Spoken Word

Episode 14 - Sister Outsider Poetry

Sister Outsider Poetry is an award-winning duo representing some of the top performance poets in the world, Dominique Christina and Denice Frohman. Their tour marks the first time that two Women of the World Poetry Slam Champions have paired up. They have appeared on 10 national poetry slam finals stages and have seven championships collectively. 

Inspired by the life and work of Audre Lorde, they write and perform their "otherness" into the center and use spoken word as a tool for social change. What they bring to a performance will either rip you wide open or stitch you back up, depending on where you stand in relation to the dark side of the American Dream. 

Every so often, you run across someone who changes you forever. For the rest of your life, you will be able to think about yourself, the continuity of your lived experience, as existing in two distinct halves: the time before you met person "X" and the time after. If we are lucky, we meet several people like this along the journey. For us at OTB, Sister Outsider Poetry fits this description perfectly. And then some. 

Spend a few minutes with them and we think you will see why. 

Episode 9 - S. Renee Mitchell

With over 25 years of experience as the most widely read newspaper columnist in the American West, S. Renee Mitchell left a successful career in journalism to pursue a calling as an artist, author, poet, playwright and community activist. Nominated twice for the Pulitzer, Renee left an indelible mark on the world of journalism before stepping out into this new phase of her life. She is a celebrated spoken word artist, a painter, an inspirational speaker, a woman’s advocate and an all around tornado of art, creativity and activism. Renee has shared the stage with greats such as bell hooks, Erykah Badu, Danny Glover, pianist Tom Grant, Grammy Award winners Esperanza Spalding and Dr. Thara Memory, the late singer Linda Hornbuckle and many others. She has written a libretto, seven full plays, a children’s book, a novel, two books of poetry and countless articles and short pieces. 

Renee has been described as a “Creative Revolutionist” who explores the issues of gender, race, poverty, art and identity in her diverse work. She has also been called a “creative healing griot, who nurtures hope, empowerment and inspiration.” I think she is an artistic doula who helps people give birth to their own creative power. In this episode, we discuss her 25 plus years as an award-winning journalist, what it's like to be the only person of color in a neighborhood, school or job, and what drives her to keep transforming suffering into beauty and art. 

Episode 8 - Shawnte Orion

Shawnte Orion hosts monthly poetry readings in Arizona. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, Barrelhouse, Gargoyle Magazine, Georgetown Review, New York Quarterly and many other journals. He has been invited to read at bookstores, bars, universities, hair salons, museums, and laundromats. His first book The Existentialist Cookbook was published by NYQBooks.

I found the man to be absolutely, freakishly delightful. I love "street" poets because they have not been blinded by the limitations of convention. They do not serve at the dusty altar of tradition. Rather, they point their attention at the mundane: an egg salad sandwich, a ride on public transit, doing your girlfriend's laundry, etc. These are the real moments of real lives. And our poets make and remake the world in ways that help us to see it anew. And in so doing, a new relationship is birthed into the world. The sacred marriage of self and Other is consummated once more. Poetry is no joke, maybe even especially the funny stuff. Because in the laughter, the potential for transformation lurks just below the surface. I hope you enjoy this episode. We sure enjoyed making it. 

Episode 3 - David Gonzalez

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on that which it is impossible to be silent."

--Victor Hugo

Singer, songwriter, musician, artist, playwright and elder of the old ways. David Gonzalez is primarily a storyteller. A world class storyteller to be accurate. He has performed everywhere from Broadway to the Kennedy Center, and has appeared in front of over 5,000 audiences in his career. He has a PhD in Music Therapy and is currently working with farmers in the Central Valley of California to use art, storytelling and music to explore the complex cultural experiences of the people who feed us, often without our thanks. Here we discuss art as service, his Puerto Rican and Cuban roots, the magic of poetry, Oliver Sacks, and the transformative power of authentic narratives.