

November 30 / 17

With the third installment of Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League, Marvel, and DC are busy whipping up superhero films left and right….well, Marvel is. DC is just catching up. You have people who love DC, like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and then there are those who love Marvel, such as Captain America, Iron Man, Spiderman, and the Hulk. Me? I simply love both Marvel and DC. Yeah, I said it. Why? Well….

Both Have Created Complex Heroes

DC has their god-like superheroes with their fair share of problems. Let’s look at Superman. For at least the past several decades this Kryptonian has become the fixture your typical boy scout hero, with the power to destroy Earth, but he chooses to not to. Even though he’s forbidden to get involved with Earth’s affairs, he chooses to do the opposite. He wants to be the solution instead of the problem. While people embraced him, some have not. Even though he has his adoptive mother, Martha Kent and the love of his life, Lois Lane, he still feels alone. You have to remember this man is an alien from another planet, while just trying to do right in the world. Batman, Bruce Wayne, is just your average regular guy, well, a very wealthy guy I might add, who decides to fight crime in the city of Gotham. We all know how his parents died and who is responsible. I think he hasn’t fully healed from that tragedy in his life. It’s an open wound, almost a reminder of why he does the job anyway. Which reminds me of a scene from Justice League. How much longer can Bruce continue as the Dark Knight? He’s not like Superman or even Wonder Woman. Diana, Princess of Thymescra, knows the ways of the Amazons, but she also had to learn the world of men.

While DC has their complex heroes, Marvel has them also. Stephen Rodgers, the man behind Captain America is a man out of his time. He’s adjusting to a world different from the one he left behind. Like Superman, Rodgers is always up to the challenge to do the right thing. I always think that Rodgers is one of those guys who always have morals and sticks to them. That’s why people respect him. Bruce Banner, whose alter ego is the Hulk, is a man I have sympathy for. Banner, who was exposed to gamma rays during an experiment, becomes the Hulk in emotional distress or sometimes against his will. When you really think about it, the Hulk represents an almost dark psyche persona of Banner.

The thing is these heroes have their share of problems no matter how super or tough they are.

Both Have Crazy Cool Villains

With every protagonist, there is an antagonist. That is the staple of a great comic or graphic novel right? Both Marvel and DC have given us plenty of that. You got the Joker, Catwoman, Lex Luther, Thanos, Ultron, Loki….I can only say that these villains have reasons for what they do, but they are just as complex or more as the heroes.  You know their bad, but you want to root for them, well some of them. Lex Luther, that one foe of Superman…a man with a plan. He hates what Superman stands for yet, he’s intrigued by what makes the Man of Steel who he is. Joker, on the other hand, he’s just plain crazy. The polar opposite of Batman, both were created from tragic events. He’s unpredictable, almost one step ahead of the game and downright dangerous. You really don’t want to mess with him or his main squeeze Harley Quinn. Shes just as crazy as he his, a psychopath really, but she does have a heart, in her own crazy way.

Thor’s adoptive brother, Loki has issues…deep-seated issues, daddy issues. He craves love and attention. Magneto, a survivor of the horrors of Auschwitz and Nazi Germany, is willing to use force to protect mutant kind. Thanos, well he’s just dangerous and threatening. Sometimes you just can’t place a finger on to why these guys are just crazy cool. They just are. You do sympathize as to why they do the most despicable things. There is always a reason to the madness.

 

The Best of Both

To sum it up, the world of DC and Marvel have created a universe that will continue to new generations of fans. DC fans, Marvel fans, or both. I’ve followed both from a very early age. Wonder Woman has always been my favorite so to see her on the big screen was a great thrill. I’m expecting the same for Captain Marvel.

Marvel has up the ante with the whole Cinematic Universe. Now that Avengers: Infinity War trailer has arrived, the expectations are high! We waited a good long while for this didn’t we? The solo films of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, and Captain America gave us an introduction to the characters. I can’t wait to see Black Panther and let’s hope that Black Widow gets her own solo film. I don’t know how many more films Marvel has planned, but we’ll see how far they can go.

DC has a lot of catching up to do. I was very excited about Justice League. While I thorouly enjoyed the film, I was disappointed that some scenes were left out. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I wanted to know a little more about the Flash and Cyborg, but I can only hope that a director’s cut will be available when it hits digital and Blu-Ray. Again, DC has some catching up do to. The DC Extended Universe still has some bugs, but I’m positive that we can still see some great storyline and character developments coming soon.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as DC vs Marvel. Nope, there is room for all.

 

 

 

Image source: Euro Palace

Creative Close-Up: Creative Writing

Creative Close-Up: Creative Writing

October 30 / 17

Hey everyone! Hope you guys enjoyed your weekend. I wanted to share with you a few videos about Creative Writing. That’s what this month’s Creative Close-Up is about. I’m sure some of you have always wanted to write, but are not quite sure how to go about it. I can only hope this can help you along your creative writing journey. Some of these videos are a few years old, but they’re still effective.

Enjoy your Monday, be creative, be blessed!

 

 

Image source: unknown

 

Creative Close-Up: Art Business Institute Tools

Creative Close-Up: Art Business Institute Tools

August 29 / 17

Hey! It’s time for some Creative Close-Up. For those who are trying to get their foot in the door of the art industry, Arts Business Institute has a few tips to share with you….


credit source: Arts Business Institute

How Direct Mail Marketing Can Boost Your Art Business

 

What You Can Learn from Your Competition

 

Art and the Corporate Market

 

Staying Focused? Or Chasing Money?

 

Sell Your Handmade Work to High-End Clientele

 

How to Improve Your Art Website About Page

 

I hope these articles from ABI are helpful. Enjoy your day, be blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image source: Wallup.net

 

 

Creative Close-Up: From Digital Music News…..

July 29 / 17

Hey everybody…it’s time for a Creative Close-Up. I found a recent article about music streaming, courtesy of Digital Music News. This has been updated to show you how much the artists are making. Read it and see for yourself.


Digital Music News

What Streaming Music Services Pay (Updated for 2017)

Image source by Information is Beautiful

So, how much can you expect to get from Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms?

Music streaming services have helped to spark a revival in the music industry.  This year alone, major labels have reported record-breaking revenue.

But how much are artists actually earning?

We’ve been compiling data on this for a few years.  But getting a comprehensive, overarching look is pretty difficult.  Now, Information is Beautiful has released a new infograph showing how much major streaming services actually pay.  It reflects their best efforts to amass per-stream data into one diagram.

Calculate Your Earnings from Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon, Google Play & More

Two years ago, the team at Information is Beautiful did the same analysis.  They analyzed what it would take for an artist to receive a monthly wage minimum of $1,260. For example, Google Play Music paid out $0.0073 per play; so artists would need 172,206 plays to earn the $1,260.

TIDAL, which paid out $0.007 per play, would require a similar amount.

Artists on YouTube have traditionally received lowest amount.  In 2015, the video platform paid $0.0003 per play.  To earn the minimum wage amount, musicians would need 4.2 million plays on the platform.

Now, Information is Beautiful has updated their list for 2017.

This year, they compared eight major music streaming services: Napster, YouTube, Pandora, Apple Music, TIDAL, Google Play, Deezer, and Spotify.  The team tracked the following information:

  • Artist revenue per play.
  • Total users (millions) per platform.
  • Percentage of free users on the platform.
  • Plays needed to earn minimum monthly wage ($1,472).
  • Total annual loss reported by the streaming platform.
  • Annual loss per user.

It’s worth noting that this report doesn’t apply to signed artists, as they receive an unreported cut based on their contracts.

And the king of streaming payouts is… Napster?

Napster topped this year’s list with the highest artist revenue paid out per play.  For a single stream, Napster paid out $0.0167.  Compared to its competitors, however, the platform has the second-lowest amount of total users: 5 million.  So it can be difficult to scale that per-play number, but great if you assemble a core Napster following.

To earn minimum wage, an artist would need 90,000 plays on the platform.

But why does Napster have higher payouts?  The answer may be that the service doesn’t have a free tier.  In 2015, a Napster spokesperson told TechRadar that a freemium business model simply “isn’t sustainable.”

The company has reported losses, however.  Yet, its losses only amounted to $35 million, the third-lowest on the list.  With five million users on its platform, on average, each user costs Napster $7.78.

Second place in payouts: TIDAL

Despite Jay Z’s massive star power, users have yet to flock to the high-fidelity streaming service.  The company last reported around 4 million users, though it may have inflated its total subscription numbers. The Jay Z-owned streamer pays out $0.0110 per stream.  An artist on the platform would need 130,000 plays to earn the monthly minimum wage amount.

Based on Information is Beautiful’s calculations, only 28% of users on the platform pay for a subscription.  TIDAL last reported an annual loss of $28 million, the second lowest on the list.  Each user costs the company about $6.67.

Third place: Apple Music

In just two years, over 27 million people have subscribed to Apple Music.  It took Spotify nearly a decade to reach 50 million.  While Apple remains secretive about its losses, unsigned artists on the platform can expect to receive $0.0064 per play.  For an unsigned artist to earn $1,472, they’d need 230,000 plays.  Apple didn’t share how much each user costs the company.

The former payout king falls to fourth place

In 2015, unsigned artists on Google Play Music would earn $0.0179 per play.  That number has since decreased to $0.0059.

Like Apple, Google won’t report on its annual music losses.  That includes how much each user costs the company.  Currently, the service has more than 5 million paid subscribers, and 5 million more on a free tier service (possibly on a trial subscription).

For an artist to earn minimum wage on the platform, they would need 250,000 plays.

Say hello to Deezer

French-based music streaming service Deezer may not have a huge presence in the United States just yet.  However, it is available in over 180 countries.  It also has more than 40 million licensed tracks.

On average, the service pays out $0.0056 per stream, slightly lower than Google Play Music.  It also has 16 million total users, 57% of whom are on a free-tier.  To earn $1,472, an artist would need 260,000 plays on the platform.

Deezer also has the lowest annual loss on the list.  Each user costs Deezer just $1.69.

Et tu, Spotify?

Ahead of their long-awaited IPO, Spotify is currently embroiled in controversy. While the service has the highest number of paid subscriptions, artists often complain about low payouts.  According to Information is Beautiful, the Swedish streamer pays out $0.0038 per stream.  That means for an artist to earn minimum wage, they would need 380,000 plays on the platform.

Two years ago, the service paid out $0.007 per stream.  Unsigned artists would need 180,000 plays to earn $1,260.

The streaming platform has recently locked down long-term licensing deals with major labels.  It also has 140 million total users.  According to Information is Beautiful, 57% use its free-tier service.  The number doesn’t add up, as Spotify last reported over 50 million users.  Roughly 90 or so million use the service.

Losses at the company continue growing, however.  Information is Beautiful calculates an annual loss of $194 million, with each user costing the company $1.39.

DMN’s investigation calculates losses over $600 million.

Struggling Pandora lands in seventh place

Without presenting a clear financial plan, Pandora’s CEO promised investors that the company would turn a profit this year.

On the infograph, Pandora landed in second-to-last place with one of the worst artist payouts.  Per stream, Pandora pays $0.0011.  It also has the second-highest amount of total users, right behind Spotify.  However, an unsigned artist would need 1.2 million plays to earn minimum wage on the platform.  Its losses also grew to $250 million. Each user costs the company $3.20.

Don’t expect to earn money once again on: YouTube

Artists, major labels, and music organizations have long called out YouTube for its paltry royalty payments.  The Google-owned company has defended itself, stating that it has paid out over $1 billion.  The numbers speak for themselves, however.

Two years ago, YouTube paid unsigned artists $0.0018 per play on its video platform.  That number has dropped to $0.0006, the lowest on the list.  The platform has one billion users.  The team at Information is Beautiful calculates that only .1% have subscribed to YouTube Red.

For an artist to earn minimum wage on the platform, they would need 2.4 million plays.  While this number remains high, two years ago, unsigned artists would earn $1,260 only after just 70,000 plays.

The Google-owned video platform reported a loss of $174 million.  With over 1 billion users, each costs YouTube just 17 cents.

Featured image by Information is Beautiful

[UPDATE] The numbers originally referenced in this piece were for signed artists, not unsigned artists.  The calculations have since been updated to reflect unsigned artists.

I hope Mr. Sanchez’s article gave you something to think about.