I'm back, bitches. Totally back. Here is me, getting caught up with life.
And by bitches, of course, I meant to say, "dear readers" or "loving friends" or if I was AFP, it would be "comrades". But this is me, we're talking about here, and I'm on break at the library, slamming back nachos and getting my greasy fingers all up over my keyboard and whilst I chew I came up with bitches. Deal.
I have Very Many Updates to make. Such as, but not limited to:
1. Finding a place.
2. Muddy Roots music festival shenanigans.
3. Seeing the Dad Horse Experience
BUT NOW! RIGHT NOW I must share that I saw Saul Williams at Schubas on Wednesday night. And y'all gotta know about it.
GAH! My heart. My brain. I think I'm exploding. I feel...
Which is excellent. Like my head is a hot air balloon and my heart is its burner. Sure. We'll go with that. Good enough.
It was Saul Williams.
I KNOW! Him. Again. I was able to see him perform music a coupla months back and now, tonight, THE POETRY.
Ye fucking gods. My heart feels warmer to the world. This is what good poetry does.
It makes you a bigger person.
It makes you a better person.
It makes you feel important.
It's a goddamn super power, that's what poetry is. Even if one is not the poet. The words themselves breathe authority and influence into the world.
I worked 9 - 5 and it was a slog. It was ok. It was a long day. I have had a very many l o n g days lately. Fast forward. Work ended. I went to Schubas. It's a small venue. Not huge, not a closet. The show sold out, which made me smile so hard because it's good to know that in this age of interwebs and distractions and Kardashians and overwhleming bullshit - that there are enough people in Chicago who care about poetry to sell out Schubas for Saul Williams. And people should care.
Poetry is important.
Stories are important.
I was there ten minutes early, which means too late to order food and early enough that I was pissed at myself for having neither a notebook or a book to read. I KNOW. Failboat. I lost my eagle scout shit right there.
I sat in the front row.
It's the only time I've ever seen the place with chairs. Foldout. Wood. Adequately ass-soring and squeaky.
The opener was a woman named Dessa. She's powerful and funny and a rapper. I had researched her before the show and her music, GAH! the lyrics. The woman has a depth and a humor...if I didn't adore her so much, I'd chop out her heart and eat the power out of it. She gave a monologue that circled around to story within story, but it always came back to the main thread which was about her almost choking on a multivitamin. How? How did she do it? She brilliantly swept into stories of acceptance, ovarian cancer, familial relationships and unrequited love...
all out of what should have been a 1/2 funny 30 second story about a multivitamin that went down the wrong way.
It lasted 45 minutes and she interjected one marriage proposal letter to Dave Eggers, a haiku and several poems and FUCK! LOVE LOVE LOVE!
And then there was a brief 15-20 miutes intermission that I cursed myself in again. No notebook to take notes. No book to read. I could have talked to others, but…I was tired. I was shy. I didn’t. But I didn’t need to worry about it for long because
THEN THERE WAS SAUL.
But that is dishonest. Yes, he came on stage. Yes, he talked. But it was to introduce the evening. You see, this night, this blessed fucking hotass creative wonder of a hell yeah night, was to celebrate and promote Chorus, his most recent anthology. But it’s not his poetry. It’s upstart poets. Nubes. Williams took poetry submissions for a month. For a month he put out a call on social media and in that month he got 8,000 poems. Out of that 8,000 poems he culled it down to 100 poems. These were the ones he was excited about. That he felt. That he wanted to share.
Williams took the 100 poems and stripped them of their titles and authors. He pasted them to his walls. For the next six months, he ate with the poems. He slept with the poems. He listened to music, brushed his teeth, and fell asleep surrounded by poems. He travelled and came home to the 100 poems. And eventually, organically, he began to see themes in them. So he put them in an order. The proper flow. AND in the book itself there are certain words that are a lighter font. These are the words that Saul Williams highlighted while the poems were still tacked to his walls BECAUSE HE HARVESTED FROM THEIR POEMS TO MAKE HIS POEM! What the goddamned connected hell? THAT IS AWESOME. His poem is called “The Red Poem” because he originally highlighted the words he’d gathered from the other poets in red.
Shit, I’m ahead of myself.
Saul Williams introduced the night and then some upstart poets came on stage that were in the anthology. I can only remember 6 of them, but I think there might have been 8. I didn’t have a pen so the standouts were:
*hot teacher who brought students to see Saul Williams – making him the coolest hot teacher ever who recited a Chicago poem about the city as a failure to its youth
*The CPS student who couldn’t have been more than 18 who talked more eloquently about the current CPS teacher strike and failure of the system than I’ve heard any professional do. Kid almost made me, and Saul Williams, cry.
*18 year old girl who had a poem describing Chicago as an old woman. This girl made me think SHIT! YOU ARE 18. 18! CHRIST. I got 11 years on you and have not written something that politically elegant yet. And that sounds jealous, which it is, but it was also inspiring.
Wow. Just wow. I love poets. GOOD POETS! So Dessa and the upstarts prepped the audience…and then Saul Wiliams took over.
He performed most of his poetry. Read some, spit most. But he’s like Ellen Kushner, even when he’s reading, it's theater.
He reminds me of Aaron Hammes, lead singer of the band The Stranger. They both use their full body, their whole beings in their performances. Williams’ pace can be frantic. Ecstatic. But he also slows it down and it’s like sex, like goddamn sex to watch him. He’ll make you work hard to follow and you realize you’ve been holding your breath and eventually you let it all out with a sweet gasp and yer practically sweating.
AND GODDDAMN. Poets, man. Poets. Poets who know they are dangerous. Poets who know their words matter. Poets who know that words can change the world. Mothers, they warn their daughters off of musicians, but really, what of the poets?
I’m giving myself palpitations.
He did old poems. He did new. He recited from She. From ,Said the Shotgun to the Head. He took questions from the audience and allowed us all to explore how poems were created, what moods he was in when he wrote them, what he was reading that helped to inspire them, hell, we even spent a large amount of time talking on gods, on religion, on belief and finding meaning in the world.
I love nights like Wednesday night because they remind me that there are people out there (outside of ones that go to writing conventions) who need, celebrate and appreciate language. Poetry. Stories.
Nights like Wednesday make me want to write.
To breathe deeper.
To live fuller.
To be rather than get by.
All I’m saying is - if Saul Williams is passing through your town, go. GO!