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Last Tuesday while outside a guy asked me how did I become the host of this amazing place?  It’s funny because after so many years the beginning seems so far away.

I started coming to DPL in 2002, There was a poetry show at Cal State LA where I was going to college.  I was an 18-year-old girl in the audience of this big ass auditorium looking at these poets doing what had never occurred to me to do before.  Something shifted in me that night. I remember meeting Shihan and Sekou. I bought both of their CD’s, which may be so worn out from spins now.  I was like every other girl in the audience, in love with Shihan.  I noticed his ring, which quickly deflated any hopes of him being my first poet crush. But months later, a boy at my college asked me on a date to Da Poetry Lounge. From the moment the first poet read I fell in love with DPL.  I came regularly for a year, notebook in hand but too scared to read.  Finally I did and I didn’t die like I thought I would.  It might have been the longest poem in the history of DPL but I lived.  I set a goal that I would be on a slam team in a year.  A few months later with the help of a good friend, Babu, I made the LA slam team and went to nationals.  Those yearly trips were some of the best memories and solidified my love for this community.

I knew poetry was something I wanted to do as a career so I figured getting to know the community was important.  At that time, there was a poetry venue to go to nightly and I did.  I fell madly in love with the poetry scene and a few poet boys along the way.  I wrote everyday and would be up until sunrise editing poems for Tuesday night.  There were so many amazing poets to look up to, but for the most part, they were all trying to get their own career in a good position and mentoring me was not happening. So I figured it out, one poem at a time, one open mic at a time.  I started doing shows and got more polished. Did a national tour and hit a bunch of stages.

I think artistically in the last the years I have really come into my own. I’ve found my own identity and am making my own rules. When I started, I thought slam and def poetry were the pinnacle of success. Now I define for myself the way I want to leave my mark on this community. For many years, I was one of the only girls consistently at DPL.  I felt isolated. Although I love Shihan, Gimel, Poetri, Omari, In-Q and the rest of the boys, they all have a very masculine style and perspective (obviously). I was doing love poems and just very feminine work, which is in part why we started doing Ladies Night, to give the women the space and stage to speak freely.  Since I took over hosting after Poetri stepped down, more women have been reading naturally. I value so much that there is new a crew of super talented women killin’ it weekly. More and more I am getting a better feel for what I want to represent at DPL as a host.

I teach a workshop, Connecting With the Artist in You: Vulnerability and Integrity.  The workshop came out of the lack of vulnerability on stage most nights.  Many people come to open mic’s seemingly unaware that some of us love this art and this place like family.  Its super important to protect it and refuse to let people with no regard for who and what they affect continue to frankly read bullshit work and think it’s fly.  My face says it all.  Not that I am the source on “good” poetry but I have been around a while and can almost see a good poem in a person’s walk, in how they exhale, in their spirit.

My Top 5 poets to watch: All of the poets below are amazing writers/ people generally.  Consistently they put up thoughtful work that moves the audience. I love something different about all of their work but they all have a high level of integrity to the art.  Word!

1.       Yesika Starr

2.       Venessa Marco

3.       Danielle Bennett

4.       Maceo

5.       Jason Mars/ Joel

Much love to you all.  See you Tuesday!


2nd half host


One Comment

  1. This put a dent in my heart, a smile on my face, and a tear that didn’t fall. It took me back to the early days together. It was a memory I needed.


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