Feminism, Art, Perspective

What can I say?  This past weekend was filled with provocative art, artists, and great company.  So many of the people I love in all the right places.  Friday was the premier of  the Mattress Factory Museum’s “Feminst and…” curated by Hilary Robinson and City of Asylum’s annual Jazz and Poetry Concert rounded out Saturday evening.



Poetry readings are snoozefests sometimes.   Even when people try adding a little spice to the readings with music, the end result remains underwhelming.   Maybe because the collaboration doesn’t feel cohesive or purposeful, but a forced attempt at someone’s “good idea”?  Not the case with City of Asylum’s recent Jazz and Poetry Concert, featuring Oliver Lake‘s Steel Quartet with Meshell Ndegeocello (bass, vocals), Lyndon Achee (steel pan), Damon DueWhite (drums, percussion) and, of course, the generous spirit and talent, Oliver Lake (saxaphone).  To be sure, the event was entertaining.  But it was so much more: COA’s mission to protect imprisoned and exiled writers and to make their struggles known to the general public was in full effect,  demonstrating that one can be great artist without shying from activism.  Trust me, nothing puts artistic gripes in perspective more than learning about artists who are imprisoned (and sometimes killed) for daring to speak and write about what’s happening in their countries.  Poet Khet Mar (Burma) read work in her native tongue and also conducted an on-site e-interview with Nyein Thit (Burma), who was imprisoned for eight years for writing about the condition of his country.  Meshell Ndegeocello interviewed Tsering Woeser (Tibet) and informed the audience that Woeser’s Skype account was being monitored by the government, and last, but not least, Israel Centeno (Venezuela), T. J. Dema (Botswana), Luis Bravo (Uruguay), and Patricia Smith (United States) leant their dynamic voices to the evening.  The quiet and essential work of translators was also on display–translations were provided throughout the evening.  Patricia Smith set the house on fire.

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