Que Wright, born in Chicago, IL, found his love for poetry attending Gwendolyn Brooks Junior High and it continued in high school, while on the verge of failing Junior year English at Thornton Township High School. The poetry unit saved his semester and grades when his teacher, Ms. Milsap, allowed him to perform his poetry for extra credit.

Enrolling in honors Speech, the following semester gave him the confidence to keep writing and keep performing. Que would go on to attend an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), Bowie State University in Maryland, obtaining his Bachelors of Science degree in Communications Broadcast Journalism. He also holds a Masters in Secondary Education from GCU.

Que currently teaches Creative Writing at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School and is an award winning DJ/Radio Personality on Dash Radio, based out of Los Angeles on the “Big Heff Radio Show.” It’s nationally syndicated in over 23 markets.
Recently, Que Wright published his first book “Eclectic Dreams” on March 25, 2021 under the Absolute Author Publishing House. It is currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


GO BANG! Magazine: Congratulations! You published your first book of poetry “Eclectic Dreams.” Please tell our readers all about your book and what inspired you to write it.

Que Wright: My book “Eclectic Dreams” was inspired by everyday life. I consider it a poetic memoir.

GO BANG! Magazine: When did you realize that you had a gift for writing poetry?

Que Wright: I realized my gift for writing poetry years ago when I was still in high school. I started performing my poetry in my high school English class for extra credit.

GO BANG! Magazine: What is it about poetry that ignites a fire in you?

Que Wright: It allows me to write exactly how I feel and describe my inner thoughts in so many ways.

GO BANG! Magazine: How would you describe your poetry to someone that may not be familiar with you?

Que Wright: My poetry is abstract realism.

GO BANG! Magazine: Who are some of the poets, past and present, that inspire and/or motivate you?

Que Wright: Some of the poets that inspire past and present would have to be R.H. Sin, Rupi Kaur, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Tupac, Jhene Aiko and more.

GO BANG! Magazine: Some people categorize poetry and spoken word as the same. Others say that there is a definite difference. How would you describe the two and are you a spoken word artist?

Que Wright: I think the act of performing poetry is spoken word. I would not consider myself a spoken word artist, just an artist. I think poetry is my safe space to design culture, however I see fit.

GO BANG! Magazine: In addition to being a published author, you’re also an award winning DJ/Radio Personality. Please tell our readers about your DJ career.

Que Wright: I have been a DJ for over 10 years. I have been on one of the best syndicated Hip Hop shows on Dash Radio, based in Los Angeles the “Midwest Monsters Radio Show” and I have been a DJ on the Big Heff Radio show. I also made my national Radio debut in 2018 on The “Sway In The Morning Show” on Sirius XM as a guest mixer.

GO BANG! Magazine: Please describe your role as a Radio Personality on Dash Radio.

Que Wright: I interview artist and help “indy” artist have a voice on my new wave artist segment.

GO BANG! Magazine: Obviously education is important to you. You attended an HBCU where you earned your Bachelors of Science degree and then went on to GCU and earned a Master’s degree. How do you describe your passion for education and why was it important for you to attend an HBCU?

Que Wright: Attending an HBCU was one of the most important decisions I made in my life. Bowie State University in Maryland is one of the best colleges and places. I was able to attend and obtain my bachelors. I would recommend an HBCU to any young Black person on their educational journey to attend.

GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?

Que Wright: I’m just trying to stay healthy and keep my family safe by following mask mandates and just staying home and not putting people at risk.

You can purchase Quentin Wright’s book of poetry “Eclectic Dreams” on Amazon


Follow Que Wright on social media at: @QWrights and @DJQueEleven

 



Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram

A grassroots organizer, activist, and spoken word artist, Soulfighter, uses multimedia and performance to bring awareness to social issues, small community businesses and community centered organizations. He uses cultural expression to encourage healing.

Maurice uses his voice to address issues of oppression, abuse in foster care, child molestation, and mental illness due to childhood trauma. Maurice created Poetic Recovery to create space for cultural healing through diverse cultural expression to build community and bring hope to those who feel hopeless in order to create change and bring us together to build healthy communities and for people in all aspects of recovery.

Maurice Taylor is the North East Regional Director of Hip Hop Congress. Hip Hop Congress is a national network of Hip Hop artists that are educators, activists, and community leaders. Maurice Taylor is also the founder of Community Against Hate, which is a social and local network developed to educate artist about social-political issues, as well as Poetic Recovery, an open mic and showcase to echo socially conscious artists and encourage artists to be conscious.

GO BANG! Magazine: Please tell our readers about your childhood, like where you grew up and your background.

Maurice Taylor: I was born in Chicago Ill, lived in Ohio in the Allen House which was a horrible and abusive orphanage. I live in two foster homes, that I know of, in Cincinnati. The first home there was a lot of abuse. I saw a girl be tied up to a beam in the basement and was beat until she was bloody. The next foster home was ok. What made it better was that I got to be with my sister. They knew how to beat kids there too, with switches and extension cords. So many of us know that experience. At eight, I was adopted in a home in Massachusetts that proved to be abusive sexually and religiously. My childhood is nothing to really write about and I don’t want to depress your readers, so I will stop there.

GO BANG! Magazine: How did you first become interested in alcohol and when did you know that it was a problem in your life?

Maurice Taylor: When I was in my first foster home, about five or six, on New Years they gave me champagne. The following year, I asked for some and they said no. So I snuck down stairs and poured all the glasses with a little bit left in them, into one glass and drank that. I didn’t know it was going to be a problem until I downed a big glass of vodka, in one shot, to prove a point out of peer pressure.

GO BANG! Magazine: Did you ever become involved with drugs?

Maurice Taylor: My first time smoking weed was when I was 13. The first time, I didn’t get high. I did it again and when I got high, I laughed. I loved that feeling and I chased it ever since. Fast forward to 19, when I was kicked out of my foster home because my foster mom didn’t want me to report she was having sex with me. I got more heavily into alcohol. When I asked my National Guard unit for help, they tuned me away. The guy I hung with, name G, convinced me that no one cared. Let me back up. I tried to convince him people did. He wanted me to help him get drugs with my cash assistance. I asked him for a week to prove someone cared. Every place I took him asking for help, everyone turned us away. That’s what convinced me that no one cared. I gave him the money.

Shortly after that I started putting crack into blunts. We called it “wollies” back them. I was never much of a drug dealer, like 90% of them I failed! One night when I couldn’t get weed, this guy told me about “shrooms” and I took some, but nahhh, that wasn’t my thing. The first time I tried crack is a really said story of wanting to belong somewhere. Let’s just say, I’m truly glad I’m clean and sober and hope my testimony helped someone, because much of it was about being miserable and suffering from trauma, abandonment, no community supports and misguidance.

GO BANG! Magazine: What inspired you to overcome your alcohol addiction and when and how did you do it?

Maurice Taylor: One day I was at a park and told my friends I was addicted to weed and they laughed. I was 19, kicked out of my foster home and homeless. I went to a place to find out what was going on. Before that day, I had been trying to quit smoking, but every time I got a check I would spend it all on weed. I tried everything, exercise regimen, paying the person that let me sleep on the couch, rent ahead of time. Nothing worked so that led me to the conclusion that I was addicted.

GO BANG! Magazine: How did you become involved in poetry?

Maurice Taylor: When I was in my first foster home, I would write in the back of books on the empty pages. Fast forward to the second foster home. I wrote one of the best essays for the California achievement test. Fast forward to the adopted home. I would write in journals about my feelings and being abused, when my adopted mother found out, I got in trouble. I think my brain picked up how powerful writing was. Fast forward to when I was 16. My first freestyle rap performance was at Williams colleges with Abul. Fast forward to 19, performing at the Hilton in Pittsfield. Fast forward to 21, when Rap music was no longer fun and conscious. Someone I met was Jaime Shaggy Flored who taught me about spoken word and it’s been a wrap ever since.

GO BANG! Magazine: How would you describe your style of poetry?

Maurice Taylor: Spoken Word, free flowing.

GO BANG! Magazine: What would you say to a young poet trying to break into the Poetry scene?

Maurice Taylor: Be honest with yourself about why you want to write poetry and that truth will guide you. Rap music is poetry!

GO BANG! Magazine: You created Poetic Recovery. Please tell our readers why you named it Poetic Recovery, what this business does and why you created it.

Maurice Taylor: I founded it in 2006. It’s an open mic for people wanting an alcohol and drug free place to perform. I didn’t wanna to go back to using and I saw the damage the new rap music was doing to our communities. I wanted to combat that, educate artists about social-political issues, give people a place to lay their troubles down while enjoying themselves, connecting and build a healing community. It was my way of building a community that I never had.

To be honest, it’s never really been a business. I hope someday it will be a worldwide phenomenon that the world embraces for cultural healing. It’s a place for those that fall through the gaps of society to find each other and lift each other up along with those that genuinely care. It’s about time to rise! All of the abused foster children, abused women, addicts and those who are hurt due to lack of health care. We deserve to be loved, so why not give each other the love we are missing.

GO BANG! Magazine: Many times, former addicts are stigmatized and looked down upon by society. What do you think about that and what would you like the world to know about former addicts in recovery?

Maurice Taylor: It’s true we are looked down upon and stigmatized. My story is all over and it’s hard for me to get jobs. I have an Associates degree in Computer System Engineering. Let’s not talk about my B.A., which was a racist experience at Westfield State University. Needless to say, I was going for my Computer Information Systems degree and got on the Deans list. I was forced off campus due to a white lady saying I threatened her. I lost that whole semester and didn’t have enough money to finish. My GPA dropped from a 3.4 to a 1.9 and I’ll never get into another college again.

However, I do have a B.A in Liberal Studies, with a focus on Computers, Political Science and Communications. I was also on the Model UN team twice. I was a good student. I have volunteered at numerous places, including AmeriCorps, and I can’t get a job anywhere with a computer. It’s due to two things I believe, me being open about addiction and my open stance against racism.

Yes racism played a great role in much of this and fuels addiction in the Black community. However racism doesn’t mean we can’t, it means we are going to have to work harder. I just have to keep pushing. I just finished my Cisco Certified Cyber Operations certification class, Entry NDG Linus certification, and working on my entry level python certification. I took my A+ class and I’m studying for my exam. By the end of this year I will have all my certs.

I hope to open my own small business, instead of begging “the man.” Recovering addicts and alcoholics are everywhere, in your dentist office, operating rooms, courts rooms, airports/ cockpits of planes and police stations. Alcoholism and addiction are diseases, and like cancer, some people beat it, and some people don’t. You don’t beat down someone for not beating cancer do you? I can never understand why the drug dealer is treated like a king in our communities and the addict is hated. Many times the dealer becomes the addict. I also believe this is perpetuated by the music industry and these companies are never held accountable. This is why I love Poetic Recovery. It is created to encourage, not pull each other down.

GO BANG! Magazine: What would you say to a young person, or any person, that is caught up in drugs or alcohol?

Maurice Taylor: I would ask them to tell me what they would say to themselves, and take that advice. I would tell them about me being raped, molested, beaten and told I was going to be helped, over and over again as a child, which led to nightmares. So I kind of get why you are here. Healing is possible. I’d give them information where they could go get help.

GO BANG! Magazine: Are you currently working on anything or would you like to mention anything that you’d like our readers to check out?

Maurice Taylor: We just completed the first International Black History Celebration that can be seen at my website at http://www.poeticrecovery.net along with our weekly “Open Mic” under that. It’s titled “Poetic Recovery Open Mic.” We have fun and support each other, whether it’s recovering from drugs, social issues, abuse, cancer, etc. It’s time for people to find their true selves under the hype of media, peer pressure, machoism, hatred and help created a better society. We aim to talk on all this and help create a better society.

Poetic Recovery is not a recovery program. It’s a cultural movement that I believe aids recovery programs. I ask for patience, because with little funds I can only do so much. The little I’m doing has gone and incredible long way. With support, we will help so many more people. I am working on a program where we get 1000 donors to donate $10 a month at http://www.gofundme.com/poeticrecovery, so that we can get the support we need to continue and build in every state and country.

GO BANG! Magazine: Why are you involved in all of the activities that you are part of?

Maurice Taylor: So many people are needlessly hurt, regardless of their color, sex, religion or educational level. The rich is getting richer. The say they don’t believe in Socialism, but get the most handouts of all from “other people’s” money. It’s the greatest con game ever. We deserve support. I hope one day to be able to help create that change.

GO BANG! Magazine: On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” This incident has caused civil unrest and massive protests across the world, demanding change. How do you feel about this?

Maurice Taylor: I stated, during Black Lives Matter protest for Treyvon Martin, these murders continue because we do not change our spending habits. We hardly boycott. The NFL has much of the support of the Black community while “NFL owners give nearly 9-1 to Republicans, including Trump” https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2020/09/nfl-owners-2020/

Racism is so powerful because internalized racism is powerful. Outside of internalized racism, racism is not powerful at all. It’s the social conditioning, that we refuse to change, that hurts us. For instance, if more of us were actually involved in politics and community spending, we would have so much power, despite racism, these cops would be saying “yes sir” and “no ma’am” every time they pulled us over. When we decide to do the hard work and change our spending habit and support leagues that help our community, racism will end. Think of it like this. If you are in a fight and someone is punching, are you gonna just stand there or defend yourself? If you don’t defend yourself you are letting them beat the hell out of you. Much props and love to those standing against the system, but there is an old saying “You can’t tear down the master’s house with the masters tools”- Audre Lorde.

Many of us are addicted to the hype of the NFL and media companies. We feel we are so powerless and if we lose our escape, there will be nothing left. That’s not true. As long as we are addicted, we can march, protest and nothing will change because marching and protesting are tools to bring attention to issues. We don’t really have the next step in place to implement solutions because we don’t have the capital to fund them. Our communities continue to spend our money with those who not only don’t care, but invest in our oppression. The NFL touts eight Black refs, out of the 80+ they have. We are 13-15% of the US population.

Our numbers should reflect that among the referees and more, given our contributions to the sport and this country. We shouldn’t support these organizations that support the police union and political leaders that support policies that oppress us. We will see many more George Floyd’s, which is why I’m of the opinion that we need a new political system… a new political party. This one is archaic. We should stop trying to force ourselves inside of a structure they control. We should create one we control and force them to the table, so we can save the future George Floyd’s.

GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?

Maurice Taylor: Poetic Recovery of course, which helps me promote and make virtual connections. By exercising, going to school, social media, learning about my body and other new things.

You can follow Maurice Taylor and find out more about Poetic Recovery on social media and on their website http://www.poeticrecovery.net





Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the Owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions and the Owner/Publisher of GO BANG! Magazine. Follow him on Facebook @Pierre Andre Evans, Twitter @Playerre, and on Instagram @Pierre_Andre_Evans.

Providing the very best in Spoken Word Edutainment

Truth tellers are not always palatable. There is a preference for candybars.” Gwendolyn Brooks

Discopoet Khari B. is a spoken word musician and educator working internationally as both a performer and instructor in the literary arts. With a solid reputation for delivering powerful performances with intense instrumental accompaniment, Khari B.’s energetic nature is inextricably tied to growing up in Chicago’s House music culture and being the son of two educators, one being acclaimed woodwindist, Mwata Bowden. His inspirational and mentally rousing work has been recognized, hailed, and requested across the globe, staking out a place in the hearts of audiences and appealing to a diverse legion of fans, spanning multiple ages and ethnic groups.

He’s co-produced three albums under the Discopoetry brand (WordSound: THIS AIN’T NO PUNK-ASSED POETRY, I’M A BAD MUTHA: The Rockstar Poetry Project, The Revolution Has Been Compromised: Honoring the word and works of Gil Scott-Heron) and appeared on numerous others.

In addition to his works’ inclusion in a number of anthologies, he’s published one book, “Haiku 4 Justice: Poetry In the Age of Social Media” and co-produced a feature length film on his annual arts & music production, “Thee Debauchery Ball.”
Khari B. has been an Artist-In-Residence at the prestigious Purdue University since 2006, continuing to create, educate, produce and perform wherever he is called under his philosophy “Make it happen.”

GO BANG! Magazine: Growing up with both parents being educators had to have been tough and must’ve influenced the way that you value education. Please describe your childhood and what’s the most valuable lesson that you have learned from your parents, in regards to education and life in general?

Khari B: I wouldn’t say it was tough. They weren’t letting any BS ride when it came 2 our education. But, because a respect for and necessity of education was instilled N2 our lives from our very beginning, they didn’t have 2 force our participation so hard. Of course we didn’t like homework and large research projects, so we showed a natural youthful resistance 2 that. But all and all, intelligence was respected in our home, our community and by the youth and adults we were surrounded by.

My childhood looks like being outside, right? We played. Our friends would ring our bell and ask my parents if we could come outside – all year round. I loved cartoons (still do) but my mom had a strict policy on how much television time we could have per day so I had 2 choose wisely of what and when 2 watch. Museums, cultural centers, library visits and concerts were a normal thing 4 us and we dug it 4 the most part. Children aspire 2 what they R exposed 2 and my parents insured we were exposed 2 as much as culture, music, information and life as their modest pockets would allow. We rode our bikes regularly, especially in the summers and particularly 2 the comic book store. We couldn’t wait 4 snowball fights on the block in the winter.

The most valuable lesson that I learned from my parents was how important it is 2 know how 2 read and comprehend information. I can’t underestimate that. It’s now that I realize how many people can’t and/or won’t and how much discord and confusion the lack of those simple acts cause 2day. Reading ain’t just fundamental. It’s so necessary!

GO BANG! Magazine: How did you get started in poetry, Spoken Word and then Discopoetry? What are the differences in the three?

Khari B: Moms definitely got me started writing. Again, it was just something instilled in us from the jump so it was never something new or novel. It’s just what we did and what my mom encouraged. She had Gil Scott, The Last Poets and Nikki Giovanni records playing around the house on Sundays and I dug it. Never thought of it as something I wanted 2 do but I loved their wordplay and rhythm. I loved their messages and their love of our people. I was being prepared and had no clue.

Spoken word came along in college. My friend, Courtney Bell, kept trying 2 get me 2 go 2 some place called Spices 2 listen 2 poetry, but I procrastinated and vacillated about it because I would rather hit a party. The day we finally made it was the week they closed. I had no idea that I had just missed a piece of history. I wasn’t keen on sharing my own work anyway.

Somewhere in that period a professor more or less forced me N2 reading a piece 4 a class presentation. Outside of a church oratory contest when I was nine, this would B the 1st time I ever shared my work N public. I got up, spit the piece how I heard it N my head and looked up 2 this lecture hall full of students enthusiastically clapping. I dug how it felt 2 share that and the reception it received. I was hooked and haven’t looked back since.

There are no differences between poetry, spoken word and Discopoetry essentially. All spoken word, as we’re using it here, is poetry, but not all poetry is spoken word. Some work is better left read. Some work begs 2 B said aloud. I am a spoken word musician. That would B the only distinction. I mostly write work 2 B performed. My spin is 2 do it 2 music, live music N most cases, and not in a rap form.

GO BANG! Magazine: You have a solid foundation and reputation in the House music community. It’s only natural that you would combine your spoken word with House music. Describe to our readers, the day that you decided that Discopoetry was one of your callings in life and you were gonna “go for it” and even name yourself after it.

Khari B: At the time “Discopoetry” was born, I was doing open mics in college. I didn’t have any professional aspirations 4 it then, but it was something I was loving doing. I didn’t like how the hosts were calling me up back then. It just lacked color and rhythm so I was in my head looking 4 a name 2 B introduced as. I was also sorta depressed at the time. I hated school, the city I was N, and my relationship status was on garbage. The only 2 things that were really delivering me at the time was poetry and House music. I was N the south, far away from any real parties and I was miserable. I would call my friends still N Chicago just so they could describe the parties 2 me – location, people, music, dancers, DJs… all of that just 4 my fix!

1 day after talking 2 1 of my boys, I started sketching possible names out. Housepoet was 2 close 2 house ni**a 2 me, so that wasn’t gonna work. BUT the term House was also interchangeable with Disco 4 the folks who knew, so I tried a few variations of that mix. When I put those 2 words 2gether, “disco” and “poet,” it just rang out 2 me. It stuck, it fit and that’s been my name ever since.

The day I decided 2 “go pro” was many years later. I was outta college, back N Chicago and working a job I hated. Every morning I woke up extra early and angry. Up and out on public transportation, which I hated, 2 go somewhere that I hated, 2 do some things that I did not want 2 do. It didn’t make sense. Additionally, the job called 4 me to stay late almost every night. The night that was unacceptable was Wednesday nights when I would go 2 Jazz and Java’s open mic night. Staying late on Wednesdays was non-negotiable because I was NOT going 2 B late and unable 2 get on the reading list there. My boss knew not 2 even ask. Again, poetry and House were the 2 things breathing life N2 my spirit then.

1 morning I woke up angry and realized how insane that was. No one who wakes up should B angry. The wake up is a gift in itself. I knew the source of my anger and there was only 1 rational way 2 correct that. I called the job and quit that moment. My boss tried 2 convince me otherwise, but I could not B swayed. I was done. I went back 2 sleep and slept WONDERFULLY. I woke up happy 4 the 1st time N a long time! Moments later, I realized I didn’t have a job. HA! I had 2 get a plan. I liked feeling happy and quickly contemplated my sources of happiness. I made a decision right there 2 figure out a way 2 get my poetry 2 B my source of income, as well as my happiness.

I had seen Marvin Tate’s D’Settlement and my sista Smokey do full shows outside of the open mic, and that was my inspiration. That was on a Wednesday. That weekend, as I was still figuring out how 2 do this, I walked N2 my 1st 2 bookings while at the African Fest at DuSable. Both were hosting gigs (which I had never done) 4 poetry shows. 1was co-hosting with brotha Malik Yusef at some Brewery on the near Westside and the other was a bi-weekly with Sista’s of Vizion at the Ebony Room. I admired Brother Mike and Triple Blak’s hosting skills at Jazz & Java, so I pulled my notes from them. As it applied 2 my own shows, I took my knowledge of House party promotion and used that as my template 2 get folks out 2 my events. That’s what it’s been ever sense. Those initial crowds at the event were primarily from the House community. It was “discopoetry” 4 real!

GO BANG! Magazine: Your God-given gift as a wordsmith has blessed you with the opportunity to travel the globe sharing your powerful words with the world. Prior to walking on stage to perform, what goes thru your head? What is your mission? What is the ultimate message that you want the audience to “take away?”

Khari B: My job as an artist is 2 document the times we’re living N. It is 2 inspire and inform the People. That is my mission EVERYTIME I put a letter 2 page or foot 2 stage. I want the audience 2 walk away filled with something they didn’t have when they arrived or at least more of it. The intention is 2 B joy and/or information, 2 do with as they will. I’m a creative propagandist that uses truth as my medium. The People need some truth. I give it 2 them N an energetic fashion so that it sticks.

All I’m thinking as I head 2 a stage is “let’s do this!” “Let’s have some fun!”

GO BANG! Magazine: Who are some of the artists, musicians, spoken word artists and other creatives that inspire or motivate you to perform and why?

Khari B: I named a few cats above, both national and locally-based folks, who helped 2 build where I stand. When I cut my 1st album I was using MC Hammer’s template of selling out of the trunk 2 get it done (obviously he was far more successful at it than I. HA!) instead of begging 4 a record deal. Prince was always an inspiration both performatively and business-wise. My Holy Trinity of performance is Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. They R the definition of letting it all go on stage. Sonia Sanchez, Gil Scott, Nikki G., the Last Poets and Mama Gwendolyn Brooks R my teachers. I’m overjoyed 2 have performed with or 4 all of them at some point along the way.

I don’t think that I could B the artist I am if I came up anywhere else but Chicago. It’s a city filled with creative energy and, at the time I was coming up, a respect 4 and expectation 2 B one’s self. That didn’t happen everywhere and throughout time. House culture validated a necessity 4 our uniqueness, so that was already ingrained. But culturally and artistically, Chicago made me a better creative. It may not have an industry 2 properly support its artists’ careers but it makes them powerful creatives nonetheless. We stand out wherever we go. Here, I’m surrounded by an unparalleled artistic community. U can damn near trip over someone who should B a legend. I love it. I wish our folks could C it and make it happen.

When I hit the stage, I’m N clothes by Chicago-based designers like Embody by Talibah Mc, Mike Sims, Status Kno, Free Breakfast Apparel and Agriculture Chicago, accessories by Clay & Chloe, K-Fleye and Copper Candy. Our events R sponsored by Black businesses like Wakanna and the South Side Help Center most recently. My Chicago community is dope and they inspire and push what I do. I do my best 2 reflect and respect that in every aspect.

GO BANG! Magazine: Your “Thee Debauchery Ball” is a legendary annual event that I have had the pleasure of attending a few times. It was an experience that I will never forget, in a good way! Please explain to our “virgin” readers, who may have never attended, exactly what the “Ball” is and how you creatively co-produced and developed it into a feature film.

Khari B: The Debauchery Ball is a private, tasteful, erotically-themed protected space 4 Black people (and other POCs) where music, art and performance are synthesized for a most memorable, highly-anticipated, sensual, sensory-engaging experience. It’s a high-energy, liberated space of comfort and joy, free of constriction, oppression and self-deprecation emphasizing consent, respect and personal interaction, all grounded in House culture. If someone can’t read and fully comprehend all of that, they don’t need 2 B there. 😉

As I stated above, I’m a part of a beautiful and talented creative community. Being a part of that community and producing this type of event over years attracts all kinds of folks that possess skills that I don’t. This is not a small or easy event 2 organize. That said, I rely on others that I trust, who know and love the product and R enthused about being a part. David Weathersby is 1 such person.

Having worked with him over the years, I approached him about getting me some footage of the Ball that I could later use promotionally. He handled that but fell N love with the whole thing and asked if he could produce a documentary on it. I agreed. He went 2 work, communicated with me openly and as needed, and the final product came out more amazing than I could have imagined! David is simply a great guy and phenomenal filmmaker. I didn’t get N his way of making it happen and I was free 2 continue doing what I needed 2 do 2 make it happen. I trusted him because he’s always been a man of integrity, humility and genuinely supportive of the rest of the community. Because of that, he captured the spirit and nature of the Ball perfectly and it shows as crowds R loving it around the world now.

GO BANG! Magazine: You’re a music producer and an author as well, penning your debut book entitled “Haiku 4 Justice: Poetry In the Age of Social Media.” Tell us about your book and why you wrote it.

Khari B: It is the creatives job 2 document the world as it is 4 future generations 2 learn from. “Haiku 4 Justice” is just that. 4 over 400 days I documented instances of injustice and triumph on a daily basis in haiku form. I used haiku because we R N a time of “meme education.” The average person is not drawn 2 read anything longer, so I used the short poetic form of haiku 2 tell longer stories of brutality, murder, resistance and celebration 2 the reader, 3 lines, 17 syllables at a time.

Initially they were just daily post 2 get me more N the habit of being present on social media (which I’m essentially adverse 2). A lot of people started keeping up with them including a few celebrities. Soon my circle started encouraging me 2 compile them N2 a book. I hadn’t even considered that. I just kept writing. I looked up and it had been over a year that I was doing this exercise. My crew put a foot N my ass and got me 2 produce the book finally after more than a year of procrastinating about it. My sista and fellow author/poet Tara Betts edited it and BAM, it became an actual thing.

I’m so happy I did it. It was a lot, spiritually, writing about so much pain but it was necessary. Our folks need 2 C it, remember it and never allow anyone else 2 change the story. Haiku 4 Justice is my contribution 2 keeping that truth and the names of our fallen alive.

GO BANG! Magazine: Being an educator, you are assisting in the development of minds. That is a tremendous mission that can’t be taken lightly. As an instructor in the literary arts, please describe what you do and why you chose to teach in that field?

Khari B: Every issue that we have with our youth is largely the fault of our elders; those who fell down on the job of keeping necessary lessons alive and our culture strong. It is without question that we have faced inexhaustible opposition 4 the last 500 years. But, our level of resistance, which is rooted in our culture, is Y we can even have this discussion 2day. The administration of that resistance and culture is the responsibility of our elders. We know who our opposition is and what they do. Our job is 2 know who WE R and 2 do our part. When the youth don’t know or respect our culture, which makes them able 2 navigate and thrive N this world properly, it’s because the eldership did not teach them.

Me teaching is me doing my part. The literary arts is what I use 2 expose groups of our young who they R, where they come from and what their purpose is on this planet. All of us have a part N that. I’m honored 2 B able 2. More of us have 2. It’s an honorable and tremendous responsibility 4 each of us. The classroom is just another medium 2 do what I do with the spoken word music. I’m still working 2 have a greater reach.

GO BANG! Magazine: Your Discopoetry performance is inspiring and full of spirit, just like you. How would you describe yourself and your performance, so that someone who has never met you would get a good understanding of who you are and what to expect from your show.

Khari B: I would simply say that I use the stage or recording mediums 2 say what is N my spirit and on my heart. I speak the things that connect us in a way that I hope speaks 2 your spirits and hearts. I attempt 2 vocalize our thoughts and emotions and B a voice that is silenced N a lot of us. So when those things manifest through me, it’s with all the energy, fury, love and volume I can muster N my 140 lb body. My spirit is much bigger 😉 The stage is where I get 2 B my full, uninhibited self and that ends up validating others living the same way N their own way. We’re gonna push some boundaries, free some spirits, scare some people and have fun doing it.

GO BANG! Magazine: The COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?

Khari B: I’m sitting inside writing. We don’t know what parts of this thing R true or false but we do know people R dying in droves. We do know the average American is so entitled, misinformed, uniformed and arrogant that the spread of the virus has been insane and accelerated because of them. So, I mainly stay inside and create. I’m loving it!

This quarantine has given us an unprecedented opportunity in modern times 2 sit, get quiet and do some self-development. It doesn’t seem most people R making use of that, but some R and it’s beautiful. Connections have been more meaningful, our ingenuity has been given space 2 speak and nature has gotten a chance 2 take a break from stupid and destructive humans to do some repair work. This time was needed.

I miss performing. I miss partying and traveling. But I love the quieter environment, the cleaner air and water and animal life flourishing in ways that it was unable 2 with all of our thoughtless movement. I’m okay with this. I wish people would have the sense 2 sit still a little longer so the virus can pass away, but that goes back 2 piss poor education and a lack of culture.

This time has proved that so much of our movement is unnecessary. A lot of it has been just 2 make people feel important or relevant but the planet, our country and our people have been so much better with us at home. Here we R. My next book is almost done. I finally started a meditation practice 4 myself which has been great. I’ve written work 4 and drawn up a new performance series and thinking of ways 2 get N front of a larger audience. I’m alright.

GO BANG! Magazine: Lastly, on May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” This incident has caused civil unrest and massive protests across the world. How do you feel about this unfortunate situation and call for police reform due to the horrible treatment of minorities by the police?

Khari B: Floyd’s murder was no different than so many B4 him. The officer that murdered him is no different than the countless murderers on and off of the police force that have come B4 him. It’s a systemic issue that is bigger than reform of a particular career space. Racism is a mental illness and we all need treatment from it as it affects us all. Defunding the police budgets is about reallocating tax payers money, which have been used 2 heavily militarize these police forces since at least President Clinton’s administration and EVERY administration since, to programs that will help minimize the use of police and the prison system.

The institution of Euro supremacy does not want that. It makes 2 much money from and creates 2 much dependency 4 them 2 give that up willingly. But our education system needs that money across the board. Local job creation needs that money across the board. The mental health industry NEEDS that money across the board. THEN we’d C a people who Rn’t forced N2 a life of hunger, joblessness, poor health and other factors that actually create crime. We’d C healthier people ON the police force who Rn’t predisposed or inclined 2 target, brutalize and murder people of color indiscriminately. Defunding the police and the culture of brutality toward disenfranchised communities by them is about providing the people that ultimately pay them the resources not 2 need them.

George’s murder was about the lack of value 4 the life of Black people in this world. The present system supports, maintains and encourages that. It uses all media 2 facilitate the disdain 4 melanated people in all of us. 4tunately, there R parts of our youth that HAVE received pieces of love, knowledge and culture from some of our elders and they have taken this time and opportunity to rise up and make it known that the continued abuse cannot happen. They still need those lessons from the eldership, but they have shown that they R ready and able 2 speak up and put N that work.

These riots were different than B4. The spirit of these uprisings was different than B4. There is an awakening happening amongst our people, young and old and it’s beautiful 2 C the things that R manifesting. I think and hope we’re just getting started 2 turn this world around 4 the better.

Thank U so much 4 reaching my way, Pierre.
All love,
Khari B.

GO BANG! Magazine: You’re welcome my brutha!


Get at me at http://www.disco-poetry.com
Haiku 4 Justice available at https://bit.ly/2X7mIuB
Thee Debauchery Ball can B seen on any device via KweliTv: thee-debauchery-ball




Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram

“Portraits of Corona”


Grim Reaper—
Across these states,
Doctors orders they are defyin’
But it wont be long
Soon
they will be cryin’
Dyin’
Sickness risin’
Coronavirus lyin’
In wait to claim
Ignorance—
that hisses at the lessons of history & science
Arrogance—
Defiantly spitting
In the face of fact
And truth
And irrefutable proof
About this plague—
That already has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives
Infecting—
Millions worldwide
Staking its deadly claim
Like the Grim Reaper
Peace Breacher
Invisible Angel of Death
Irrespective of people—
White
Or Black
Or Yellow
Or Brown.
Hear the sound:
Of a cresting river of mourning
Amid this affliction
Amid this hell storm of sickness
That shall inevitably run its full course
With such catastrophic force
Of which historians will someday write
And generations shall read
In the light
Of knowing:
That in the midst of this global pandemic
Even as its deadly winds were blowing
That across these states,
Doctors’ orders
they were defyin’
But soon
they were cryin’
Dyin’
Sickness–
risin’
Coronavirus–
lyin’
In wait to claim
Their poor ignorant souls…

The Saints—
And the preacher said, “Come,
For I have heard the voice of the Lord
And we have only but
‘Fear’ to abhor
Not a mere virus
Which shall not penetrate
The House of the Lord
With its sanctified gates”

And if
Perchance
You should take ill, the preacher said,
By His blood
I will heal
And raise you
From corona’s deathbed
Never mind you may be feeble
Or golden in age,
Suffer diabetes, heart disease
Or be in a cancer stage
That make you uniquely susceptible
To the virus’ rage
Causing you prematurely
To go to your graves
Never mind the foolishness
Of scientists
And their worldly advice
Never mind the government
That ordered you to stay inside

“Shall a man rob God?”
The preacher exhorts.
“For we are not of this world
In God we trust”
“Come, let us enter into His house with thanksgiving
And into His courts with praise
For our God is bigger than Corona
Turn to your neighbor,
and give God the praise”

And so,
They came
Like sheep to the slaughter
The virus a ruthless marauder
And church meetings mere fodder
Amid this world pandemic
Of horror
The “Lord’s house” transformed into a super-spreader
Of infectious disease
That lapped like flaming tongues of wildfire
Bringing church leadership to its knees
Claiming bishops and pastors,
and laity alike
Sending shockwaves
Through Zion
And bringing to light:
That, like God, the virus
Was no respecter of persons
Regarded neither saint, nor sinner
Nor foolish assertions;

That lives could have been saved
And tragedy averted
If by faith
and by wisdom
the Watchman
Had only alerted
The sheep
Instead of falling fast asleep
As the wolf
began to creep
And the flock,
it began to eat

So in the end,
the preacher’s epitaph read:
“Here lies a good man
With delusions of grandeur in his head
A man who didn’t have to die
Upon corona’s bed.”

The Angels—
And the angels, masked and gloved,
Performed miracles
Impervious to fear
As they sought to heal them
Shed tears for those
whose eyes affixed longingly to these guardian souls
As if they had halos
Amid laborious last breaths
And the encroachment of cold death
As scripts and ventilators
Ceased in utility
And all of humanity
Gasped at the depravity
Of an invisible enemy
That froze
The world
In suspended animation
But the Angels braved the storm
Fought on
Wearied and worn
Their souls forever torn
By the ones they lost
And the ones they won
After the storm had passed
And returned the sun
And it was clear
That these wingless human souls
Were the most valiant ones
Our Angels

A native son of Chicago, John W. Fountain is an award-winning columnist, journalist, professor and author of the memoir, True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity (Public Affairs, 2003) and Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood (WestSide Press, 2011). His essay, “The God Who Embraced Me” appears in National Public Radio’s book, This I Believe (Henry Holt Books, 2006), as part of the nationally acclaimed series initially started by Edward R. Morrow. Fountain is a professor of journalism at Roosevelt University and a weekly freelance columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2016, 2014 and 2011, Fountain received the Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism for columns published in the Sun-Times. Fountain won the Lisagor Award in the category of news column or commentary among daily newspapers with a circulation of 250,000 or more from the Chicago Headline Club—the largest local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the country. In 2014, Fountain was awarded best column by the Illinois Press Association.

In 2015, Fountain was a Lisagor Award finalist for online best Feature for a series on a Little League Baseball team in suburban Chicago: The Sweet Season. In 2013, he was a finalist for the National Association of Black Journalists “Salute to Excellence Award” in the magazine category for his first-person feature “Murder Was the Case” in Ebony (July 2012). In 2012, Fountain received the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association Award and the Chicago Journalists Association Sarah Brown Boyden Award for his column in the Sun-Times.

In a journalism career that has spanned more than 30 years, Fountain has been a reporter at some of the top newspapers in this country. From 2000 to 2003, he was a national correspondent for The New York Times. Based in Chicago, Fountain covered a 12-state region. He also has been a staff writer at the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Chicago SunTimes, Modesto Bee, Pioneer Press Newspapers in suburban Chicago and the Champaign News-Gazette.

He was formerly a tenured full professor at his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and visiting scholar at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston. In addition to working as a national correspondent, Fountain has been a crime and courts reporter as well as a general assignment reporter and features writer.

Fountain was a 2009 fellow at the Knight Digital Multimedia Center at the University of California-Berkeley. At Roosevelt, he teaches Media Writing, Personal Journalism/Memoir Writing, Convergence Journalism, News Reporting, Literary Journalism and Special Projects courses.

In 1999, Fountain was one of 12 American journalists selected for the prestigious Michigan Journalism Fellowship for the 1999-2000 class at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Fountain studied inner-city poverty and race. Fountain earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Over his career, Fountain has won numerous honors for feature writing from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, and the American Association of University Women, among others. In 2003, he was a finalist in feature writing and sports writing for the Peter Lisagor Award for excellence in journalism. He continues to be an invited guest on local and national radio and television news shows and has appeared on National Public Radio, Chicago Public Radio, WGN-TV, NBC-Channel 5, ABC-Channel-7, WTTW’s Chicago Tonight and numerous radio shows.

Fountain frequently speaks across the country to inner-city youths, at schools and other groups. He shares his inspirational story of going from poverty and the urban mean streets of Chicago’s West Side to the top of his profession. “True Vine” is his remarkable story—of his childhood in a neighborhood heading south; of his strong-willed grandparents, who founded a church (called True Vine) that sought to bring the word of God to their neighbors; and of his religious awakening that gave him the determination to rebuild his life.

Inspired by Fountain’s essay for the acclaimed National Public Radio’s This I Believe series, “Dear Dad” is a compilation of true narratives written by some of the nation’s finest journalists and writers. Fountain’s most recent book projects are: “No Place for Me: Letters to the Church in America” and “Son of the Times: Life, Laughter, Love and Coffee,” a book of essays.

GO BANG! Magazine: When did you first become interested in writing?

John W. Fountain: I have always loved writing, ever since I was a little boy growing up on the west side of Chicago in a place commonly known as K-Town. I loved writing poetry on the days when it was too cold or rainy to play outside. In elementary school, in creative writing, I would write fictional stories about talking leaves and all sorts of things. We would read those stories in our writing circle and occasionally I would look up and see my classmates laughing and engrossed in the stories I read. It was an amazing high and introduced me early on to the power of storytelling.

GO BANG! Magazine: Being an award-winning columnist, journalist and author, you’re fluent in various writing styles. What is it about writing that motivates you to write?

John W. Fountain: What I most love about writing is the creative process. It is the ability to channel what comes from the heart, mind and soul onto blank pages. Over time I have learned that writing is less about following the rules of structure and mechanics—all the things they teach you in school. Not that those things don’t matter. It’s just that sometimes they can get in the way of the writing process, obstruct creativity and inhibit the gift. Writing is like oxygen. It enables me to breathe, live, feel. It provides visibility. It says that I exist and that I am not invisible. Writing is a transaction with the soul.

GO BANG! Magazine: I became familiar with you through a poem that you posted on Facebook in April that was about the current COVID-19 pandemic. Please explain to our readers what inspired you to write that poem about the ignorance of people, surrounding COVID-19.

John W. Fountain: We are our brother’s keeper and we are connected, affected, impacted by our decisions and by the decisions of others in a global society. This world pandemic has illustrated that in a very real way. Yet, so much misinformation exists. My poem was motivated by my desire to share some truth and to present it in a way that people might be able to receive it. We truly are all in this together. The scripture says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” I hope my poem, even if in some small way, helped sound the trumpet for us to heed the call to do what’s necessary to protect ourselves, our families and each other.

GO BANG! Magazine: You’re also a professor at a prominent university in Chicago, teaching various writing and journalism classes. Why is it important to you to pass on your knowledge of writing?

John W. Fountain: The cemetery is filled with unrealized dreams, with potential and the best of intentions to help others achieve their own dreams, and with talent not fully used. My belief is that whatever talents or gifts we have, the totality of our God-given abilities, resources and wisdom are to be spent while here on earth to help others. In other words, we must empty ourselves; take nothing with us to the grave. By helping others achieve their dreams—whether through writing or some other craft or profession—we ensure our own legacy. We also leave the world potentially as a little better place—at least our corner of it.

GO BANG! Magazine: As an author, you’ve written a few books including “No Place for Me: Letters to the Church in America” and “Son of the Times: Life, Laughter, Love and Coffee.” Please describe to our readers what these two books are about.

John W. Fountain: “No Place for Me” is a spiritual memoir. It’s about my journey as the grandson of a Pentecostal pastor and my turning away from the church I once loved that I now believe has no discernible message for what ails the 21st century black male soul. It is about how I find in the church today no place for me and no longer are a member, but also my rediscovery of my place as a member in the body of Christ.

“Son of The Times” is a collection of some of my best newspaper columns written over the last decade.

GO BANG! Magazine: Another set of books that you’ve authored are “True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity” and “Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood.” These are both very interesting and personal topics. Please point out two or three “take away” points from each book.

John W. Fountain: From “True Vine”: Never stop dreaming or you start to die; There is always hope; Most of my life, I later realized, I wasn’t poor, just broke.

From “Dear Dad”: I am not my father and therefore not destined to repeat his mistakes; To move forward from the hurts and sins my father committed against me or my family, I must learn to forgive him; As a man, as a father, I must learn to forgive myself; It’s never too late.

GO BANG! Magazine: What advice would you give to a youth that is interested in pursuing a career in journalism, but may be unsure of how they may be perceived in the industry, as a minority?

John W. Fountain: I would advise any young person interested in pursuing a career in journalism to study and absorb every lesson in class, to hone their craft, to seek out professional journalists who can serve as mentors, to read voraciously, to never allow anyone to squelch your dreams or passion, and to never give up.

GO BANG! Magazine: Are there any projects that you are currently working on that you’d like to inform our readers about.

John W. Fountain: I am currently working on a project titled, “Unforgotten.” It is the story of 51 murdered Chicago women over two decades that appears to be the work of at least one serial killer who strangled them to death and left their bodies in Chicago alleys and vacant lots, sometimes in trashcans and sometimes set on fire. The project seeks to humanize the victims by telling the stories of each woman beyond the circumstances of their death. Portraits of life.

GO BANG! Magazine: How has knowing your heritage, which originates in Ghana, affected you as a black Chicagoan?

John W. Fountain: Being aware of my West African heritage grounds me. It reminds me that I am rooted not only in the blood-and sweat-baked soil of the Deep South, where my ancestors tilled the plantations, but also in the royal heritage of the Motherland, where we were kings and queens long before the cruelty of racism and slavery. This forms my paradigm as a writer—the reality of being an inhabitant in the town of Bigger Thomas, but a native son of the land of Kunta Kinte.

GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?

John W. Fountain: Amid this global pandemic, I am doing everything I can to stay safe, following social distancing guidelines, sanitizing grocery packages, basically keeping me and my household safe as best I can from outside contaminants and danger. Mostly, I’m listening to the scientists rather than the government.

YOU CAN FOLLOW JOHN W. FOUNTAIN AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

FB: @authorJohnwfountain; johnwfountain
Twitter: @JohnWFountain
Website: http://www.johnwfountain.com
Sun-Times page: https://chicago.suntimes.com/authors/john-fountain



Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram

Choreographer, producer, impersonator, and author, ERIKA JARVIS studied dance under the direction of Deidre M. Dawson, Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Company and The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Fashion Merchandising from International Academy of Design and Technology.  

As Artistic Director of Creative Soul Entertainment and Unleash Your Inhibitions, Erika and her company has appeared on television shows, music videos and radio.  In addition to performing, Erika is the 2018-2019 recipient of the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago BLACK EXCELLENCE AWARD as “Outstanding Achievement in Film – Best Actress for David Weathersby’s documentary, Thee Debauchery Ball.  Her self-published book, “Unleashed, Seductive Poetry”, is available on Amazon.

GO BANG! Magazine:  What inspires you?

Erika Jarvis:  I’m inspired by love, music, children and experiences. Actually, there isn’t one particular thing that inspires me. Waking up inspires me to inhale and embrace every breath taken and exhale my God-given talent.

GO BANG! Magazine:  What is erotic poetry?

Erika Jarvis:  Erotic poetry is a form of creative expression where written or spoken prose marries sensual phrases. The product is a sexy and seductive piece of art that’ll make any sapiosexual salivate. At least that’s what happens to me. 😉

GO BANG! Magazine:  How would you describe your style of poetry?

Erika Jarvis:  I believe it’s sensual and whimsical. I’m a romantic.

GO BANG! Magazine:  In addition to doing poetry, you’re also a choreographer, educator, writer, producer and model. How do you do it all?

Erika Jarvis:  With faith, perseverance and patience. It stems from a supportive family and an amazing circle of friends. I would not have done all of these exciting things alone without the people in my life.  Never take anything and anyone for granted.

GO BANG! Magazine:  You are also the Artistic Director of Creative Soul Entertainment.  Please describe the company, your role and what the company does.

Erika Jarvis:  A multi-talented company that showcases various artists through movement, music and fashion.

GO BANG! Magazine:  I see that you actively give back to the community. Please describe your community involvement, and why it’s important to you.

Erika Jarvis:  Being a woman, a woman of color, a Black Woman, who happens to be an artist, I have a responsibility to my community.  I don’t speak much on what I do. I find joy and helping others without social media or public announcements. To answer your question, I contribute my efforts to women and children. I’m committed to them.  I was a teen mom who struggled between classes, job and raising a child before graduating high school. The organizations who helped me like Catholic Charities, taught me to give back.

GO BANG! Magazine:  What words of advice can you offer an aspiring artist?

Erika Jarvis:  Be honest.  Be intentional.  Work hard.  Don’t worry what others think, it’s none of your business.

GO BANG! Magazine:  Are you currently doing any poetry gigs?

Erika Jarvis:  During this time of worldwide pandemic, all of my events are on hold.

GO BANG! Magazine:  What does the future hold for you?

Erika Jarvis:  More blessings and lessons. After all, I’m a work-in-progress.

You can follow Erika on ALL social media formats!

 

Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.comNDigo.comChicagoDefender.comEmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the Owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions and the Owner/Publisher of GO BANG! Magazine.  Follow him on Facebook @Pierre Andre Evans, Twitter @Playerre, and on Instagram @Pierre_Andre_Evans.

Blaq Ice is an American poet, international spoken word artist, entertainer, lecturer, promoter, producer, host, published author, mentor and activist. The contributions of this amazing artist to American spoken word poetry, is truly monumental. Not only has he left an imprint in arts and entertainment, but he has also left his footprint in communities all across America with an artist/activist movement, inspiring thousands of ordinary people to use their gifts to do extraordinary work in their communities.

GO BANG! Magazine: What inspires you?

BLAQ ICE: Starting at a very young age, I have had a passion for arts and entertainment. I fell in love with music and the R&B groups of the 70’s and 80’s. I loved the lyrics, the poetry and the way the sound made me feel. Later, as a teenager, I was heavily influenced by Hip Hop. I discovered my own ability to create and write. It’s 30 years later, and I’ve been writing every since. Today, life and real life issues inspire me. I love telling stories of my experiences and my personal journey in life.

GO BANG! Magazine: What is the difference between poetry and spoken word?

BLAQ ICE: Poetry is the literary form of the art and Spoken Word is the performance form of the art. Every Spoken Word artist is a poet, but every poet is not a Spoken Word artist. There are those who read and recite their poetry, then there are those who perform and entertain with their poetry. The performers and entertainers are the Spoken Word artist.

GO BANG! Magazine: How would you describe your style of humor?

BLAQ ICE: As a writer, I pride myself on being versatile and as a performer, I push myself to fit in any genre. This is my personal challenge. I have poems about having a vasectomy. baby mama drama, the side chick, and going to the doctor (in my Kool Moe Dee voice), if you know what I mean. These are issues that everyone can relate to. At the time I was going through these things, it wasn’t funny, but now I can look back and laugh at myself, while creating a beautiful work of art.

GO BANG! Magazine: Before you started spoken word, you were a lyricist in hip hop. How did hip hop prepare you for spoken word?

BLAQ ICE: Hip Hop made me bold and competitive. It taught me how to move a crowd. It was my mentor/manager, Sax Preacher, who at the time, provided several stages for me to perform on as a teenage artist. I still use the skills that he taught me and the experiences from being a Hip Hop artist.

GO BANG! Magazine: There is an entrepreneur in you as well. You have started several businesses over the years. Please describe.

BLAQ ICE: I opened my first business at the age of 21. It was a jewelry store called New Jack Jewelry. Thereafter, I opened record shops, rim shops, beauty salons and clothing stores. I have always had a hustle mentality in everything I had a part in. Once I understood the game, it wasn’t hard for me to be successful in it. Although today the stores are closed, I have several other businesses, from Mentor programs in the Chicago Public Schools, to promoting concerts. I also have over 27 Albums, six books and three DVDs to my credit. These are the products that I am currently selling today.

GO BANG! Magazine: I see that you actively give back to the community. Please describe your community involvement, and why it’s important to you.

BLAQ ICE: I am the President and founder of the P.O.E.T (People Of Extraordinary Talent) organization and the Creator and Co-Founder of the Legends Of Chicago Hip Hop. These 2 movements feed the hungry, clothe the poor, mentor in schools and visit prisons. With great power comes great responsibility. I have been anointed with the gift of words, knowledge to speak life, and a passion to serve. It’s important to me to serve my purpose while I still have breath in my body.

GO BANG! Magazine: What does the future hold for Blaq Ice?

BLAQ ICE: My mission is to build brands. These brands are for the benefit of others. From my radio station P.O.E.T RADIO, to my BREAKTHROUGH program in the schools and prisons, THE NATIONAL SPOKEN WORDS, the THE LEGENDS OF CHICAGO HIP HOP cookout, THE NATIONAL POETRY FEST and the several concerts I put on throughout the year, what God has blessed me to build, it can continue even after I am gone.

GO BANG! Magazine: What words of advice can you offer an aspiring spoken word artist?

BLAQ ICE: Listen to your spirit. Remove your ego and pride. Remember, when you have a gift, it is meant to be given away. Write with your reader in mind. Spit with the listener in mind. Perform with your audience in mind. Market your brand. No one will do it better than you. When it is time to talk money and do business, remove the artist hat off your head.

GO BANG! Magazine: Are you currently doing any gigs?

BLAQ ICE: Currently I am not. I have had 10 events cancelled due to the Coronavirus. However, I am looking forward to getting back on stage.

GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?

BLAQ ICE: I work at a Hospital in Chicago. I just celebrated my 27 year anniversary on March 3, 2020. We have several patients here who are infected by the virus. I pray that God covers me, my family and that he keeps us safe. It is a very serious time in the world today. It has affected all of our lives in every way. I have faith and I am optimistic that just as we have overcome other pandemics, we will overcome this one as well. I encourage everyone to keep the faith. FAITH AND FEAR CANNOT OCCUPY THE SAME SPACE AT THE SAME TIME.

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Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram.