Greetings Boys & Germs,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has STUFF to discuss. Stuff, yo!
First, I’ve started sending my manuscript out to a few trusted people to read, and the response thus far has been AMAZING. That and VERY humbling. Also, just yesterday, I sent it out as my entry into a first book competition. After I submitted it, I thought, “Holy Jeevs! I wrote a BOOK!!!” I still feel that way. The act of letting it go kind of made it all real to me, and that was a bit of a surprise. So, fingers crossed and all of that. I’ll be hearing something in five or six months, so stay tuned!
Also, next month, the Southern Lit Alliance is having its festival! What does that mean? Great things if you’re a fan of the written word, dear brothers and sisters. For one, Wendell Berry is coming. How dope is that? For info on what’s going to be going on and when, you should check the website here: http://www.southernlitalliance.org
Furthermore, Southern Lit is looking for volunteers to help out with the goings on. If you or someone you know might be interested, make sure to contact Lynda, who is the Executive Director, at Lynda@solitalliance.org or (423) 777-4221. ALSO (oh, yes! There is MORE!!!), you can order a spiffy shirt to commemorate your festival-going experience here: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/sla/event/785339/
In other biz, I’m really looking forward to rocking out at Dalton State and for Meacham at the end of this month. You should come out if you’re free to do so. I’d love to see your faces, and, as always, I’m going to put in that work, work, work, work, work to make sure you have a solid poetry experience with yours truly. How about that?
Lastly, I JUST uploaded a new video to YouTube. It’s from my feature at January’s edition of The Bar Exam. It was a good time, and I seldom get to do that poem anymore, so if you haven’t heard it, CHECK IT OUT!
October is officially upon us! For those of you out there who don’t know, this is my favorite month of the year. Horror movies, birthdays, changing leaves, etc. I LOVE IT! I’m excited to be rocking out for a few gigs this go round, too. I’ll be at Dalton St. on the 16th AND I’ll be reading for the Meacham Writer’s Workshop on the 27th. For more info, you can check out my Performances section. I’d love to see your lovely faces out there, so consider yourself cordially invited.
Okay, so, I know I said this before, BUT I think, at this current date and time, that Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is officially done with the writing of his manuscript! Now, that’s not to say I won’t have to rewrite some things or shift the sequence and all of that good EDITING stuff, but as far as banging out the content, I feel like I’ve crossed the finish line. Please, God, let me have reached the finish line! The process hasn’t been draining, but it’s one of those situations where you’re SO engrossed in everything that your objectivity and perspective begin to be skewed. That’s where I’ve found myself the last few weeks. I plan to take a few days off, and then let a few trusted people put eyes on the work. Deadline, here I come!!!
Autumn has fallen upon us, dear brothers and sisters. However, you’d be hard-pressed to know that around my neck of the woods. The temperature has been 80 degrees and better lately, so the summer train appears, at least in spirit, to still be moving on.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian is tired, yo! This month, I gave a talk for TEDx, which was big fun, and I’ve been gearing up for tomorrow’s performance for AVA’s Bangin’ Bayou event (you should come!) as well as to be a judge for this weekend’s return of The Bar Exam. ALSO, aside from dealing with the regular special things that occur each day and week, I, as some of you know, have been working diligently on pulling a manuscript together. It’s reached the point where I’ve been SO immersed in it that my objectivity has kind of been compromised and I can’t tell if it’s actually any good or not. Mmmmmaybe that’s normal. I need to take a few days off to let it marinate, but it’s hard. I’m REALLY racing to have it ready to be shipped out by Halloween, so the thought of taking my foot of the gas is a little intimidating. We shall see though. If you hear any stories of me going off the deep end, you know why.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian SURVIVED the TEDxBaylor event this past Saturday! Actually, it was big fun, and the kids who organized it did a phenomenal job. I was really happy to be involved. There were more than a few great presentations, so if you couldn’t be there in person or missed out on the live stream, make sure to be on the lookout for the videos. They’ll be coming down the pipeline within the next few months, if all goes according to plan and TED standard.
My gig at Dalton St. has been rescheduled! I’ll be making the leap down there on October 16th! All the other deets are the same as before. Make sure to check out my Performances section, and I hope to see you there. I’ll also be touching stage a number of other times this month and next, so if you enjoy what I do, OR if you’ve never seen me live and would like to, definitely get familiar with some of the dates listed.
Greetings Boys & Gals,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian feels, once again, like a proud dad. Why? Well, this past weekend at the second Poetry vs. Hip-Hop show in Chattanooga, one of my MANIFEST Voices students, who is 16 won her round! She was the first poet to perform, and she did her thing. In the crowd, I yelled out, “That’s how we do it in my house! We raise thoroughbreds!” Then, I proceeded to channel DMX and bark. The girls in front of me were not impressed, but it’s not my fault that they can’t appreciate true jubilation!
Speaking of teens doing great things, the young folks at Baylor are gearing up for the TEDxBaylor event. It takes place THIS SATURDAY, and tickets are still available. Actually, I’ve got a little somethin’ somethin’ special for you. If you’re interested in attending and would like to acquire a ticket for a DISCOUNT PRICE, you can do so here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tedxbaylorschool-tickets-34584781011?discount=speakerdeal
We had rehearsal this past Saturday, and it was really cool to see where everything is going to be taking place. It was my first time on Baylor’s campus, and the talks are going to be held in a beautiful chapel. How grand is that?
In other news, due to the weather, my performance at Dalton State has had to be rescheduled. We’re eyeing October, which, just so happens to be my favorite month out the year. I’m excited to rock out in Dalton, and as soon as things are officially on the books, I’ll spread the word, dear brothers and sisters.
September, dear brothers and sisters! Nine months into 2017. Let’s jump into some things!
First, I’m going to be appearing at a good number of places this month. If you’d like to see Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian in action OR judging OR showing his support, keep your eye on my Performances page. Oh, and know that more dates are going to be added to it soon, too. I have a few things that have yet to be confirmed, but should be within the next few days and weeks. Stay tuned!
Next, I’ve got a new blog up. It’s all about connection, or the lack thereof.
Lastly, as some of you know, I serve on the Board of Directrs for the Southern Lit Alliance. Our annual fundraiser is THIS MONTH on the 21st. If you’re reading these words, consider yourselves invited. Deets and tickets can be found here: http://www.southernlitalliance.org/smart
We’re rapidly approaching the end of August. I don’t know about you (but I’d like to!), but this month has been a busy, fun, and fast one. I’m really looking forward to September and its pleasant madness, too. Lots of fun, diverse gigs and festivities that I get to be a part of. Huzzah! Actually, let’s start there.
I’ve been asked to be a judge for my brother Mic Sic’s Bar Exam show. It returns to Chattanooga on September 30th, and is a bona fide good time. Tickets and additional deets are available in my Performances section.
Also, on September 9th, I’ll be stepping out to the second Poetry vs. Hip-hop show. One of my MANIFEST Voices students is going to be representing on Team Poetry, so I’m really jazzed about seeing her step up to the plate. She’ll be the youngest participant in the show EVER, which makes me happy. It reminds me of when I was in high school and started getting my initial gigs. To witness someone else taking that journey is quite wild. Wish her luck, and if you’d like to do so in PERSON, I’m certain that she would be extremely appreciative.
Next, I swung by Star Line Books yesterday and signed each copy of my chapbook. You’ll find a special little somethin’ somethin’ for your bad selves if you scoop up Ghosts & Echoes there. Actually, as a special bonus, if you buy both the chapbook and my EP Between Beauty & Bedlam and provide proof of purchase to me on social media or through email, you’ll be qualified for a little swag giveaway. How about that?
In other news, I’m readying some videos to shoot to the good folks at Button Poetry. Each year, they have a video submission contest. This will be my second year in the running, and what’s interesting is that both last year and this, I find a number of videos that I never knew existed of past performances. Fortunately, most of what I find is only minimally embarrassing. j/k
Well, that’s about it for me right now. Stay well, don’t lose your faith, keep your heads up, and I’ll see you before too long. Promise.
So, it’s almost Eclipse Day! Dun, dun, dunnn. I don’t recall there being one since I was in mmmmmaybe second grade, so this should be an interesting experience… not to see… because I’m not going to purchase glasses. Ah, well.
The good people at Star Line Books in Chattanooga (1467 Market St #106) are now carrying my EP Between Beauty & Bedlam as well as my chapbook Ghosts & Echoes. So, if you find yourself downtown and in the mood for some poetry, or just want to support a great indie bookstore as well as Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian, swing by and scoop one or both up. If you’d like a signed book, I’ll be swinging by sometime next week to scrawl ink on a few. Dun, dun, dunnnn.
Next, I’ve been asked to be a part of the Meacham Writers Workshop, which is an absolute honor. It’ll take place over three days in October. I’ll keep you lovely people posted on not only the schedule, but, specifically, where I fall on it when things get solidified. Stay tuned!
I’m really jazzed about next month. I’m really looking forward to the gigs I have. I’ve not really hit a stage to perform in some time, so it always feels good to be able to shake off some of the dust and return to the workshop, so to speak, with fresh eyes, ears, and mmmmaybe even a new or different perspective.
Switching gears, I’ve been putting in some work on pulling poems together into something that looks like a manuscript. It’s been a really interesting, organic process. Each time I dive into them, they show me something different and I feel like the work is guiding me to pay attention to the larger stories they’re telling as opposed to me forcing them to tell a story that I’m adamantly after. It’s very fitting. I feel like the muse gave these poems to me, so why would I jump in the driver’s seat now? I’m just enjoying the ride, dear family.
So, this guy? Well, he feels pretty dang good, I must say. Friday night, I had the opportunity to share the stage once more with Tim Hinck to perform half of our Ravel Remixed show. This time, we were aided by an artist named Kenny Kudulis. He made some really beautiful visuals to accompany our music, so that was a very cool and pleasant surprise.
Let’s see. Oh! This past Saturday, I received an email from the good people at TAYO Literary Magazine. They’ve decided to publish one of my poems in their winter issue. Huzzah! It’s called Dear God, and you know I’ll let you lovely people know when it’s available to be seen. I’ve got you covered, babypaws!
In other news, Poetry vs. Hip-Hop is returning to Chattanooga next month, and one of my favorite poets and people will be featuring. Also, one of my very own MANIFEST Voices students will be on Team Poetry! She’ll be the youngest poet to participate, so I’m very proud to see how she does. The whole thing kind of makes me think back to when I was in my teens and just starting to work in front of audiences. Every stage was a challenge, and each gig was an absolute adventure. That’s the way it should be, in my most humble of opinions. I feel excited that she gets the opportunity to venture a little more down this path. Dun, dun, dunnnn.
So, we’ve officially reached the end of July, dear brothers and sisters. August will be here TOMORROW, and the kiddies will soon be returning to school (actually, I’ve heard that some have already started). Speaking of kids, let me tell you about mine!
This past Saturday, the students from my MANIFEST Voices program took the stage for our wrap-up showcase, and you know what? They KILLED it! It was an absolute joy to watch them get on the mic (some of them doing so while being REALLY nervous), and work past it. As a matter of fact, I think all of them managed to work past those feelings to the point where they found some comfort and security in both their work as well as their voices. How can you beat that?
We had over 60 people in attendance, so for the second consecutive year, I’m really pleased with my city. I’ve said it before that whenever something negative happens with our kids, everyone becomes an expert on what they should be doing. However, a good bit of this is just plan ol’ lip service (yeah, I said it). The fact that people of all ages stepped out on, of all things, a weekend, to show their support to these young and talented individuals was quite a sight to behold.
In other news, I’ve been asked to participate in an upcoming TEDx Talk. This will be my second go round. It’s slated for September 16th at Baylor. I’ll do my best to keep you posted on how things are shaping up.
Also, I’m excited to perform with Mr. Tim Hinck this Friday night. We’ll be doing a few selections from the Ravel Remix show we did last month. It looks like yours truly will be manning the decks once more!
So, dear friends & family. This guy? He’s got the NEWS! Let’s jump in, shall we?
First, this weekend, I’ll be performing an original poem (I suppose we don’t really do many covers in this line of work, do we?) for a wedding. Writing it has kind of been a little bit like trying to pass a tapeworm, but it’s getting there. I’ve been reading and watching a lot of Ross Gay’s stuff for the past week, so he definitely has an influence on the way it’s shaping up. I hope people enjoy it. However, if they don’t, they can just drink until they forget that I even opened my mouth! Huzzah, contingency plans!
In other news, we JUST had the penultimate session of my MANIFEST Voices workshop yesterday. I think, for the most part, this year’s students finally reached the place where I wanted them to collectively be, which makes me happy. Their showcase is on the 29th of this month, and if you’re reading this, consider yourself INVITED! Details are in my Performances section. It would not only mean a lot to me to have you lend us your presence and time, but I know that it would make a world of difference to have the community show up and let these young people know that they are with them and support them. Just sayin’.
If you or someone you know might be interested in having yours truly facilitate a workshop, performance, and/or lecture, definitely contact me. I even have a section with which to do so! I pride myself on being a relatively social dude.
Well, that’s it for me for now. Love, peace, don’t disturb the yeast, and I’ll be back in touch before too long.
So, we should (should being the operative word there) be free of the fireworks by now. Hopefully, all of you still have your limbs intact, and things are going the way you hope. Here in Chattanooga, it’s been rainy all week, and several people I know have had to contend with a very trying week. Yours truly is no different, but I’m bound and determined to make the most of it and push with all my might to place the rest of this week in the positive category. Huzzah!
Emily Joy, who is a good friend of mine that I’ve also had the great pleasure of sharing a few stages with over the years is on the road, and she’ll be making a stop here in The Scenic City on July 16th! She’s going to be leading a spoken word workshop, which is super cool, and I’m encouraging everyone that I can to attend. Things like this don’t happen every day, and what Emily is bringing is QUALITY! Details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/238804586637779/244359212748983/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%2229%22%2C%22ref_notif_type%22%3A%22admin_plan_mall_activity%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D¬if_t=admin_plan_mall_activity¬if_id=1499828941323171
While we’re on the topic of workshops, we’ve officially reached the halfway point of my MANIFEST Voices program. Our showcase date is July 29th, and, just like last year, we’re inviting the community to come show these young, talented individuals that they both care and support them and their creative endeavors. It’s absolutely FREE, and it would mean the world to them to see your wonderful faces in the crowd. More deets on the event can be found in my Performances section.
So, I have NEWS, dear familia. The American Journal of Poetry Just published their third issue, and your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has a piece in it. It’s a part of a little somethin’ somethin’ I’ve been putting together (largely in quiet) for over a year now. You can ch-ch-check the poem out here: http://www.theamericanjournalofpoetry.com/v3-collier.html
In other biz, it’s dangerously close to being July! It’s hot and sunny outside right now, the 4th is looming, yadda yadda. July also brings something special for yours truly. On the 29th of the month, the poetry kids from my MANIFEST Voices program will be performing! It’s our official showcase. If you missed out on last year’s, basically, we invite the community to come and check out our wears, so to speak. As a matter of fact, we had close to 100 people show support last year, which meant a lot, and I really hope we can duplicate that kind of community response. We shall see! If you’re reading this, consider yourself invited. You can see the deets in my Performances section.
So, dear brothers and sisters, your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is pretty jazzed about sharing the stage with composer, pianist, and all around interesting dude Tim Hinck this weekend. If you didn’t know, we’re doing performances on Friday AND Saturday at Barking Legs in Chattanooga. Honestly, I don’t exactly know how to describe what our show is. Perhaps it’s best to say that it’s going to be a reimagining of sorts of “Le Tombeau de Couperin” by Ravel. It’s going to be a really unique affair, and I really hope that you, fine reader, can come. Word on the street is that there’ll even be a wine tasting as a part of it. Dun, dun, dunnn!!!!
It’s personally interesting to be immersing myself in the music I produced for the show again. I believe I last listened to everything in January. Like, EARLY January! When I started combing through the tracks, it was very much like experiencing them for the first time, which I enjoy, because it affords me a certain degree of space from being so close to the material as a result of “being in it” and gives me fresh ideas to bring to the table about how I’m, potentially, going to manipulate them. Mua ha ha!!!
Switching gears, we had the first session for MANIFEST Voices 2.0 this week. I got to meet my new kids, and I’ve got a BUNCH of ideas about what to teach them and how to shake them out of their timidity and comfort zones. I mean, those two things are actually some of the things I’m best at. Ask around! ASK!!!
For those of us in the Chattanooga arts community, we lost a big brother yesterday. Mr. Booker T. Scruggs passed, and it’s really shaken a great number of us. Someone wrote on Facebook that he was a Chattanooga treasure, and I completely agree. I, honestly, can’t imagine him being remembered as anything but.
The above picture was snapped in April at a gig Booker put on for Jazzanooga’s Jazz Appreciation Month festivities. The show was an ode to Duke Ellington. The poem I read that night riffed off the famous song “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and, ironically, the I unveil that the it I’m referring to is life. The poem kind of reveals itself to be about celebrating life while you can. This is interesting to me for a couple of reasons, but a large one is that that night was the last time I saw Booker. It will forever be THE last time I saw him and got to hear him play. What an honor to perform and share something you love with someone great and greatly revered by their community. The latter is something that I aspire to. RIP Mr. Scruggs.
Greetings Ladies & Gents,
Welcome to June! Aside from holding the actual beginning of summer, June is also African-American Music Month. Huzzah!!!
Last Thursday night, four of my poetry students from last year’s MANIFEST Voices program performed at The Hunter Museum of American Art, and they did a bang-up job. I felt like a proud dad yet again, and I stepped aside as a mentor to let them formulate how they wanted to put their set together. This guy? Very pleased with the outcome.
Oh! While we’re on the topic of the program, we’ve got ALL SLOTS filled for this year’s Voices program! How about that? I’m really looking forward to gearing up and meeting the participants.
That aside, I have a BRAND NEW BLOG up! I had the great honor and distinct privilege of catching Nikky Finney last weekend, so it deals with that experience and beyond. Give it the onceover, why don’tcha?
So, today’s the day. Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has been a poet in a public capacity for sixteen whole years. No commitment issues with this guy. Mua ha ha!!! To commemorate the occasion, I have a new blog up that you lovely people can read. It’s been an amazing journey, and I’m more and more thankful each year for it.
We’re rapidly approaching the end of May. Actually, the 25th of this month will mark SIXTEEN YEARS since the first time I publicly spit a poem for people. I always refer to it as my other birthday, because it signaled the beginning of this wonderful adventure that I’m still very much pursuing. I suppose after sixteen years, you’re pretty much a lifer at this point.
This past week and weekend, I had a number of great conversations about purpose, meaning, etc. It felt like it was serendipitous that I kept finding myself in places and around people where this was the prevailing topic of convo. As fate would have it, I attended one of last year’s MANIFEST Voices students’ high school graduation ceremony, and I feel like all the talks leading up to that event gave me a beautiful perspective. Not only did she graduate fourth in the class, but her family repeatedly thanked me for my program, and (as they put it) changing her life. As a result of the program, I was granted a place in her family’s life, and I feel that, in many ways, that’s what it’s all about.
Speaking of the Voices program, we’re also getting closer and closer to the deadline. Again, if you know anyone interested in being a student of yours truly, please shoot them the following link: http://www.southernlitalliance.org/manifest-voices
Greetings Brothers & Sisters,
May is upon us, which also means that we are currently accepting applications for the second year of my MANIFEST Voices program! If you know, work with, ever come into contact with teens who might be interested in applying, definitely help me spread the word. They can learn more about the program and apply at http://www.southernlitalliance.org/manifest-voices
Speaking of MANIFEST, I told the girls who participated last year that we are a family, and I’m pretty fortunate because I feel that, in a number of ways, we really are one. As fate would have it, one of my participants JUST won a prestigious award at her school as a 9th grader, which is super rare. Also, I’ll be attending another’s high school graduation next week. What an honor to not only know these wonderful individuals and their families, but to continue to be included in their lives. Also, how special to think that it was art that brought us into each other’s lives?
Switching gears, I have a BUNCH of new dates up in the Performances section. Next week, in particular, will be a big one. Check them out, and then mmmaybe check me out! I’d be happy to see you at one of the gigs.
Welcome to a brand spankin’ new month, kiddos! April has left us. Last month REALLY proved to be an incredible and incredibly affirming month for Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian. Hopefully, you crazy characters out there can say the same.
If you didn’t check out my Instagram 30/30 challenge, I closed it out yesterday. I actually ended up writing more than 30 poems, but specifically for the IG experiment, I was successful, which feels pretty good, I must say. I think I got some pretty interesting stuff, honestly. There were a good number of days where I would have some pretty solid ideas for pieces, but they were too ambitious or just plain ol’ large to fit in the IG parameters regarding image. I know that sounds way techier than it is. I can honestly say that it was a great time, and I hope to do it again next year. You know, if the world hasn’t blown up or consumed us all. Now I have to determine whether or not to keep posting these pieces on Instagram! Dun, dun, dunnnn.
I performed three four times last week, and each gig was really interesting. On Saturday though, I had a special (for me, at least) moment that has resonated with me since. I noticed early on at the gig that we had a pretty diverse makeup in our audience. This was of note for several reasons, but what struck me most was that Chattanooga, TN is not the most diverse place.
When my time on the microphone came, I spoke about the fact that we had not only Black and white people in attendance, but also members of the Muslim and Indian communities. The latter tend to be excluded from conversations that take place in the city regarding diversity and inclusion. I also mentioned that in 2015, the term Chattanooga Strong was coined. For the aforementioned reasons, that phrase has always irked me because, in my most humble of opinions, a city that is segregated in several ways isn’t united. It only appears so. Anyway, I made the statement that this audience sharing the same space IS Chattanooga Strong.
After I delivered my poem, a Muslim man approached me, and we had a nice little conversation. At the end, he thanked me for my performance as well as my words. He even said that it was affirming to hear me use my voice in the manner I had. This guy? Was extremely touched.
Greetings Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Currently, it is raining pretty hard in Chattanooga, TN. Ever since I used to live in FL, I’ve become a really big fan of the rain. It definitely provides a meditative quality for me.
So, I have NEWS! The issue of The Wild Word that I’m published in is now available. You can read THREE new poems from Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian here: http://thewildword.com/poetry-christian-j-collier/
Also, in my last post, I mentioned that I wrote a poem for Esthero, and she responded. As fate would have it, she reposted the poem and wrote a fairly lengthy, beautiful comment on it. Honestly, I did shed a tear or two. I was touched. My new blog is about what she said as well as my relationship with her and her music.
We’re rapidly approaching the end of April, which means that another National Poetry Month and Jazz Appreciation Month are coming to a close. It’s been a pretty productive month for yours truly. I’ve managed to bang out a poem for each day thus far, so my 30/30 challenge has been going well. Actually, let’s hang out there for just a sec.
Yesterday’s poem was a dedication to Esthero, who is (and has been for almost 20 years) one of my favorite musicians. If you read my latest blog, you know that this entire Instagram poem foray has been a total experiment, so when I posted yesterday’s piece, I really didn’t expect anything out of the norm. However, something really interesting happened. Esthero herself actually REPLIED to it! Imagine my pleasant shock. Not only did she reply, but said, “Wow. Just wow. Thank you.” To get that kind of response from someone who has inspired you for close to two decades feels incredible – completely and utterly so.
In other biz, I have TWO upcoming gigs that I’m really excited about. I’ll be performing for my first time at CGLA on Monday, and the next day, I’ll be at Partnership, which provides social services for adults and families dealing with a number of serious issues.
Greetings Ladies & Gents,
So, April is upon us, and I can’t speak for all of you who are reading this, but in my neck of the woods, the weather has been pretty damn beautiful, I must say. I have THINGS, so let’s jump into them. What do you say?
First, just yesterday, I received an email from the good people at The Wild Word Magazine. They’ve accepted THREE of my poems for publication in their next issue. I was pretty jazzed about the news, and these poems are fairly new. One of them actually is mmmmaybe a month old, so that’s pretty amazing for me.
Because April just so happens to be National Poetry Month, I’ve been doing the 30/30 challenge. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the gist is to try to bang out 30 poems in as many days. So far, things have been going pretty well for me this year. I’m using Instagram as a medium for the pieces, which has its own set of limitations, but my working theory before starting was that the app would be a way to connect with younger peeps who only access poetry in traditionally unconventional and non-literary ways. Jeez, that was a mouthful. Anyway, so far, so good. Each day, I seem to gain more likes and followers, so it’ll be interesting to see how things stack up come month’s end. If you’re like to stay up on my output, you can do so by clicking the Instagram logo in my banner or just follow me at ichristian3030 on there.
Lastly, I’ve got several upcoming gigs. If you’d like to see where you can catch Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian, swing by my Performances section. I’d love to see your faces!
Greetings Boys & Girls,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian is a pretty happy man. For the time being, the pollen hasn’t knocked me to the canvas. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that doesn’t happen. Everything else has been rolling in my life, too. My complaints are pretty minimal, which is ALWAYS a special thing.
This past weekend, I performed for the GrowNooga Festival, which was a good time. I was very pleasantly surprised by the sheer scale of what the people involved were able to pull off, especially given the limited resources and timeframe that they were. It was extraordinarily hot when I touched the stage, but nobody passed out, the Devil didn’t appear, and we all soldiered through. On top of that, I would venture to say that we all managed to have ourselves a good time. It’s always grand when that happens.
Beginning THIS SATURDAY, I’ll be doing something old, yet new. As, at least, some of you know, April just so happens to be National Poetry Month. Each April the 30/30 challenge occurs, and the objective is to try to bang out 30 poems in as many days. What makes this year’s attempt a little challenging for me is that I’m going to try to do the entire thing on Instagram. If you’re interested in keeping track of what I’m doing (or struggling to do), you should definitely follow me on there. Also, YOU should give it a try. What do you have to lose? That’s right. A whole lotta nothin’!
In other news, I recently uploaded a new jawn to my Soundcloud page. It’s a collaboration with one of my favorite singer-songwriters AND people, Holly McCormack. It was something different for the both of us, and I really love it. Hopefully, once you give it a listen, you’ll feel the same way. You can check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/christian-j-collier/summer-nights-ft-holly-mccormack
Well, that’s about it for me. Make sure to check out my Performances section to see where I’ll be. More and more things will be added there for the next month, especially, so don’t miss out!
We’re officially in the month of March, and today in sunny Chattanooga, it’s currently 70 degrees. So much for winter. Anyway, let’s jump into some news!
This past weekend, I judged the state finals for the Poetry Out Loud competition. We had 19 participants, and I was very happy to see that we had more boys this time around. Tennessee’s rep is named Marquavious Moore, hails from Memphis, and will be heading up to DC next month to compete against the other winners from around the country. Wish him good luck! It’s wild to think that the only reason he jumped into this whole thing was at the urging of his football coach. How about that? If you’d like to find out more about him, you can do so here: http://tnartscommission.org/arts-education/memphis-senior-marquavious-moore-wins-2017-poetry-loud-state-competition/
In other news, I’m teaching creating writing for an after school program. We had a kick-off recently, and none other than Mr. Usher Raymond came through. I’m super excited to be interacting with the youth again, and hopefully teaching them a thing or two. Fingers crossed that that will happen. I mean, I’m going to do my due diligence, but it’s definitely a two-way street.
We’re rapidly approaching the end of February, it’s currently 68 degrees outside in Chattanooga, AND there are three different health hazards making their way around. No big deal. On the personal plus side though, a number of grand things have been happening for me. I shall take you through some of them!
This past Sunday, The Chattanooga Times Free Press published one of my poems. It’s about the lynchings on the Walnut Street Bridge. Also, several other poems were published, too, including a few by people I call friends. It was a very pleasant surprise, to say the least.
Next, I’m going to be starting a BRAND NEW workshop for an afterschool program. We officially launch next week, so if you’d like more details, feel free to shoot me a line. I’m excited to be back in the teaching saddle again. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to making it a super steady thing. Huzzah!
What’s good, family? The past few weeks have been especially kind to Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian. So much so that it slightly freaks me out, but am I appreciating all of the good things? Absolutely!!! As the kids say, real talk, I’ve been immensely moved by everything, and I’m certainly looking forward to where things will go from here.
Earlier this week, I had a poem accepted by The American Journal of Poetry. It’ll pop up in their next issue, and the poem is called First Time After. I wrote it last year during a bout with depression, but ironically enough, it was one of the most productive and creative times I’ve ever experienced.
Also, I spoke on a panel at UTC with Pastor Josh Woodrow. The class deals with race and media, and Josh and I served court for about 2.5 hours telling truths, not pulling punches, and discussing problems as well as potential solutions that can impact the Chattanooga community. It was a great time and an honor to be included. Hopefully, I’ll be kept in the loop and can do this again next year.
Tomorrow, I’ll be performing for my third time at Christ Unity as a part of their service. I stopped going to church years ago, but it’s always special not only to share in their program, but to use my art to, hopefully, resonate with the attendees in some way that is affirming.
What’s happening, family? We’re officially into the second month of 2017. The world has not ended, our spirits have not been stifled, and we’re STILL HERE! Maybe a little bit frazzled, frustrated, and angry, but we’re still here, and there’s something beautiful about that. I believe that we’re all here for a reason. I’m not going to say I’m the biggest optimist, but I certainly do have my moments.
I’ve had a number of workshops and performances lately. Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is TIRED, but happy. Also, because I’m a glutton for this, I’m eager to get even busier. It can never be said that I don’t love to the utmost degree what I do.
This past Saturday night, I performed as a feature for The Bar Exam, which is an event hosted by MicxSic. It was tremendous fun, and the crowd really enjoyed my material. Also, I read for Ray Zimmerman’s local artists event at Star Line Books, and that was a special time. I feel like the audience and I at both events really connected, and if you’ve followed these scribblings for any real length of time, you know how much I value that.
On Monday of this week, I got to workshop with a class at Brainerd High, and that was pretty special, too. We broke down poetry, discussed where poems come from, and I put them o work a little bit on an exercise. It’s always an honor to be asked to bring what I do into school settings. There are few things that get me up during the 6 o’clock hour these days, but showing up to present at schools is always on the list.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m looking to get more bookings on the table for this month and beyond. If your school, organization, etc. would be interested in having yours truly come out and perform, workshop, etc. let me know. I’d love to hear from you and see what we can put together.
What’s good, people? Hopefully, everything. My distinct hope is that you’re avoiding oppression or the fear thereof, and things are legitimately going well on your end of the coin. Things have been pretty interesting (and not in the best way) for me as of late, but I’m confident that things are going to work themselves out for the better! Actually, as fate would have it, my day began with affirmation of that very pronouncement.
Early this morning, I went on New Channel 9 with Mike Sick to promote The Bar Exam. Mike is the founder and host of the show, and it’s going to make its debut in Chattanooga this Saturday. He asked me to go on with him, and I gladly accepted. I mean, it’s not like I sleep or anything.
Everything went well, and we had a great time. I performed an excerpt of a piece, and then Mike and I had breakfast. We had the opportunity to have a really solid conversation, which, if you’ve followed my website for any significant length of time, you know that I always love. I’m really looking forward to Saturday and seeing how the show as well as the energy we generate fares. If you haven’t already, you should definitely purchase a ticket or two and come see us. You can find a link to make that happen in my Performances section.
In addition to that, I’m gearing up for a number of performances over the course of the next week. They’re all a bit different, which I enjoy. It’s a little bit of a challenge to shake things up that quickly, but I’m pretty jazzed about being able to showcase my versatility. This guy? He’ll be POEMING all over the place starting tomorrow. Mua ha ha!!!
Also, I’m currently booking for next month and beyond. If you, your church, school, or even someone you know, might be interested in booking me for a performance, workshop, public speaking engagement, or any combo of those things, please contact me. I’d absolutely love to talk to you, and hopefully work with you!
Greetings Boys & Girls,
Hopefully, you all had yourselves a wonderful and meaningful MLK Day. Yours truly got to play DJ for the annual Day of Service here in Chattanooga, and it was a good time. This was my first time experiencing the event, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the turnout. LOTS of bodies there volunteering and lending their time, energy, etc. for a phenomenal cause.
I did notice something yesterday. Two ladies approached me at different points to complain about how loud the music was (for the record, the music wasn’t that loud. It was just loud because when I started, the program hadn’t begun and the gym wasn’t very populated). The second was extremely rude and disrespectful, and it dawned on me that for the past however many months, whenever I’ve performed or arrived somewhere to do so, I’ve been treated like boo-boo by at least one person each time. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it’s definitely been a thing. Oh, well. At least it’s giving me a number of stories to share with my friends and fam.
In other bits of biz, I have some brand spanking new engagements and performances coming up. Also, I’m CURRENTLY BOOKING for the immediate future (and future in general). If you’re interested in having me lead a workshop, speak, perform, or any combination thereof, please contact me or pass this little website here onto someone who might want to discuss some things. I always get back to everyone in a timely manner, and I pride myself on being a pretty nice individual. E-me and see!
Lastly, we wrapped up my latest MANIFEST workshop this past Saturday. I had to reschedule it due to finding out about the library closing late because of the weather the weekend before. As a result, we had our last session on a beautiful day where the weather was 70 degrees and sunny. Our final session had a number of engaged individuals, amazing writing, and really solid conversation. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for more out of it. I hope that everyone who attended, be it the final session or any of the other ones, got something meaningful from the experience.
Happy New Year! I know that I’m a few days late, but I live an active life. Get off my case! Hopefully, everything is boding well with all of you so far into 2017. Fingers crossed that these initial three days have RULED, and that the streak will continue as long as it can.
I’ll be conducting the last stop of my MANIFEST Film & Poetry workshop THIS SATURDAY. We’ll be rocking out from 3-5 and pushing the pens and pencils this go round. I’ve written before about how challenging this particular workshop has been, but it’s also been rewarding, too. Last week, I showed the third and final film “Cambodian Son” to our crowd, and the response and conversation afterwards was great. My goal for putting this whole affair together was to introduce the Greater Chattanooga area to poetry and poetry culture, and to have it received well on any level, let alone a really personal one with our repeat attendees makes the journey worthwhile.
Hopefully, you’ll attend this weekend. You can check out the Facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/events/669701466535692/?ti=icl Oh! And remember that it is absolutely FREE (promosexuals, REJOICE!), so all you have to do is show up, bring a little something to write with, and come with a sweet tooth, and I’ve got you covered the rest of the way. This, I guarantee.
In other news, I’ve been recording a new album over the course of the past three or four months. I think I may have finished it. I currently have the working master in the car and in a few trusted friends’ possession, so we’ll see how it shakes out once we all give it a thorough (and in my case, repeated) listen. It’s an electronic record, and is the official debut of my new project. I’m excited for you to hear the material. I’ll probably be releasing something within the next week, so definitely keep coming back and stay in the loop. Audio goodies await!
I have a NEW BLOG up. If you’re into such things, you should give it a read. So many people have been talking about the struggles of 2016. This blog is doing the same, but from a little bit of a different angle.
Well, dear brothers and sisters, that’s about it for me. Be good, stay warm, support our local and favorite artists and their projects, and I’ll be in touch before too long. Artist’s honor.
Dear brothers and sisters, Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is SUPER excited to be showing the second documentary for the MANIFEST Film & Poetry Workshop! This Thursday, I’ll be screening “We Are Poets” at the downtown Chattanooga Public Library, and I’m very eager for people to see it. It’s an amazing film, and, in my most humble of opinions, is an excellent way to follow the first documentary I showed.
Speaking of which, we had a great showing for “Louder Than A Bomb” two weeks ago, which made me happy. What made me even happier was that people stuck with us as we battled technical difficulties to get the film to play. Honestly, each step of this workshop has been a challenge, but I feel that it’s also been extremely educational, too. All of the obstacles are teaching me what I need to know and showing me what I need to see. I legitimately feel that.
Earlier this month, I held The Speakeasy Revue for this year’s Mainx24. It was great fun. We had a pretty sizeable crowd, which is amazing because so much of Mx24 is foot traffic. To have managed to get people to stop and check us out means that we must’ve been doing something right.
Everyone did an amazing job, and, of course, I felt like a proud dad yet again when three of my MANIFEST Voices girls stepped to the mic and rocked out. You can see a few pictures below.
This guy right here? Well, he happens to be pretty excited. Why, you may ask? Many reasons. For one, I’m going to be performing at GPS in Chattanooga for the first time EVER. As a matter of fact, this will actually be my first time on their campus, so that’s personally pretty thrilling.
Secondly, we’re getting closer and closer to the 23rd which means that we’re getting closer and closer to the premiere of the Usher edition of the State Farm Neighborhood Sessions. Each time I see a trailer for it, I feel proud. I feel immensely happy to have been involved in the process, and that my MANIFEST Voices girls were chosen to be a part of the story. If you’ve followed my site for any significant length of time, you’ve seen me dote on them and their abilities a lot. They’re phenomenal young women, and I feel very happy and fortunate to have been able to assist them in being a part of Chattanooga’s contemporary arts story.
Also, I’m bringing a unique poetry workshop to the downtown branch of the Chattanooga Public Library beginning on December 1st. My MANIFEST Film and Poetry series will feature the screening of three acclaimed documentaries as well as three writing workshops that will help attendees discover and foster their poetic voices over the course of six weeks.
The sessions are free to the public and will be held on the library’s 4th floor, which is a public laboratory and educational facility with a focus on information, design, technology, and the applied arts. The schedule for the workshop is as follows:
Dec. 1 – Louder than a Bomb (film) 5:30-8 PM
Dec. 8 – Writing Workshop 5:30-8 PM
Dec. 15 – We Are Poets (film) 5:30-8 PM
Dec. 22 – Writing Workshop 5:30-8 PM
Dec. 29 – Cambodian Son (film) 5:30-8 PM
Jan. 7 – Writing Workshop 3-5 PM
In other news, I have a new blog post up. Something occurred that really shook me, and I decided to do what I’ve done so many times before and just write my way through it. Perhaps after you read it, you have some insight you can bring my way.
Greetings Boys & Girls,
Well, Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian can finally let the cat out of the bag. This past September, my MANIFEST Voices girls and I had the honor and privilege of taking part in a documentary. I’m very happy to announce that it is going to run on the 23rd of THIS MONTH. Also, it will be airing on TNT and featuring a guy some of you fine folks may have heard of. You’ll have to let me know if you’re familiar with someone named Usher Raymond. You can check more deets on the program here: http://allradionews.com/usher-supports-arts-and-education-with-upcoming-neighborhood-sessions-concert/
Speaking of the young ladies from my workshop, I got to see one of them, Brynija, perform as a part of Michael Gray’s River City Sessions last week (that’s her in the pics below). She did an excellent job, and I felt like a proud dad watching her. She’ll also be rocking out with me during Mainx24 on December 3rd. You should swing by and check her out!
In other news, my debut EP Between Beauty & Bedlam JUST turned three. In another year, it’ll be ready for Pre-K! It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. I can still remember every aspect of bringing the record to fruition just like I was going the process yesterday. If you’ve not checked it out (what are you waiting for?), you can easily do so by clicking on the BBB tab. If you like what you hear enough to make a purchase, THANK YOU! It’s much appreciated.
Lastly, I have a NEW blog up! Feel free to give it a read if you’re into such behavior.
So, the election cycle is officially done. Now, we’re in the midst of the aftermath, and, understandably, there are a number of emotions being felt by a lot of people, regardless of political affiliation. I, myself, have been feeling a range of things, an, perhaps by sheer serendipity, I found the above image. It really affirmed a number of things for me – one of which being that when campaigns and elections end, work does not. This is when we, ourselves, and those who feel the same as we do, need our gifts the most.
Switching gears, I have something REALLY cool to tell you… soon. I’m waiting to hear when I can formally put it all out there. Just know that it’s grand, and I’m excited – like, IMMENSELY excited. Stay tuned!
There are TWO things that have come across the pipeline recently that I’d like to bring to your attention, though. First, Artsbuild is now accepting nominations for its Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award. If you would like to nominate yours truly for it, you can do so here: https://form.jotform.com/62864796971173
Also, the wonderful organization Split This Rock is currently taking nominations for The Freedom Plow Award. The award “recognizes and honors a poet or poetry collective doing innovative and transformative work at the intersection of poetry and social change.” You can nominate up to THREE individuals here: https://splitthisrock.submittable.com/submit/68078/2017-freedom-plow-award-nominations
Oh! And if you’d like to learn more about Split This Rock and the phenomenal work they do, I’ve got you covered, Baby Bubba. To stay in the loop and/or get familiar with them, just go here: http://www.splitthisrock.org/programs/freedom-plow-awards/
Well, that’s about it for yours truly right now. Be good, STAY STRONG, and I’ll be back in touch before too long. I promise!
What’s the haps, dear brothers and sisters? We are rapidly approaching Halloween, which means that the time for Christmas shopping has pretty much set upon us. Dun, dun, dunnnn.
So, Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has himself some NEWS! I recently won a grant through Artsbuild, and I’m EXTREMELY excited about it. I’m going to be doing a workshop series, and it’s going to be a really dope, unique affair. I have a few more things to iron out before I’m comfortable springing everything on you and yours. Just know that it’s coming SOON, and that you, your mama and your cousin, too are ALL invited and encouraged to participate. Mua ha ha!!!!
That aside, I’m lining things up for this year’s Mainx24 performance. Some of my MANIFEST Voices girls will be rocking out, as well as a few peeps I adore from the Chattanooga poetry scene. Good things and times await! Be sure to hang out with us on Dec. 3rd at Star Line Books.
Oh! Speaking of my young ladies, keep in mind that you can check them out in my Blog section. The video is from the showcase we had on August 6th. Almost THREE MONTHS LATER (damn that flying time!), that night still remains fresh and magical in my mind.
If you’ve been checking out this website (and why shouldn’t you be doing that?!), you know a few things. One of those things should be that I did a summer workshop called MANIFEST Voices, and Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is extremely proud of the young women he got to teach in it. Also, if you’re fairly attentive, you know that in early August, we had a showcase for the girls, and they absolutely merked their sets.
Well, if you weren’t able to make it to that showcase, I’ve got you covered. You can now check out the girls’ performances from the comfort of your own homes (or anywhere if you have Wi-Fi or aren’t scared of using your data). All you have to do is head over to my blog section and w-w-watch the vids! Do it!!!
Lastly, Mr. Joshua Pickard wrote a review of my new collaboration with Ryan Oyer. You can check out the song as well as his words here: http://nooga.com/174137/the-local-christian-collier-reveals-the-weight-of-an-electronic-heartbeat-on-new-song/
Whew! We’ve officially reached the middle of the month. Already. This guy? Well, honestly, he’s tired. I feel like the past few months have been a rollercoaster. They’ve made for a tremendous ride thus far (and it ain’t over yet!), but it’s also been pretty draining. I’m usually happiest when things are in motion, but Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian would actually be quite pleased to have a few days of quiet and boredom. They’d do me some good.
I literally JUST finished performing at an event for suicide awareness, and it was really touching. I’m always humbled when I have the opportunity to take part in things that strive to do good work and better lives and communities. Adding to my enjoyment was that one of my poets from the MANIFEST Voices program came, read her work, and made one of the head ladies with the program cry. That’s the power of art, dear brothers and sisters.
Let’s see. Switching gears, this past weekend was jam-packed. Well, that and full of excitement. My NEW BLOG is actually about some of it. Ch-ch-check it out… IF YOU DARE!!!
Well, that’s about it for me, gang. Be good, stay healthy, and I’ll be back in touch before too long. Peace!!!
We’re in the month of September, which basically means that it’ll be the onset of Christmas season starting next month (I’m kidding… slightly). Man, the past month or two has been an absolute rollercoaster. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to really take a pause and reflect on it all, which is interesting. A number of my friends have been geeking out for me on a few things while I’ve been in the midst of trying to make heads or tails of what’s been going down with my life. Anyway…
This Saturday, I’ll be rocking out with several talented poets and emcees at The Camp House for the Poetry vs. Hip-Hop show. You can peep details in my Performance section. It’s going to be a unique, grand time. We’re going to be battling it out for, largely, bragging rights.
I actually have a few other dates for gigs this month, too. I’ll give you one guess as to where you can find that info, too. Come on. Guess!
Switching gears, I recently had a poem accepted by the good people at FreezeRay Poetry. It’s a jazz poem and an ode to Charles Mingus, who has been a fave of mine for the past four years. You can read the piece here: http://www.freezeraypoetry.com/
Also, I JUST got featured on the Garden Spices blog. You can give that the onceover here: http://www.gardenspices.org/9152-2/
We’re nearing the end of another August. This has been an interesting month for yours truly, for a number of reasons. I have some pretty rad (yeah, I said rad. Maybe as a result of watching Stranger Things, some 80’s lingo has infiltrated my vernacular) irons in the fire. Fingers crossed (if you’re the finger-crossing type) that I get the green light on them and can bring them to fruition… and the community at large!
I’m really excited about The Speakeasy Revue this Thursday. A number of new people have been reaching out to me about it, so I hope that we’ll get some fresh faces and familiar ones through the door. Deets on the event are up in my Performances section. If you’re in or around Chattanooga (or plan to be) on Thursday, you should definitely come through. Oh! You should also spread the word and bring some peeps with you. The more the merrier, right?
Greetings Boys & Gals,
We’ve made it to August. Actually, we’ve made it to August AND the end of my MANIFEST Voices program! I’m immensely proud of my kids, the work they’ve banged out, and the relationships they’ve formed. I told them on the first day to look around the room because we were, from that moment on, family. They’ve really become one, too, which makes me feel like a proud father.
Our showcase was on Saturday, and it was big fun. My NEW blog is all about it. Ch-ch-check it out, as well as the dope pictures from that night.
Speaking of performances, I have a few NEW ADDITIONS. You should come check me out if you can. If you wear socks, I’ll do my best to blow them off your feet! If you don’t wear socks, I’ll do my best to blow the bottoms of your feet off, thus, making a bloody mess. Mua ha ha!!!