so in a random online conversation with a former student now in college, amid regular talk of school and adjusting to college life, this student hits me with something I didn’t expect. she was a relatively shy student and she probably never won nor entered a poetry slam. nevertheless she stayed involved and kept writing and coming to workshops. randomly, after I thought the conversation was over, she hit me with the following words that totally saved me. this work can be tiring. it can be draining. we can lose faith and doubt our effectiveness. I doubt a lot. I doubt everything. I often think everyone over-hypes my work and gives me undue praise. I always think there is more to do or that I’m not making enough of a difference. recently I’ve felt very drained and doubtful. her words will keep me going for years.
to paraphrase, she said:
if I didn’t ever tell you, i want you to know that you really have helped me with my poetry and confidence. I thank you so much:) I’m very glad to hear that you are still doing what you love because it keeps me going knowing that I can do the same after college. Keep doing you JBT
don’t worry y’all. I will keep doing me. as long as i possibly can.
Josephine Reed at the National Endowment for the Arts interviewed me about my work with young people on the DC Youth Slam Team and with the national poetry and social justice nonprofit Split This Rock. It’s a 28 minute pod cast you can hear online at http://arts.gov/audio/jonathan-tucker
It starts with a student’s poem, and the volume is low, so turn it up to 11!
Thanks for listening.
Leave me a comment to let me know I didn’t sound like a bumbling fool, because that’s what I always feel like after interviews.
i’m not an ordinary man
even when i’m going IN
i keep an exit plan
eyes on all sides
they say they like my vision
learn lessons from the skies
on how to keep on giving
never gettin got
you can’t steal the rain
i’m not tom petty
but i’m free falling mayne
heartbreaker gimme glue
duct tape and a minute
life ain’t a competition
but they say i’m gonna win it
i say i’m dedicated
like the page after the title
ten thousand RPM’s
my heart’s never on idle
i’m gear-shifting, spirit-lifting
writing ish you wish you could
getting paid to talk to kids from
london to englewood
rockin stages with my sheroes
they say they like my style
words are so deep
you ain’t heard ‘em in a while
some call me eight mile
but i ain’t eminem
more yehuda amichai and einstein
mixed with howard zinn
(from L to R) my mans Pages, CJ, and me at Brave New Voices in Philly this past weekend.
As a fundraiser for both the adult and youth slam teams representing DC, we are having the Beltway Poetry Slam Team compete against the DC Youth Slam Team. It all goes down this Sunday, July 6th at Penn Social, 801 E Street, NW, Washington, DC. Come witness the amazing talent of DC’s national slam teams. You can purchase tickets here.
this is going to be major. i’m hyped to meet and rock with some revolutionary hip-hop icons tonight. all part of 5 days for the Cuban 5.
deadprezforthecuban5.bpt.me for tix
The International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 presents the DC launch party for “BATTLE CRY FOR CUBA AND ZIMBABWE,” a project of M1 and Obi Egbuna Jr.
Live Concert in DC
Backed up by DC’s own “DJ PhenomeJon” will also be several impressive local progressive performers representing a variety of music genres. As well as several impressive local progressive performers representing a variety of music genres:
Mikaeli and Gigi
Khadijah (Akabella Live)
Reggae artist, Angela Benjamin
Myia X and Natural Bliss
$20 advance, $25 door, cash only.
Tickets are also available for purchase in person at:
Institute for Policy Studies
1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600
Washington DC 20036
Sankofa Video, Books & Cafe
2714 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Co-sponsors: Organization of Graduate Sociologists-HU Chapter, Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI), DC Metro Coalition to Free the Cuban 5, Institute for Policy Studies, Art Under Pressure, WPFW 89.3 FM, WE ACT Radio 1480 AM
i’m having fun filming and editing video.
check out this new piece promoting the Louder Than a Bomb DMV Teen Poetry Slam Festival.
so i just finished writing a grant to hopefully bring a bunch of poets from South Africa to Washington, DC next year. i had 4 grants due this week for work, plus one of my own as an individual. all of that while i was also running the largest youth poetry slam festival (and probably the only one) in the DMV area. it’s been stressful and hectic, but i feel like i accomplished a great deal of important things this week.
here are some of the kick-ass poets i’m trying to bring to DC. cross your fingers, say a prayer, and send good vibes to the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities so that they will approve my request.