What’s shakin’, family? Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has NEWS! Earlier this week, I was awarded a grant. Woo! My proposal was to make a documentary series, so that’s going to happen! It’s an opportunity to do some cool things, develop new creative skills, and showcase some really incredible people. Please, please, please stay in the loop, because my partner (the ever-amazing Megan Hollenbeck) and I not only want, but NEED you (yes, YOU!) to be involved in the process of bringing our project to fruition.
Switching gears, I had my last gigs of 2017 (unless something falls into my lap in the near future) last weekend and earlier this week, and I have to say that they were wonderful gifts for me. Great energy, great ambience, attentive crowds, etc. After my last blog and the things I’ve been thinking about in terms of the power and validity in speaking out, I realize (I feel like I forget and then realize this every six or so months) that there’s also a lot of power in actually being heard and received. What a seemingly simple honor.
Kind of chiming off that point, 2017 has been an excellent year in terms of communication. I mean, I’ve felt for years that social media often is like shouting into a large, dark vacuous abyss, but I was able to truly connect and converse with a number of people I, honestly, thought I’d have no chance to dialogue with… and social media was the medium that made it possible. A large part of this communication was Instagram. I’ve decided that, as a result of this, I’m going to post some of my favorite poems that I banged out for this year’s 30/30 challenge on Facebook and Twitter (you had to follow me on IG to read them previously).
Well kids, that’s about it for moi. Be good, stay warm, don’t fight anybody while navigating anywhere selling anything remotely Xmas-like, and I’ll be in touch before too long.
So, this past weekend wrapped up yet another adventurous year at Mainx24. For my Speakeasy Revue, the students from both years of my MANIFEST Voices program and I held down the bill. They all absolutely crushed it. What’s more they did so in lieu of some… very odd circumstances. A man threatened to throw stink bombs to clear out our event among other things, and in spite of that, they kept their composure and did their thing. In the workshop I teach, dealing with things like that is actually something we cover, so it made me even more proud that they were able to keep their wits about them and deliver. My young pros!
I’ve been processing what transpired during the span of that performance quite a bit, and, honestly, beyond feeling angry, I feel disappointed, hurt, insulted, and puzzled by some of the responses I’ve received. I decided to write a blog about it all in an attempt to unpack it – mainly for myself, and even the fact that I feel it necessary to say that bit is a part of the problem.
On a different note, later, when night fell, I was talking with some friends, when, in a surreal moment, I turned my head and saw a girl get hit by a car. We raced into action to lend our assistance. Then, after the girl was stabilized and transported to the hospital… some of us ate dinner. For years, I’ve said that Mx24 is always an adventure, and this year definitely didn’t disappoint.
Switching gears, my friend Hannah wrote a beautiful article for The Huffington Post. A good bit in it has resonated with me since I read it. You should definitely check it out, AND you can do so here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sexual-abuse-churchtoo_us_5a205b30e4b03350e0b53131
What’s the haps, brothers and sisters? If you’re living in or around Chattanooga, hopefully you’re as psyched about Mainx24, which goes down THIS Saturday, as I am. I’m not a very outwardly excitable person, so it definitely says something when I proclaim that I’m very much looking forward to something. Furthermore, I’m excited for good reason. This year, for my Speakeasy Revue (which takes place from 1-2 right by Star Line Books), my poetry kids are going to be carrying most of the load. I’m already anticipating feeling like a proud dad yet again.
In other news, I’ve been hard at work on a chapbook manuscript (this is different from the other manuscript that I’ve mentioned on here). I think there’s a lot of really strong material in it. It’s about race, and while banging out some pieces last week, a thought occurred to me. As a result, I have a BRAND NEW BLOG about it!!! You should check it out, if you’re so inclined.
Aside from that, I’ve got a few new gigs posted in the Performances section. You should come see me! Somewhere! Sometime soon! You know you wanna!
So, I’ve been in a fairly (for me at least) interesting place in my life. I’m not sure if it’s the byproduct of being older, or simply realizing worth and what I need, but I’ve been erecting walls as of late. For those who know me (like, REALLY know me), you know how open I am. I pride myself on it. After shows, I’ll talk genuinely and at length with anyone who wants to. I make myself uber available for my poetry students. Long story short, I invest my energy in a lot of people and things, and I often provide access to my body, skill set, network, etc. Recently, I decided that it’s okay to shut things down as far as that goes in order to preserve self, the aforementioned energy, and, honestly, sanity.
I happen to be a big believer in signs, so last week, I stumbled across something that Roy Guzman (who is an incredible poet, if you weren’t aware. You should check his stuff out ASAP) said on Twitter. Basically, he stated that it’s perfectly fine to keep whatever you need to to yourself in order for you to remain healthy. Serendipity??? Perhaps. All I really know is that it has felt pretty good to say no to things, to be extremely selective in who and where I choose to bring my energy, and to reward relationships that have been extremely one-sided with distance and silence. Who knew? And I’ve been able to do all of this without any hint of shame or guilt, because I know that this is what I require right now. I’m focusing on doing my work, tending to my life outside of the work (which is something a lot of people who know me have probably never heard me say before), and it all has been what the doctor ordered… without the expensive costs on the back end.
So, my debut EP Between Beauty & Bedlam is officially FOUR! On this very day, it came out in 2013, and it’s been so wild to think back on how much my life has changed since that span of time. I’m sure most of you who are reading these words haven’t heard it, so I’ll forgo trying to coerce you to do so, but I will say that making that particular project meant a tremendous amount for me.
In other news, I’m getting squared away for the Speakeasy Revue performance for Mainx24. This will be our third year rocking out with the good people from Star Line Books, and I’m STOKED (yes, I broke out that ol’ skater vernacular. Don’t hate) to be able to use that space to further showcase some of my MANIFEST Voices students aka my poetry kids, as I lovingly refer to them. You should come on out and poetically get your face melted. I mean, it’s probably going to be cold that day, so a little face-melting can be just what the doctor ordered.
We’ve got one more month in 2017! How crazy is that? I remember distinctly how this time of year in 2016 felt, and I’m thinking about writing a blog about that very time. So much changed then, and has changed ever since.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has been BUSY! Now, I’ve been the good kind of busy, but it’s also the draining kind of busy, too. Funny how those two things can occupy the same space, eh? If you’ve been keeping up around these parts, you know that I recently finished a manuscript. I’ve been shooting it out to some places for prize and publication consideration. Also, I’ve been working on a chapbook for Button Poetry’s competition, gearing up for the THIRD YEAR of my Speakeasy Revue performance for the Mainx24 festival in Chattanooga, AND grinding on an amazing project that I’m seeking funding for. All things considered though, I’m immensely happy. It just would be a little nice to take a few days off to just do nada and recharge. Ah, well. We sleep when we die, right?
Well, dear family, it is officially Devil’s Night! What exactly does that mean? Hmmm. It means that, aside from re-watching (or watching if you’re a member of the generation that has recently come of age) “The Crow”, it is also the day and night before Halloween. There you have it! You’re welcome.
Boy, what can I say about last week? It was AMAZING. I turned another year older (and mmmmaybe wiser), and I had the distinct honor of taking part in the Meacham Writers Workshop. This was my first one, and I had an absolute blast. I got to talk shop with a wonderful array of writers, share a stage, lead a seminar, etc. It was a truly beautiful experience and made me happy to belong to such an incredible fraternity. Huzzah, writers!
Oh! And if you would like to check out my reading from last Friday, you can do so here: http://www.meachamwriters.org/writers/christian-collier.htm HUGE thanks to Mr. Bill Stifler for not only recording the performance, but for getting it up and available SUPER FAST. That man stays on top of things.
Next up is our festival for the Southern Lit Alliance. We’ve got some great writers coming, and if you want to be in the loop and/or get a look at the goings on, you can do so here: http://www.southernlitalliance.org/southword
That’s all I’ve got for now, gang. Be good, stay warm, have fun grubbing on candy regardless if you trick or treat, and I’ll be back in touch before too long.
Dear brothers & sisters, today just so happens to be your Friendly Neighborhood Christian’s BIRTHDAY! It’s interesting. I suppose the older you get, the less you really FEEL older, or care about your own birthdays. This one is a bit different though. Since last year’s birthday, quite a bit has shifted in and around my life. It also feels like it’s gone by so astronomically FAST! I can remember last year’s birthday in vivid detail.
In other news, the Meacham workshop kicks off TOMORROW! I’m really looking forward to it. My reading is on Friday (deets are up in the Performances section), and I’m leading a seminar on Saturday morning. You should do yourself a favor and check out the goings on for the whole shebang here: http://www.meachamwriters.org/schedule.htm
Lastly, if you haven’t bought your tickets for The Southern Lit Alliance’s South Word Festival, you’re slacking! Things kick off next week, and you should definitely attend if you’re in or around Chattanooga and have even the slightest interest in the literary arts. You can pick one or a few up here: http://www.southernlitalliance.org/southword
Greetings Ladies & Germs,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian performed at Dalton St. last night, and it was BIG FUN! I’d never set foot on campus before, so it was interesting to take in a little bit of the school (a VERY little bit) before doing the do. The turnout was solid, only two people fell asleep, and I think most peeps had a good time. I certainly did. It’s rare that I do full sets locally now (which I always prefer to do), so this was a bit of a treat for me.
Next up on the ol’ agenda is the Meacham Writing Workshop, which will take place next week. I’ll be reading at noon on the 27th (details are up in my Performances section), and I’ll also be taking part in a seminar. However, I have not received word on when that will be going down. It’ll be either Saturday or Sunday, but as soon as I find out, I’ll post the update. If you’re interested in coming though, make sure to keep your eyes on this site. Dun, dun, dunnnnn.
The Southern Lit Alliance will be having this year’s SouthWord Literary Festival on November 3rd and 4th. What is that, you ask??? Well, it just so happens to be a two-day event that features more than 40 members of the Fellowship of Southern Writers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Some GREAT writers are coming, and you should DEFINITELY be there. For deets, you should check out http://www.southernlitalliance.org/southword
In other news, I’ve been hearing back from people regarding my manuscript, and so far, everybody likes it! There have been a number of questions, which is TOTALLY fine and something that I love. I put this bad boy together with layers intended. I know it’s clichéd to say, but really, it’s constructed for the reader to come back to more than once. I promise that there are things that most people will miss on their first run through it, and if that’s the ONLY read, they’ll miss out on the full experience that I worked to create. Just sayin’. In any case, I’ve had a ball sending the work out to be considered for publication and prizes. We shall see how things shake out… about half a year from now! Mua ha ha!!!
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!