If you would like me to come perform at your school, college, university, organization, conference or event please fill out the contact form. I perform solo and in musical ensembles for people as young as five.
I am both an avid traveler and a rooted community member. This paradox puts “place” at the center of my work. In my poetry I explore how I have been sculpted by my natural, political, and constructed surroundings. My work is rooted in my own experiences and the people with whom I’ve shared them. My poetry also branches out to explore how the plants, concrete, sky, rivers, streets and buildings are a part of my stories. Further, I imagine how the past and mystical or fantastical forces have shaped my experiences and the settings where they take place. I bring a traveler’s eye to my work, looking in all directions with a heightened sense of awareness seeking to absorb and understand.
Two recurring themes in my poetry are separation and rootedness. I’ve written about my separation from the natural world as someone who has lived in the city my entire life. I’ve written a conversation between my younger self a dandelion growing in the city. I’ve documented my first experiences in untamed nature through the lens of a teenage me standing in a take-out restaurant in my neighborhood looking at a framed picture of the jungle. I write about separation from other people, experienced in the mundane realities of not acknowledging the person sitting next to you on the bus to the personal and structural violence that my friends, neighbors and I have experienced.
My Grandfather and his family were forced to flee their home in 1941 when the Nazis invaded Belgrade, Yugoslavia. As refugees they crossed borders, bribed public officials, hired human traffickers and eventually, during the dead of winter, they walked through the Alps from Italy into the safety of Switzerland. In 2009 I retraced their route and returned home with a deep appreciation for my hometown and community. Since that trip my artistic practice has grown to include celebration and appreciation. I shout out friends in poems, lionize my local baseball league, write about my block party, street vendors and hole-in-the-wall music venues.
Writing and performing are equally important to me. I write poetry to connect. Performing poetry is an opportunity to build relationships and bring newness to the poem every time it is performed. The majority of my work is meant to live on the page and stage.
This commitment to performing comes from my initial entry into being an artist. Since 2002 I’ve freestyled in ciphers (improvisational rapping circles). Ciphers are incredibly nourishing, creative and inspiring spaces in which everyone contributes. Ciphers are often the starting point of lines, poems, concepts, projects and ideas. The symbiotic relationship between the different people in the cipher and the rapid building/bouncing of ideas/trains of thought from one person to another is where I feel most at home as a creative person. When I perform my poetry live I encourage audiences to respond audibly, tapping into the collaboration and connection of the cipher.
Photo Credits: Apiary Magazine, Daryl Cobb Jr. For The Harvest, Conrad Erb Photography for Live Connections