Friday, February 28, 2014

Wanda's Picks Radio Friday, February 28, 2014

Guests: Robert Moses, Choreographer And Founder/artistic Director, Robert Moses’ Kin  speaks about his collaboration with Black Choreographers Festival Here and Now, Mar. 6-8, Draft/By Series;

Auntie Frances Moore
speaks about her third annual program at the 61st; Adeline--Triangular Park in Oakland, March 23, 1-5 p.m.;

Emily Pilloton,
Designer, Activist, Founder of Proj. H Design; subject in, If You Build It, dir. Patrick Credon;

Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr.
, President of Morehouse College speaks about interrupting or dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline for African American Men: As an advocate for the intrinsic value of education for all, Dr. Wilson Jr. has dedicated more than 25 years to the advancement of socially conscious and purposeful education; student success; and the good that comes from a college education.

As a scholar, an educator, a consultant, a strategist and a fundraiser, he has moved universities and organizations forward with his efforts and vision. In January 2013, Dr. Wilson took office as the 11th president of Morehouse College, the nations’ only private, liberal arts institution dedicated to the education of African American males. Prior to that position, Dr. Wilson was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), a position he held since 2009.

He attended Morehouse College, the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1979. Dr. Wilson continued his education at Harvard University, where he earned two master’s degrees in theological studies and education, as well as a doctorate in education, with a focus on administration, planning and social policy.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wanda's Picks Special: Tania Santiago, choreographer, Aguas Dance Company

TANIA SANTIAGO, the Artistic Director of Aguas Dance Company in "Movendo com Capoeira" Friday-Sat., Feb. 14-15 at 8 p.m. and Sun., Feb 16 at 7 p.m. Born and raised in Salvador, Bahia, Tania Santiago grew up in the heart of African Brazil. In Brazil she has taught, danced, and choreographed for many well-known companies including Olodum, an arts group famous for its Carnaval parade performances and credited with developing the music style known as samba reggae. While her specialties are folkloric and contemporary Afro-Brazilian dance, Santiago is also conversant in jazz, ballet, West African, Afro-Cuban and modern dance forms. Santiago has resided in California since 1997, and has taught packed classes regularly at ODC School & Rhythm and Motion Dance Program since 2005. In 2001, Santiago received a three-year grant from the California Arts Council to teach young people throughout the San Francisco Unified School District. In addition, Santiago performs with her own company Aguas (formerly known as Aguas da Bahia), the Ramon Alayo Dance Company, and Deep Waters Dance Company. Santiago's choreography has also been performed by many local groups including Loco Bloco, Axe Abada, Kuumba, Quimbanda Grupo Carnavalesco, and Abada Capoeira. Each year in San Francisco, Santiago teaches a performance workshop in the Bahian Carnaval tradition. The workshop culminates in the annual Carnaval parade in May. Santiago also leads annual dance intensives in Salvador, Bahia as part of her cross-cultural work. 

Aguas Dance Company presents:
  "Movendo com Capoeira"

Friday, Feb 14 at 8 p.m. 
Saturday, Feb 15 at 8 p.m. (sold out)
Sunday, Feb 16 at 7 p.m.

Tickets available at: or by calling the ODC Box Office at (415) 863-9834
Online: $23. At the Door: $27

Please join us at the beautiful ODC Theater for Tania Santiago's latest installment of "Movendo com Capoeira," a piece that intertwines Capoeira, Brazil's most enduring cultural symbol, with the spiritual family of the African Diaspora in Brazil, the Orixas, to tell a deeper story of these cultural gifts that have been curated by her community in Brazil for almost two centuries.

Aguas will also be presenting a *brand new* piece that pays tribute to Bob Marley and the reggae music for which he made famous around the world. Reggae has rooted itself in Salvador, Bahia over the years as it has been a voice for the oppressed and represents freedom, happiness and community to the people of Bahia.

Tickets available on line for $23 and at the door for $27 @ (415) 863-9834.

Music: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down -- from We the Common (title track for Valerie Bolden), "Kindness Be Conceived," "Human Heart"; Gina Breedlove's "Sea" from Language of Light; Larry Douglas -- from Dedications: "Illusions," "Jammin'" at "'Boro." We close with WolfHawkJaguar's "Exu Exit."

Link to show:

Thao dedicates the title track to Valerie Bolden, who at the time of the recording had been down for 17 years with Life without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). This is what Thao says about her:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wanda's Picks Friday, February 14, 2014: 1 Billion Rising; Love Doesn't Hurt; Larry Douglas & Jorge Pineda composers/musicians; Nora Chipaumire, choreographer on her "Miriam"

Today we speak about violence against women and the need to address this in forums like 1 Billion Rising in Oakland tonight and Love Doesn't Hurt, tomorrow afternoon, Friday & Saturday, Feb. 14 and 15, 2014. We are joined in the studio by amazing women creators and organizers: Luisah Teish, Mary Owen, Regina Y. Evans, Regina Jackson, Cheryl Chambers and Vanessa Scott.

We open the show with an encore interview with actress and healer, Margaret Avery, Academy Award Nominee for her role as "Shug" in Spielberg's The Color Purple. She's in town as a special screening at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

Next we have musician/composers Larry Douglas and Jorge Pineda on to talk Latin meets traditional Jazz re-arrangements at the 57th Street Gallery concert tomorrow, Sat., Feb. 15, 8:30 p.m.

We close with an extended conversation with Nora Chipaumire, choreographer, re: "Miriam," which opened last night at YBCA Forum for two more nights, tonight is an audience conversation following the hour long work. Presented by Black Choreographer's Festival: Here and Now, this work celebrates the tenth anniversary of a wonderful organization as it queries blackness and womaness and otherness as only a Chipaumire work can.

8:30 a.m.
 Luisah Teish
is a storyteller, writer, and priestess of Oshun, the African Yoruba goddess of love. Visit

Mary Owen has a successful career in high tech as a  Program Manager for Cisco Systems.
Mary is also a top ranked ice hockey referee including currently reffing for Div II and Div III men's hockey in the Bay Area,  as well as her past reffing experience for the NCAA Division I women’s hockey (and also a stint at the Winter Olympics in 2002).  

Mary 's biggest passion these days, besides working with the Bay Area Rising, is visiting the Navajo Nation several times a year and volunteering for many of the activities in the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program.  The Program supports the traditional Elders who live in the cultural and spiritual traditions of The ‘Dine’ (Navajo) People.  Mary resides in San Francisco with her animal children Mimi, Taki and Pony.

Cheryl Chambers is a business person and a writer.  Cheryl’s business experience has been involved extensively in the telecommunications industry as a regulatory attorney working in law firms interacting with state commissions and the FCC and as an employee in various capacities during her years with AT&T, Comcast and ICG.  Cheryl has experience in sales, marketing, retail, operations and communications during her years as an executive.  Cheryl currently works for a non-profit and represents her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha in the community.  She produces two and which is short for “At the End of the Day”. 

Vanessa Scott is passionate about young people and has voluntarily served since 2000 as the Director of a Youth Dance Team where she has taught 100s of children ages 3-25. In 2010 one of her 15 year old students was sold into the Bay Area sex trafficking industry. Although she was eventually located and is now rehabilitating, Vanessa encountered many other children and young adults who, like her student, were US born women, men and children trapped in modern day slavery.   Her response was to launch Love Never Fails, a nonprofit dedicated to the rehabilitation, education and protection of young people at risk or currently being sexually exploited. Vanessa is an accomplished Sr. leader at Cisco Systems as well as a Mom of two children, singer, song writer and musician.  She graduated from University of San Francisco with a BS in Information Systems Management.  Though successful, Vanessa has experienced first hand what it means to be a foster child, on welfare, abused and abandoned. She believes the issue of sex trafficking will be solved with committed demonstration of love through prayer, mentoring, job training, outreach and education; all services that Love Never Fails provides.

Regina Jackson—presently organization and venue: East Oakland Youth Development Center Director

Regina Jackson has made it her mission to invest heavily in the future of children, our nation’s greatest resource. She has taken on the challenge of molding, and mentoring young people in her hometown of Oakland, CA in order to transform their lives. She believes that EOYDC’s biggest challenge is combating hopelessness. “When young people don’t have high expectations, they often won’t try. Because my staff and I believe our youth can perform at high levels, they often rise to meet and exceed those expectations”.

Her involvement with EOYDC began in 1984 when, as a graduate of the CORO Foundation Graduate Fellowship in Public Affairs, she was invited to serve on the Board of Directors.

Regina Y. Evans, is a Poet, Playwright , and a Social Justice Performer. Her poetry readings have been featured at several venues including the Network for Victim Recovery of DC Fundraiser ( Wash DC), The 2013 Justice Conference: Poetry Slam (Philadelphia, Pa), Love Never Fails Breaking The Chains New Year's Eve Gala,YWCA of Silicon Valley Freedom Week (San Jose, Ca), and Rescue Is Not Enough Anti Trafficking Event, San Jose, Ca., 

She has performed her current play, 52 Letters, which brings awareness to the issue of sex trafficking, as a part of the 2013 DIVAS Tell All series, curated by Catherine Debon, at The EXIT Café in San Francisco, CA, 2013 DIVAfest, at the EXIT Studio in SF, CA (as a part of the DIVAS Tell All Series), and at the 2013 SF Fringe Festival, EXIT Stage Left, SF, CA. 52 Letters was honored to receive a 2013 Best of Fringe Award at the 2013 SF Fringe Festival.

Ms. Evans is also the writer of Echo: A Poetic Journey into Justice, a stage play also focusing upon the issue of trafficking. Echo played to sold out performances in Berkeley, CA in 2010 (The Berkeley City Club). The play caught the notice of President Barack Obama who confirmed his support of the effort through a personal White House phone call in 2011.

She is a Board Member of the Virago Theatre Company which holds a residence at The Flightdeck, Oakland, Ca., and a member of Love Never Fails Anti  Sex Trafficking Organization, Oakland Bay Area, Ca.

Ms. Evans is the published author of the inspirational poetry books Nonnie and The Butterfly and Nothing Cool About Ten.

9 a.m.

Jorge Pineda is a Musician, Percussionist, Arranger, Vocalist, and Composer. He founded Latin Blood (Sangre Latina) in early 70's, and performed with several local bands. In 1976, he completed music studies at SFSU, and in 1977, left the Bay Area to pursue a different career in chemistry and business.In 2005, he came back to the Bay Area music scene and joined a local group as a vocalist and arranger. In 2012, he started the Latin Jazz Project in San Francisco, California. Currently, working on a Latin Jazz septet and continue to compose and arrange.

Larry Douglas by Craig Harris, allmusic writes:

"With a tone that the dean of American jazz critics, Leonard Feather, described as “velvety and silky," Larry Douglas has ruled as one of San Francisco's top trumpet/flugelhorn players for more than three decades.
In addition to leading his own electro-acoustic group, the Larry Douglas Alltet, Douglas has worked with such stellar musicians as Freddie Hubbard, Chuck Berry, Albert Collins, Sun Ra and Rufus and Carla Thomas.

"As a member of Johnny Otis and His Orchestra, his playing was featured on four albums including the Grammy-nominated Spirit Of The Black Territory Bands. His debut solo album Dedications released in 1985, received a great response from fans in Europe and the Eastern Bloc.
Douglas has collaborated with flute/saxophone player, and director of the jazz program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Dr. Karlton Hester since the late-1970s, playing with Hester's groups, the Contemporary Jazz Art Movement and the Hesterian Musicism.

"The recipient of a Bachelors degree in instrumental music education from Florida A&M, and a Masters of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory, Douglas has shared his knowledge with students at Aptos, Middle School, from 1981 until 1990, and Galileo High School of San Francisco, since 1991. He also teaches Black Music: Jazz, Blues, & Popular Music in American Culture, a jazz history course at Vista Community College. Who's Who Among America's Teachers honors our nation's most respected teachers and has placed Larry T. Douglas on its roster for the past 3 years; Editions 7-9, 2002-2005.

"A native of Statesboro, Georgia, Douglas found early inspiration in the music of an older brother, Gary, who played trumpet, one of his high school teachers and alto saxophone player, James Blakely. While in college, he and his band, Funk, Incorporated, took first place in the national and international levels of the Budweiser Music Festival competition. He moved to San Francisco, as a member of the United States Army's Sixth Division Band, in 1975 and continues to make his home in California.

9:30 a.m.
Closing the show is Nora Chipaumire (Writer, Choreographer & Performer)

Born in Mutare, Zimbabwe and based in New York City, Chipaumire has been challenging stereotypes of Africa and the black performing body, art and aesthetic for the past decade. She has studied dance in many parts of the world including Africa (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, and South Africa), Cuba, Jamaica, and the U.S. A graduate of the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Law, Chipaumire holds an M.A. in dance and M.F.A. in choreography and performance from Mills College.

Chipaumire is a 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts recipient and 2011 United States Artist Ford Fellow. She is also a two-time New York Dance and Performance (aka “Bessie”) Awardee: in 2008 for her dance-theater work, Chimurenga, and in 2007 for her body of work with Urban Bush Women, where she was a featured performer for six years (2003-2008) and Associate Artistic Director (2007-2008). She is the recipient of the 2009 AFROPOP Real Life Award for her choreography in the film, Nora. She has also been awarded the 2007 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award from Wesleyan University Center for the Arts, and a MANCC Choreographic Fellowship in 2007-2008.

Recent works include Miriam (2012) produced by MAPP International Productions; The Last Heifer (2012), commissioned by Danspace Project for Platform 2012, Parallels; Visible (2011), commissioned by Harlem Stage and created in collaboration with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Kimya (2011), a work for Jokajok!, a female ensemble based in Kenya; I Ka Nye (You Look Good)(2010), created and performed with choreographer Souleymane Badolo and musician Obo Addy; Silence/Dreams (2010), created and performed with Fred Bendongue; and lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi (2009), created and performed with Thomas Mapfumo. She is featured in several films, including Dark Swan (dir. Laurie Coyle, 2011); the award-winning, Nora (dir. Alla Kovgan & David Hinton, 2008); and the documentary Movement (R)evolution Africa (a story of an art form in four acts) (dir. Joan Frosch & Alla Kovgan, 2006).

Chipaumire has been an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University-Tempe, Bennington College, the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, and Barnard College.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wanda's Picks Radio: Justice for Kayla Moore; Margaret Avery in "The Color Purple" in San Francisco this Friday, February 14, 2014

Second Hour of Radio Show:
Maria Moore's sister Kayla Moore was killed by Berkeley police one year ago today at the GAIA Building in Berkeley where Kayla lived at the time of her death. A vigil and speak-out are planned this afternoon and evening to commemorate this tragic injustice. Kayla Moore was a transgender woman of color living with schizophrenia who died when Berkeley police entered her apartment in response to a crisis call and forcefully attempted to arrest her on what they knew to be a false warrant.

Maria Moore was born and raised in Berkeley, with her sister Kayla (Xavier) and their father. The women grew up on Dohr St, with their grandparents who lived across the street. Maria just turned 40, and Kayla would have been 42 this year.

Kayla had been suffering from mental illness at a very young age, and Maria and her father tried their best to protect her.

Currently Maria lives in Oakland, with her boyfriend and daughter.  The photos are of Kayla is holding her niece. The Rally and Vigil are this evening Feb. 12, 2014, at 6 p.m. at the GAIA Building, 2116 Allston Way (above Shattuck). The Speak Out is at 7 p.m. at the Police Review Commission Meeting, South Berkeley Senior Center 2939 Ellis Street (off Ashby). Info: Berkeley Copwatch at 510-548-0425 or  and

Kamala Harris Do Your Job! Prosecute, Killer Cops!

Tomorrow, February 13, 2014, the Justice for Alan Bluford Coalition is hosting a speak out at State Attorney General Kamala Harris's offices at the State Building in Oakland, 1515 Clay Street, 3-5 p.m. Visit

Kayla Moore's family will be there giving testimony. I will be there as well.

My nephew, Obataiye Tamirr Lewis Edwards, 19was shot and killed by Oakland Police in Dec. 2010, and the officer remains on the payroll. Instead of police discipline, my sister was jailed for police harassment when she demanded his prosecution. This arrest put her in the hospital. After her release she was jailed and then not given her heart medication. She also lost her subsidized transitional housing at this time. See

First Hour of Show:
We open the show with a prerecorded and aired (Friday, Feb. 7, last hour) interview with Margaret Avery, Academy nominated actress for her role as "Shug" in Spielberg's The Color Purple. Meet her 2/14 in a special program presented by Marc Huestis @ the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St in San Francisco. Tickets available at and are $25 general (orch side & balcony); $35 VIP reserved orch center (including pre event signing with Ms. Avery @ 6:30 pm). For more information call (415) 863-0611.

This gala features an interview with the star, a performance by Bebe Sweetbriar, an excerpt from the award-winning new documentary ALICE WALKER - BEAUTY IN TRUTH* introduced by director Pratibha Parmar, special surprise guests, and a rare theatrical screening of Steven Spielberg's heartwarming classic THE COLOR PURPLE at 8:45 p.m.  For the film only tickets are $11 at the Castro Box Office Feb. 14 starting at 6 p.m.


Music: Meklit Hadero "Walls," Marshall Trammell  "Slipping-- Solo Venacular," and Michael White "The Blessing Song."

Sunday, February 09, 2014

24th Annual African American Celebration through Poetry at the West Oakland Library

Brother Sidney pouring libations, photo: Wanda Sabir
Funny how time slips away, we are almost 25 and I remember the first Celebration so many years ago. I want to thank Paradise for his support over the years and his special help this year with rehearsal and programming. I also want to thank the alumni who go back double digit years like Avotcja and Steve McCutchen. Thanks also to Katabazi for the sound system and to our many ancestors –artists and poets whose lives and work we recall often: Kamau Seitu, Joy Holland, Mr. Vernice, Reginald Lockett, Mary Rudge, Upesi Mtambuzi, Brother Yusuf Al Waajid, Samuel Fredericks, and poets who haven’t been here in many years due to illness such as Lee Williams, William Brown and Darlene Roberts.

Imamu Amiri Baraka made his transition last month. He walked revolution as his pen spewed hail, fire and brimstone. His departure caused a drop in temperatures— his exit shifted the atmosphere as much as his presence shifted our consciousness, his life an example of contemplative or reflective leadership. He stood up and up and up despite the rock, gravity and steep inclines.

Nelson Mandela, or Madiba was a lovely man whose long walk to freedom is an example of a tenacity and huge love for African people. We dedicate this reading to Mandela and his resistance to the South African system of Apartheid, a system philosophically close to American Apartheid or Jim Crow, this New Jim Crow similar as well to the neo-apartheid system post-ANC rule.

I was in South Africa when the African National Congress made 100 years old. It was at that time that Oprah Winfrey’s high school there had its first graduating class. It was also a time when unemployment was high and students died while trying to enroll in the nearby universities where I was staying in Jo’burg.

There was a big gala event in the region where the revolutionaries got together to craft their resistance movement— Now the president of South Africa heads the UN. Mandela’s South Africa is still a dream –like Martin King’s. I wonder about the remembered states of consciousness—sleeping and waking. The somnolent state might be a creative necessity but what about justice? One can’t measure dreams.

Nonetheless we cannot dismiss Mandela’s long walk, his sacrifice (27 years in prison), the loss of his family, his son’s death and one daughter’s love . . . it was a tremendous sacrifice for freedom, a freedom that still eludes the majority of South Africans (similarly King’s elusive dream as relates to Black Americans).

The rain stopped a few, but for those who weathered the inclement or stormy weather the intimacy of the West Oakland Library facility at 18th and Adeline, proved worth the effort as in years past. We had lots of yummy snacks prepared by library staff and many empty seats as 12 noon rolled into 1:10 as the borrowed sound system --damaged in transport by the rain was taken down and then the Stones of Fire gathered in another room to creatively adjust amplified sound to acoustic.

Our youngest poet, Enzi (5), photo: Wanda Sabir

Stones of Fire (Wo'se), photo: Wanda Sabir

Sidney and Katabazi, photo: Wanda Sabir

Katabazi, photo: Wanda Sabir
Paradise, photo: Wanda Sabir

Paradise, photo: Wanda Sabir

Paradise, photo: Wanda Sabir

Aries Jordon, photo: Wanda Sabir

Talibah, photo: Wanda Sabir

Joy Elan, photo: Wanda Sabir

Bryant and Zakiyyah Bolling, photo: Wanda Sabir

9th Son of a Preacher Man, photo: Wanda Sabir

9th Son of a Preacher Man,photo: Wanda Sabir

Audience, Aqueila Lewis standing in rear, photo: Wanda Sabir

Bryant Bolling photo: Wanda Sabir

9th Son of a Preacher Man, photo: Wanda Sabir

9th Son of a Preacher Man, photo: Wanda Sabir

Aqueila Lewis, photo: Wanda Sabir

Amirah "Female King,"photo: Wanda Sabir

Enzi and his mom and little brother photo: Wanda Sabir
Dr. Ellen Foster Randle, photo: Wanda Sabir

Dr. Ellen Foster Randle
photo: Wanda Sabir

Dr. Ellen Foster Randle
photo: Wanda Sabir

9th Son and Bryant Bolling
photo: Wanda Sabir

Avotcja, photo: Wanda Sabir

Zakiyyah G.E.Capehart Bolling (9th Son)
photo: Wanda Sabir

Amirah and nephew, photo: Wanda Sabir

Amirah with nephew, Avotcja, Ammnah and Enzi (poets)
photo: Wanda Sabir

Zakiyyah G.E. Bolling
photo: Wanda Sabir
Brother Sidney, Wo'se House of Amen Ra's master drummer, poured libations as members of the choir sang and hummed the Sweet Honey song, "Ancestor's Breath." Library Director Marygay Ducey then welcomed the audience to the library and spoke about the history of the branch and libraries with a few anecdotes about the special bus program for preschoolers at the branch twice a week where hundreds of youngsters come to story time and then check out books. She invited the audience to stop by to see and enjoy the little ones.

We'd hoped the current Youth Poet Laureate for the City of Oakland, Obasi Davis, would join us and share his work, but such was not the case. Currently applications are being accepted from teens interested in the position for next year, Feb. 1-April 7, 2014. The applicants have to either reside in Oakland or attend school here. To apply on-line: or contact Amy Sonnie, Teen Outreach Librarian, at (510) 238-7233 or

The West Oakland Public Library is regularly purging the shelves and giving away books, collectors items --I picked up a stack of books with authors, Sonia Sanchez, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Margaret Walker, James Weldon Johnson and others.

The Poetry Celebration this year was a tribute to Nelson Mandela: A Voice for Freedom and a few poets specifically referenced the first president of a free South Africa in their work: Stones of Fire and Aqueila Lewis, however, all work was welcome.  After about an hour and a half we moved into the open mic portion of the program, which is always of the same high caliber of performance as the featured section; our youngest poet that afternoon, Enzi, who'd patiently waited for three hours with his mom and little brother, shared a poem by Langston Hughes. As he lifted himself off the floor, his arms holding the edge of the stage--his mother provided him a few cues from the back of the room when he dropped a line, the audience was on their feet when he finished reciting. He responded to a question from me about his age as he parted with the words, "I love my Mommy."

Among the alumni, Avotcja shared work from her recent book, With Every Step I Take (2013), featuring illustrations from Eliza Shefler. She spoke about Multiple sclerosis (MS) which affects both she and her illustrator's lives and the "so-called 'acceptable risk'" and environmental factors in place which result in health disparities like MS. She spoke about working in fields where crops had been dusted before such was curtailed by the work of Dolores Huerta and the mercury in her mouth which is so toxic its use is banned in most counties, (not ours). Her first poem was followed by a wonderful history lesson of Heaven on Seventh Street and the angels who resided there, among them one, Johnny Heartsman (whom I confused with Johnny Hartman, a balladeer who was the only singer to record with John Coltrane). Heartsman, born in San Fernando, California, became Avotcja's guide in this wonderland. Both Heartsman (Feb. 9, 1937-Dec. 27, 1996) and Hartman, died early, 59 and 60 respectively.

Heartsman's legacy is kept alive in Avotcja's seminal "Oaktown Blues," a poem, a play, an anthem to the ancestors who resided walking distance from where we sat Saturday afternoon ( The performances of the play at the Oakland Museum of California and the Malonga Theatre, where I saw it, with the late Khalil Shahid performing made poetic musical literary history.

Richard Moore, "Paradise," shared both new and old work. Performance poet par excellence, he opened with a satirical sermon and then shifted into an equally provocative poem he hadn't shared in quite sometime, "Jeffery D," which looked at the legacy of killer Jeffery Dahmer who literally ate black people. He closed with "Black History is World History," which I hope he will submit for our 25th Anniversary Anthology.

Another Poetry Celebration alumni Aqueila Lewis shared three pieces: "Who's Gonna Save Them When the Ghosts Live Here?", "A Star Rises from the East," which spoke to her roots in East Oakland (smile) and "How Do We Go on When the Poet Dies? Remembering Amiri Baraka."

Other highlights included Aries Jordon's address to the elders in "Where Were You?" and "Before They Were Mothers." The first was a hard hitting cry for long absent assistance in the maturation process.  There are a lot of complaints about today's youth, but where were you when they were born and then growing up? The second poem was a sweet reflection on women in the poet's life before they were mothers and a thank you to them for the sacrifice of that former self as they grew into matriarchy.

Joy Elan, a deaf or hearing impaired poet spoke about our legacy and the need to teach the youth. Periodically she had to step off her soap box, but it was all good as her eloquent poetry made us hunger for more. She announced as did other writers: Aqueila and Aries current collections which were available or soon to be available.

I shared a piece I'd written a few weeks prior called "On Holy Ground" which is a reflection on a recent theft. I then read poems from Lucille Clifton (blessing the boats) and Amiri Baraka (Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, Ka'Ba, Monday in B-Flat, and Wise I).

Dr. Ellen Foster Randle kindly dropped by in the midst of a rushed day to speak about something dear to her heart, the Negro Spiritual Tradition, and then sang a lovely traditional hymn.

Talibah sang a song she learned from Elaine Brown of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. More a call to action and a cheer to those comrades knee deep in the work to keep moving she rendered it powerfully. Then 9th Son of a Preacher Man worked the room as he took us on a journey through black history which did not start with slavery.

First time guest, Zakiyyah G. E. Capehart Bolling with accompaniment by husband, Bryant Bolling, was eloquent in the work "Drum Beat," "Brooklyn on My Mind," "Voices from Nine-Eleven," and "M.R.I. (My Reasonable Imagination)." That evening many of us went to her performance with Bryant at the 57th Street Gallery in Oakland with The Bryant Bolling Quintet in "Love Will Find a Way," which was wonderful. The way the songs complemented the lyrical artistry of Zakiyyah's poetry was a fascinating journey from start to finish.

The band was as Bryant acknowledged many times masters of artistry as he both sang and played the piano, alternating with friend Mr. Coo. Other musicians were M.B. Hanif (recovering from a stroke six months ago) whom we were so happy to see playing strong and fiercely on alto and soprano saxophones. Michael Spencer, drums; Larry Douglass, trumpet and mallet kat; and Alexander Smith on upright bass, filled out the ensemble. There was also a famous percussionist on hand drums.

Again the streets were wet, in fact, one could barely get off the sidewalk without stepping in puddles but we braved all of this for this special performance. It was the first time, but certainly not the last for the Bolling couple who hit many high notes Saturday night. Perhaps not the Minnie Riperton high, but certainly in that altitude (smile)

They performed "Let the Rain Fall on Me," Bryant singing as Zakiyyah stepped in with her poem reflecting on a concert where she saw Phyllis Hyman, another superstar whose life was cut short, this time suicide, all too soon for many of us.

The way Bryant stepped in and out of song, both as an accompanist and a soloist, then conductor, was pretty spectacular. He sang the lyrics to songs we only knew as instrumentals unless that song was Pharoah Sanders with Leon Thomas, "The Creator Has a Master Plan" to which Zakiyyah's "Earth's Rebirth" was a great salute to the turtle goddess whose gracious step keeps us afloat.

I had to keep excusing myself from the table where I was seated and find an open space to dance, as the rhythm moved me onto the floor on more than one occasion. "Little Sunflower," one of those songs I knew from an Ahmad Jamal album cover in my friend, Kamau Seitu's apartment when he lived on Center Street in West Oakland, but I didn't recall the lyrics which were perfectly matched thematically with Zakiyyah's poem "Grandchildren Sonnets."

A few of my favorite duets was "Song for My Father" and "Pa Pa"; this was another song that I knew minus the lyrics. One could certainly see within the programming Bryant's educator hat come into play. As a Keeper of the Culture honoree (Friends of the Negro Spirituals) he certainly knows this material academically and in practice. This depth is also reflected in Zakiyyah's work, whether that is in her historic references in poems like "Brooklyn on My Mind" (to Bryant's "New York, New York"--another favorite) or the fun lament "The Sweet and Sour Bitter Heat of Love" to the blues song "Four."

Another favorite was the closing piece for the first half, "I Remember Grandma" to "I Love You for Sentimental Reasons." These songs were arranged especially for the wordsmith's performance with the band. I was really happy when Bryant lowered the music stand so we could see Zakiyyah. My only regret was that I left my camera at home when I dropped off my car and a friend picked me up to the show. I used her phone to get a group shot, but it's not quite the same thing (smile).

Bryant's vocal timing was just amazing to hear and watch as in his sexy bedroom baritone voice he hit all the notes where we remembered them as he kept pace with the phenomenal artists in the band. He was just so happy, dancing around the stage, gazing with love at his wife as the evening unfolded. If you missed this first --we hope of many such events, don't let a little rain keep you away next time.

The couple was on my radio show that Friday, February 7, which was also National Black AIDS Awareness Day. They performed two pieces. To listen visit:

Anthology Information
February 8 was a great day. Stay in touch, visit your local libraries and don't forget, first the Saturday next year, February 7, 2015, is the 25th Anniversary of An African American Celebration through Poetry at the West Oakland Library, 1801 Adeline Street, (510) 238-7352.

We plan to have an anthology published with a Best Of--Past and Present. If any poet who has participated would like to contribute please let us know. You can contact me directly at Poets can send up to ten pages. If the poet is deceased, he or she can still participate if his or her heirs wants to submit work on their behalf. Please include contact information and a brief bio with submission. Electronic documents are preferred in Microsoft Word or Google Drive. It is okay if the stories or poems have been previously published.

We are also looking for all photographers who have been taking photos and video over these 24 years. Please share the these archives with us for the 25th Anniversary Gala Event. Get in touch with Wanda Sabir and Mrs. Marygay Ducey, Branch Librarian at the West Oakland Branch Library.

We gave special thanks to Giovanna Capone, Library Assistant who made our flier this year and worked really hard to make the program a success (smile) and West Oakland Library staff who set the room up and then came back and helped with clean-up. We appreciate the branch librarian, Marygay Ducey's support and presence that day as well, especially scheduling staff so they could come over and enjoy the work for an hour each.  We also wanted to thank our long time donor Bilal Sabir's Delightful Foods, the No Cookie Cookie Bakery for 23 years of uninterrupted support and photographers TaSin Sabir and Hubert Collins.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A Review of Dance Brigade's "Hemorrhage"

The Tourniquet is Economic

A Review by Wanda Sabir

I went to opening night of Dance Brigade's "Hemorrhage: An Abolition of Hope and Despair, A Dance Installation at the Intersection of the New San Francisco and World Politics" up through Feb. 8, Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. at Dance Mission, 3316 24th Street, San Francisco. When I walked into the theatre I was faced with debris--a solid waste landfill in the middle of an urban municipality. At a closer inspection we noticed that there were people living in this landscape of despair, women, who had begun to take on the colors of the emotionally and psychologically crushing environment. Obviously these women were not garbage, but if one looks at their misuse by socially sanctioned institutions then there was a synergy inherent in the abundance of potential lying wasted in front of us.   
Dance Brigade in Hemorrhage: An Ablution of Hope and Despair
photo credit: Wanda Sabir

Krissy Keefer, Artistic Director of Dance Brigade, the company's name in itself a call to action and a not so subtle hint that Dance Brigade's art is not for the faint of heart.  Keefer plays many roles, one a woman in a bathtub, a crazy woman who is wise to a fault which perhaps drives her a bit mad as she sees what is evident ignored by those with power and influence--city and other government officials. An elder, she gathers the girls to her periodically and they listen, respectfully (smile). It was cheering to see Ross Mirkarimi, San Francisco's Sheriff, with his wife in the audience that evening. Perhaps other City officials will attend or have attended on other dates. Skeeter Barker and the dancers collaboration on costume design is extraordinary, especially the use of fabric for blood stasis and in motion. . . pools of blood, the act of bleeding; blood falling pouring from mouths from the characters' bodies like petals from a flower or leaves from a tree. It's prettier than it sounds, but hey--the work is called hemorrhage. 

Certainly Hemorrhage is a urgent call for help while the life force still pumps through the veins and arteries of our bodies, our institutions which do not bleed, no matter how many laws say--corporations have rights and are legally human. What about the atrophy of the life force itself--the uterus? It would be a tragedy if the potential for change, for rebirth was ignored or tied off or excised.

We meet women here in Hemorrhage's desolate landscape who were abused as children, thrown away as adults, who sometimes doubt themselves with good reason. We meet women who were great providers for their families before they lost their employment. We meet grandmothers and girlfriends, powerful women even still or without the trappings of outward success.

"Hemorrhage" is not sad, more so sobering as these women rise and keep getting up. Drumming a force, like one's heart beat as is the really fierce dancing --both a key mainstay here as the women bleed and bleed along a trajectory which is not a part of a natural life cycle. We'd call it menses if it gave birth or menopause --a moment of rest, but to hemorrhage is to bleed uncontrollably--it is the kind of bleeding that saps one's energies, it takes one's attention from her creative work, it means that one cannot arrest the source of one's despair, it indicates an absence of control.

To hemorrhage is urgent as in call 911 or ZERO. It is the action and the spill.

Dance Brigade's "Hemorrhage" is a wake up call. People are hemorrhaging out of San Francisco, they are bleeding into the Bay and beyond-- places where, unwanted, they are swallowed whole by apathy and/or disenfranchisement.

Three of my favorite scenes were the scenes of women in black--Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere . . . and the collective mourning for women and girls whose lives were cut short too soon. I love the way the women physically lift each other up, as in over their heads, as much as I also appreciate the playfulness in the work which though it never lost its seriousness, allowed itself to let in literal and figurative light(ness) evident in what I call "the broom dance(s)" and also in the closing shake-it-off Soul Train line. Even the crazy woman was a humorous foil--not like Chicken Little, 'cause the sky really is falling here, but like a Chicken Little with clout or heart.

Harry Rubeck's lighting design, as you can tell from the photos certainly set the mood for the various vignettes 
or stories within stories, that and the lovely costumes. Hemorrhage is a collective effort from the newsreel featuring the voice of Amy Goodman, Democracy Now , Eve Ensler, Rachel Corrie, Leonard Peltier, and others, to the eclectic music and Kristofer Hall's sound design work. Nicole Klaymoon, Jose Navarrete and Stephen Funk also contributed to the choreography, with Bruce Ghent responsible for the rocking soul shifting Taiko drum compositions and Kate Boyd for the set design mentioned earlier. Somehow Phred Swain-Sugarman makes everything work as stage manager. 

This work like other work in the Dance Brigade catalog is thought-provoking but more so a call to action. Who are these folks who decide who can live in San Francisco, who send eviction notices to everyone at Midtown Apartments, a subsidized housing complex owned by the City on O'Farrell and Scott at Geary. They were to be out January 31. Many said they are not moving. These same government officials are letting City College of San Francisco struggle and flounder, its continued operation no thanks to civil apathy. I don't understand how San Francisco government can let its only community college close.

But we at the San Francisco Bay View know this machine and its implicit and explicit role in the overall hemorrhaging of citizens. It is man made--not inherited, so man and woman, the people can put their hands together and stop the bleeding. (Our blood banks are low on blood too by the way.)

Dance Brigade presents "Hemorrhage: An Abolition of Hope and Despair, A Dance Installation at the Intersection of the New San Francisco and World Politics," Jan. 24-Feb. 8, 2014, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at 8 p.m. at Dance Mission, 3316 24th Street, San Francisco, (415) 826-4441 for information or and for tickets: 800-838-3006 or

Here is a link to an interview with Krissy Keefer at the top of the second hour: