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Letters 07-25-2016

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Home · Articles · News · Art · Poets Rock!
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Poets Rock!

Robert Downes - September 29th, 2008
There’s no other way to say it: poet Derrick Brown kicks ass. He’s an action-adventure poet, swinging to the stage from the end of a vine with a ululating Tarzan yell and a ray gun in his belt. Well, not really, but the one thing you can expect from Brown’s multi-media poetry readings is the unexpected -- and that it will be the best night of poetry you can imagine.
A former paratrooper, gondolier, magician, and “fired weatherman,” Brown is bringing some of the world’s top-gun poets to the Traverse City Opera House stage on Saturday, Oct. 4 as part of his “Junkyard Ghost Revival” show that blends comedy, music and performance art with poetry.
“It’s more like a theater experience than a poetry reading, with everything planned out,” Brown says by phone from his home in Venice, California.
“Most of the poets who will be appearing are those I met at the National Poetry Slam in Madison, Wisconsin,” he adds. “We’ve got a world champion on our team, who won slams in Munich and Paris. We decided that it would be better if we all got together and went on tour.”

WHO’S WHO
The lineup at the upcoming show includes the following:
•Buddy Wakefield, a two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion has been featured on NPR, BBC, CBC, HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and venues all across the globe.
• Anis Mojgani, a two-time National Poetry Slam Individual Champion, one of only two people to ever win the title more than once. He also took first place at France’s 2007 World Cup Poetry Slam, and has been on HBO and NPR.
• Rotating in will be up-and-comers Andrea Gibson, Sonya Renee, Robbie Q, and Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.
Then there’s Brown, a resident of Nashville who performs 130 shows per year and has appeared on 1,200 stages a round the world. Poetry has been his magic carpet, taking him to a number of countries along with every state in the U.S. except for Alaska and Maine (which he plans to hit on this tour).
Perhaps it was his experience as a paratrooper with the 82nd U.S. Airborne that gave him the confidence to drop from dizzying heights into the hearts and minds of his audiences, overpowering them with wit and words. “I try to go for the cutthroat images,” he says.
That stint in the military was preceded by a career as a magician, which also energizes his work. “It was a strange transition going from those worlds to this one,” he notes. “After getting out of the service, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, except that I didn’t want to work in a warehouse or something like that. Then the coffeehouse explosion came along in the early ‘90s and I started doing poetry.”
Something clicked, foremost of which is the power of his words. Brown is a writer who paints whimsical images and exotic vistas in the listener’s mind. His words are so true and filled with visions that you wonder if writing comes naturally.
“No, for me it’s definitely work,” he says. “I slave over these suckers. I feel like every other writer I’ve met: it’s better to have written than to write. My work comes to me in little pieces -- I write ideas on bar napkins or my arm and then file them away.”
But those nuggets are paying off with a new book, “Scandalabra,” which has won the endorsement of a number of actors and comedians. Brown plans to take his new material on the road to Europe next May.
What about his showmanship? He frequently opens for the Indie rock group, Cold War Kids and has performed with The White Stripes and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Does he ever get stage fright?
“Yeah, I feel like I’m going to wet my pants,” Brown says. “I have a little backstage ritual that involves beer to get ready for a show.”
The soundtrack for his show tends to be electronic music -- often songs direct from his iPod which people have given him to check out.
“The thing we’re trying to do with the Junkyard Ghost Revival is to make it the most amazing and unique theater experience for the audience,” Brown says. “We’ve got a mission to charge the people up -- there’s going to be a lot of laughs and a lot of literary power.”

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $15, Saturday, Oct. 4 at the TC Opera House.

Other Upcoming Opera House Shows:

• Saturday October 18, 8pm: Comedy Central Comedian John Caparulo fresh off Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour. ($35 Ticket)

• Friday October 31, 8pm and Midnight: Rocky Horror Picture Show - 8pm & Midnight. Dress to kill, cash bar. ($10 Ticket & $5 Prop Bag)

• Monday November 10, 8pm: Folk Singer Martin Sexton with Mike Moran. (Tickets $20, $25, $32)

• Friday November 21, 7:30pm: Chinese Pianist Xiayin Wang - before her Carnegie Hall CD debut. (Tickets $29 Adults & $15 Students)

• Saturday November 29, 11:30am and 2pm: Junie B Jones - Live NY Children’s Theater. (Tickets $10 Adults & $5 Children 12 & under)

• Friday January 30, 7pm and 9:30pm: NBC’s Last Comic Standing top 5 finalist live.
(Tickets: $35, $45, $55)


See www.cityoperahouse.org
for tickets and details.
 
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