Category Archives: Local Poets–Norfolk

Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA Youth Poet Laureate

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Raven Bland, outside library at ODU. Photo by Bruce Ebert, (Picasa)

Somehow I did not realize until last week that Norfolk, VA has a Youth Poet Laureate.  I found this happy news where I find quite a bit of my media updates–on a friend’s Facebook page.

The Poetry Society of America‘s website states:

The National Youth Poet Laureate initiative (YPL) is a program of Urban Word, an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization, that strives to elevate the voices of teens while promoting civic engagement and social justice.

Raven Bland an alumnus of Teens With a Purpose–The Youth Movement, is the inaugural youth poet laureate for Norfolk and the first in Virginia.  Other cities with laureates include New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Houston and Nashville.

A graduate of Granby High School, she’s currently a history major at Old Dominion University with a political science minor,

Ms. Bland was the subject of a Virginian-Pilot article, by Bruce Ebert, this past May,  in which she spoke about her literary  journey from unsure pre-teen to her state’s first Youth Poet Laureate, an honor she won in April, 2015.

In the Pilot article, Deirdre Love, the Executive Director of Teens With a Purpose, said of Raven Bland,

She inspires me. She embodies the best of what youth is about. She understands that words matter. Any city would be proud to have her as a representative.”

In addition to her title,  Raven Bland will have a  book of her poems published by Penmanship Books; the publisher will also arrange book signing a Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

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Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA, Youth Poet Laureate.

Here are two of her poems. The first, Lady in the Curtains: Hallucination in the Jewish Square of Poland,  was originally published on the Poetry Society of America’s page.

Lady in the Curtains:
Hallucination in the Jewish Square of Poland

I glanced at a curtained window
Thin blue sheets
I imagined an aging analogy
With flowers and butterflies
Attached to thread
I seen a small grey haired head.

Ages were gray
Hair was gray
Skin was pale
Bones as thin as a nail.

I seen her bones grow
Seen her skin fatten
I seen her grin towards me
But nothing happened
I stood still,
Frozen, paralyzed
In wonder,
Curious even.
She glanced right, glanced left.
As she was looking for something.

After a single grin, her lips faded thin,
What was she looking for,
Why was she still here?
Doesn’t she know the attitudes
The hate, the disbelief
They consciously think: God choose you not me.
See, they’re jealous, get out of here, flee.
Go to the place God created you to be.

I stare into her eyes, she’s speaking to me:
This is my home, I created it to be.
They have robbed me of enough,
They won’t take all of me.

She glanced left, glanced right
With her head out her curtained window.
I seen her head then fade in between.

–Raven Bland

 

“Lame”

Your scent swallowed me

As I slide into my blanket. 

I’m laying here lame

I won’t move because

I’m afraid to blow your scent away.

 

It’s only been a couple of days 

Since your body laid underneath.

And yet your scent refuses to leave.

Figures, though

Your strong personality

Dominates and leads.

It doesn’t back down for nobody

And I mean nobody

But me.

 

I remember when you were underneath .

I was there too.

I remember how soft your eyes grew.

Like a turtle,

Hiding under that huge shell

And slowly peeping from beneath.

You didn’t think I saw you,

Because you quickly tried to push yourself back inside

Without the consequences.

 

Your secret is out though baby,

I saw it.

Your shell is just a cover,

You’re all soft underneath.

And I love it.

Don’t hide it from me,

Let me be soft with you,

Out here we can’t survive that way,

But let me come under your shell too

And we can discuss the ways

The stars make our eyes twinkle

And the moon molds our hearts together

How the silence sweeps our thoughts in loops and intertwines.

We can discuss our pasts’ hurts

And maybe even cry.

We can be soft together,

I don’t mind.

 

I remember when you held my hand here,

Them rough hands of man hood

Grabbed my delicate ones.

A piece of me died inside your palms

A layer of me unraveled.

You watched it,

I saw you,

And your eyes were baffled.

 

See if it’s only been about 3 months,

But our friendship has endured much longer.

You didn’t know this side of me,

Didn’t know how strong my gravitational pull was,

How I make your mind wonder.

Didn’t know I could see so deep into you,

In ways no girl before has.

And you grew scared,

I laugh, never in person though,

At how much you were amazed.

At how a woman could treat you in such good ways.

 

It all happened here,

And I can’t help but reminisce.

Your scent swallowed me 

As I slid into my blanket.

I’m laying here lame

I won’t move because

I’m afraid to blow your scent away.

–Raven Bland

 

***Look for an upcoming interview with Raven Bland later this month. 

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Beautiful Release, a song by Jorges Mendez

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Beautiful Release, a song by Jorges Mendez

I’m happy to share the work of Virginia Beach poet and spoken word artist, Jorge Mendez. Despite his currently crushing schedule, Jorge, who truly deserves the title of Hardest Working Poet in Hampton Roads, managed to answer my tenacious requests and submitted a song which he currently performs as a spoken word poem.

Jorge is the type of poet who holds communities of writers together by welcoming all, actively living the life of a working poet, and by coordinating events and performances on a regular basis over a long period of time with seemingly indefatigable positive energy.

Please read, listen, comment and share. Your participation is appreciated.
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Ironic.

I had a super-whammadine case of insomnia during most of the week of my Virtual Dream Residency.

No sleep = no dreams. No dreams = unease. Not my favorite flavor of being.

My consolation has come from writing more often than in recent weeks, and in communicating and working with the poets, writers, and artists whose dream-related work I’ve been able to share here.

Today’s featured piece is a positively addictive song about insomnia, titled “Beautiful Release”, by Virginia Beach poet and spoken word artist Jorge Mendez.

Currently Jorge does a spoken word poem version of “Beautiful Release” in performance; he kindly agreed to share the song with us. The link below will download the song.

About the Poet:  Jorge Mendez is also host of “Monday Night Open Mics at The Venue”, which he has helmed for the last three years of the nine year old open mic, and Events Director for The Venue on 35th in Norfolk, VA. Jorge started writing poetry as a child, later putting the skill he gained as a page writer into Hip-Hop format releasing three independent albums. He has since graduated to Spoken Word and has been performing his poetry for 4 years. His next project is a book of his works titled “Keys & Crowbars”.

You can experience more from Jorge at his YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA3Z-ItOMj-kFubYymiFCbg

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hd Butterfly: A dream inspired poem

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hd Butterfly

I dream an open window,
where colors spill in,
swimming in rainbows.

Wading in a colorstream,
a sea of vivid prisms,
absorbing in my pores.

Floating in R.E.M. state,
cocooned in ultra hd walls,
suspended in imagination.

My awakening eyes,
explosions; visual intensity,
5th primary color sight.

Your blues aren’t mine,
grey skies don’t exist,
our palettes differ.

My wings of fire rainbows,
Sonic boom open windows,
Emerging my butterfly.

–Donald Atkinson, Norfolk, VA

 

Donald Atkinson is a poet, writer, spoken word artist, husband, father, soldier, clerk.   He lives in Norfolk, VA with his family .

Connect with Donald:

https://www.facebook.com/donald.atkinson.547/

**This is also my third post for my dream residency at Ione’s 21st Annual Dream Festival