Poems curated by Darryl Ratcliff
Poets of Protest Lebanon
What are some of the Icons, hot topics, what is relevant?
"Give Me A Chance" by Beau Sia
"Unforgetable" by Elizabeth Acevedo, Pages Matam, G. Yamazawa
Black Lives Matter
"Unfinished" by Nkosi Nkululeko
Mental Health/ Mothers
"Explaining My Depression to My Mother" by Sabrina Benaim
"Siri: Coping Mechanism" by Patrick Roche
"Like You Know" by Taylor Mali
"Like Totally Whatever" by Melissa Lozada-Oliva
"Somewhere in America"
"Complainers" by Rudy Francisco
Advanced - Part Two
"Silence" by Jared Singer
"OCD" by Neil Hilborn
"Say No" by Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood
"Lost Voices" by Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley
"Rekia Boyd' by Porsha O
"21" by Patrick Roche
"Friend Zone by Desiree Dallagiacamo and Justin Lamb.
"Rape Poems To End All Rape Poems" by Justice Hehir, Lindsey Michelle Williams, Kate Thomas, and Lillie Hannon
"People You May Know" by Kevin Kantor
The Period Poem by Dominique Christina
"For Teenage Girls" by Clementine Von Radics
Poetry of Protest
"Rigged Game" by Dylan Garity
Trenton Doyle Hancock
From a Legend to a Choir (2009) Texas Stadium
Early Influences: Houston, Rap, Poetry, Cy Twombly, Roberto Munguia
Arturo Lindsay and Fahamu Pecou
Thursdays at the Penthouse
The Physical Impossibility of Being Black in the Mind of Someone White
Trans.lation Vickery Meadow
Riley Holloway Review
Fahamu Pecou's Review
Travis Scott 16 Bars
Rick Ross "If I Die Young"
Steve Coleman "I Just Wanna Hear A Poem" start at 1:47
John Giorno "We Got Here Yesterday"
Mike Mcgee "Mic" start at 2:55
Tom Waits - Smugglers Waltz
Anis Mojgani - Rock Out and Shake The Dust
Beau Sia "Give Me A Chance"
Shane Koyzan "Beethoven"
Regie Gibson "For James Marshall Hendrix"
Denizen Kane "Lost and Found"
Rat Sack "I'm Losing You"
Amir Sulaiman - Danger
Katie Wirsing - Frank Sinatra
Gemineye "Poetic Bloodlines"
Lin Manuel Miranda "Alexander Hamilton"
Rives - Sign Language
Saul Williams "Ohm"
Amy Everhart start at 3:00
V for Vendetta
Joaquin Zihuatanejo (USA) - Poem for Jon - CDM... by slam
Rob D I Am
QTIP Life Is Better
Papoose Alphabetical Slaughter
Citizen Cope Let the Drummer Kick
Blackalicious "Alphabet Aerobics"
Bon Iver "Holocene"
If we want to break the curse of the starving artist we have to start focusing on commerce.
A great nonprofit, Dallas Designing Dreams, whose board I recently joined, does just that.
This past Saturday in the Artist Quarters in South Side on Lamar Dallas Designing Dreams had an Art Show for the young people in their program. Patrons who attended bought their art and their leather products (think handbags, bracelets, belts) all created by the students.
An interesting thing happened, the young people who started the day shy and reticent suddenly became energetic and bubbly. They talked to every stranger walking by, they were telling their story, they were asking the founder, Arthur Porter, when they could come back and make more product. In a word – they were hustling.
For whatever reason – hustle – is a dirty word in the fine arts world. Maybe because it is the opposite of the cerebral processes that drive much contemporary art. Namely, hustle is not a thought experiment. It is not meditative. It isn’t an inside joke. It is physical, repetitive, banal, and utterly necessary.
Hustle can evolve – no one epitomizes this better than hip-hop legend Jay-Z. But why Warren Buffet and Jay-Z can become friends is because they both understand at the end of the day you have to roll up your sleeves and “just do it”.
Last Friday Anthony Boudain on Real Time with Bill Maher made a comment I’ve heard entirely too often – that the average Indian, Chinese, and Mexican kid understands the American dream much better than the American kid. They are the ones who will walk into a restaurant and ask for a dishwashing job. That they will hustle and do whatever it takes, while American kids have an entitlement attitude, that by virtue of being born they are above certain things.
Before we blame Reality TV, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, Skype, and webcams – let’s blame education. Point blank most “really really really good schools” do a terrible job teaching their students how to hustle. They do a great job teaching their students how to think – which is beautiful, worthwhile, and often worth the price of admission. But thoughts and creativity don’t put food on the table.
And hustle is not a ‘black’ thing or a “minority” thing. White people used to be the best hustlers around. They called it “strong work ethic” – but it was the same thing. Get up early, stay up late, be humble, be smart, take advantage of any edge you have, make connections, network, do your job, be responsible, make money, provide for yourself and your family, 24/7/365.
The saying when life gives you lemons –make lemonade is not the American dream. If life gives you lemons, find someone thirsty and sell lemonade or export your lemons to China because they can’t get enough of them. God has given us creativity – we can create some really great stuff. We have education, we have technique – but we don’t have hustle. We don’t want to get dirty. We think commerce is a pollutant that will make our art less pure – not correct
Getting paid is exciting and fulfilling. Being able to travel where you want, when you want is greatness. Having a decent car and place to live is magnificent. Having health insurance, being able to go to a dentist, get some new eyeglasses – or visit a therapist on a regular basis, all of these things are wonderful. All of these wonders happen because of money. When my artists friends are getting paid they are happier and more well adjusted and pleasant than when they are not getting paid.
Money and creativity go together. An artist is a small business owner. It’s a market – and you have to compete – etc, etc, etc. Get over it.
Okay – I know what you are thinking – “Darryl artist who hustle make bad art. If their art was good, they will get discovered, and make lots of money. I don’t want to make garden gnomes all of my life.” True, we all know some artists who hustle whose art isn’t that great and artists who don’t hustle whose art is amazing. So What? If you think your art is better than the garden gnome artist, find his market and take away all of his clients. Steal everything he has worked his entire life to build. Put that garden gnome creator out of business. Show the people good art, and they will never buy bad art again.
Unfortunately you won’t do that. One, people want what they like – and a lot of people like garden gnomes. Two, you don’t know how to do market research – you don’t know how to create a business plan – you couldn’t steal a chocolate chip cookie even if it was on the window ledge, fresh out of the oven.
And that is the second reason artist starve – they don’t hustle and they don’t know business. Yet both can be taught. A 14 year old girl named Taylor learned the value of hustle this past Saturday- that talking to people, telling your story, hustling leads to cash in your pocket. She had already done the hard work of creating, learning how to sew, cut leather, paint, et al. Yet she found out that just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. You have to go and grab it.
You have to Hustle, Hustle, Hustle Hard.
There is nothing more frightening for me than a serious relationship.
Just the idea of it makes me shudder.
This is strange because although I am deathly scared of long-term relationships, I feel that I have been prepared to succeed in one.
I come from a household with two parents who even as they approach their sixties seem to legitimately care for and love each other. My Dad has always treated my Mom really well, and my mother has always been a great wife. I’ve seen my parents fight, disagree, and I know they have gone through tough times. But I have always seen them get through it, and continue to love each other, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health.
So, my formative experiences with marriage and true love are all very positive.
I also have been blessed to have friends who love me unconditionally – who have stood by me as I’ve made mistakes, when I have been grumpy, melodramatic, silly, detached, and everything else. I try to be a good friend but I know I sometimes am not. These people love me anyways.
So, I have a good example and an excellent support structure.
Also, it is safe to say that I have not been unlucky in love – quite the opposite; I have been able to date some truly amazing women – from princesses to diplomats to superstar artists.
I have been a democratic dater – dating people from different ethnicities, nationalities, upbringings, and religious backgrounds than myself.
So, I have an idea about who I am in a relationship. What my strengths and weaknesses are, what I am looking for, what I need from a partner, and what I am willing to give.
Yet, I am still scared to death, because deep down I am not sure if I can be a suitable long-term partner.
The biggest reason for this is that I am bi-polar.
Unlike being handicapped, being bipolar can be unpredictable, subversive, and aims at the heart.
The lack of stability, the sometimes complete emotional disconnect, the fights with both depression and mania, can render a huge toil on the other person in the relationship.
And it is the little things – I might stay up half the night because a person I loved didn’t text message me back, and now I am questioning the entire relationship, and especially myself, over a reality as simple as “she fell asleep because it is 1:30 A.M. “
Or my significant other needs me emotionally – but I am manic and simply want to go out, or drink, or have sex and I am emotionally unavailable. Or more commonly I am depressed and want to lay in bed, feel sorry for myself, feel worthless – and once again I am emotionally unavailable.
And unfortunately when you are a big part of woman’s life – and suddenly you check out on her – she becomes really upset and cries. She cries because she loves you and you are hurting her.
The tricky thing is that in between stuff like this I know I am an absolutely amazing and loving person. I know why people are attracted to me. Most of the time I rock.
Yet, serious relationships aren’t “most of the time” affairs. When dating someone casually you can generally shield them from the worst parts of yourself. You can’t do this when you are dating seriously or married – it is all of the time, and sooner or later – you are going to be “bipolar”.
And the tragedy is that it won’t be a “one-time affair”. This is fundamentally part of who you are.
A good friend who is bipolar recently told me “I'm just really sad because I've been a pancake my whole life and a pancake is a pancake! Even when it doesn't want to be :/”
Usually when I try to change my personality it has to do with a relationship – I am trying to be a better person for somebody else. And honestly it works to a certain degree.
Yet at the end of the day I am still a pancake. Will always be pancake. Especially when I don’t want to be.
I often wonder whether or not it is even fair for me to get into a serious relationship. If I want to put someone who I love through the challenges of dealing with me?
I know I push people away.
Whether consciously or subconsciously my default is not to let anyone get too close.
To be known but unknowable.
And I have some vague idea that this too isn’t healthy.
But I wonder if loneliness is the price I must pay to not have to deal with hurting the person I love most in the world?
Because honestly for me there isn’t a worse feeling than letting down or hurting those I love. The pain it causes me is traumatic. So my heart tries to run from this pain, even though it’s of my own creation.
Yet I still can’t completely believe in running from Love, because all of my life I have seen, been taught, and believe that Love is good.
That Love is power. That Love can conquer all.
If I had to explain my religious beliefs, in one word, it would be Love.
So the very thing that I am most afraid of is the very thing I want most in the entire world.
And this tension, I believe, is fundamentally human.
Fear and desire often go hand in hand.
I do believe that there is someone who is meant to be my life-partner, my wife, my truest of loves.
I do believe somehow we will figure out an answer to this tension – that she will add an abundance to my life and that I will complete hers.
I do believe that God is good and that God is Love, and even something as vexing to my human mind as how to have a successful long-term relationship when you are bipolar can be figured out.
Most importantly, I have to believe this.
Because even pancakes deserve a happily ever after.
Recently the person who has had the most influence on my thinking is a comedian.
Namely Bill Maher and his Real Time with Bill Maher show on HBO.
It isn't his political views that have influenced me but the way he pushes his guests, intellectuals, actors, politicians, and professional pundits - to actually take a stand. He is trying to bring back a framework where some things can actually be right, and some can actually be wrong. Ironically, this is a framework that conservative Christians has supported for years.
I don't claim a political party - but I am generally more liberal and progressive than not.
It is probably safe to say that many in the art world are more likely to fall into this camp than the right-wing fringe.
What I have always disliked about many of liberal friends is this idea that everything is relative, every side of an issue deserves equal weight, there are always two side to a coin, you just can't really be sure of anything.
I respect the fact that life is complicated, there are often grey areas, but I don't think everything is grey area. I think in some cases you can safely say something is right and something is wrong. I think you can say someone has won an argument and someone has lost an argument. I believe in facts and commonsense. I don't believe that every side of issue deserves to be considered equally. I think in some cases to do so is not only stupid but dangerous - and is the very thing I hate about most media.
For example, if I said President Bush was from Singapore. And in fact he is not from Singapore. I do not deserve time or attention. There is not a debate to be had. There is no question. I am just wrong. Period. End of story.
Here is another less obvious example. If I said we should not judge how certain countries with Muslim majorities treat their women because the United States doesn't treat our women well either.
This is the far more common and seductive relativism that I hear from many people I respect. However, for me it is a false equivalency. Sure our country has a long way to go in regards to gender equality. We pay women less, we often view them as sexual objects, we have a subversive rape culture(whether it is 1 in 5 or 1 in 20 is irrelevant), and we still way too often legislate rules governing women's bodies. This is bad and shameful. However, this is not the equivalent of literally making women faceless, relieving males of all responsibility for their sexual urges, having a system of acceptable murder directed only towards women, the forced marriage of girls who aren't even teenagers, blatantly giving women unequal treatment under law,etc,etc. Yes we have problems that we need to work on but they in no way equate to the reality of life for women in some countries. And there is nothing wrong with pointing that out.
How does this relate to the arts?
If there was ever a realm that embraces the idea of subjectivity it is the arts. I know I will infuriate people by saying that there can be winners and losers in art, but not only can there be winner there are winners.
I am 19 and I get a solo show at a respected gallery. I am winning.
I am 53 and have seen my sales go down for my last two solo shows. I am losing.
I am an arts professional who has brought together a bunch of arts organizations who don't normally work together to do arts festival. I am winning.
I am a multi-million dollar organization who can't get anyone under 40 to attend my events. I am losing.
I make a risky piece of work that no one understands. I am losing.
Ten years later that same piece of work isn't seen as a failure but a prototype ahead of its time. I am winning.
You don't have to agree with me about "who wins" and "who loses"; however, the idea that someone wins and someone loses - shouldn't be controversial.
But it is.
We like to think art is above such gritty reality. And maybe it is - when you are alone in your studio - making the art.
However, that is not how we deal with art. We deal with art in galleries, in museums, in homes, in restaurants, in the streets. We admire it. We buy it. We sell it. We talk about it.
And in that realm there are winners and losers. It is not subjective. Some people are able to make their livelihoods with it and some are not. Some people are happy with what they create and some are not. Some people influence other people and some do not.
As I say in the header of my new blog - Some people win. And some people lose. Very few do both all of the time.
I believe that this is true with all human endeavors, even those where we are competing only with ourselves.
Most importantly by believing that you can win and you can lose - suddenly you are motivated. There is incentive to make changes. The arts have lost a lot compared to other industries and professions. My life is dedicated to trying to figure out how to improve the creative field. I think integrating other successful business models and giving individuals access to capital is one way to do so. However, if you don't know what is successful and what isn't - then you don't know where you stand and what changes you need to make. You have no goal posts. There is no score.
One of the wisest things I was told as financial planner was "if you keep the score, then the score will improve."
I think it far past time for the art world to start keeping scores. Only then will we see our industry improve.
Darryl Ratcliff is the CEO of Green Bandana Group and Managing Partner of Creative VC. Check out his new blog "Winners and Losers" at www.creativevc.com
I am not old yet – although I sometimes feel like it. I think that is what a freelance approach to life does for you. I never wanted to specialize in anything, but at a young age (15) I was taken with ideal of the “renaissance man” as presented by Baldassare Castiglione in his book The Courtier. I needed to be an Eagle Scout, hit an open jump shot, paint well, write well, lead people, date beautiful girls, go to church, have interesting friends, understand political debates, and know how to make a great cocktail. I fervently believed that like our patchwork country, my patchwork quilt of knowledge, experiences, and skill sets would lead me to some paradise of exceptionalism – a select club of interesting people where everyone knew just enough.
However, in the pursuit of broadness how can you mean anything? If you are always something or someone different – who are you? What is the true goal of the renaissance ideal?
The answers to these questions often change for me – but in the case of the Dallas Art Scene – the answer is quite clear. The goal is to act.
We shape meaning by what we do – the care we put into the planning, the success we have in executing. Recently a Creative Time report has the local arts community buzzing. Unfortunately those buzzing are the old, familiar (and desperately needed) voices and individuals who have gotten us this far.
What about the new and different voices – those needed to step up and take us to the next level? I believe they already exist – I have long been impressed with what I call the underground art scene of Dallas: those shows that exist in people’s homes and other alternative spaces. I have lived off of these shows – they give me life and hope. The young people are making art and dancing and drinking and having a pretty good time. Yet to be honest the kids aren’t quite alright.
The Metroplex breeds talent and I think this happens precisely because there isn’t a huge built up art-critical complex. An artist is more or less left alone to make their art and find their own way without any real pressure or expectation for instant success – and that can be a very good thing for a young artist. However once these same artists do find their way, and start making art that merits further consideration – then Dallas suddenly transforms into a cultural quicksand, slowly crushing the artists aspirations and passions until the only thing they want to do is leave Dallas as soon as possible.
It is not quite that dramatic, but some of the best young talents in Dallas do feel a need to leave this city in order to pursue their artistic lives, and that is not good for our art scene. Also a lot of these people are my friends (or could have been my friends) and so I take it personally. Plus, I don’t want to wake up one day and be like – forget Dallas I want to be where the people are.
So this idea of needing new and different voices in our creative dialogue is very personal to me – I want to hang out with other interesting and creative people. And the secret is most young creative people feel the same way. The hardest part is how do you get them to find each other?
We have a young creative extended happy hour. We have it on a Friday. It goes from 8-3 a.m. There is free alcohol. There are a couple DJs. There are places to sit. Walls with paper that you can write or paint on. We do it once a month. It can be sponsored by a major art organization each month (Nasher, DMA, SMU, UTD,etc). The key is that there is no agenda besides being a place where young creatives can meet each other – a place where you can have fun – have drinks – and know that everyone there is an artist. We would want it open to all genres of artists. Poets, musicians, visual artists, dancers, glassblowers, film folk, jugglers, etc. People could share if they wanted to share. Or not. It would be whatever people decided they needed. It would be home.
I am going to reach out to the DMA, Nasher, and SMU to see if anyone is interested in helping with this endeavor. Either way we will have our first Young Creative Meet Up in May at 1111 Gallery (unless other people get involved and have better resources and ideas). I have no problem investing my time, energy, in making this happen, because I believe only good things happen when young creative people consistently get together. I believe this is one of the top five things that can change the future of the arts in Dallas.
If you are interested in helping with this idea or have any feedback or suggestions feel free to leave a comment, facebook me, or shoot me an email (Darryl@greenbandanagroup.com).
Why You? Because there is no one better. Why Now? Because tomorrow isn’t good enough.
I hope you join us on our journey.