Hey, everybody. Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has been BUSY, BUSY, BUSY. I’m really happy about what that level of activity has produced though. Actually, I’d like to jump into what’s been taking place.
So, I’ve been working on a documentary for, what feels like, forever. This process has been educational, stressful, nearly lawsuit-inducing, etc., but I’m VERY happy to say that we’re dangerously close to rolling everything out. It’s a docu-series, so there’ll be about 6 episodes for you to check out in the near future, and I’m proud and excited for all of you lovely people to do so, if you’re so inclined. Make sure to stay tuned for info regarding a premiere as well as when the episodes hit online.
Also, I’m gearing up to venture to New Hampshire for this year’s Conference on Poetry. I’m really jazzed about it as well as having the opportunity to study with Tyree Daye and Gabrielle Calvocoressi. A lot of this year has been an absolute dream, and we’re only halfway through it. I cannot fathom what the rest of 2019 holds for yours truly.
A few hours after I return from NH, I’ll be touching the stage (which I seldom do in Chattanooga) at the Camp House. Poet Ashlee Haze will be rocking out, and I’ve been tapped to deliver some words and such for the occasion. It’s going to be a fun time. You can find the details and ticket info in my Performances section.
In addition to that, my MANIFEST Voices summer program is up and running. I think, based on the first two weeks we’ve linked up and rocked out, this could be my most challenging class. Half the attendees were with me last year while the other half are brand new to poetry. Like, JUST discovering what metaphors, similes, etc. are. Bridging the gap between the two is forcing me to reevaluate how to teach as well as what to teach, and I don’t see that as a bad thing. It’s just a thing, and I know that it’s building muscles that I haven’t had to utilize in a workshop setting
So, the 25th of May is a pretty special day to yours truly. As, I’m sure, some of you know, that date, way back when in the year 2001, was when I jumped on a microphone to spit a poem for an actual audience for the first time. When I was done, I was a changed man… or boy… or young man. That sounds more accurate.
I’ve started celebrating each May 25th like a second birthday for the past however many years now, and it’s been great. It reminds me of all the things that poetry has brought into my life, all the people and places it’s taken me to, and it keeps me in awe and humble about the journey.
Speaking of journeys, I’ve been put through my paces in a number of ways the last few weeks. I’ve been working on a project that, due to someone else’s actions (or, more accurately, lack thereof) has forced me to be resourceful in a way that I didn’t account for. Since I’ve been going through it, I’ve been coming into contact with articles, interviews, quotes, etc. that have really made me pause, process, and choose to buck against my initial instinct to go HAM (do the kids still say that?) to rectify the situation. It’s been a really fascinating, sometimes tedious, and, at the end of the day, needed exercise. I’ve been trying to be more mindful of what I devote my time, energy, and attention to, and this definitely falls into that consideration. I don’t want to hitch myself and my energy to craziness or drama, so the end goal for this particular project has remained very much in view.
I’m not sure where you all are, but if you’re anywhere around The Scenic City, you know that it is ROASTING outside. Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has been dealing with an upper respiratory infection, but aside from that, things are pretty good.
The deadline for this year’s MANIFEST Voices workshop is rapidly approaching. The 26th of this month is the last day to apply. I’m excited to work my way through this year’s applications, so if you’ve yet to do so or know someone who’s expressed interest in applying and hasn’t already done so, get on it! We’re accepting submissions at https://www.southernlitalliance.org/manifest-voices
Speaking of the Voices program, I had the great honor this weekend to attend the graduation of one of my students. I’m not the biggest fan of graduations, truth be told, but being there to take part in someone’s accomplishment is SUCH a big deal. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I’m super proud of her and I’m excited for where this life will take her to. This guy? Feels like a proud papa bear.
In other news, the past few weeks have brought a number of things into view that have raised my blood pressure and triggered my anxiety. I’ve been working my way through them in, hopefully, a healthy fashion. One of the things I’ve been working on over the years is not to allow a moment’s aggravation to lead me to make decisions based on emotion. So, the past couple of weeks have allowed me to put my practice into action and channel those feelings into more productive spaces. Hopefully, that’ll continue, and the near future will be absolutely killer. I know that’s vague, but I don’t want to bore with the tedium that’s recently occupied my life.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is a happy man, and it feels downright amazing to be able to say that. Pardon me while I go knock on wood so as not to jinx myself. Not only did I avoid all the spoilers for the latest Avengers movie (which is great, by the way, and if you’d like to discuss it, we totally can), but I’ve had some really grand things happening in my life and work.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to catch one of my biggest inspirations growing up. Mr. Tom Morello is in my top 5 as far as guitarists go, and at the beginning of his Atlas Underground show, these really phenomenal images appear on a screen. Most of them are black and white, and I thought that they not only did an excellent job of establishing a mood, but also a message. That message has been the same since the early 90’s, and I thought that that was such an interesting, refreshing thing to witness. You know, commitment. Commitment to a cause, and a purpose. It was something that I needed to encounter, especially as I’m undertaking a project that, at its core, has a heart and seeks to do some legitimate good.
Switching gears, I’ve been given a REALLY phenomenal opportunity, and if everything shakes out right, I’ll be taking a few flights to do something truly grand. When I got the initial news a little while back, I had to fight back tears. I don’t want to sound hokey or anything, but so much of the work we do as artists, curators, facilitators, etc. in arts and culture goes completely unnoticed. We do what we do because we recognize the need, value, etc. and because it’s within us. So, whenever someone recognizes our work or worth, it’s a big thing. A big, big, big thing, and I found myself genuinely humbled.
Speaking of humbled, as you SHOULD know, I’m gearing up for my FOURTH YEAR of running my summer poetry workshop, and one of last year’s students recently went on the radio and spoke about how I had changed her life by working with her. How do you beat that, dear friends? It made me feel really good to receive my flowers while I’m still alive to smell them, so to speak, but I also felt so infinitely thankful for this path that has chosen me.
Lastly, I feel like I’m kind of at a place of rediscovery and reevaluation in my life. I realize that a number of the things that I’ve been doing or asked to do aren’t really conducive to me moving forward. I expend a lot of energy on the things that I’m adamant about, and, most of the time, I’m not the only one involved, so the balance is way off and I end up doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. I can’t continue to get down like that, because not only is it not fair, but it detracts from my energy and exploration into things that I could just do in a solo capacity. So, we shall see how things shake out, but I’m definitely excited to see where I land.
Greetings dear friends and fam,
Man! Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is a happy man. Actually, scratch that. Your boy is straight-up ECSTATIC! This past weekend, we launched my new baby, The Plug Poetry Project, and we did so by bringing award-winning poet Julian Randall to town. He workshopped with ten participants and then did an AMAZING reading with Olivia Bradley on Saturday. Julian’s presence here (and I’m not embellishing in the least) brought so much to the table for the people who came out. They got challenged, supported, nurtured, etc., and it was truly a beautiful and inspiring thing to witness. It also made me feel that putting my energy and resources behind this whole thing is worthwhile.
For some time now, I’ve wondered about the city and how seriously it takes the art we make. I’ve seen artists do a number of phenomenal things in terms of events, programs, etc. for diminishing returns. Honestly, I think that has taken a toll on a great number of us here. I hope that this changes that because what we’re doing is not only bringing something cool to see to the city, but something that absolutely WILL have a benefit for the people here… if they choose to get onboard. Well, get onboard and stay there.
In any case, I feel really excited about how things went this go round AND for the potential moving forward. We already have our second writer booked, and the quality will absolutely, positively not drop in the slightest. Mua ha ha!!! You might want to go ahead and keep October 5th open. Just sayin’.
In other news, I’m currently taking application for my summer poetry program. This marks my fourth year running it, which is wild. The time has truly flown by. If you know a teenager between the ages of 13-18 who’d be interested in rocking out and learning with yours truly, tell them to apply by May 26th at https://www.southernlitalliance.org/manifest-voices
Lastly, I’m hosting an open-mic THIS FRIDAY NIGHT! You should come through. I’ll be there to start sign-ups at 8 PM, and we’ll get rolling around 8:30. It’s going to be a good time. You can find the deets in my Performances section.
What’s shaking, family? Hopefully, your National Poetry Month is treating you well and you’re reading and writing some incredible things. I actually can’t believe that this is my first post of the month. In any case, things have been pretty grand on my end. I’ve banged out some stuff that I’m pretty happy about so far this month, AND I’ve been pounding the pavement and preaching the gospel to get people interested in the activities taking place on April 20th. If you weren’t aware, I’m bringing Mr. Julian Randall to town for a workshop and a reading that day, and both are absolutely, positively, 100% FREE for people to attend. I’ve been encouraging peeps to bring some money if they’re coming to the reading though. That way, they can not only take a copy of Julian’s incredible debut collection home with them, but they also can have him sign it for them. How about that? Oh! Also, I only have about 4 or 5 slots open for the workshop, so if you’d like to participate, make sure to contact me ASAP!
Switching gears, the good people at Chronically Lit published TWO of my poems recently. If you’re so inclined, you can check them out here: http://chronicallylit.com/two-poems-by-christian-j-collier/
So, Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is VERY happy to announce something. If you’ve been following this little website of mine for any fairly significant amount of time, you’ll know that I’ve been itching been to tell you good people about the things that I’ve been up to. Well… that time is now – at least for some things. Next month, on April 20th, I’m bringing award-winning poet Julian Randall to Chattanooga for a FREE (yes, FREE) workshop AND a featured reading! How grand is that? If you’re not familiar with Julian, here’s a bit about him: Julian Randall is a living queer Black poet from Chicago. His first book, Refuse (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), is the winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize.
If you’re interested or know someone who might be in participating in the workshop, contact me ASAP. I have a limited number of open slots, and they’re filling up fast.
Also, if you would like to do the Facebook thing and let us know that you’re attending, you can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/events/306484213349037/ Plus, I will absolutely love and appreciate it if you helped me get the word out.
Chiming off that, this is the official launch of my new venture, which is called The Plug Poetry Project. I’ve been laying the groundwork for everything over the course of the past year, and I’m really jazzed to finally be able to let the cat out of the bag. Stay tuned for new updates (more cool stuff is coming down the pipeline SOON).
Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is a happy man. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to support the students of GPS and McCallie again for their Amnesty Club’s Poetry for the People event. As always, it was a great time, and definitely inspiring to witness young people participating in the act of sharing poetry. How grand is that? It made me think back to when I first started reading out at 17. I was always the youngest person to show up at places, so to see a roomful of teenagers reading things that they either wrote or were by someone else is just plain amazing to me on a personal scale.
In other news, I’ve been hard at work on some things that will be seeing the light very, very soon. I know I’ve been saying that for some time, but I assure you that the wait is going to be worthwhile. You will be pleased! I guarantee satisfaction, dear brothers and sisters.
We’ve broken into a brand new month. March is upon us. Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is going to do something that he hasn’t done in… years this month. What’s that you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. This guy? He’s going on VACATION! Now, I’m terrible at having downtime, so I’m probably going to work on something while on the vacay, but still. It’s something.
Also, I’ll be rolling out some cool things this month. Stay tuned! I’m extremely excited to get the news out there, and for you lovely folks to receive it. Huzzah!
I’ve added yet another live date for this year. The performance is next week, and is for a great cause. If you’re in the area and interested in poetry and/or helping young people, you should consider coming out.
Things have been rolling on yours truly’s end, dear brothers and sisters. Recently, I recorded my entry into this year’s Miller Audio Prize competition that’s put on by The Missouri Review. I’ve submitted for it a number of times over the years, and I figured I’d do something a bit different this go round. For those of you that don’t know, I started producing music in 2002 and have made a pretty solid range of music that’s run the spectrum stylistically for others and myself since then. I thought that it would be a good idea to not only showcase what I can do musically to enhance the text, but to also do something that provides a narrative. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out, and at some point this fine year, the results will come in. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
That aside, I took part in a program just last night about activism. I really enjoyed hearing from different members of the activism community in town and how we advocate for each other and the causes we’re passionate about. I didn’t have much time with my small group, but what I tried to impart to them was that activism really boils down to figuring out what moves you, deciding what you want to do/can do, and committing from there. Those tend to be the core steps to the dance, in my most humble of opinions.
Greetings! Welcome to February. Black History Month, the month of love and overpriced trinkets to show someone that you care about them, etc. All the things! Twenty years ago this month, I went to the Bahamas on a high school trip, almost got stranded there, and, the night I returned home, watched Event Horizon (which is a classic, by the way) for the first time. Ah, memories.
Anyway, hopefully the beginning of this year has been grand for you and yours. It certainly hasn’t been too shabby for yours truly. As usual, I’ve been hard at work on a number of things, and I am immensely excited to tackle each and every single one of them (how often can anyone say that?). I’ve been pushing the pen and computer keys to bang out another full-length manuscript and working on some cool (in my most humble of opinions) programs for my neck of the woods and myself. Plus, you know, all the other things.
So, just yesterday, I received my contributor’s copy of the latest edition of Welter Journal. It looks beautiful, and it’s really an honor to have had them accept my poem to run in it. You can check out the good work everyone who put it together is up to at The University of Baltimore here https://welterub.com
Also yesterday (it really was a gift from the poetry deities), my interview with Dr. Richard Jackson for the Meacham Writers’ Workshop went live. We recorded it in November, and I’m really happy about how it shook out after seeing the finished product. Honestly, I was REALLY tired that morning, and when I left to return to my car, I wasn’t quite sure if I made any sense in what I said. I did alright in terms of being coherent, it turns out. Huzzah! You can check it out here https://www.meachamwriters.org/conversations/Collier_Christian_2018-11-20.htm
If you’re reading this, CONGRATS! You (yes, YOU) SURVIVED 2018! And now we’re here, living at the dawn of another year. I think 2019 is going to be an interesting year (really though, what year isn’t?), and, for me, one of growth. I have some AMAZING things lined up that are going to be coming to fruition this year, and I’m extremely excited to unveil them all to you when the time is right (which shouldn’t be too long down the line). I hope that you fine folks stay tuned. You’ll approve of what I’ve been cooking up in the kitchen.
Switching gears, one of my goals for 2019 is to get more work submitted, and, hopefully, accepted to be put out into the world. I did a solid job of that last year, and I want to not only keep the momentum going, but to up the ante. With that said, I’m proud to announce that my first two pieces of the year have been accepted. They’re from a new collection that I’m working on, so that’s personally pretty cool. When the pieces run, I’ll do my best to keep you abreast of when and where you can read them. Poet’s honor. Oh! In the interim, you should check out what the good people at Chronically Lit (who accepted my poems) are doing. You can find them at http://chronicallylit.com
Greetings, family. We’re at the time of the year where driving is typically atrocious, and people pretend to be kinder creatures than they really are. Also, it’s the time of year where other things tend to wind down. That’s not exactly the case for me, but it is true in certain aspects. One such arena where that holds true is on the performance front. I had my last public showing on a stage this past weekend, and it was a really good time.
I had the chance to rock out for my friend Butch Ross’ Xmas Extravaganza show, and it was a bit surreal. I shared the bill with a number of people I came to know in 2009 when I embarked on my Forced Exposure Tour. Over the years, life has taken us in a number of directions. This weekend was my first time seeing some of those people in years, and the whole thing was a reminder of not only how much I’ve missed some of their company, but also of how immensely talented the cast of performers truly are. What an absolute honor.
You know, I made the decision for the past two years to take a step back from hitting as many stages as I’ve averaged since 2009 to focus on some other things. You know, diversifying the palette, so to speak. I’ve put a good amount of energy into creating programs, pursuing different projects, and writing and submitting things for publication. As we’re staring at the end of 2018, I’m really proud of all the poems that found homes outside of mine this year, and those that have already been accepted for publication in 2019. One of my goals for some time now has been to have at least one book out into the world, and I’ve been putting in the work to make that a reality. I legitimately feel like I’m on the right path and that that will happen before too terribly long. This guy? On the optimistic side of the coin.
What’s good, family? Hopefully, you’re all fighting off colds successfully, sufficiently bundled-up if need be, and not battling your fellow man out in these streets for toys and deals and such. We’re officially six days into the last month of 2018. I’m not sure if any of you can relate to this, but I feel like a lot has happened this year (both personally and beyond), and, at the same time, that it hasn’t. Gotta love paradox.
The good people at Apogee Journal JUST published their latest issue, and Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian happens to have a piece inside it. They do such amazing work, and it’s truly an honor to be included. You can check out the issue and all that they do here: https://apogeejournal.org/digital/
Chiming off that, I updated my Media page. You can now easily find a good number of my published works as well as some other new things. Check it out!
In other news, I had the chance to participate in the GPS Amnesty night poetry reading. I believe I’ve participated in all of them, actually, so the fact that the streak continues feels great. It was a wonderful time, and it made me feel really proud to hear the kids reading poems from some of my favorites, such as Ada Limon.
Also, this past Saturday, I ended up caching a last minute performance for this year’s Mainx24, which is a 24-hour festival. This was the first year in a while where I didn’t do my Speakeasy Revue, and it felt good to just be able to rock out, be appreciated, not have to worry about lugging equipment around (in the rain, no less), etc. Honestly though, I’ve been thinking a good bit about last year’s Mainx24 where my poetry students and I had to endure a man going crazy during our scheduled performance, and it made me feel angry all over again. I wasn’t just angry that that happened, but that people I’d considered good acquaintances and partners defended his insanity (he pushed a spectator, threatened to throw a stink bomb and clear our event out, and go in my face, cursed me out and put his hands on me), but accused me of “spreading hate” online by telling the truth about what happened on social media. I recently told a good friend of mine that we’re living in an era now where you can easily find encouragement to tell and live your own truth unless that truth happens to be about someone or something else that people close to you like. Then, they want you to swallow it or fill your mouth with silence. Who has time for that? If that’s the way people genuinely feel and want/expect you to operate, they’re not your people, advocates, fans, friends, etc., and, really, they probably never were nor will ever be.
We’re almost midway through November. Already! Time – she flies! Things have been pretty solid on my end, and I sincerely hope that you can say the same on yours. Allow me to jump into what’s been going down with Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian.
First, the good people at Welter have accepted one of my poems for publication in their next issue. If memory serves, I wrote the particular piece that they’ve taken in November of last year, and it not only features an epigraph from a Mobb Deep song, but also boasts a cameo from someone who used to work at my favorite bar. Beyond that though, what’s especially wild to me is that this piece and a number of others that were written for my latest chapbook manuscript have been finding homes. The poems are really heavy animals and deal with race, and the fact that people are willing to allow them to live in other spaces given the fact that race is something we often don’t really talk about, but talk around, feels amazing.
Chiming off of that, you should check out my BRAND NEW BLOG (it’s been some time since I’ve been able to say that). In it, I talk about something that happened last week that deals with race, culture, and our understanding (and lack thereof) when it comes to the two.
Switching gears, I believe I let the cat out of the bag a few months back. If so, then consider this old hat. However, if I didn’t, then you can consider this to be NEWS! I was awarded a grant to do a project by the fine folks at Artsbuild, and I’ve spent the bulk of this year working on a documentary. I’m very happy to say that we’re close to getting things where they need to be. I’m currently combing through footage, and since we’re going to release everything episodically, we should have, at least, an episode or two ready to go before the big ball drops and closes out 2018. Stay tuned! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for you to see and experience everything. This has been a tremendous learning opportunity and has taught me a lot about myself as well as my capacity for patience, accountability, communication, etc.
Greetings, ladies and gents. It’s fitting that I’m writing on Halloween. Mua ha ha!!! I always feel a little bit bummed after Halloween passes. The fun vibe for the rest of the year kinda disappears, but it is what it is.
That bit of confession aside, things are pretty solid on my end of the coin. I wrapped up this fall’s Meacham workshop, and for the second consecutive year, it was great fun. Not only did I have a good time having the chance to get to know and talk shop with other writers and students, but I had the chance to try out something new teaching-wise and soak up SO MUCH inspiration. Also, randomly, I passed by Terrell Owens on the last day and he said “Hey” to me. How about that?
Switching gears, I’ve had a number of pieces accepted for publication recently. One gave me the opportunity to add artwork to coincide with my poem, and I decided to reach out to Anna Carll, who is an artist and person that I really enjoy and respect. She graciously allowed me to send in one of her works, so I should be able to link you to the journal in the near future so you can see how everything shapes up. I’m really jazzed about seeing it, myself. In the interim, if you’d like to get familiar with Anna and her work, you can do so here: http://www.annacarll.com
Hola, family. As I write this, Hurricane Michael is in full effect, so I sincerely hope that everybody is safe and sound.
One of my newest poems was published this week by Vagabond City for their latest issue. It’s certainly interesting to have this particular one out in the world. I believe I’ve mentioned it on here before, but I’ve been working on a series of poems that actively addresses depression, trauma, etc. in a way that I haven’t before. If you’re so inclined, you can peep the poems here https://vagabondcitylit.com/2018/10/10/gaslight-by-christian-j-collier/ and if you do decide to check it out, I encourage you to also peep the other works, too.
Switching gears, I’m really excited for the next few weeks. We’re going to be completing phase one of an incredible project, and beginning stage 2, so I’m definitely looking forward to the transition. Huzzah!
Greetings Ladies & Gents. It feels great to be broadcasting from the beginning of my favorite month out of the whole year. There’s just something about October. What can I say? Birthdays, changing leaves, Halloween, never-ending pasta. Ah, man. Breathe it in!
Things have been rolling on my end. After having a piece accepted by Apogee Journal, I decided to revisit the manuscript that it came from. I tore pretty much everything apart, and then rewrote most of the pieces from the top down. I think the whole thing works WAY better now, and as a result, I’ve been shipping it out for consideration anew. We shall see what everyone else thinks. Maybe, just mmmmmaybe, that bad boy will find a home independent of my hard drive.
Chiming off that, I JUST had a piece accepted by the good people at Vagabond City Poetry. If I’m not mistaken, the issue it appears in will be popping up this week. As always, I will keep you guys posted.
I’ve been grinding to finish a special project, too. Things look good right now, so if everything bodes well, phase 1 will be knocked out right before my birthday. Dun, dun, dunnnn.
Also, I’m really looking forward to being back in the fold for the Meacham workshop later this month. I had an absolute blast last year and feel honored to be invited back. If you’re free on the 26th, I’ll be reading around noon at UTC. I updated the venue location, so if you were wondering where the festivities would be taking place, I’ve got you covered, son. Stay tuned for more deets!
Lastly, I was reminded earlier in the week that it has officially been five years since I received the physical copies of my debut EP Between Beauty & Bedlam. Making and releasing that project into the world was truly a special feat for me. With that said (and I realize that the world has largely begun actively moving away from CDs), from now until the end of 2018, if you’d like the digital version of the record, you can get it from me for $5. All you have to do is hit me up via the Contact Me form on here, and I’ll walk you through the steps of the dance. Easy!
Greetings, good people, and welcome to fall! Life has been pretty… interesting on Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian’s end. There’s been a good bit of anger and frustration permeating my day to day, BUT, in the midst of that, I’ve received some amazing reminders of just how loved, fortunate, and downright blessed I am. One of the recent things that really humbled me was that the phenomenal people at Breakwater Review nominated me for the 2018 Best of the Net Anthology. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming (I’m not sure if anyone really does), and as the cliché states, it really and truly is an honor to be nominated. To have someone see the value in your work enough to choose on their own accord to pass it on to others is a beautiful thing, brothers and sisters. I’m also elated to be nominated with the other writers. I strongly encourage you to check out what Breakwater has going on here: https://www.breakwaterreview.com/
That bit of beautiful biz aside, if you’re in or around Chattanooga, you should check out YA-hoo Fest, which takes place on the 29th of this month. The event is a celebration of young adult literature, and you can find more info about it all here: https://www.yahoofest.org
In addition to that, the schedule for Meacham is up now. I’ll be reading the day after my birthday, so that’s pretty sweet. You can find the schedule at: https://www.meachamwriters.org/schedule.htm I’ll be at everything, so I hope to some of your beautiful faces in attendance as well.
Brothers and sisters, I hope everyone who is in the path or close enough to be impacted by the hurricanes is taking every precaution and doing all that they can to be safe. Hurricanes are no joke. I used to live in Florida, and it was common to see people operate with a very whimsical outlook when it came to them, but when you think of the devastation caused by Andrew, Sandy, Katrina, Maria, and more, prioritizing safety shouldn’t even be up for debate. Those are my two cents because I care, and with that, I am now officially off my soapbox.
Moving on to other biz, Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian recently had a piece accepted by Apogee Journal. I’m pretty thrilled about that. Apogee has been on my list of places where I’d love to see my work appear, and now that appears to be coming to fruition. I’ll keep you fine folks posted on when you can get your eyes on the work.
I’ve been reading a good bit lately, which is something that I don’t find myself getting to do as much as I once did, but I’ve definitely enjoyed my return. If you’re a poetry lover and reader (hopefully, both are true for you!), I would recommend both books by Jericho Brown as well as “Black Aperture” by Matt Rasmussen. Amazing things await you if you so choose to take my suggestions (and why wouldn’t you?).
Well, that’s it for yours truly right now. Be good, stay dry, and definitely don’t be strangers!
Greetings Brothers & Sisters,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian recently visited the Left Coast and explored Los Angeles. It was a really beautiful excursion. While there, I had the opportunity to check out one of the branches of MOCA, and a number of the works are, a week later, talking to me. It’s one of my absolute favorite things in the world to encounter a piece of art, be it an album, a collection of photographs, a dancer’s performance, etc. and not only be awed by it, but have it continue to have its way with you. Ah! I’m really looking forward to truly witnessing how those works change me, because I am of the belief that everything we experience does.
In other news, I’ve received some really cool information. First, one of my students, Brynija, who participated in the first two years of my MANIFEST Voices program, recently competed in her second year of the Poetry vs. Hip-Hop show. Friends, I cannot express to you how elated I am to report that none only did she win her bout last year, but she did the same dang thing THIS YEAR! Not only that, I think she gave her best performance that I’ve seen to date. This guy? Uber proud.
Also, another one of my students from last year and this year recently had a poem published! Huzzah! I believe it is her very first publication to her name (don’t quote me on that), but if you’re interested (and why wouldn’t you be?), you can peep her poem here: https://liquidimagination.silverpen.org/article/battle-cry-by-beth-day/
Chiming off that, I’ve been working on a few things that have really been speaking to my spirit. One of which is a series of poems that I feel like I kind of stumbled into writing. They’re dealing with healing, trauma, therapy, depression, etc., and, as a result of penning these things, they’ve sparked me to have some pretty interesting conversations with people and tell more of my truth. I think the latter was definitely one of the things I sought to do at the beginning of the year, so it feels both nice and fated that this would be where I was at only a matter of months later.
Well, that’s about it for moi for now. Be good, find something that sets your soul aglow, document it (because that’s the thing to do these days), and don’t be strangers! I’ll be back in touch before too long. I promise.
You probably have noticed by now, but it’s August. AUGUST! Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has been an extremely busy man, but he’s also immensely grateful and happy, too (and a little under the weather at the moment). Let’s jump into things!
My poetry students absolutely DID THEIR THING at their showcase. I could not have been prouder of them. They all stepped up to the plate, quelled their nerves, exhibited great poise, and owned the stage. I felt like a proud dad watching it all go down. It’s crazy for me to think that not only was this the end of my third straight year of teaching the workshop, but that the idea for it came to me in an Uber in Boston. What an absolute blessing this experience has been, brothers and sisters.
While we’re on the topic of blessings, I performed a few pieces last Sunday for Christ Unity’s service. This was my third time doing poems for their service (as fate would have it, it’s always in the month of August, too), and as always, it was a treat for me. I read “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith and my poem An Invocation. I felt both were pretty relevant given the world we live in these days.
That’s about it for me right now. I hope all is well on your ends. Be good, stay hydrated, and I’ll be back in touch before too long. PEACE!!!
Greetings Boys & Girls,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is riding a good wave, and I hope you can say the same. Last week was a busy one, but it was the good kind of busy and yielded some amazing results. Things culminated with my Pecha Kucha presentation last Friday. I talked about my journey in trying to help others discover and cultivate their own voices and bring some of their own dreams to fruition. I think it went well.
In other news, I had my penultimate workshop session with my MANIFEST Voices students yesterday. They’re getting there! By the 28th, they’ll be poetry machines ready to poem your faces off and make you like it. How’s that for a hook? Seriously though, I’m very proud of them and the work they’ve put in thus far. I’m also immensely happy to have them as a part of my growing MANIFEST family.
That’s about all I’ve got for now, brothers and sisters. Be good, stay cool, read and enjoy Jericho Brown (really, how could you not do the latter?), and I’ll be in touch before too long. Poet’s honor.
What’s good, family? Hopefully, you’re not melting from the apparent heat wave that has taken over the country or been washed away by the numerous hard rains that have rocked certain parts of the country. If you have met your demise from either one of those, you have my condolences. Anyway, A LOT has been transpiring on my end, and I’m extremely jazzed to tell you about it. Let’s jump in!
First, Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is rapidly reaching the finish line with this year’s MANIFEST Voices students. The kids are great, and I’m whipping them into shape for their showcase, which will be on July 28th at The Arts Building. It’s absolutely FREE (promosexuals, rejoice!) and if you’re reading this, consider yourself invited to attend. I’ve said from the first year of the program that it means so much more to the kids (even if they don’t immediately recognize or appreciate it) when people who don’t know them or owe them anything show up to show their support and that what they’re doing matters. So, if you’d like to make a difference in the lives of seven incredibly talented teens, come on out around 5:30. Seats are limited!
Next, THIS FRIDAY, I’ll be a speaker for the latest Pecha Kucha in Chattanooga. Things get underway at 6, and I also believe that it is free (once again, promosexuals, get your rejoice on!). There’ll be 8-12 speakers for the evening (each of our talks is a max of 6 minutes and change), and I’m excited to see how things go. It’s been a while since I’ve attended a Pecha Kucha, and this will actually be my first one as a presenter, so I’m looking forward to it.
In other news, I’m hard at work on a project that has challenged me across the board. It’s frustrated me, forced me to consider and learn new things, forced me to grow and visualize a larger picture, etc. It feels good, and I’m extremely fortunate to be working with someone now who has vision, initiative, and a desire to help make this thing the success I feel it can be. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to check out some really amazing things before too long, so definitely, definitely, definitely stay tuned!
So, we’re a few days away from the summer of 2018 officially being upon us. If where you live is anywhere similar to where I live, it certainly has felt like summer for some time now. In any case, I have all kinds of things happening right now that I’m extremely excited about. Like a pool in the summer (see what I did there?), let’s jump in.
This Saturday, I’ll be a host for the Chattanooga Readers and Writers Fair. I believe festivities run from 10-4:30, so if you’re in the neighborhood or plan to be, make sure to swing by the downtown library and hang out with us. I’ll actually be hosting the last portion of the day, and I’ll have my merch on hand, so if you’d like to take home a little bit of Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian, you can do so!
In other news, I’ve been working with my students for this year’s MANIFEST Voices program, and things are going pretty well, I must say. The kids are sweet, so in a few more weeks, they should be finely-tuned poetry animals ready to rock out in front of the community. Dun, dun, dunnnn. No pressure. If you’re reading this, consider yourself officially invited to check them out, too. You can find the deets in my Performances section.
Lastly, as some of you know, I’ve been working on a documentary. I’d been reluctant to put that info out because it seemed like things weren’t going well, but there’ve been some significant shifts recently that have renewed my excitement about the project and my commitment to bringing it to fruition. I’m really psyched to announce everything that I have lined up, and you (yes, YOU) are needed to make this thing what I REALLY want it to be, which is a platform for the city’s voice as well as the voice of its people – regardless of background, education, etc. Stay tuned!!!
So, today is May 25th, which is a pretty special day for yours truly. Why? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m going to tell you! This guy? A giver. On this date seventeen years ago, I performed a poem for the very first time. It was pretty much a wrap from there. I’d been writing for years up to that point, but I really consider reciting on a microphone that first time in 2001 as the moment I turned a corner and really felt connected to an artistic community.
If you’ve followed this website or known me for the past however many years, you probably know that I’ve come to view and refer to May 25th as my second birthday. With that in mind, I figured it would be fitting to make an announcement on something I’ve been working on (and will be working on) for the remainder of this year and beyond.
I’m in the process of making a documentary, which is personally exciting and challenging simultaneously. This project received support through ArtsBuild’s Equity in the Arts grant program, and it’s a new undertaking for me. I have learned and continue to learn quite a bit, and I’m pretty jazzed to share the goings on along the journey as well as the finished product with you.
So, today is my official launch day. What you can expect in the comings weeks is new social media accounts that’ll house the content as well as some other nifty things I have in store for you, merchandise, and an invitation to be a part of this. I’ll elaborate on how in the near future as well, but please know that, continuing with what has been somewhat of a mission the past nine years of providing a platform for the voices in the city, this will be yet another means to do that.
In other news, applications for this year’s MANIFEST Voices are due THIS MONDAY! I’m really looking forward to digging in and working with a new group of young poets. It’s amazing to me that this is the third year of my program, and the fourth consecutive year I’ve spent my summer teaching. Before Voices got off the ground, the pilot was a part of a package called Ladders for Leaders. Time flies, dear brothers and sisters.
How goes it, family? Hopefully, things are going well for each and every single one of you, and you’re not roasting under the weight of the sun wherever you happen to find yourself. Things have been going well on my end. My schedule has been on the packed side the past however many weeks, but that’s the way I prefer things to be. In my line of biz, something is usually wrong when there’s an abundance of stillness and quiet.
With that said, I’ve been hanging up flyers for year three of my MANIFEST Voices program. We’re currently taking applications, and I JUST emailed my first student to let them know that they’ve been accepted. If you’re a teen or know any who’d be interested in working with yours truly on this wonderful craft, tell them to get their applications in ASAP. We’re only taking them until Memorial Day, which will be here before you (or they) know it. The info on the program and the application can be found at http://www.southernlitalliance.org/manifest-voices
In other news, I’ve been carving out some time to shoot out submissions. Honestly, I don’t often make enough time to submit as many things as I should, so I’m trying to right the ship on that front. Keep your fingers crossed that some of these things find homes.
Lastly, I plan to make an announcement on the 25th of this month. I’m REALLY excited to do it, and I hope that you and yours will be geeked, too. May 25th is a special day for me because it’s when I touched a stage for the first time, so I thought it would be fitting to tell you guys about something special that I’ve been (and will be) working on. Stay tuned!
So, National Poetry Month is officially in the books for 2018. I managed to knock out 30 poems for the 30/30 challenge again this year, which is great because prior to undertaking it, I’d only written one piece this year. It feels good to have in the pile, and I’m actually pretty pleased with how a number of the pieces shook out.
We’re currently accepting applications for YEAR THREE of my MANIFEST Voices workshop! As a matter of fact, our first app rolled in yesterday. If you’re a teen or know any who would be interested in learning about poetry with yours truly this summer, definitely take a look at the link. Oh, and encourage them to apply ASAP! We have a fixed number of slots available, and the last day we’re looking at apps is Memorial Day, which is at the end of this month. More details and the application itself can be found at http://www.southernlitalliance.org/manifest-voices
In addition to that, I have some other really cool things in the works for this month. I’m excited to tell you all about it when I can. Just know that I’m involved in some unique things, and, eventually, you can (and I hope you decide to do so) get involved in them, too. Huzzah!
April is rapidly approaching its end for 2018. This month has been pretty packed, but in a good way. This time last week, I was gearing up to head to Tampa for a reading and some other things at The University of Tampa. Twice, Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian dealt with some pretty good delays. As a matter of fact, on the way back from Tampa, my first flight got delayed… FIVE TIMES. No jive. I’ve never experienced that before.
I’ve been putting in work on the 30/30 challenge on Instagram. The process and reception has been interesting this year. It’s been a different bag of chips from last year’s go at it, which is good. It keeps me on my toes, and since I try to operate sans expectation, it’s another learning opportunity. If you haven’t been checking it out (shame on you! j/k), for this year’s foray, all of the poems are centered around song titles. It’s definitely been a good exercise and has put my creativity to test in ways that it probably hasn’t been since October of last year. That’s when I finished the manuscript for my chapbook. I really haven’t written much since.
I have a NEW blog up, and I have a new addition to my Performances section. Ch-ch-check me out!
Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian has been GRINDING this month. Well, this month and last month. Probably the month before that, too, but who’s keeping track? So far this week, I had the pleasure of presenting the grad 6-12 winning poems and prose piece for this year’s Young Southern Student Writers Award Ceremony. As fate would have it, Ruth Beeland, who just so happens to be one of last year’s MANIFEST Voices students, took home first place in the poetry category. I was very pleased, because I had absolutely nada to do with the selection process. She earned it on her own merit, which makes it even sweeter.
In addition to that, I did a little lesson for the Chattanooga Writers Guild last night, and it turned out to be big fun. Was very pleased with the response, and I feel like we managed to sufficiently cover a good deal in a little more than an hour.
Now, my sights are on Tampa! Dun, dun, dunnnn. I’ll be making my way back for the first time in almost a decade. How about that? Not only do I get to return to my old stomping grounds, but I get the opportunity to talk a bit and read with a few other alumni. I’m really looking forward to it. If you follow me on Instagram, you can expect some South Florida pictures to be popping up next week! The suspense!!!
Speaking of Instagram, I’ve been working my way through this year’s 30/30 poetry challenge on there. I’ve been using pop songs in a number of genres to riff on, and I think it’s ben shaking out pretty well, honestly. Today’s piece, for example, was inspired by Canada’s own Drake. I have no idea what tomorrow holds, but I’m definitely looking forward to the pursuit. It’s like a DJ digging for records. Each day, not only is the goal to write something, but, at least for this guy, to discover something and reinterpret it in a fresh and interesting way. If you haven’t already done so and would like to, you should check it (and me) out on the IG. Say hello!
Greetings Ladies & Germs,
It is National Poetry Month. Huzzah! Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian is tackling the 30/30 challenge again this year. If you were around these parts last year, you quite possibly know that for 2017’s undertaking, I decided to use Instagram as a platform for the pieces. That exercise proved really beneficial in a number of ways. Not only did I manage to bang out some poems that I was and still am pretty proud of, but I also had the opportunity to have one of my favorite artists EVER respond glowingly to a piece I wrote about her. I, literally, shed a few tears at that.
This time around the track, I don’t know what to expect, which isn’t much different than how I felt at this time last year. Really, in general, I try to operate sans expectation. I feel like assigning expectations is a pretty fast way to kill any adventure that this crazy thing called life throws at us. So, we’ll just have to see what happens over the course of this month. Dun, dun, dunnnn. Oh! And if you’re interested in seeing how things are shaping up thus far, feel free to follow me on Instagram. You can do so by simply clicking the IG logo here.
In other news, my dance card is starting to fill up, which feels great. This Friday, I’ll be lending my voice to the poetic chorus of GPS and McCallie’s Poetry for the people event. It’s always interesting to take part in an event that consists predominantly of teens. It’s an honor and a wonderful learning opportunity, too.
Next week, I’ll be leading a workshop for the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild. Deets are up in my Performances section. It’ll be a good time. You should come through if you’re able to do so.
March Madness is officially winding down (both in the sportsworld and in general). My March has been on the packed side, but I’m not complaining. April is going to be great, and I happen to have myself an announcement to make. Stay tuned! Also, as I’m sure you fine folks know, April is National Poetry Month, so I’m going to be giving the 30/30 challenge another go and throwing the results up on Instagram. If you’re not already doing so and would like to follow me to see what’s what, you can do so by clicking the IG logo that’s here on my site.
That aside, beloveds, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be a host for the upcoming Readers and Writers Fair. Word on the street is that they’ll let me do a few poems, too. If you’re a lover of literacy or are the parent/guardian/close friend/bad influence to someone who is, you should either be there or encourage someone to do so. I happen to think that it’ll be a pretty grand occasion.
Lastly, we’re gearing up for year three of my MANIFEST Voices program. It’s wild to think that this will be the third time around the track. We have some cool additions this go round, too. Make sure to stay tuned for the details.
Well, that’s about it for me. Keep your heads up, and keep those springtime allergens out of your nostrils, boys and girls.
I know the site has been pretty quiet for 2018. I promise you that I haven’t gone MIA. Honestly, I’ve been working on something (really, a number of things, to be perfectly honest) that I’m REALLY excited about. If all bodes well, I’ll be making an announcement within the next few weeks. What can you expect??? Cool things that you’ll, hopefully, engage with. I feel like so much of art, or, specifically, art in Chattanooga, exists in a vacuum, which, to a certain degree is fine. However, I’ve always been interested in making things that aren’t just confined to one demographic, and it would make me a pretty proud person to have you and yours not just support what I’m going to be undertaking, but to be involved each step of the way. Just sayin’. Be on the lookout, brothers and sisters. Good things are COMING!!!
Also, over the weekend, the good people at Breakwater Review published their latest issue. I just so happen to be in it. You should totally check it, and if you’d like to do so, you can find it here: https://www.breakwaterreview.com
So, 2018 has been an interesting year for Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian. I‘ve been on the sick side of things on and off since right before the New Year, so I’ve been pretty conservative in regard to my time and energy. As a result, I’ve neglected a few things – this website being a chief one. With that said though, I feel pretty solid now, so let’s jump into what’s going down! What do you say???
First, the good people at TAYO Literary Magazine published their latest issue TODAY. It looks amazing. One of my poems happens to be in it, too. I’m sure I’ve written about it on here before, but it’s called Dear God. If you’d like to check out the issue, you can do so here: http://www.tayoliterarymag.com/
Also, a few days ago, the equally good people at Breakwater Review accepted my poem Derailment from my manuscript. I’ll keep you guys in the loop on when and where you can check that out, too.
In addition to publishing, things have been pretty good elsewhere. I performed at an event called Woke that was put on by Jazzanooga and artist/all around solid guy Josiah Goldson. It was a really good time. Also, a few days after that, I DJed the MLK Day of Service for The City of Chattanooga. It was my second consecutive time doing so, and that was big, sweaty fun. I’d really like to do more DJing this year, so don’t be surprised if you see me out and about with headphones adorning my head cranking out the dope jawns.
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.