He Said She Said We Said

 I’ve been performing this poem for more than a decade…but it seems timely…

The gig at the Five Forks branch of the Greenville Public Library, back in April 2019, was sponsored by the library. They reached out to the Greenville Jazz Collective to provide a program of jazz and poetry, so then the GJC reached out to me for the poetry. I would still like to work on an arrangement for this piece, especially including some percussion, and then record it…

Repetition in Performance

“Repetition” is a poem I’ve been working on for a little while. This is a freestyle version with Shannon Hoover on bass and Matt Dingledine on guitar. The gig at the Five Forks branch of the Greenville Public Library, back in April 2019, was sponsored by the library. They reached out to the Greenville Jazz Collective to provide a program of jazz and poetry, so then the GJC reached out to me for the poetry. I would still like to work on an arrangement for this piece, especially including some percussion, and then record it…

Correct link on Facebook for live video recording

On Thursday I posted the wrong link for a live video recording from the Five Forks Library in Simpsonville. So I deleted that post. 🙂 I had fun performing for the first time with Shannon Hoover on upright bass, and Matt Dingledine on guitar.

Here is the correct link: https://www.facebook.com/greenvillejazzcollective/videos/1187964791381097/

For those of you who don’t go on Facebook, there will be a highlights video soon….feedback always welcome and appreciated!

Word Anthology Now for Sale

Paperback: 116 pages Publisher: Gathering of the Tribes (March 30, 2017) ISBN-10: 0998611301 ISBN-13: 978-0998611303

Octogenarian Steve Cannon told me that Word is the last book he will publish. It is a thank you to all the people who contributed to “A Gathering of the Tribes Magazine” in various ways. He published fourteen print issues packed with poetry, essays, reviews and art.

Aside from doing some grant writing in his office, I was involved in several  issues of the magazine, first as an associate editor, then editor, and also as a contributor of interviews and poetry. My time spent at Tribes, then located in Steve’s home on East Third Street in the East Village of NYC, was well invested. I learned a lot about literature and publishing literature from Steve. I also met hundreds of people of all stripes who came through the door daily, hourly…

It’s an honor to have a few of my note poems in this volume. Personally, it brought tears to my eyes as I read through it. That’s because some of the contributors have passed on, and so have the times that we all intersected with each other under the blessing of Steve’s hospitality.

I’ll have to leave the critical reviews of this book to others. But I will tell you that it is in glossy full color and contains as much art as it does poetry. Please take a look and consider adding this beautiful book to your collection.

Cuntry Grab

in the mirror
made in China
what is behind me
is before me

i see

buffalo no roam
truces trails nooses nails

slaves paths paved
fathers founding free
ejacular college lock her rooms
dark sons dark daughters dark secrets
times three over five equals

ours tis of thee of me

steel bars
beer bars
code bars
prison bars
greasing grinding greed

far away from here
from there
from where

Divided Moon

The Moon sees the Earth split between light and dark
and we see her divided the same way.
She pulls night from our day and plays with our emotions
shining reflected rays on our slumbering notions.

Moon over Paris Mountain at Dusk

Moon over Paris Mountain at Dusk

Communication and Concentration of Creative Construction

None of us created the world we were born into. We didn’t get to decide what kind of talents we were born with either. You could argue that those of us who have chosen to create art in all its myriad forms, were destined to be creative artists. Or you could argue that anyone who spends the majority of their time “working” on things that don’t generally turn a profit, is not fulfilling their destiny, just crazy. What’s the point? Why do you put enormous energy into pulling off yet another theatre production? Why do you shell out more money for more paint supplies? Why do you keep going to poetry open mics or writing books that never make it to the New York Times bestseller list? Surely it’s not for the money.

I’ve been thinking about money lately. Who doesn’t think about money whether they want to or not? Those printed pieces of paper that are only worth something because we are told they represent worth, they cause a lot of heartache either way. If you have too much it transforms the people around you. If you don’t have enough your life can become a tragedy. This system that we were all born into here in America dictates that if you are ambitious about producing and presenting big arts projects you will have to go out with your hat out and ask people, companies, corporations and governments for money, because your work will not have any dollar value on its own. It’s time to get away from all that and find a different way to manifest what must be expressed.
Back in the nineties I wrote a few grant applications for a not-for-profit that required many hours of preparation, and gave no assurance that there would be a reward at the end. Many not-for-profits operate solely on budgets with strings attached to foundations and other charitable entities. The arts are nothing but a charity in the United States. Few public school children get any kind of arts education these days. Even less people even seem to care. But I care. And if you’ve read this far, you care too. It occurred to me that one thing we can do as a group is begin to think about ways to operate without money, or beyond money or even in spite of money.
Last week I brought up the idea of an international event on the scale of the Olympics, for the Arts. Now I know this is a far stretch, but can you imagine if it could be mounted without any corporate funding? Could it be done without asking anyone for money? Maybe, maybe not. I do know that it would take cooperation and creativity. When we talk about a concentration of power, we are usually referring to a concentration of resources which a few people have control over. They’re the ones who get the lion’s share of the money that’s in circulation. What do artists have? The power of creativity. Creativity is a great resource or renewable energy. It’s also the thing that can get us out from under the boot, and elevate the artist to an appropriate stature in society.
What do you think? Should the government solve our problems? Should corporations solve our problems? Can we communicate with each other and create new avenues for freedom of expression? Please join me on Tuesday, September 9 at 8pm PST, for a call in radio show discussing the arts and arts professionals in today’s world. You can also start a new topic or join one of the existing ones on our bulletin board. I will refer to suggestions and ideas posted on the bulletin board during the radio show, and use the bulletin board as a tool to continue the discussion between each second Tuesday of the month radio show.
Wishing you Peace and Poetry
Martha Cinader Mims

Changing and Changing Again

The internet has only been around for about ten years. I didn’t grow up with a cell phone or a laptop. I still wrote my essay assignments in high school by hand. I still have a writer’s bump on my right middle finger to prove that I wrote some long essays. I read books, old books, new books, used books, trashy books, great books. I listened to records and spent time looking at album covers. Sometimes I went to the library. Being into artistic type things, dreaming of being a writer, I was warned that I wasn’t likely to make much of a living like that. The same was true for teens like me, definitely not jocks, or physicists either, all across the country. Recently I was talking with some Pacifica Radio colleagues of mine from the nineties, about radio programming today. One told me that “nobody reads books anymore.” Another one said that “they don’t give more than ten minutes of airtime to authors.” Apparently no one buys albums anymore either. They just download singles. They need information; they enter keywords.  I’m not saying what is bad or what is good. But what should a writer do? Write books? Movie scripts? Video game scripts with multiple endings? Morph into a multi-media performance artist? Personally, I prefer not to allow the market to dictate what I create. It’s helpful to remember, actually, to continually remind ourselves, like a mantra, what our motives are for our creations. In the case of writing, one thing is certain. A story is at the heart of the matter. Whether you are telling a story to a group of children, or selling your brand of soap on TV, there is a struggle and an outcome. There was a time when nobody read at all. And for a long time, only a few people read, and they held the printed word up as if it was sacred, as if it was THE TRUTH. The truth is that stories are older than books. Pictures are older than alphabets. It’s not true though, that nobody reads books anymore, or newspapers. It may seem hard to believe, but one day someone is going to say ‘nobody watches TV anymore.’ But what all this really means is that the story is being told with different tools.  I’m halfway through a new book by Ana Castillo, “The Guardians” an example of storytelling at its best. I search for stuff on the internet all the time. I put on old records, and I download mp3’s too, and podcast and chat and twitter. What concerns me in this changing landscape is the status and well being of the creative artist.  During the whole time that the Olympics were happening in Beijing I kept thinking that what the world needs is an international arts event of the same stature as the Olympics is for sports. When Dizzy Gillespie visited Cuba he gave a concert with a band of musicians who were Americans and Cubans. He commented to a huge crowd of fans that they were demonstrating to their political leaders how it can be done. The way I see it, no matter what the political controversy is that surrounds the Olympics, the fact that all these athletes come together and display their skills and sportsmanship at the heights of human achievement is awe inspiring. Just imagine, if there was an arts event of the same magnitude, how it would improve the stature and the funding of the arts all over the world. How little kids would pick up instruments, recite poetry, rehearse in state-of-the-art theaters… That really would be a change, wouldn’t it? Wishing you Peace and Poetry
Martha Cinader Mims

Laying the Groundwork of Listen & Be Heard Network

Since closing the doors of Listen & Be Heard Poetry Cafe in downtown Vallejo, Ca for the last time at the end of March 2008, I have been working on setting up the Listen & Be Heard Network. It has required building several websites and mailing lists, all ultimately connected by my involvement in the projects that inspired the websites I built. Continue reading

Laying the Groundwork of Listen & Be Heard Network

Since closing the doors of Listen & Be Heard Poetry Cafe in downtown Vallejo, Ca for the last time at the end of March 2008, I have been working on setting up the Listen & Be Heard Network. It has required building several websites and mailing lists, all ultimately connected by my involvement in the projects that inspired the websites I built. Continue reading

Gabi Wilson Singer, Musician and Poet

Gabi Wilson at Listen and Be Heard Poetry Cafe with her father Kenny Wilson

The first time Gabi Wilson appeared at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café was when she sat in with Alvon. After mesmerizing the audience with her rendition of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You” (both piano and vocals) she introduced herself to me by handing me her own business card which reads: Gabriella “Gabi” Wilson, Singer, Musician & Poet. Addressing me as Miss Martha, she told me that she would like to make an appearance at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café and pointed out her parents to me, sitting on the couch beaming with pride. That was back in December of 2006. At that point Gabi had made a few spotlight appearances around the bay area with her dad’s band The Urban Bushmen. She had learned to play Donny Hathaway by ear, and had actually just begun to take piano lessons.
Not quite one year later I got a call from someone at the Ellen Degeneris Show followed about an hour later by a call from someone representing the Golden State Warriors, both wanting Gabi to make appearances after seeing her on The Today Show yesterday morning. Now ten years old she has caught the attention of the nation, something we knew would happen (my husband Tony and I, who opened Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café together in downtown Vallejo.) Gabi is an extraordinary young woman, who happens to be beautiful. Now that the big show is unfolding, I hope that Ellen and Oprah, and all the rest will recognize and help to cultivate what is still raw, albeit rare, talent.

Gabi Wilson performs at Listen and Be Heard Poetry Cafe

Most talk shows (and basketball games) just want one song anyway, but musicians think in terms of a repertoire, and Gabi needed a place to stretch her wings and make a longer presentation, preferably not in a bar. We worked together with her parents Agnes and Kenny to present a concert with Gabi as the star of the show. A great time was had by all who could get in through the door. Word had already spread like wildfire. Gabi pulled up in a limousine, and pulled away a couple hours later with a bunch of her friends to cap their night off with ice cream cones. I’m sure those kids will still be talking about that night many years from now.

Gabi Wilson was one of many poets participating in the 5th Annual Listen & Be Heard Poetry Marathon in Vallejo California.

It would be easy for everyone to push Gabi into the role of a glamour queen. She is most certainly poised and beautiful. A patron of our cafe called for her to appear on American Idol, not recognizing that she is already far beyond that type of presentation. Rare is the American Idol singer who also plays an instrument. Gabi plays several. The mass media is likely to see her as a novelty, a cute little girl who can play and sing. I see her as a gifted woman in the making, with vast potential to create, innovate and lead a new generation of artists.

Gabi self-published a book of poetry even before achieving local notoriety for her singing and playing. Her next appearance at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Cafe was during our 5th Annual Listen & Be Heard Poetry Marathon on April 28, 2007. She took her place among a host of seasoned poets with poise and grace, reading poetry from her book. Perhaps one day she will write compelling lyrics that she will sing, and/or she will continue to write pure poetry. While the media tends to label and define people with narrow and strictly maintained buzz words, the creative person tends to be expansive and beyond classification.

The race will be on now, to grab Gabi while she’s hot. It has little to do with her roots. It is a credit to her parents that what is coming out of her is based on her experience at home. Her father Kenny has encouraged and nurtured her ability to play and sing. He is a professional musician with a strong musical background in Blues and Jazz. Her mother has obviously encouraged her every form of expression, helping her to achieve the goal of publishing her first book, and organizing and galvanizing friends and family to make each event a success. These are the things which will sustain Gabi in the days to come.

Here at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café we are happy to have played the role we are here to play, encouraging and helping to develop local talent. Gabi made one more impromptu appearance, sitting in with the Talons just a couple months ago. She had arrived with her parents to enjoy the music, but obliged the requests of patrons at the cafe. Now she’s flying around the country with a promising but unknown future. We will be watching Miss Gabi as she blossoms and grows, and encourage all who come into contact with her to recognize the whole person, and play their part in nurturing her development as an artist.