Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Practivist of the Week - Adam Wedd

Adam Wedd

How old are you, if you don’t mind?

I'm 28 . but what's age in the context of eternity :P?

What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest?

2 things. To enable every person to shine like stars in their communities and to write songs that articulate the spiritual emotional journeys of people - and to have as much fun as possible along the way! We run music workshops and open mic nights at a drop in café that's open 5 nights a week in the basement of a theatre. The vision is for every young person to explore their voice, have it heard, understood and affirmed! We also run a youth magazine which is going to have 8000 physical copies printed next year reaching the schools of west Kent. We also record young artists for free and have just had a young persons song we recorded at the café played on BBC Kent radio, which is nice!

What route did you take to get here?

I've always walked the line between being a youth worker and song-writing tea drinking performing extrovert. I fell into youth work as a result of older wiser people pouring their wisdom and time into me and song-writing has been a way I've connected with the world on a daily basis since age 12. Though I don't feel like I've arrived anywhere, on a very long adventure! I started working for the YMCA London South West running a range of youth work projects, namely Music Room which is still going and is a space for young people to come and learn an instrument for free and to be able to explore performing, recording and other aspects of the art and craft.

You can check out the youth café here

Editor's Note:  Adam has an amazing gig coming up on November 29th in London - it's a huge collaboration - check it out!

Practivism = Proactive, pragmatic, promotable activism.  

Are you a practivist?  Do you turn your talents and energy into helping community, sustainability, youth, equality?  Do you know a practivist?  If so, the Zestyverse wants to feature you - send a message!  

Monday, 25 November 2013

Quote of the Week - Dancoff's Law

"The greatest growth occurs when the greatest number of mistakes are made consistent with survival."
~ Dancoff's Law
I was fortunate enough to attend a writing workshop of Judith Dancoff's recently.  It was at that workshop that this pearl was given to us.  Its shell is just as fascinating - Sidney Dancoff was a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project.  Something which created perhaps the most elegantly terrifying mistake humanity has ever produced. 

Just as an accord is being reached with Iran, and with childhood nuclear fears pushed back, I wonder - is this greatest mistake, the ability to eradicate ourselves horribly, is it also a triumph?  Did we not learn a tremendous amount - not only about how the universe works and is in motion - but also about our own limits as a species and as emotional beings?  Pushed to the brink of accidental self-destruction, have we not collectively used the fear of this to get better and to value life more?

The concatenation of growth and mistakes feels perilous sometimes. No creation occurs without mistakes, and it seems we cannot evolve in anything without little and big failures.  The happy accidents go hand in hand with the treacherous ones.  It's the last part that's scary:  "consistent with survival."  

It doesn't seem like a coincidence that Catching Fire is earning buckets of money this weekend.  It's about survival, the female as warrior, and adaptation.  Like all of us, Katniss didn't choose when and where to be born (unless you believe we do that at some secret meeting before birth).  She showed up in a time and place and had conditions foisted upon her like everyone else.  She just rises to life's occasions, no matter how painful.

Looking back, are there choices you thought of as huge mistakes, which have amounted to great growth in your life?  Take that as today's writing prompt.

(The above quote is a non-mathematical expression of  the work Dancoff  did in collaboration with Henry Quastler.)

p.s. You can still get in on the Kindle Countdown promo for Swimming Through Amber!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Giving Thanks! Kindle Countdown Promotion!

Amidst the ever-swirling controversy surrounding Thanksgiving, one thing we seem to all agree on is that it's great to focus on gratitude.  In that spirit, I've done a Kindle Countdown promotion for my first collection of poetry Swimming Through Amber.

From November 21st (today!) to November 28th (That Holiday!) you can get my book for a reduced price.  It will start at 99 cents and gradually go up until it reaches it's list price of $4.99.  So the earlier, the better!  Click and get yours!


like a snowflake 
I taste you on my tongue 
microcosmic refreshment 
pure fleeting symmetry   
gravity’s gift 
falling into my open 
like I am 
meteorology’s mistress   

like a snowflake 
you melt whole 
inside the warmth 
of my kiss.

E. Amato
Swimming Through Amber,  Zesty Publications

You can also pick up my Kindle only book 5:  Poems and Images from Morocco for the always low price of $1.99 -- or FREE if you're an Amazon Prime member!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday wherever you are and whatever you do!  Thanks for all the support you give to art and artists.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Girl Poet Standing

(From a writing prompt from Judith Dancoff.  Unedited.)

The girl poet was stationed carefully between the young coconuts and the Himalayan sea salt section.  This is the biggest Whole Foods in the world and it is a Sunday afternoon and she has staked out her spot.  She has her mic set up and a stand and is expressively boho.  Not too boho, just boho enough.  She is hippie with a dash of hipster and a shake of Pilates.  She is ready to speak.  She approaches the microphone as a lover, embraces the 80’s soundtrack that floats over frozen food cases and wafts comfort to the 40 and 50-something shoppers.  She is not barefoot.  That would be too much.  Nor is she wearing Tom’s shoes.  Though she thinks that might make it all more profitable.

“Poems for sale!  Poems for sale!  Raw organic local poems for sale! “

She has taken stage.  The audience is confused, but this cannot daunt a girl poet.  Poetry audiences are often confused.  She has performed in every imaginable place, she has performed in pubs where people are ten pints into tomorrow’s hangover.  She has performed in prisons and public schools in town squares and even at the Phillipino Festival in San Pedro – even though she is not a Phillipina.  But she’s honorary and makes a mean vegetarian chicken adobo.

“Cliches for sale!  Get your fresh clichés right here!”

She chants to the shoppers pushing their carts – ancestors to the walkers they will all soon have to have.

This well-dressed crowd. This body articulated gluten free range crowd.  They don’t want the poetry.  e.e. cummings is not who they reach for at 3a.m.  On insomniac nights, and there are many, they reach for remotes and streaming video.  Now they stroll through aisles as familiar as freeways and collect the masses of things that become trash and compost when they neglect to remember they have purchased them, as they take for granted the abundance that flows so freely here, yet is so heavily metered and taxed elsewhere.

“Feel good words here!  Feel better fast now today!  Get your spirit in line with your body!  Be here now!”

She is loud and in her own heart rhythm.  She is calling them with the words they know, the ones Oprah taught them – she is doing it and she is wondering will they find her.  Her job is to listen.  Not watch – listen.  She listens to them and amidst all the noise of 90’s hip hop and arguing couples and children wanting chocolate and moms wanting a little personal time, she listens to see if they are hearing her.

“Free poetry samples!  Free poetry samples!”

Moments like these, she wishes she could sing.  Wishes she had a sweet dove in her throat who would fly lightly around the heads of these people and give them the succor they most need.  She has preached to the converted – they all have.  This is what poets do while they’re alive – preach to the converted.  A few get lucky and die and then get found.  She wonders if Rumi knows how famous he is now.

Wondering about Rumi is not listening – so she takes her attention back.  She always wonders who will stop first – who will stop what they are doing and stand before her and just stay there while she speaks.  Once, it was a little girl.  Six years old.  Brownish-blonde wavy hair, holding a stuffed lion, and transfixed by her.  She didn’t know if the little girl was understanding the words, but the movement of her hands, like an Indian dancer, the soft sway of her hips, the sound of her voice – that was compelling.  She wanted to write a poem of the little girl’s life right there right then for her to have and take forward on her journey.  She wanted to give the girl a new kind of storybook to read before bedtime.  Mostly, she wanted no trouble for this girl, but for her to go through her life following the same tiny force that kept her standing in front of the poet at the microphone.  Danny Peck once said, “The only songs I want to sing tonight are the ones I haven’t written yet, “ and in that moment, she felt that – wish she could freestyle a lifeline long and adventurous and safe for the little girl.  Lately, Theresa Davis had said to her, “Don’t expect life to bubble wrap itself for you.”  This is what she feared for the little girl. That she’s become a shopper like these.  In that moment, eyes connected and a little speechless, an agitated hand grabbed the little girl and pulled her away with a “where have you been, I’ve been down every aisle looking for you.”  She sent the girl away with a prayer for a beautiful life and returned to the mic.

As she caught herself in that reverie, she suddenly realized what had happened.  In front of her, carts like armor before them, were 12 or so shoppers – mostly female, mostly 40’s, intently bent on her.  As she came back to herself, she realized in full flower, she had just written that song she had wanted to sing – she just opened her throat chakra she just told that story; she just freestyled a lifeline.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Quote of the Week - Holden

"I will not be commanded,

I will not be controlled

And I will not let my future go on,

without the help of my soul"
~ Greg Holden

Totally catching up on Sons of Anarchy - way late.  Just watched the season 5 episode 4 (no spoilers) which ends with this song.  The refrain just grabbed me.  This show kills me.

The Lost Boy
Greg Holden

I left my home still as a child
I walked a thousand soary miles
To wait for my father, to gather up his truth

He said my boy you've got to run
Don't wait for me, don't wait for mum
We'll come get you, when it's safe for us to move

So I waited many years,
held back the pain behind my tears
For my father, to come find me like he said

And in that time I was alone,
so many years without my home
I made brothers of a different kind instead

[Instrumental break]

And in the time I didn't know,
just how hard the wind could blow
Towards disaster, and the things that I would see

I never found my father,
I never found my mother
Even would I know in my lifetime I will be

A hero into the masses,
to those born without chances
There's a freedom that everyone deserves

I know there's greed and there's corruption
I've seen death and mass destruction
But I'm telling you, and I hope that I'm heard

And I will not be commanded,
And I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on,
without the help of my soul

And I will not be commanded,
And I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on,
without the help of my soul

And I will not be commanded,
And I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on,
without the help of my soul

I will not be commanded,
I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on,
without the help of my soul

So glad Charlie Hunnam backed out of doing 50 Shades.  That would've been an unfortunate move.  Jax never woulda done it!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Quote of the Week - Poots

“Why is it important? Why is it important that 2,000 people will hear Martha Argerich play Shostakovich’s piano concertos pretty much better than anyone on the piano? Because that’s all that matters! That’s when you get taken to heaven – or hell – but you get taken somewhere amazing. You get to a point in your life where you realize the rest of it doesn’t matter, money and all the rest of it, what matters are your family and your friends, and those moments in your life when the arts have transported you or illuminated something inside you or touched you profoundly. That’s what we work for, what makes the two-year journey and all the grief worth it.” 
~ Alex Poots

My friend David told me about Intelligent Life magazine - it's awesome AND you can get it in digital form free!   This article was really inspiring to me.  It's easy to forget why we do what we do.  This was a clear and elegant reminder.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

On Being Excited the French Way by Kami L. Rice

On Being Excited the French Way
by Kami L. Rice

Yesterday, I tried for the hundredth time to use French to share my enthusiasm about some excitement or other. I have been informally polling the French for the past year, asking how to communicate this sentiment in their lovely language. I’d been told by at least one person that you can get away with saying, “Je suis excitée...” “I am excited ...” if you complete the phrase with a description of what you’re excited about—otherwise, you’re basically saying you’re feeling horny, which apparently is something the French know how to communicate.

But as “je suis excitée” escaped my mouth, my French friend wrinkled her nose across the sunny café table and noted that that’s not really the way to say it.

Yet, she couldn’t offer a better option.

“I guess the French don’t feel this kind of excitement very often,” I noted. And she nodded.

(But maybe she’s wrong. This guy is apparently super excited about something.)

Since taking up residence in the south of France last September, I have been trying to get to the bottom of this translation mystery. I have still not succeeded, as my friend’s wrinkled nose told me. I never realized how often I’m excited about things until I began trying to convey that excitement in French. And failing.

I have asked handfuls of French professors and English-speaking French friends which expression I should use to describe that forward-looking moment I’m viewing with enthusiasm and positive expectations.

My question stumps them every time.

They pause. Sometimes, for quite a while. Eventually, they try to deduce an answer, but none of them have been satisfied with their own suggestion, nor has there been consensus among them. Some of my interviewees are French friends who speak very good English. They are people who completely understand in English the sentiment I am trying so hard to communicate. Yet, still they come up empty.

This particular translation roadblock has confronted me with just how unshakably American I am, even though I like to pretend otherwise, feeling all smug when someone guesses I’m Australian or English before they correctly guess my nationality. Or smiling inside when I’m told, “You’re pretty cool for an American.”

I confess to feeling a bit of disappointment recently when a new Russian acquaintance immediately pegged me as American. But then she noted that we are all wide-eyed and welcoming. That’s what gave me away. Like every other segment of the world’s citizens, we have our faults and foibles, but we’re all right, we Americans. I’m not unhappy hailing from our side of the pond, I just long to see the world through lenses that aren’t only made in the USA.

My lingual challenge has fascinated me as it reveals the way language gives clues to culture. The regularity with which we Americans exclaim, “I’m so excited... ”, hints at the forward-looking American Dream optimism many of us ate along with our first solid foods. We didn’t check any menus to see if there were other selections available. Whereas a hearty portion of French babies seem to have been accessorizing their first baby bites with more rearview-looking traditions that see life as a bit less changeable and as containing fewer options down the road.

While my American dream is to one day be one of those world citizens who wield more than one passport, the exuberance I’ve felt over life in France has made me realize that being wired to feel and communicate excitement is one part of my American-ness I hope I never shed.

Learning a new language and simultaneously learning that not everyone in the world gets so excited about things has turned out to be a gift, one that reminds me where I come from. In stepping away from America physically, I get to better see some of its particular beauties. Who knew France and its lyrical language would manage to give me such a lovely cadeau.

Photos by Kami L. Rice

After 10 years in Nashville, freelance writer and editor Kami Rice relocated to southern France in 2012. Kami’s eclectic career has included road managing for independent musicians, advising university students, working on Capitol Hill, and pulling lots of espresso shots. She now aims to cover international stories with more nuance and less caricaturizing than mainstream media usually does. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Wanna be a guest blogger?  Get in touch!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Quote of the Week - Didion

"You have to pick the places you don't walk away from."

Art by Rob Ryan.  Quote via Andrea Gibson.

So glad to be able to post again!  Boo on Google for making it impossible to post while I was away.  Time to switch to Wordpress?