Leaving The Burning Building – The Toughest Piece I Ever Won With

For those who haven’t heard the great news, I just recently won the No Ifs No Butts Tobacco-Free Poetry Slam. Yeah, I imagine it sounds like something straight out of a sitcom, but I guarantee I took it completely seriously.

Seriously enough, that the night before the slam I was close to tears about the thought of even entering. Serious.

Me, performing my piece "Burning Bodies" at the Tobacco-Free Poetry Slam

Me, performing my piece “Burning Bodies” at the Tobacco-Free Poetry Slam

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The Final Stretch

So, for those who didn’t get the memo, my mixtape, “The Exorcism of Port of Spain” is almost done. Now just comes the hardest part – the final touches, making sure that it’s safe to be released.

You might wonder what makes it so hard, given that it’s a Spoken Word EP. In honesty, all I have to do is perform a poem in front a mic and process it. But, to me, it’s more than that. I didn’t choose the first few poems I memorize or have written, but the poems that meant something powerful to me and that I imagine might mean something to those in my life. They are stories of people that I’ve met and tried to be there for, and of things I have experienced when no one tried to be there for me. It’s about the demons that I’ve tried to exorcise from the people that spark my Compassion, and of the demons that are still haunting me. In fact, there are a few sitting on my shoulders as I write these words…

Me in the studio getting some work done.

Me in the studio getting some work done.

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An Exorcism

So, for those who wanted more info, or simply didn’t know, I am embarking on a Spoken Word LP project this year, and if all goes well and I finish my stuff on schedule, the whole thing will be ready for human consumption by the middle of the year.

I’ve always wanted to have some of my work recorded and ready for human consumption. It means, to me, that my work kinda supersedes myself, and doesn’t require my presence anymore for someone to gather my meaning and experience.

But the reason why this project is important to me is because it’s not just a collection of random works from me. It represents an experience I’ve had and a much bigger thing that it translates to for me. The LP is going to be called ‘The Exorcism of Port of Spain’. It’s the capital of my homeland of Trinidad & Tobago, and also where I highlight that all our problems stem from. It’s where our greed grows. It’s the place that has crafted all our own stories of inadequacy. It’s the place that takes our mothers and fathers away from their homes. And there are so many stories connected to that almost accidentally – so many stories of the Trinbagonian and the ills that affect them – that I had to try to tell them all together. And exorcise those demons that we live with…

Look out for more news of what’s happening.

Time to Invest

Me, in Trizzykidd's studio working on my first track on an upcoming mixtape...

Me, in Trizzykidd’s studio working on my first track on an upcoming mixtape…

The tough thing about being an artist (especially with poetry in my opinion) is that putting your money where your mouth is always turns out to be a very thoughtful and drawn-out affair. After all, the chances of getting the returns you were looking for is so slim that you might as well not bother and save up for a much more sure thing. Some folks take the safer, low-threshold route, like recording their own pieces or doing small paid events. But when it comes to putting your neck out and taking your own hard-earned resources to make something that will last for you, people get a lot more skeptical…

This new year, I’me going to take money out of my pocket to record a Spoken Word LP. It’s something that’s crossed my mind before, in the form of an amateur mixtape project called “Soundtrack Of No Great Success/Surrender” (that I’m still slowly doing), This time, though, I’ve decided that if I want something good and lasting that I can use to market and refer to myself, I need to be willing to reach out and invest in it.

A lot of artists, here and possibly all over the world, are always too worried to invest in their talent because they think they’re not as good as the others or will never get that lucky break or simply don’t have a real chance at making a living doing the thing that they Love. Trust me, it’s nonsense. Worst case scenario, you have something that exists with your name on it, as a testament that you have a talent that you’re trying to hone and be recognized for. Even if it’s not a Top 10 Best Seller, you tried and you have one thing more to show for it than the average guy. You can hate on Rebecca Black as much as you want about her singing and songwriting…but do you have a YouTube video with thousands of views? Thought so…

So I’m about to create. This is just one of many projects that I’m taking this new age to invest in. Send me Blessings.

The Hardest Performance I’ve Ever Done

So I’ve acted for Secondary Schools Drama Festival. I’ve co-directed a play all the way to Naparima Bowl. I’ve performed in front of strangers, at schools, in auditions, and even at Queen’s Hall. Who would’ve thought that my hardest performance was one that, for the most part, I didn’t even intend to do.

Me on stage at LiveArt Bistro’s Open Mic on August 18th.
(Photo courtesy Oneka Morris)

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The Opener

So, on July 14th I performed yet again for the LiveArt Bistro’s monthly open mic event. This time I was listed as one of the night’s featured performers, and opened the show with two pieces on ‘Cultural Emancipation’.

It’s tough as hell to open a show. The crowd’s cold, and you have to warm them up for the other performers. You’re not going to get the kind of applause that you really want, unless you’re truly on fire in that first three minutes. I’m still a very young performer, and my pieces are definitely not the lightest and most entertaining. They’re actually a lot more on the somber side. So for me, the average audience is either in thoughtful gaze or disgusted grimace. That feels different when you’re the very first performer.

Nevertheless, I heard it went pretty well. So here they are, for those who missed it.

PS: That actually is my favorite t-shirt. And someone really did comment on my tumblr blog saying that I sound gay. I was gonna write a poem for that guy. But I thought he probably didn’t deserve it.

Applause for Brace Fetishes

Brendon at Live Art

Yours truly, Brendon O’Brien, performing ‘Brace Fetish’ at LiveArt Bistro’s open mic night.

On Saturday night, I performed at an open mic night at the LiveArt Bistro neat the National Academy for the Performing Arts. I came dreadfully late, to a completely packed crowd, and at first had decided that I didn’t want anything to do with an open mic that I naturally didn’t prepare for. Continue reading