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Been Gone For A Minute, Now I’m Back….

Please believe that I did not mean to reference Lil’ Kim with this blog post title, but I guess since we are on the subject, this is the jump off. The jump off to a whole new blog. There will be no more sporadic posting! I know you all have forgotten about me and this blog, so it might take me some time to reintroduce myself and make you believe in me. My job was to keep you up to date on all things spoken, and I haven’t spoken a word in….well, a very long time.

Believe it or not, I really haven’t spoken a word in a very long time. It has been quite awhile since I’ve written not just on this blog, but even a poem, a stanza, or a creative line. I can count on one hand how many times I have performed out in the last year. But isn’t that how we writers are sometimes? We go into hiding, cocoon, hibernate, and reinvent ourselves. Let’s reinvent together.

I’ve put it into words for all the world to see, so now I must hold myself to it. So, look for a post tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. And the day after that. Hope you can keep up.

So to end where I started this post, as Kim would say, “She back at it, why wouldn’t she be.”

Wow, I seriously just wrote a post that somehow incorporated Lil’ Kim. I promise this blog is not going to continue in that direction.

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Rounding it Up

Round 5 was the last round of the preliminaries and we had another great show of talent. Our guest judges for the week were Nick Peay, Sultra Diviine, and Daniel Hill. Nick Peay, front man for local rock band OK Zombie, has two solo EPs, Life & Love & Us and Feathers & Fables. A true singer-songwriter, Nick treated us to some of his tunes at the end of the show. Be sure to check out his site here to find out where to see him next. Sultra Diviine is one-half of the local musical duo, CPHR DVN. There was a time I called them my favorite local hip-hop artists. I no longer feel right making that statement. In a way, it is still very true. However, categorizing them as hip-hop artists just isn’t fair. They somehow manage to transcend hip-hop while still taking it back to its roots. Their music is a ethereal experience full of not just hip-hop, but classical, reggae, trip-hop and rock. Even as a writer, I can’t describe it, you have to hear it. They probably describe themselves best when they say “Hip-Hop alchemists, lyrical metaphysicists, and quantum dancers.” Although Sultra won’t describe herself as a spoken word artist, I will. Her writing is honest and beautiful and my ears love it every time she steps to the mic, as writer or musician. Daniel R. Hill, aka D.R. Hill, is poet, spoken word artist, playwright, director and actor. It has been a long time since I have seen him on the mic because he stays busy as the now Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Louisville. He always brings something unique and fresh to the mic, but since I didn’t let him know he could perform a piece to get us started, he instead did an amazing reading of whatever he could find on his phone. In this instance, a recipe. Be sure to check out the next play he will be directing, “Sylvia,” running February 26, 2014 – March 2, 2014 at the Thrust Theatre.
Ok, enough about us judges again. On to the talent! First up Matthew Presley, the “Bard in Blue,” graced the mic with his words once again. This weeks piece was titled “Vibration.” It was one I had not heard before and is now one of my favorites from this writer. Next was Maree Ecrevan, a beautiful soul I have had the pleasure of hearing once before. She shared “Gertrude Stein in Blue” and it was a lovely piece that brought a smile to my lips. Maggie Green was on the mic next. I did not catch the title of Maggie’s short story, but it had me laughing. Her story was a comical piece that brought quite a few giggles from the judges and audience. Unfortunately, it also brought a lot of giggles from Maggie herself! Performing on stage is difficult, but holding composure goes a long way. I would love to see and hear Maggie again and were this not the last week for the preliminaries, I would have definitely encouraged her to come back. Louis O’Neal gave us a very personal piece with his poem “Addiction.” With a raw honesty, Louis’ deep baritone voice brought us into his world. Jeremy Lane came back for a second week and his quirky way once again had me smiling. Robin Bensinger also brought an emotional poem, “Thoughts on Transcending Violence.” Her beautiful, positive outlook on life is a refreshing tone in the world of poetry and spoken word. Clayton Williams was up next for his second try at the competition. Last time he gave us an excerpt of a novel, but this time it was a poem. I loved that he has range and is willing to deviate and take a chance on stage. Anthony Trotter, Jr. has been our regular face each and every week. Although he is a regular face in the crowd and on the stage, his pieces take on something new every week. This week’s was titled “Fugazi.” Flexibility and variety are important and I appreciate that he has that balance of newness and familiarity every time I see him perform. I was very happy and excited to see Heather Brandenburg was back for another go. This week’s story, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” was delightfully macabre and her performance was eerily beautiful. I wish I could hit “rewind” just to hear and see it again. This woman has something quite special. Our last writer this week was another returning contestant, Gwen Pearce. Her poem, “Angels,” was a lovely way to end a lovely night.
I was ecstatic that Anthony Trotter, Jr. and Heater Brandenburg took first and second place respectively. Anthony also once again took the audience award. I have enjoyed their offerings each week they have participated and cannot wait to hear what they bring to the semi-finals. See you there!

Round 4 and We Are Still Getting Made

Since Round 5 is tonight, I guess I should get to telling you about Round 4! This round kept the momentum of the competition going and we had 10 performers this week!
We even had three guest judges this week, one of which was Shawn Wallace, who is part of the band Soul Circus. Also on the panel was local film-maker, writer, and actor, Shaun Hickerson. Shaun often works with SteraFilms and you can find some of his work on their website. He wrote and starred in the recently released “The Undoing.” You can catch the trailer here. Our other guest judge was the talented trumpeter Ryan McCaslin. One of the wonderful things about this musician is his musical diversity. You can often catch him around town playing some funk, soul and R&B with Soul River Brown and the Foundation Band, playing some salsa that will make you swing your hips with The Kentucky Salsa Allstars, or playing some classic big band and some originals with Your Friendly Neighborhood Big Band. You can check them all out on the ‘ol Book of Faces for schedules and more info. In the meantime, you can check Ryan out playing a cover I absolutely adore of John Prine’s “Great Rain” with Small Time Napoleon. Watch it here.
Okay, enough about our wonderful judges, on to some wonderful contestants.
First to the mic was Clayton Williams with an excerpt from “In the Boon of the Titans.” I believe this story has real potential and loved Clayton’s use of language, but had some trouble understanding him at times. I hope he comes back for the next round. Matthew Presley tried on the competition once again with “The Color With No Name.” This piece really made me smile. Matthew is always comfortable on stage and it is a joy to hear his poems. I am hoping I get our next competitors first name right, and if not I greatly apologize. Lana Smith shared her short story “The Last Supper.” Her slight southern twang fit this piece so well. I could feel and taste the comforts of food and family while she read and I was charmed. Joshua Nisley was up next with something we have not yet had in this competition, a children’s story. Joshua is a story-teller in the truest sense and I could have listened to him all night. More than a children’s story, “The Seedling and the Caterpillar” was a story for the heart of young and old alike. Aside from his writing and story-telling talents, Joshua is also a visual artist and I encourage you to check out his work. The spoken-word artist Anthony Trotter, Jr. was on the mic next to give the competition another try, this time with “Foodly Medicine.” The concept of this piece was much different than what I have heard from Anthony thus far and I was delighted to know he is branching out. As always, his performance was solid. Jeremy Lane took the stage with an untitled piece. Jeremy made me smile as he read from small yellow pages and tossed them aside as he finished a page. Kenneth “Kenny Fresh” Woods graced the mic once again. His stage presence and magnetizing personality once again shined through. The audience really responded to his piece “Attendre.” Gwen Cee Pearce returned for another round as well, this time with “Not Your Princes.” She gave another good performance and as I’ve said before, I hope she keeps performing out and getting more comfortable on stage. Maplex Monk was up next and I was glad to see he came back for another round. What I adored about this week’s piece is that it was half prose-half poem and he performed it that way. Sometimes sitting, sometimes standing, sometimes laying on his back on the stage, I felt like he was really sharing a piece of himself. Had the piece been memorized, even partially, I think it could have made all the difference for this particular piece because it would have drawn us into his world that much more. Our last competitor of the night was Christian Englaund and if I understood correctly, he was just passing through town and decided to give the competition a go. He shared a poem and was clear and concise in his delivery, it was well prepared.
And the winners are…..First Place went to a well deserving Joshua Nisley, Second to the also well deserving Kenny Fresh, and Anthony Trotter, Jr. once again took the audience award.
Tonight is the last round of the preliminaries so I am hoping to see all you last minute folks, procrastinators like me, out and on the mic tonight. Remember Made in 502 is at Diamond Pub & Concert Hall, 630 Barret Ave in Louisville, KY. Sign ups at 7, performances at 8. See you there!

Still Getting Made – Round 3

I know. I’m still a week behind. Not doing such a great job keeping you informed, am I? I promise to get caught up this week!
So Round 3 was awesome! I cannot express how wonderful it is to sit back and watch such a talented group of people each and every week.
This week’s guest judge was Sheri L. Wright. Sheri is another one of those multifaceted artists that just absolutely amazes me. A strong woman with lots of character, Sheri is writer, poet, photographer, and film-maker. She has published a number of books, including “The Slow Talk of Stones” and her most recent book of poetry, “The Feast of Erasure.” You can find both for sale on her website, Scribblings and Such. In the past, she has hosted both The Stone Soup Poetry Series and From the Inkwell. Always supporting other artists as well, she is a true asset to our arts community.
First to take the mic and the stage was Trevor Decuir. Trevor did a spoken word piece that felt part poetry and part prose and I loved every minute of it. The next contestant, Matthew Presley, made his first appearance at the competition last week and was back to give it another try. He recited his poem “Fool.” His reading was solid, always making eye contact with the audience. Heather Brandenburg also made another appearance. I loved her fantasy like story she read before and this time we saw a whole other side to Ms. Brandenburg. She blew me away with what was more of a performance piece, taking its place in my brain as some serious performance art. “Perpetual” was unlike anything else I have heard and I would love to see, hear and read more of her work. We had yet another returning writer, Maisie Greenwell. A newbie to the microphone, she was much more relaxed this time, but still quite nervous. Her poem was bold and I give her props for the confidence it took to get up there and share it. Next up was Kenneth “Kenny Fresh” Woods. Kenny gave us the spoken word piece “Wake Up Call.” Kenny is definitely a performer. He was on spot with this poem and his delivery is clear, concise and on point. Anthony Trotter, Jr. returned to the mic as well. As usual, he commanded the stage with a spoken word piece. “Rainy Days” was a well written piece, but maybe ended a little to quickly. I would have liked him to expand on the idea a bit more. Anthony is an excellent performer and I look for him to do big things in the spoken word world. Gwen Pearce gave the competition another try, this time with her piece entitled “He is My…..” I see her confidence building each week and I hope she continues to write and get comfortable on the stage. As the night started to wind down with only two writers left, Alexis “Stix” Brown caught the mic on fire. “Them Crazies” is a spoken word piece fit for a slam and she performed it like she wanted that perfect 10, yet with ease and grace. Alexis is not just poet and writer, but also visual artist. She will open her first solo show at Jazzyblue on Friday, August 9, 2013. Stop by and check it out. Last, but definitely not least was the returning Maplex Monk. I thoroughly enjoyed Maplex’s piece this week and he was much stronger on stage this round.
This week was another very close call. Coming in first was Alexis Brown, with second place being a very close Trevor Decuir. The audience pick for the week was Heather Brandenburg, as her piece, not surprisingly, garnered the most reaction from the crowd.
Can’t wait to see what next week brings! Remember, Diamond Pub on Tuesdays. See you there!

Getting Made – Round 2

I know, I know, I’m behind in the blogging. This post will be all about LAST week, which was Round 2 of the Made in 502 Creative Writing Competition. I loved this week! We had more than just poets and spoken word artists and that absolutely made my day! This week we had the very talented Kenn Parks on the judge’s panel as a guest judge, along with the equally talented Demi Demaree. Kenn and Demi are both multi-talented and multi-faceted artists with a wide range of talents.
Kenn is an amazing visual artist and stage actor. You can find him most often at The Alley Theater. He is also currently starring in two local indie films which are both in principal photography, Angry Lunch Production’s “Nailed Down” and Dream Realm Entertainment’s “Along Came a Stranger.”
I hesitate to call Demi a musician, because he is so much more, but along with “so much more,” he is, in the truest sense, a musician and so I shall stick with that title for today. A member of Plan of Man, Villebillies and Iron Bells, he is currently the CEO of Island Earth Music and is crashing through the lines of genres, giving us sounds that are a hybrid of all things raw and true in music. Hip-hop, folk, rap, rock, classical, mix it all up and nod your head. That’s Demi.
Sitting on the panel with these two was an honor. Also on the panel was our other regular judge, who is anything but regular, Mark James. But I already told you all about him last time, so I won’t gush on.
Now on to the insanely amazing writers we had this week. Before we started this round, Lance Newman, our winner from last week, gave us an encore performance of his winning piece. Our first competitor was Heather Brandenburg, who started off the night with a magical tale of whimsy, love and unity, “The Tale of Three Women.” I adore the story and believe it will some day be published. Second up to the mic was a very nervous D.A. Madigan with a short story entitled “Positive.” It pulled at my heart strings and possibly made me tear up a bit. Madigan doesn’t usually read his stories aloud and normally writes more sci-fi, but I am so glad he chose to share this story with us. You can find some of his other writings on his Smashwords site here. Next up was Matthew Presley, also known as “The Bard in Blue.” Matthew did a very nice reading of his poem “Next Steps.” You can often catch him at open mics all around town. He is a great supporter of the local music scene and arts culture and I was so glad to see him come out for Made in 502. Local film-maker Gregory Fugate treated us to an excerpt from a screen-play. Be sure to check out his upcoming film, “Shark.” Then Kim Ames was up to the mic with a heart-felt poem about her car, “Sophia.” The thing that was beautiful about this poem is that underneath it all, it wasn’t a poem about her car, but about success and independence. Rachel Short, another multi-talented artist, was our next writer and she really set the bar with her piece, “Crude.” Not only a writer, Rachel is a beautiful musician. She also hosts the event “Subterranean Phrases” at Decca on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, so go check it out. Up next was a returning competitor from last week, Anthony Trotter, Jr. He once again commanded the stage, this time with his poem “Worked My Ass Off.” I have to give credit to Maisie Greenwell, who was on stage next – for her very first time! Nervous as can be, she got through her poem and did a damn good job. The last writer of the night was Gwen Pearce. Gwen did a piece entitled “He Who Is the Result of Intent.” A bit of a longer poem, very well written. You can see she is still new to reading in crowds, but I believe this girl has the goods to go somewhere.
I know, I know, you want to know who won. The well-deserving Rachel Short took first place with D.A. Madigan taking second. The audience pick for the night was Anthony Trotter, Jr.
This has been a pretty long entry for a blog, so I’m going to wrap on up. But first I have to tell you, you NEED to make it out for this competition. Every week is getting bigger and better. Even if you aren’t competing, this is an event worth watching. So come on out next Tuesday!

Getting Made – Round 1

Last night was a blast at the “Made in 502” competition. So excited to be a part of this awesome event!
Amazing writers and artists on the mic for this one. There was a total of 5 writers signed up to perform and let me tell you, I was blown away by the talent. They were a diverse group with different styles, which kept the night interesting. It also, however, made it difficult to be in the judge’s seat! Judging with me was the national-touring spoken word artist Truth B. Told and the artist and owner of Open, Mark James.
We had all poets this week. But remember, this competition is open to all writers. First up was Lance Newman. Lance has been making a name for himself for awhile on the spoken word circuit. He has hosted a number of spoken word shows and open mics around the city. His most recent endeavor is all about the slam and I actually posted a recent blog about the College Coop Slam he hosted. Lance did not disappoint and started the competition off right. Next on the stage was Matthew Murphy. This is the first time I have heard him, but he really brought it and I enjoyed his work. Next on the list was Anthony Trotter, Jr. Very strong presence and he commanded the stage, something I always like to see. Maplex Monk was next on the mic. Maplex does wonderful things for the arts community in Louisville. He is all about networking and getting the right people together. You have to admire that. His piece was on point. Last, but certainly not least, was the beautiful Dawn’s Early Light. It was nice to get a woman on the mic and switch things up a bit. Her piece was well written and she uses both voice and movement to keep your attention.
The winner of the round, who advances to the semi-finals (and got to walk away with $100), was Lance Newman. Lance won the audience award, too! The second place winner also advances to the semi-finals. Dawn’s Early Light took that spot. Both winners will appear on this weekend’s edition of the Made in 502 radio show on Crescent Hill Radio.
All other competitors are welcome to come back for another preliminary round and I honestly hope they do. We had some really great talent!
There was a small, but wonderful crowd, so I definitely want everyone to spread the word about this opportunity. Let’s continue to grow this competition into something even bigger. Write now and then come see us next Tuesday at Diamond Pub & Concert Hall, 630 Barret Ave., Louisville, KY. Sign-ups start at 7. See you there!

Get Made in 502

I am excited to announce that I will be judging the Made in 502 Creative Writing Contest! You can find out more about it here: Made in 502.
The competition is 7 weeks long, with 5 preliminary rounds, a semi-final, and final round. What’s different about this particular competition? Although it’s live and on stage, it isn’t all about poetry or spoken word. Along with spoken word artists, writers of short stories, novels, flash fiction, etc. are all encouraged to participate. If you have stage-fright you can’t get over, you can even have a proxy reader! Prizes include a publishing contract, $500 in cash, and a photo shoot.
The fun starts tonight at Diamond Pub & Concert Hall, 630 Barret Ave, Louisville, KY. If you’re in the Louisville area, come on out!
I will be blogging each week to keep you updated on how the competition is going, so be sure to check back regularly.