Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Jessica Care Moore: Michael Vick's Homegirl

During my nightly cruise of facebook status updates, I happened upon a new development on the page of poet, publisher, theatre artist, and renaissance woman Jessica Care Moore.

from Jess' page:

American Villian

When I met Mike Vick we were both checking into a Delta flight in Atlanta. It was about 7am, and I was in a rush. He was on crutches and had people bringing his boxes of shoes out of a car. We both had cornrolls. I didn't recognize him. I'm more of basketball fan, but I liked Mike Vick

When he was the Quarterback for the Falcons. He reminded me of the way Barry Sanders ran with the Lions. He was standing around and I jumped in front of him and asked the Delta rep to check me in, as I had a flight I needed to catch. He looked at me puzzled, but I think he liked the way I didn't know him at that moment. I never imagined the world knowing him for something other than the game of football.

This is for him.

one of janet jackson's tits
stopped america
from the luxury of their
pork and beer and family hour
of football on primetime television.

a quick glimpse of this natural dark phenomenon
shook the fat white beer bellies and right wing
like a juicy piece of bbq
dripping like blood
covering the carpets of america's
brutal living/dead room that powers it's
brains with their tv god

teaching us that a woman's body is not sacred.
one brown breast exposed for two seconds
is a sin in this home of
puritans and pilgrims

while we are forced to watch and smell them
bloated, pierced, hairy, funky
beer bellies of men who have five tits
to our two
sweating profusely as they scream at their favorite
football team
shoving cheetos down their throats

acting as if their children really give a damn who wins.

football is an outside sport.

when's the last time any of you went outside and threw the pig skin?

played under the sun and the stars?
it is a violent game that paralyzes.
excites the gladiator in us.

all this superbowl attention to a single
black quarter back and the fighting of pit bulls

but what about the abused wives of players?

what is the fine for beating your wife
after a bad loss?

are we ready to ruuuumble?

young man. rumble.

they rape women they rape dogs.

we live in a country that used to muzzle african women
and rape them like wild animals
fight enslaved shackled african men
gladiator style

and mike vick is the villain?

let's be clear. i'm an animal lover. i cried when
i had to leave my dog crystal behind when my mom
left my daddy. he was a mut and crazy as hell. nobody
would ever wanna fight crystal. he was part poodle and dug up
the damn yard like a hound dog. but around the block we knew
some fools who fought the pits and we weren't allowed to go. it
was a part of the culture of the neighborhood.

dog fighting
chicken fighting
slaves fighting

violent contact sports


american as apple pie.

you can lose
your legs. your game. your teeth. your life.
your legs. your game. your teeth. your life.

your career.

especially if you are a talented
fast quarter back



in the NFL.

Check out the video here. The section on Vick starts at 3:00.

I first met Jessica in 2001 while she was collecting cover charges at Atlanta's now defunct MoorEpics Cafe. At the time, I was still brand new to the idea of being black and poetic and I was devouring any media or material on modern performance poetry I could find, including one very important and awe-inspiring documentary called SlamNation.

The movie follows the journey of a number of performance poetry teams from across the nation as they converge on the National Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon. I remember becoming particularly impressed with the energy and movement in the team from New York, which included Saul Williams, muMs the Schemer, Beau Sia, and Jessica Care Moore. They were a powerhouse!

So as Jess and I continue our conversation, it slowly dawns on me who's sitting across the table. I began to feel that feeling one gets when s/he meets a hero, and I was floored that a small town cat like me had stumbled and bumbled myself into a conversation with Jessica Care Moore. I hardly knew what to say! But she was very kind to me and made me feel comfortable, inviting me into her space. I instantly fell in love with MoorEpics, spending more time than I probably should have hanging out in what was Atlanta's best poetry spot.

Eventually, I found myself interning for Jessica's independently owned publishing house, Moore Black Press. I felt honored. All the time I spent mailing press kits and book orders, depositing checks, making phone calls, cleaning and Cleaning and CLEANING the office(!) made me feel like a foot soldier of a movement. It wasn't glamorous and most of the time I had no idea what I was doing, but Jess appreciated me and welcomed me into her life as a friend and fellow artist. Some of the best memories of my time in Atlanta were a direct result of my friendship with her and I feel incredibly grateful to have her energy in my life.

So allow me this moment to give you a PARTIAL list of Ms. Moore's extraordinary accomplishments:

- founder and CEO of Moore Black Press: publisher of notable poets such as Saul Williams, Asha Bandele, Ras Baraka, Shariff Simmons and artists Danny Simmons and Marcia Jones
- Five time winner of Amateur Night at the Apollo, an unsurpassed accomplishment
- publication of three collections of poetry; The Words Don't Fit in My Mouth, The Alphabet verses the Ghetto, and God is Not an American
- recognized by thegrio.com as one of the "100 History Makers in the Making"
- development and performance of three solo performances; There Are No Asylums for Real Crazy Women, Alphaphobia, and God is Not an American
- multiple appearances of Russel Simmons' Def Poetry
- performance and collaboration with countless poets, musicians, and all-around dope people including Mos Def, Sonia Sanchez, The Last Poets, Nas, Talib Kweli, and Gregory Hines

If you ever have the opportunity to see and hear Jess perform, please do not pass it by. She writes, speaks, and performs with an intoxicating combination of frustration and jubliation. Her voice moves like a pissed-off soul singer, with an aggressive hint of rasp and a sexiness slightly off-pitch.

She bad, homie. She bad.


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