Monday, August 31, 2009

Please Support The Harvest and Spoken Soul 215

So I just received news that The Harvest for September has been canceled and I'm upset. For those of you who don't know, The Harvest is a monthly open mic run by Spoken Soul 215 (cuz Philly goes in!), a collective of Philadelphia-based poets and MC's, including Just Greg (the Brave New Voices' Philly Slam Team coach), Vision (from Quiet Rage), Lyrispect and some other folks.

I attended my first Harvest event on August 5 (it runs every first Wed) with some of my students/fam/friends. Here's a pic of me and Lindo (lookin' a lil' bit tired, I must say) and Sappho in the background (to see more pics, go to the Spoken Soul 215 website

I have to say that the folks of Spoken Soul 215 really treated me special: I had my 12 year-old daughter with me, and Greg and Vision really took care of us--not only did Vision meet us at the door, but he escorted us up, and we had seats at a table in the front. That's some fam stuff right there, and I truly appreciated it.

For that, I'm posting the letter being sent out about why The Harvest has been canceled, and hope that you all will support, especially those of you in and about the Philadelphia area.

One love,

August 30, 2009

Dear Fellow Harvesters and Harvest Supporters,

We are writing to inform you that our September Harvest has been canceled. It was with great shock and disappointment that we were informed that due to a shooting incident that took place on Friday, August 21, 2009, near the 40th street Marathon Grill, the management informed us on Friday evening (August 28th) it decided unilaterally to discontinue hosting The Harvest, and other events not directly related to, or promoted by the University of Pennsylvania, at their 40th street location.

We received less than a week's notice of this change, without opportunity for us to participate in a mutually beneficial response to their concerns and in light of our continued and consistent professionalism in providing a high-quality cultural event. As soon as we received the info, we met as a collective, discussed the pros and cons, and especially considered the long-term effect it would have on you, the supporters. We consulted our legal counsel about our rights in order to come to the best decision for Spoken Soul 215 and our supporters.

Based on the untimely manner in which we came to know of this decision, and our desire to uphold the integrity of The Harvest and our sponsors, we have decided to no longer associate with Marathon Grill to host our monthly event. Spoken Soul 215 and our marketing team, BUJE Concepts, are working to move our event to a reliable venue that offers stability, professionalism, creativity, appreciation of our audience and the ability to support the number of patrons that the Harvest attracts.

We thank you for your continued support. We know that the Harvest is not possible without you, your energy and love. We also know that many underestimate the necessity of events like the Harvest and its importance in the community and to its artists.

Let it be known that Spoken Soul 215 is extremely disappointed with Marathon Grill's decision, especially because of our consistent business practice of professionalism. We have decided to pursue a more formal response directly with MGRB and to cease support of all Marathon Grill Restaurants and Bars.

If you would like to lend your support, here is how you can help:

1. Let Marathon Grill know how their decision has affected you. Visit the Marathon Grill Facebook page and leave your comment, or go directly to their website

and leave your comments in their feedback section.
2. Let Spoken Soul 215 know what The Harvest means to you, why you like coming, or share your own personal Harvest story. Visit our Facebook group page and leave your comments or stay tuned for how you can leave comments on our website.

The Harvest will continue to bring you the culturally-rich, fun, diverse and exciting atmosphere that you are accustomed to. We look forward to seeing you at the next Harvest experience! Visit and join our mailing list to be the first to receive news about our new venue. See you soon!

Respectfully yours,

Spoken Soul 215

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The 5th L performs at the U.S. Open, 9/1

Hey yall,

So I want to tell you about these 2 guys I met back in April when they came to Philly to perform at a Slam my students were organizing. The 5th L, comprised of Native Son and The Dri Fish, are a Baltimore-based spoken word duo, and I have been getting to know them and their work--both artistic and activist--over the past few months. And I'm really impressed and have become a big supporter. I hope yall will check them out and do the same.

They have done some great work in the community around Baltimore, especially working with youth in correctional facilities and anti-violence programs. They have also appeared on BET's Lyric Cafe.

Some exciting news is that they will be performing at the tennis U.S. Open in New York on September 1. I'm not sure if the event will be televised, but best wishes to them for a great gig and an energetic crowd.

If you want to find out more about The 5th L, check out their website and MySpace page. I've also linked them on our website to the right.

Many blessings,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Poem for the Hollabacks--love you all very much!

I spent the last 6 Fridays of my summer facilitating writing workshops for the Mural Arts Program's Big Picture Summer Camp at the Wissahickon Charter School site, working with kids ages 8-14. I fell in love with these kids the very first day. Every week they made me laugh and smile, cheer and clap. I'm going to miss them all so much.

I wrote a poem for them. They wanted it to rhyme; I wanted to give each his/her own spotlight in the piece. Hope yall enjoy it.

Special thanks to Lisa, Rodney, Erin, Sebastian, and Lindo for all your support and hard work. Most of all, much love to the Wissahickon Hollaback crew.

Peace and poetry,

Walk a Mile in My Shoes:
For the Wissahickon Hollabacks, Summer 2009

By Michelle Myers

Envision a walk-a-mile-in-my shoes mission
and listen to how on that first day I almost went missin’
searchin’ for the Big Picture in Wissahickon—
and I’m admittin’ I was distracted by my conditions—
cars zippin’ and hissin’—
so I wasn’t fixin’ on the little details like
sweet lemon sun drops a’glistenin’
from the mosaic mural garden,
but once I did, I knew I wasn’t far then,
went in to get the workshop started
but to love these kids so fast was sumpin I hadn’t bargained.
Beggin’ your pardon, I didn’t know my spirit was starvin’
to hear your laughter
as you became real superheroes each week, chapter-by-chapter,
and even when all the boys were whinin’, “Do we really hafta?”
I knew I could win you back by letting you role play as
the dopest MC’s and rappers on this side of Philly
and, yes, I really did love it how yall acted so silly
telling me your goofy stories so you could hear me say, “Really?”
And, really, it was OK for Zyon to try-n razz on my poetry lines—
“I drink oop. It makes me wanna poop”—
although his lines were clear proof that some rhymes
are just dookie you need to scoop.
And speakin’ of dookie, Matthew,
I really wouldn’t put it past you
to spread dookie galore and dare everybody to match you
then make sure they couldn’t catch you
as you jumped aboard that “Bang bang choo choo train”
to show us all your “dookie stain.”
But while the boys had dookie on the brain,
the girls went all in wit the poetry and really stepped up the game.
From your super powers to your superhero names,
each week you did somethin’ that made me so glad that I came.
From Addie’s excited whispers about her superhero sisters—
Gosh, I’m really gonna miss her—to Maya and Tyler,
true best friends supporting each other to reach higher and higher
and Joy’s sun poem caught fire as her words shined
bright and beautiful from the pages of her journal—
my hope is that you all take one kernel
of fun and love from this summer to help you fly over any hurdles.
Remember, it’s your world from your own imaginations uncurled
beautiful as a girl with a pearl in the clapping palms of dancing Charletta
betta try not to be enamored by her stomp stomp clamor
just try to capture her glamour quick with a Minolta camera
while Nate gets his jam on doing “Billie Jean” like Michael Jackson
and it’s a fact, son, that Catherine sees beauty person-to-person
celebrating color-full-boldness b/c we ALL want happiness, she told us.
And not mindin’ the coldness
Nasim, I noticed, wants to explore the arctic and other areas uncharted.
I admire his adventurous spirit and for being brave-hearted—
not just a man in the making but already started.
And Anwar, at first, seemed to be guarded but
get him talkin’ ‘bout his comic book hero who wages battle in the shadow
-n- all his ideas shoot from out his mouth so fast you think you can hear his tongue rattle.
Then, Keenan, one week wanted to rabble-
rouse so proud he had found a way to kill off his superhero
even after I had raised my brows and said,
“Killin’ superheroes just ain’t allowed.”
And not to be left out of the crowd,
Montrel without fail cast a magic spell with his warm smile
Every time his love for fast cars he’d show-n-tell.
And it was so crazy when Micah’s ice cream snatcher broke outta jail—
Good thing he could shape shift into a big ol’ bear.
As you can hear, for these kids I really do care
and want to tell yall with fondness a promise made by Thomas
to stop all this nonsense destroying his neighborhood calmness—
from violence to empty buildings—no, he wants not this
but peace in the world and I’m so inspired for real
that I feel the need to appeal to the sun
as it rises like a vision over Wissahickon
to light the way towards fulfillin’ our walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes mission.
Thank you to Erin, Lindo, Sebastian, and the Hollaback crew and
as I say good-bye I want you to listen:
Whether you walk a mile single file or in style,
Always make sure you do it with a bright, sun-shiny smile. :-)

I love you!