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Author Archives: Niesha S

Poetic rundown of New York City

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So, back in the day when I was a pretty young thang, I had a thing for poetry. I couldn’t get enough of it. Writing it, reciting it, reading, whatever. Even though I’ve sense moved on to other creative outlets, I still love a good open mic or poetry slam. I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of poetry events that this great city has to offer.
Monday-Louder Arts poetry slam at Bar 13. Every Monday evening performance poets gather at this Union Square bar to engage in a good old fashion poetry slam? Don’t know what a poetry slam is? Allow me to tell you then, but really, have you been living under a rock? Or in New Jersey perhaps? A poetry slam is a game, a competition of sorts where scores are decided on randomly by judges in the audiences. No props, no gimmicks, no music, just words.
The sign-up for the slam and open mic starts at 7pm, while the show generally starts around 7:30pm. After a bunch of months the top scorers get to all compete against one another for a chance to be on the team that represents the organization in the national slam competition OR for a fellowship. Pretty cool stuff huh? I thought you’d agree. Oh yeah, admission is 5 bucks. But there’s 2-4-1 drinks for most of the evening.
Tuesday-Urban Poetry Slam at The Bowery Poetry Club. Pretty much the same deal at this venue which is basically devoted to the art of poetry-hence the name. The Slam starts at 7pm with a free talk given by the featured poet of the evening at 6:30pm. $7 bucks gets you in, plus there’s a full bar(I think) and a café for all your bar food needs.
Wednesday-Nuyorican Wednesday night slam open mic. This slam preludes the really big Nuyorican Friday night slam(more about that late though) and is basically an open mic with the first 20 participants getting to grace the stage. At the end of this event, hosted by Jive Poetic, the winner is eligible to perform in the Friday night poetry slam. The festivities start at 9pm and seven one dollar bills get’s you a seat-or a lovely place to stand.
Thursday- The Inspired Word at One and One. So, I’ve never been here actually. There’s an open mic plus featured guests reading. Starts at 7:30pm and $10 bucks gets you in.
Friday-Nuyorican Poets Café Friday Night Slam. Quite possibly the grand daddy of all New York City slams. Or at least, the most famous one. Housed in the tiny lower east side bar that was started by Miguel Algarin and Miguel Pinero, this places fills up with the quickness, so get there early and prepare to wait happily in line for a long time. Then pay ten dollars. Then go inside, rush to a table and buy some beers. Listen to old school hip-hop while you wait for the evening to really get going. Then, be prepared to be blown away by the slammers, featured poets, and maybe even by the open mic at the end.
Jonesin for more?
Goodbye Blue Monday- Every last Friday of the month this bar houses Stain of Poetry which features new and upcoming voices in the poetry scene.
Bluestockings Bookstore- Once a month this worker owned/volunteer run bookstore holds a women and transgender open mic. Check website for details. Start time: 7pm. $5 buck suggested donation.
The Poetry Brothel- A group of whores(their words not mine) whose product is poetry. Just like any other brothel: pick the whore of your choice, pay your fare, and then watch them make sweet love to you with their words. Pretty cool huh? Check out their website for more details.

Why operating on fear sucks

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Why living in fear sucks
Fear. It’s an emotion that we’ve all felt at some point or another. No matter if it was the first we slept without a night light on to going away for college for the first time, it’s never a good feeling. Often times, fear can keep the best of us from engaging in perfectly good life experiences. In my short 24 years of life lived in San Francisco, Cleveland, New York, and Amsterdam. Of course moving around by myself was scary but do you think I would have been able to do any of that had I let fear be my guiding light? Um, no. I’d still be back in Cleveland working retail and listening to bad homemade hip-hop music. Now, of course there is nothing wrong with that, but it’s just not what I had in mind for my life. When I was younger I expressed my desires to move out of state to my mother. She was apprehensive of course telling me that I should stay in Ohio because it’s what’s familiar to me. At the time, and now, I feel that excuse is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Why would I just keep doing something that didn’t make me happy because it’s what I’m used to? Makes no sense right? But I guess fear has a way of doing that to you.
Most times, fear is a totally temporary feeling yet we let it influence really major decisions in our lives. If I look back on all the times I felt an intense bout of fear, I can remember the feeling going just as quickly as it had come. I spent so much time psyching myself out that I didn’t realize I actually had nothing to worry about in the first place. Usually, it was that witch negative Nellie who was to blame, not me. But once I gave her a roofie and left her for dead in some far off corner of my mind, it was smooth sailing from there.
Living in fear actually makes no sense, and gets you nowhere in the process. Which is why I try not to do it most of the time but sometimes I let fear get the best of me. Like last year when I was living in Amsterdam. Originally I had planned to go to all these different countries and experience all these different cultures but I chickened out at the last minute and let my fear of the unknown decide things for me. I didn’t want to go by myself and at the time, it seemed like I had no one to go with. So I didn’t go at all. So instead of having all these cool pictures of me galavanting around Italy, Spain, and even Paris, I have nothing but regret. Which by the way, doesn’t make for a good facebook photo album. Looking back I want to kick myself in the knees for not doing what I really wanted to do in the first place. That fear eventually subsided while the opportunity to eat crepes in front of the Eiffel Tower is a little bit more out of reach now.

The importance of purging friends

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Over this past year I’ve had to let go of a number of people who I previously called “friends”. There was nothing wrong with these people per se, I just realized that we weren’t heading in the same directions anymore. Luckily for me, it happened almost organically. I was in a relationship with someone who I ended up spending nearly all of my free time with. Now, bailing on all my friends isn’t something that I plan on doing again in the future, but for the purpose of getting rid of some people, it worked.

Honestly, I haven’t always surrounded myself with the best people in the world. I can recall more than one instance where a “friend” had mistreated me. Be it talking behind my back, stealing money from me on numerous occasions, or just not being there for me in my time of need. In the past I think I was so starved for attention or companionship from friends that I would take anything that came my way. Looking back, I realize that those people were not really friends at all and I should be a lot more selective about who I call my friends.

Ending communication with certain individuals was important for me because, quite frankly, I have enough issues without adding someone else’s to the mix. And I also don’t need anyone in my life who was out to use me, as some people have done.  Ending communication with some folk was a blessing since I was able to focus on other things and get back to me. The old saying holds true, “Birds of a feather, flock together”.  I just decided for the most part, I didn’t want to flock with those people anymore. Since then, my life has been relatively drama free, or at least free of other people’s drama.

I used to feel so bad if a friendship or relationship didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. My thoughts on the situation have changed.  I learned a lot from these relationships. I learned about my short comings as a friend, I learned about what type of people I want to surround myself with,  and because of these situations, I’ve been able to have a better appreciation of my true friends and strive to be a better friend as well. So in some ways, breaking up with a friend is a lot like breaking up with a significant other. The real tragedy would be if I had learned nothing from the friendship at all.

The N Word revisited

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So, one of my very first posts discussed my stance on the use of the N word in popular culture. Recently, that post was picked up and re-published on TheFreshXpress.com. Yesterday, a follow-up post was written in direct response to my article. The author of the response attempted to defend the constant use of the word by African-American. Her stance is one that I’ve heard time and time again.

I have nothing more to really say about this. I feel that my stance on the subject matter was strong. As long as we continue to promote and revel in a word that is at it’s origin hateful(and I’m talking about in recent history, pertaining to African-American history, particularly in the United States) we will forever be a lost people. On the whole I mean, not the few individuals that are interested in real analysis of our makeshift culture and checkered past. The problem is, we’re complacent. We’re not interested in really doing the heavy lifting that it takes to really advance and create a positive and uplifting culture. “We” are complacent with our position in this world. A position that includes openly calling ourselves niggers. It’s sad. Honestly.

Excuse me, your summer is waiting.

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So I’ve been reading this book, Excuse me, your life is waiting: The astonishing power of positive feelings. I have to say, it’s a life changer, in a good, fantastic, magical, bedazzling way. As far as good summer’s go, I have not been having the best summer ever but who be sad or mad when there’s so much damn beauty in the world? This book is The Secret before the secret and a title I would recommend to anyone despite the fact that the author died of assisted suicide. That’s neither here nor there now is it? What is here is the now, and what is now is the summer, got it? Good.

Summertime, in my opinion, is the absolute best time to be in New York City. There’s nothing like exploring the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn on a scorching July afternoon or catching a free summer concert in Central Park. It took me a while to warm up completely to New York but now that I’ve got the chance to spend a second summer in New York, I’m completely mesmerized by it. Literally, there’s something for everyone here. You’ve just got to get out there and explore is all. Despite limited resources, I’ve made it my mission to take in as many of the sites that I possibly can in this great big city that I call home. Here is a short list of some New York’s best cultural events.

  1. SummerStage Free summer concert series. So. During the months of June, July, and August there are numerous free summer concerts held in each burough. According to it’s website, Summerstage bills itself as New York’s biggest free summer concert festival, and for good reason. Acts run the gammet from old school hip-hop rappers like Kool Moe Dee and Funkmaster Flex, to new acts like Wiz Khalifa and Florence and the Machine, to Dance Afrika, variety is the spice of life when it comes to Summerstage. With the exception of a few fundraisers sprinkled in, all of the performances are free to all. Now don’t that beat all?
  2. Epix’s Free NYC movie series.- For almost two glorious months, various neighborhood parks throughout the city open their lawns to crowds of families and hipsters alike for a free communal movie showing. Even better than the fact that it’s FREE is that the screenings are random and once again, will most likely have at least one title that someone is bound to want to see. Come on, you mean to tell me you’ve never wanted to sit in a park, drink a brew with a group of your closest gal(or guy) pals and while sporadically reciting lines from Clueless? Yeah, I thought so.
  3. R&B Festival and Metrotech. Sometimes I think Brooklyn can read my mind. Like when I stumbled across this free concert series featuring George Clinton, in the middle of Borough Hall’s Metrotech on my way to pick up a paycheck. This concert series runs every Thursday starting at noon and features performances from:  Dionne Ferris, George Clinton, and Maxi Priest.
  4. Big Terrific Show is a free weekly comedy show at The Cameo in Brooklyn. So I haven’t actually been to this event, but you best bet I’ll be there from here on out. I love comedy, especially free comedy. Plus, one of the hosts is ill-fated SNL cast member Jenny Slate. You remember, the one that dropped the F bomb on national television.  Yeah, that girl.
  5. Kings’ County Cookout at Lady Jay’s. Who doesn’t like a cook out at a neighborhood hood dive bar, equipped with an assortment of drink specials for your pleasure? An asshole, that’s who.This is just a tiny list that in NO WAY touches the tip of the iceberg in terms of NYC offerings. As the old song goes, these are a few of my favorite things. What are some favorite cultural offerings that your hood has to offer?

Just because

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Ask a brown chick: What makes a good boyfriend?

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A few days ago I received this question in my mailbox from one of my readers looking for an outsider’s perspective on an issue they had with their boyfriend.

Alex tries to get me to read about successful 25 year old millionaires that are living their dreams. I say, I dont want to read an article about guys my age doing the same thing as me making oodles of money. That will depress me. He replies, “jesus fucking Christ, negative Nellie.” Subsequently I am more depressed. What might a good boyfriend say? Though, he has had to deal with my depression for well over a year now.

-Frustrated in the mid-west

Well, I don’t exactly know what makes a “good boyfriend”. I suppose love, respect, and support would probably have to be high up on the good boyfriend list.  As people, we have different ways of communicating with one another and subsequently, trying to help our loved ones out. Perhaps referring you to the articles is his special way of trying to push you out of the rut you say you’ve been stuck in?

Might I ask would it really have hurt you to take a look at those articles? Maybe assuming that they would just depress you is your depression speaking instead of you? Me thinks you probably wouldn’t have had much to lose from perusing the article your boyfriend suggested to you. I say, next time step out of your comfort zone and read the freaking articles. What have you got to lose? Right?