Remembering Michael Brown – A Poem by Christopher D. Sims

Four and a half hours your body laid there
flat on hot summer concrete untouched, unmoved,
not cared for. Your people in  Ferguson started
crying and fighting back, fighting back and crying.

Dying harshly seems to be young Black men’s plight.

Death knows our name all too well. It’s either death
or jail and prison cells.

Your tragic story is all too commonplace in the thick of
the hate and inequality of the United States.

We are remembering you Michael. We are remembering
the lies, the pain, the struggle, the voices that followed
in those Ferguson streets. We have yet to find justice and
peace.

It’s been a year but it feels like yesterday that your death
sparked an uprising; a resistance; a movement; movement
building. Black Lives Matter is not yielding!

I’ve remembered you in marches since then in St. Louis,
New York,  Illinois, and New Jersey. Marching with the
masses in what is a state of emergency.

We breathe the horrible air of American injustice that you
won’t ever again. We are fighting, igniting, engaging, and
conversing about race. We are taking over space after space
to be heard.

And the name Mike Brown sits proudly our tongues as we
fight and fight until we have won. Until we have won.

I am remembering you lost soldier who died with your hands
up in submission. Because of what happened to you, we are
making sure the world listens.

Copyright Christopher D. Sims
August 10th, 2015

michael-brown

The Art of Performance Poetry with A Lively Writer’s Group

Performing spoken word poetry.

Performing spoken word poetry.

Yesterday morning, after an early and fairly quiet drive to Winnetka, Illinois, I went to the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop to be featured with a discussion focused on my ” The Seven Elements of Performance Poetry.” The group was very lively, and interested in what I had to share and to say about my techniques as a seasoned spoken word poet.

I put together a defined workshop that spoke to each element – available as a Word document if you’re interested in viewing it. I was concerned about not having enough material to carry me through, but that quickly vanished when the lively group of seasoned writers and literary enthusiasts began asking me questions about my knowledge of performance poetry and/or Slam poetry.

The questions carried us through most of the first half of our electric conversation. I am glad that I have been performing as long as I have, and was prepared with a memory of what it takes to be a performance poet. The questions they asked kept me on my toes!

I learned of the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop through a local poet’s husband during a conversation we had at an event where his visual art was on display, and where her and my poetry was featured in a live reading in downtown Rockford. I remembered the name of the group and went home and found their website. I reached out to them expressing my interest in being a presenter. I shared what I could present and it was accepted.

The Seven Elements of Performance Poetry is my go to workshop for highlighting my tactics as a spoken word poet on stage. It consists of pieces of knowledge and information that I feel will help any poet seeking to become a performance poet – which, as I explained to the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop group, is taking written poetry to the stage.

The group consisted mostly of women who listened intensely and made sure they asked the right questions. Performance poetry is not simple, and I believe only the brave poets want to take their writing to the level of performing and reciting it.

I have been performing since the late 90s as a spoken word artist. My early start was in Memphis, TN at the former Sidewalk University in midtown Memphis. I remember that first experience like it was yesterday. Going to an open mike to share my poetry live was something I had never done. It was a new genre for me. Although I had performed as a budding rapper at my elementary school in the mid 80s, there was something different about reciting poetry to a group of people I didn’t know. Later on, after learning about the weekly open mike at the former Precious Cargo in downtown Memphis, I become hooked and haven’t looked back since.

Years later, here I am in Winnetka, Illinois at the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop sharing what I have learned all of these years. I have come full circle as a spoken word poet. I am glad I had the opportunity to showcase that there with that lively and kindred group of writers and literary enthusiasts!

I hope to get back there some time, even if it is just to listen to them and learn about what they are doing with their writing. Happy National Poetry Month! May the muse be with you!

Serious Fun – My Newly Released Music Project

Serious Fun is my first ever studio release, outside of 2012’s Ladder to the Sun album The Naturals. Teaming up with Phillip Ryan Block and Independent Ear, Inc. we bring you a project that has a variety of lyrics, thoughts, and concepts.

It’s great to be releasing a new project, especially in the new year! I know that I can speak for other artists who have labored putting together what they hope to be a project that will take their career to the next level, and feed the fans that help keep them going. Completing a new project and anticipating its release is quite the feeling, and something to look forward to as an artist.

I wanted this project to be different. It feels and looks different than my previous projects and compilations. The title serious FUN comes from the idea that there’s a time to be serious and there’s a time to have fun. A balance in life I think we all strive for. Myself, I can often be the serious type. I’m analytic, and a “deep” thinker. With that said, tracks like The Detroit Water Shutoff Crisis, Brown At The Borders, and Ballad For Black Boys And Black Men capture me being analytic and delving into the kind of words and thoughts that brings these things to light. Those of you who know me for my activism will appreciate these songs. They represent the signs of the times, and where we are in this country when it comes to race relations, immigration, and local people fighting for water rights and the like.

The fun side of this album is mostly me flexing my lyrical capabilities and talents. 30 Bars of Lyrical Fun is a tongue-twisting song that finds me rapping at a very fast paced over a track that pushes those energetic words. It was tough, yet fun, completing that track. That’s the fastest I’ve ever rapped in a song!

I reached back into my archives and added two songs – I Am A Poet and Incredible – to show some diversity in my ability as a poet and a lyricist. Those two songs come from an earlier project that I worked on with an old friend, and someone who is sharp at creating the right beats for the right rhymes. I hope you rock out to I Am A Poet and bob your heard to Incredible. They are lyrical and poetic songs I am happy to have a part of this project.

The Sungod Story is a recording that allowed me to remember my times with my crew The Sungods who I met back in college in Mississippi in the early to mid 90s. We represented the culture of hip-hop daily with our thoughts, actions, conversations, and the clothes we were. We became friends, and much like family. The song is an autobiography of those times mentioning some of the names of the people that I still respect and love as brothers this very day. I hope it serves our experiences and our love for the culture of hip-hop well.

Enjoy the album! I had serious fun putting it together and I am glad that Independent Ear, Inc. and I teamed up for it!

Buy the album at these digital music outlets:
iTunes:  http://goo.gl/hfy837
Amazon: http://goo.gl/hkEICh
Google Play:  http://goo.gl/ZRvNzB

Social Justice and Creativity: My New Studio Project

I am returning to the music scene with a new album entitled “serious FUN.” There’s a time to be serious and there’s a time to have fun is the album’s concept and meaning. This new project finds me digging back into my roots as a lyrical rapper and leaning on my talent as a spoken word poet. I have teamed up with Independent Ear, Inc. to make this new album a reality.

The new project focuses on social justice issues, such as the water rights fight that took place in Detroit, MI this year. I also focus on the situation of black men in the United States with poetry that is gripping and moving. As a creative person, and someone who focuses on human rights issues, it was a must that I used the platform to talk about the reality of black life here in the United States on my new album.

I wanted this new project to have that feel. I wanted it to have a balance with seriousness and having some fun at the same time. I hope that I have accomplished that with this new project!

I enjoyed getting back to creative wordplay – challenging myself with a fast rapping style that some will be surprised by when they hear the album.

The album contains a lot of great production, such as the lead single we just released with Chicago producer 6th Trumpet. I chose us to start off with his VERY funky mix of what I call “Poetry’s Revolution.” I could not have picked a better producer to work with on such a track that contains a social justice message for many of the issues we are facing here, and beyond. You can listen to the track, and buy it here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/poetrys-revolution-6th-trumpet/id944478036?i=944478101.

The balance of the project works well highlighting what I have done and accomplished over the years as an emcee, poet, and spoken word performer. I believe it will give my listeners and fans something to hold on to for a while until I devise the next project with Independent Ear, Inc.

With this project I will be seeking to continue to educate through my spoken word and show people that I am not limited as an artist, and that we should use all of the gifts and talents we’ve been blessed with.

Have some serious fun with my album which will be released on January 20th, 2015!

Follow this link to keep up with the release of “serious FUN”: http://www.independentear.com/artists/christopher-d-sims/

Thank you for your support!

Peace, love, and blessings in 2015 and beyond.