Who: OT3P
When: Monday, 3/22/10, Doors at 6 pm (via In The Venue)
Where: In The Venue (579 West 200 South)
How Much: $15 in advance/$18 at door.

Why you should care:

Since the release of Sevas Tra (2002), Otep has been unique in the metal scene. Not only is she as badass and hardworking as any of her male counterparts, she’s one of the only “out” lesbians in the genre. She’s also a poet.

Metal, musically, is not the friendliest places for women. Even in 2010, despite progress made by women like Otep, Angela Gossow, and–stretching even farther back–Lita Ford and Girlschool–is still male dominated. Men are expected to be angry, loud, and aggressive. Women–not so much. Women musicians certainly match/even outnumber their male counterparts in genres such as pop/folk/singer-songwriter. But, in metal, the gender disparity is HUGE. And most of the well known women in metal are singers for the goth/metal variety (think Nightwish. Lacuna Coil. Etc.) Women bassists/guitarists/drummers are even LESS well known.

Otep Shamaya is a conscious musician. Her lyrics and music are tied deep in emotion, to the point where some songs are almost hard to listen to. The first time I heard the song “Buried Alive” and watched the video, it made me uncomfortable–it sounded and felt like she was breaking down emotionally in front of me, on the screen, through her vocals. It scared me. That kind of passion, that kind of raw ability is hard to find just anywhere. In addition to emotion, she has a deep awareness of social awareness. In her albums you’ll find a knowledge of political issues (“Warhead”), and social issues (“Rise, Rebel, Resist”).

“Rise, Rebel, Resist”-one of Otep’s newest video offerings!-is an outright metal anthem in support of being LGBT and being proud of it. It’s a powerful song, and not just for the LGBT community, but for anyone who has been cast into the social misfit role. The song is on her most recent album, Smash the Control Machine, which is why the band (made up of Otep herself, Evil J (bass), Rob Patterson (guitar), and Mark Bistany (drums).

The point of this whole entry: If you are in Salt Lake this Monday–Do NOT Miss this show. I know what Otep has to offer and it is nothing less than passion, which is one of the most vital ingredients for any show that you’ll remember years after it’s done. And not liking metal is NOT an excuse. So there.

If you are in another state where Otep has yet to leave their mark on your fair city–check their tour schedule. And go.

“Art Saves.Make the pain a weapon you can use.”-Otep Shamaya

Video Love <3:



After a few years of admiring zines and the D.I.Y. ethic behind them-I’ve finally contributed. I feel accomplished. And I think I may have one more fling with the zine-making before the end of the month. More on that later.

Since I did what I do best and wrote about gender/music/riot grrrl, I’ll post a video to whet your appetite for the zine which will be available at the Pride Center (361 N 300 W, SLC) on Saturday the 27th. Note that my contribution is only one small part of the whole thing. The whole zine will be beautiful. A sum of many parts. A written record of many voices come together in the creation of a self-made zine. Artwork. Poetry. Words.

If you can be there on the 27th–do so. I’m thinking it will be a night of pure magic.

Riot Grrrl 2010: A new riot-ous wave

I lucked out with the Dresden Dolls. Big time. I had just moved to Chapel Hill to start college there and was eager to find new music—especially of the local variety. In a search for the CH band “Sorry About Dresden,” I found the Dresden Dolls. And I found out they were coming to my town in a few short weeks. I seized the opportunity, despite not really knowing anyone and therefore having to go alone, and went to the show at Cat’s Cradle.

I’m damn proud to say that the Dresden Dolls were my first ever concert experience. But there are so many things I’ve missed out on, that it puts the whole fluctuating scale of “here today/gone tomorrow” pop culture into perspective.

I missed Le Tigre.

I missed Bikini Kill.

I missed Skunk Anansi.

I missed the original Lilith Fair tours.

I missed 90s punk (7 Year Bitch, Babes in Toyland, etc)

And I missed the fucking Riot Grrrl movement.

While I’m glad I learned about all of these artists and the riot grrrl movement, a part of me can’t help but to be kind of upset at having missed that experience. Imagine combining a love of music, of DIY zine making, of activism, of punk, of feminism, of all of that and throwing them together. Imagine a community where this is your life. You are about all of these things and somehow they come together to define (however temporarily) the “what you’re doing with your life” question.

Now the question comes: What if we tried again? What if we brought back the riot grrrl movement for 2010? It wouldn’t be the same of course, it never is, but that’s okay.

Could a new wave of riot grrrl happen? Is it even feasible? Totally. While magazines like Rockrgrl have fallen, publications like Bust still exist, which is made up of more than JUST articles with a feminist perspective. If you go online and visit the magazine’s site, you’ll see Bust’s link to the “Girl Wide Web”, which will take you all over the internet to different sites that are grrrl-powered. We’ve got women all over the country, all over the WORLD who are making a name for themselves in the name of music. All we’ve got to do is start bringing it back together, finding a way to support these artists wherever and however we can. Zine makers and distros are still in abundance, despite the Internet’s attempt to take over our lives and make everything we do online.

Now is absolutely the time. The question is: how can we do it? How can we make a new wave of riot grrrl happen, how can we create a new wave of riot grrrls? Simple: spread the message. Find artists/musician/zine makers who embody aspects of Riot Grrrl and promote them! Find more artists/musicians/zine makers who do the same and promote them too! Work on building bridges within these communities and finding a way to pass your passion onto other people. True fact: Passion can be contagious. Share your passion for all things riot grrrl, find others who are into it, and before you know it, yes we will have a riot on our hands!

Embrace a sense of fearlessness in your life and don’t be afraid to make a stand for what you believe in. Ultimately, that is all the riot grrrl movement comes down to is making a difference. Fighting for what you believe in. And having fun while doing so.

Slam Tuesday: A Quickie

Here’s the deal. Writing about the Salt City Slam team made me realize how awesome it is to hear from the poets themselves, to let them talk about their passions and why they do what they do. So I’m going to try to line up some interviews for this segment so that it’s not just me talking about slam poets. It’ll be much cooler that way. But, I will give you a few good pieces of slam poetry so you don’t feel too gipped:

“Black Statue of Liberty”-Jessica Care Moore

and to go with Jessica Care Moore’s poem, we have something equally inspiring–a 5th grader reciting “Black Statue of Liberty” from memory. This is just beautiful

“Instructions for a Body”-Marty mcConnell

“All We Have”–Carlos Andrés Gómez and Savion Glover

Slam Tuesday: Penny Arcade

Time to move outside SLC and check out some talent outside of Utah. And where better to start then NYC? I recently recieved a book in the mail called “Verses That Hurt”, which is an anthology of poems from the NY Poemfone Poets-who will make up a later slam-related blog entry. The book opens with a few pieces by the NYC performance artist known as Penny Arcade (real name: Susana Carmen Ventura). Prior to this book, I’d never heard of Penny Arcade. But she caught my attention with the very first poem included, the first few lines which I’ll share here:

Manifestopenny arcade

Here is my personal message to all of you
careerist, slime bucket, fame seeking, sychophantic,
backstabbing, envying, self serving assholes
who are littering the downtown scene in ever increasing
numbers while you choke the creativity out of yourselves as
you turnoff thousands of potential power of the word
lovers by the oxygen you use up on the performing stages of
New York City…

And the poem goes on thus–assertive, demanding, and completely blunt and to the point. The other poems included in her section are very similar. With just a few pieces, it’s clear Penny Arcade is a strong feminist poet who’s not afraid to declare her independence as a freethinking, sexually liberated woman-and loudly.

In addition to making her voice part of the NYC poetry scene, she’s been an actress (she had a role in Warhol’s Women in Revolt) and she’s written/produced several original one-woman shows, becoming well known even outside of the US. The act that took her from being just a New York-based artist to being PENNY ARCADE, someone talked about in art circles left and right, was her work, Bitch! Dyke! FagHag! Whore!

The piece has been performed in the states, including Off Broadway, and in multiple other countries, including England and Scotland

Says TheaterMania.com: “The piece blends political humanism and erotic dancing to respond to the politics of sex and censorship. Originally created in 1990, the show had a prolonged run Off-Broadway and started an international queer/alternative erotic dance/burlesque movement. Arcade hires local erotic dancers in every city she presents B!D!F!W! to expose the dancers and their art form to their own communities.”

Basically: what Penny Arcade has achieved in the span of her career (which is still continuing) is what most artists and dreamers aspire to. Art that is more than just art. Art that goes beyond the artist and makes a resounding impact in the surrounding community and beyond.

For more info on Penny Arcade, please visit her website: Penny Arcade.

More audio of Penny Arcade can be found here.

Penny Arcade

NPS 2009: Double Trouble Poetry Edition Pt 2

Part 1

It’s with a lot of hesitation that I write this final post in this particular series. It’s been a lot of fun, both in chatting with the SLC poets and in featuring their poems. That said, that doesn’t mean you won’t hear from these cats again, because if I have any say in it, you will. Plus there is a whole wide world of slam poets who are taking poetry to new forms, challenging minds and imaginations, so you’ll be getting to hear more voices every Tuesday (Slam Tuesday, anyone?)

Please leave comments if you’ve read and enjoyed these entries, I’d love to hear from you and I know the poets would appreciate any feedback you have. Let me know if you have favorite poets that you’d like featured, cities to feature, etc.

The last of the Salt City Slam team poets left to feature is none other than the dynamic performance poet Michael Dimitri. Seeing him perform is something you won’t forget anytime soon. He blends words into beautiful pieces that leave the audience inspired and full of hope. As with the other poets, choosing just one poem to feature is practically impossible. But there’s some good news: if you like what you see here, you can obtain more. In addition to purchasing the Salt City Slam book (which features every single one of these poets, 2 pieces each), Michael has his own merchandise available. His more recent chapbook is “Bravado of the Imagination”, and he has an older bit of work, “An Unbearable Gift” which comes in both CD and book form. The CD includes pieces the book doesn’t, partly because there are tracks with backing music. And being a CD, you get to hear Michael in action. For more information on how to add some works of poetry to your collection (by all of SLC’s poets), visit Salt City Indie Arts. Remember, buying stuff by these artists goes to a great cause:

Supporting local art.

Like it or not, we do live in a world bogged down by consumerism, where math and sciences often tend to overshadow art (which classes are cut first when a school is having budget problems? Art & Music). So support your local artists. Support ART.

And now, onto the poetry. Take these words-not only Michael’s, but all the featured poets-and remember them. And if they inspire you, then write your own works. And keep writing. And if you have a place to share your work, do it. Find a community in your area. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

by Michael Dimitri

I am sending you an SOS emergency thank you
a thank you for the human to human recognition

because I’ve been lost before
in that stained glass undercurrent of the ocean
like there was a plexiglass reality between us
almost as if there was an internal interrogation box
my stomach sat in like a convict of knuckles-
guilty of feeling too deeply

& I am her & I was him in his complacency

& I used to feel like the metaphor
of submarines who couldn’t relate to the drift
of words hung up there in the air
like the shells of black seagulls pinned
with black nails to a scarecrow
of an even darker sky

& language itself was a self-inflicted taboo
that grew into gnarled hands that could
wrap a painful contraband of confusion to the dark
every corner of the inside

Subjects like death & lost loves
were symbiotic creatures that hid
in the hard parts of the back of my throat
that I had to learn how to swallow

Like this was an unsafe place to say things like:

“Listen, I feel like when a soulmate
dies, everything seems less colorful.
Like a bright blue sky has suddenly been painted grey.
Like a rose as beautiful as it may be, will one day decay.”

But you say things like this for too long
but too short to have made peace with it
and even the most sympathetic ears
in a certain colloquial language
have a designated off-button

But I’ve found that the more times
I’ve stepped up to an environment
that wants to share poetry
I’ve been caught in the solace
of motioning momentum
with each unique story that I hear
like the crashing glass symphonic
beauty of a kaleidoscope
shattering into refraction of answers
to the questions I keep asking
so I keep asking in response
to the answers I’m receiving
the momentum of breathing
that between us can facilitate
a healthy module for healing.

So I’m sending you an SOS emergency plea
to keep unlocking the locks that hold back
your skull from thinking
unlatch the armor built on the core of your skin
Take off your fingers
Take off your hands
Take off your arms

because when you get right down to it-
the burning of the heart
is the only thing you need to hold a pen to the paper
splash the print of verbal pages you carve
from the marrow of your blood
cut from something that keeps you living
like an IV cable coming from your heart
to my ears

I’m not ashamed to say that I need you.
That your poetry means something to me.

But really?
What I’m trying to say is:
is that when you speak
you can paint an entire landscape
that can hold you up when you try.

Because really-
what I’m really trying to say is:
is the truly beautiful & magnificent
thing about wanting to build hummingbird lips
is that when you are ready…

I mean this…

you can fly.

NPS 2009 Final Day: Double Trouble Poetry Edition pt1

Today marks the last day of National Poetry Slam 2009. The semifinalists who will be looking to take the honor of being The slam team of 2009 are as follows: San Francisco (The City Slam), St. Paul (Soapboxing), Albuquerque Poetry Slam and NYC (Nuyorican)

Congrats to all the finalists! And congrats to all 2009 NPS participants. As the slam mantra goes: “It’s the poet, not the score, that matters.” And can you even imagine the poetic caliber that came together in Miami this year? It’s mind blowing.

Congrats to SLC and the poets for representing this city in a great light by bringing great art to a bigger audience! And thanks to them for letting me do this series. It has been a lot of fun sharing their poetry on this blog, and I’m sad that it’s over.

With that said, I’m going to end with two poets instead of one, since today’s it for NPS ’09 and I would miss someone if I just ended on one. So today’s Salt Lake Poets are Josh McGillis and Michael Dimitri.

Both of them are brilliant minds in their own right, so keep reading. And for those of you in Salt Lake or in the area, I cannot say this enough: Come out and support local poetry! Every Wednesday at Mestizo and every Saturday at Baxters. And if you have enjoyed what you’ve read by the poets, contact Salt City Indie Arts-the poets featured here plus a variety of other Utah based poets have Chapbooks available-so you can add some original SLC poetry to your collection. And when someone asks about the books, you can shrug and say, “Didn’t you know? SLC is THE place to be for slam poetry right now.”

And with no further ado, some poetry.

By Josh McGillis

You ask, “Why is your poetry so dark?”
And I tell you, “Ma,
The world is a beautiful place,
All ya gotta do is look around and see it for yourself.
The way the stars look like a series of ellipsesOrion
And create a pause for tomorrow to have a fashionable entrance,
That’s poetry.
I just don’t see things that way.
My heart beats in breakdowns.
I believe in beauty in paradoxes
Like how the person that brought me back to life
Left me a sticky-note reminding me what it felt like to die.
I try to keep it honest
My mouth is a mediocre set of wind-chimes,
And most times they’re singing calmly,
But the winds that push themselves through this music maker are fierce.
The storm is building
When I write, Ma,
That’s when the rain hits.
The release,
Like a sudden keystroke off a piano in an empty ballroom.
Hope means more to me than happiness,
Because happiness is overlooked,
Taken for granted,
A Christmas gift you play with the first day you get it,
But toss aside the next morning.
See, Ma,
I don’t live off sunshine.
I spend most days in a tunnel
Where the only light source drifts in from the exit.
Sometimes it seems so far off that walking to it may take weeks,
But the light is always there,
I thrive on it,
The light turns my eyes into projectors,
Reflecting off the lenses and casting images of tomorrow
On the walls that surround me.

Now look,
I’ve invited you here for two reasons.
The first is to show you that it’s not as dark as you think.
I know you worry, and I needed to show you that I’m okay.
The second is a little more complicated.
I’m always hearing about the things you’d like me to  change,
And now it’s my turn.
I worry about you too,
So consider what I have to say as lessons in hope.
All I’m asking is that you listen to what I have to say,
I know you have more experience in this life than I do,
But please,
Allow yourself to get a little lost with me.

Mom, you’re a beautiful woman, and I wish you could see that.
So first, I want you to look into the mirror and tell
yourself you’re pretty.
Then I want you to say it again and again until you believe it.
Every time that you look at yourself and say you’re fat,
I can hear a little piece of you die off,
Like the petals of a flower that doesn’t get enough water.
Second, I want you to make a list
Of every dream you’ve ever given up on.
When you wake up each morning,
I want you to cross one off and create a new one at the bottom,
But don’t give up this time.
Third, I dare you to trace each letter of the word LOVE
Along the scars on your wrists
And forget about the mistakes you’ve made.
You don’t have to do it right away,
These things take time…
Just work on it for me.

I know that sometimes you don’t think you’re doing your job right,
But know that a year and a half of sobriety is all that I’m askin’ for,
So really,
you’re doing just fine.

I know that it will only be a matter of time until you ask me again,
“Why is your poetry so dark?”
And I’ll have to tell you, “Ma,
You and I are both in the same program,
One day at a time,
And judging by those ellipses in the sky…
We’ve almost made it.”