Where does the good go

She’s the poet

Angela is on vacation without a computer, but it’s her birthday, so I shall continue poetry Wednesday in her honor! Happy Birthday, Angela!
Of course, since she will never see this post, I can make it as long and as about me as I want. Grin.
Happy Birthday, Angela!
I went to a show in Manhattan on Monday. It was called “She’s the poet, he’s the comedian,” featuring Bassey Ikpi and Elon James. She’s a poet and he’s a…you get the idea. I “know” both of them through twitter.
They twitter hard.
As Elon, or @elonjames as he is in my head, always says “twitter ain’t a game, son.” I think of Bassey, aka @basseyworld, as the talk show I watch since I can’t catch Oprah anymore. For realz. “Stop texting and drive,” my mother complains from the passenger seat. “I’m not texting. I’m reading Bassey!”
She is awesomely funny and I have shamelessly stolen many of her signature twitter moves. My current favorite is “drops mic and moonwalks off” after making an irrefutably true statement. For example: Zac Efron is hands down better looking than Chase Crawford. End of story. Drops mic, moonwalks off. #truestory.
But she does it way better than me.
I also enjoy the Elon show. There was a week in June where all of my tweets were retweets of @elonjames and I declared him my new comedic obsession. But then I got pissed off cause really I’m sure he’s stealing all the thoughts out of my head and writing them down before I can. And that just ain’t cool. Why won’t @elonjames let @realdawnsummers be great? (Also stolen from @basseyworld.) Okay, that’s the last of the twitterspeak, I promise.
So when Elon said he and Bassey were doing a show together, I had to go. I got there early because I assumed a sell out crowd to see these twitter giants. I got there in the middle of a “poetry slam,” of up and coming poets.
Uh oh.
I don’t really do poetry readings. Nahwahahmean? I got a drink. The first poet I heard was pretty typical of why I don’t do poetry readings. The poem was titled something like “unsent letter to my lover.” The first line was “This is my unsent letter to my lover.” Dude. Are you serial? Do you know that we can see you? And hear you? This is not something happening in your head.
But the next guy was AWESOME. He did this whole poem from the vantage point of a serial killer, sociopathic criminal. It was so sick, off the hook. Like a good Taratino movie in verse. From there it was pretty hit or miss. But, thankfully, mostly hit. These people were good and kept me engaged, which for someone trained to read and think in soundbites, was an impressive feat. A woman that I went to junior high school with and found again on twitter (through Bassey’s twitterfeed) read my tweets from the slam and decided to meet up with me. She is black though, so she would be late. (She arrived a few minutes after Bassey left the stage, so I spent the next hour telling Imani that she totally missed out because Bassey was amazing. After the show, we went over to say hi to Bassey and I told her that I’d been rubbing it in Imani’s face that she missed it and without missing a beat, Bassey was like “did you like the backflip at the end there with the flaming baton? Hilarious, thy name is Bassey.)
After the poetry slam portion of the evening was over, Bassey took the stage to perform. I don’t know what I was expecting, but she opened with this great, funny poem about childhood:
(I found this performance on youtube: )
And then she said that Bar 13 was where she got her start in New York ten years ago, way back when she was 12 and had to use a fake ID to get in. The fake ID that said she was 23! (Ha! I totally had that same fake ID ten years ago that said I was 24, so they could let me take the Bar exam, even though I was like 18.)
From there she performed a poem called something like To the papparazzi from Britney Spears, which kicked so much ass. First off, how much do I love that she channels Britney in her poetry? But it was sad and honest and reminded me of that South Park episode where they hound Britney until they kill her and then set their sights on Miley.
Without the crappy animation.
But it was the next poem, I can’t remember the name of it, about the time she saw a woman in the grocery store that just *looked* like she needed a hug. So Bassey follows her through the supermarket, just in case. The poem is the imaginary conversation she has with this woman, starting with the assurance that she is not a Jehovah’s witness, Bassey then recommends Captain Crunch over the high fiber, low sugar cereal options that the lady is struggling with. I’m exactly the same way when I see someone who just looks on the verge of a breakdown. I mean, I don’t want to hug them (shudder) but I follow them, I want to get in their heads. I want to know why. I want to tell them “don’t worry, they’ll get theirs!” I wish I could find a copy of the poem online because it would definitely be my poem of the day…well, actually…
Bassey then read a poem that she wrote to herself from the vantage point of her three year old son. Wow. Dyam.
The backstory was that the baby had a fever and as she sat up with him keeping an eye on the fever, thinking about how she didn’t have any health insurance and how fucked they might be if she had to take him to the hospital, she starts to wonder if she should have waited to have him until she was more financially stable, if she should have chosen a better father for the boy, etc.
The poem is the imaginary tongue lashing the kid gives her as he takes her doubts “personally.” I won’t even attempt to retell any of it because I would royally screw it up. Bassey has such a facility for word play and interplay. So beautiful. It would definitely be my poetry Wednesday choice, if I could find a copy online.(My youtube searching uncovered a poem she wrote *to* her son before she was even pregnant, then performed when she was pregnant AND she actually had a son! Crazy! )
But just in case you, like me, can’t play videos at work, today’s Wednesday poetry choice is in the mother/child vein. It’s a classic Langston Hughes poem and I have LOVED it for a long time:

Mother to Son

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

4 Responses to “She’s the poet”

  1. Pdov Says:

    I remember loving the Langston Hughes poem back in the 7th grade, a memories.

    Anyhoo, Bassey is pretty awesome. I liked her stage presence. You have to take me to one of these when I finally exist for realz.

  2. Dawn Summers Says:

    I will! I don’t know when she will be performing again…she lives in D.C. But I’m glad you liked it too. I was worried that I might just be starstruck because I love her twitter stuff.

  3. Tae Says:

    I work with this woman. You might like her blog:

  4. Clareified » Blog Archive » He’s the comedian Says:

    […] humor that I love his microblog for. Three things about Elon that you should know, besides his mad tweet skillz: 1) He loves brunch, like brunches all day, everyday for months at a time. 2) Has been called by […]

Leave a Reply