Detroit’s Best Writers and Poets Unite

As a member of the Motown Writers Network, I look forward to our monthly meetups.  The amount of information and support that I get from my fellow writers is enormous.  We also spend a huge amount of time networking at these meetings resulting in powerful collaborations.

April is our poetry month so we decided to invite our friends and literary cousins Poetry, Pages, and Scribes to our monthly meetup.  We also had the pleasure of Ber-Henda Williams, host of the YouTube  show “B in the City”  who is also a powerful poet in her own right hosting it.  As an added bonus,  the representatives from poetry power plants Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe and Manila Bay Cafe were present.  The host of the newest poetry venue 1917 American Bistro made sure it wasn’t left out.  It was cool to have Detroit’s best writers, poets, and the venues that have shown us love, together in one place.  This doesn’t happen often.  This was shaping up to be the biggest literary gathering since our Literary Jam and Conference last November!

At the halfway point of the meetup, a massive networking session ensued.  Poets and Writers exchanged business cards and ideas in a flurry of chatter.  Many of us were already fans of each others work, but today, we had the opportunity to express our appreciation for each other’s work and discuss opportunities to create together.  We also shared our struggles with the creative process as well,  new bonds were being formed among Detroit’s top literary minds.  There was a powerful positive energy in the air and it charged every body in the room!  A few of the poets even blessed us by performing some of their stellar pieces:  including our gracious host.      

When the meeting ended, the networking resumed and many of us hung around to forge bonds and friendships.  After talking to a few people, I found myself pinned against a wall admiring the scene.   Detroit is in dire need of a shot in the arm.  Something that could raise the spirits of its citizens and get them through these dark days.  That shot may come from the artist assembled here; and many here in this cafe are up to the challenge.

This Saturday morning in Detroit may go down in history as the start of the new Detroit Literary Movement.

Just  remember that you hear it here first!  Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

A Prayer For My City

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Dear Lord,

I come to you on behalf of thousands who are in need.  For all those who have lost much and gained little.  For all those who have worked hard but rewarded with less.  For every man, woman, and child in Detroit abused or distressed.

 I pray for their hearts: May they be strengthened.  That they remain encouraged and strong in weathering our social and financial storm.  So they may find comfort in one another.

 I pray for their minds: May they be open to change.  Stimulate their thirst for knowledge and wisdom. 

 I pray for their homes: May they be allowed to keep them.  They need a safe place to rest their weary bodies and minds.  A place to shield and nurture their children. Keep the greed of banks at bay.  Instruct the banks in the ways of forgiveness and mercy.  

  Lord I pray for the Police and Fire Departments that you may bless their work.  Let them know that they are making a difference in spite of the pay cuts and sacrifices they had to make. 

I pray for the prosperity of my city. We need back the jobs that were taken by greed and selfishness. We need our school system returned to health so our children can be inspired by new books and teachers.  May old tattered books be a thing of the past.  Pass your blessings to teachers willing to teach and instruct our children. 

I pray that your hand spreads throughout our streets and wipe away the stench of murder and grief.  That tears of sorrow be replaced by smiles of hope. I pray that differences be put aside and instead of hands grabbing weapons; hands working together for the good of us all!   In all these things I pray, AMEN!

   Pray if you hear me!

                              – K. Greene

A Year Later

On January 24th of 2011, I decided to take a chance.  It was time to show everyone my hidden talent and blogging was the vehicle to do it.  I was a great writer in my own mind but everyone was going to see it now.  It was a scary moment.  I wrote often but for my own benefit, my own amusement.  I was satisfied with the volumes of poetry, short stories, and commentary I had lying around but nobody saw a word of it.  There is a sort of  comfort in being ordinary but I messed it all up.  I was in a Composition class and my instructor saw my work. I was no longer able to remain comfortably anonymous.  Upon my first submission, she realized that my work wasn’t ordinary.  My secret was out.  She suggested that I would be great at blogging.  I thought about it then I came up with the name Hollaifyouhearme and wrote “Enter The Negro”.  I felt like I was Keanu Reeves about to enter the Matrix.  Much like Neo, I was about to enter a bigger world and the life I was living was changing forever.  However, I needed further knowledge and  I soon received a very useful viewpoint.

I ran into an old friend named Nicole Griffin.  We knew each other from childhood and she was in the middle of writing her first book.  I told her that I was blogging but instead of getting a “Cool” or “Good for you”,  I got “I don’t like Bloggers. I think they are too preachy.”  I was taken aback a bit but decided to do some research and read some other blogs.  I started to see her point.  Not all of the blogs I read were “preachy” but by reading them, I became more aware of my content.  I wanted my blog to be informative yet entertaining while giving my city of Detroit it’s proper due.  Yet I had another problem…I was the only writer I knew!

My wife solved this problem for me when she found a web site for the Motown Writer’s Network.  Joining the Motown Writer’s Network proved to be the best move I could have made for myself as a writer.  Networking with the writers in the group was instrumental in making Hollaifyouhearme better!  I learned more about content and  targeting new demographics appealing to new and different readers that I could never have done on my own.  Sylvia Hubbard is the Founder of Motown Writers Network and an accomplished author and blogger herself! Not only has she been teaching me the ways of the literary world but has become a good friend as well.  Sylvia would turn out to be the first of a host of new friends and colleagues.

A year later, I still think about those sequence of events.  Sometimes you know you have something special and you hold on to it like its your last dollar.  It works for somethings but not when you have talent.  Talent has to be shared like knowledge.  During this past year, I have learned to share both knowledge and talent in this blog.  It seems that a lot people enjoy it by responses I get and I THANK EACH ONE OF YOU!!!!!!  I am anxious to see what I can bring you in year number two of Hollaifyouhearme!  Better yet, I am anxious to see what YOU can do in a year if you step out of your comfort zone!  A bigger world may be waiting for YOU! All you have to do is take a chance! Holla If You Hear Me!!!!!

-K. Greene

Follow ME on Twitter: Holla_KGreene

THANK YOU FOR A  GREAT   YEAR!                              http://www.facebook.com/TheWriterKGreene

Return of an Era

I was asked a question once and it comes to mind as I write this blog,  “If you could go back in time, which time period would you go back to?”  I wanted to say ancient Rome because I read that the parties were epic.  However, upon further reading, it became apparent that being black in Rome was far worse than being a slave in America.  Therefore, my ultimate choice became the Harlem Renaissance.  From 1920-1930 Harlem, New York became the birthplace of African-American Literature and Jazz.  Jobs were scarce.  Creative expression gave African-Americans what little opportunities available.  Those little opportunities became a huge part of American history and culture.

In a small elementary school classroom, in the middle of Detroit, I see those creative opportunities embracing African-Americans once again.  Phette Hollins Ogburn sat at a table with the production team as the movie casting call  “Sext Messaging”; based on her book of the same name, was in full swing.  Each actor and actress auditioned as if standing before  Spike Lee himself.  Phette examined each actor and actress with great scrutiny.  Bringing the characters of her book to life is an exciting process.  The excitement in the room was thick but tempered by the professionalism of all involved.  One audition given by a seasoned veteran was especially moving.  I won’t say who gave it but I can assure you.  You will see it again.  Before leaving, I noticed those waiting for their turn in a separate room.  Some had been there over an hour and would gladly wait another hour for their opportunity.  It was written all over them.  Some engaged in small talk to ease each other’s nerves.  Some just sat and mentally prepared themselves.  Through this room ran the road to the life each of them wanted and none of them was leaving that road until their names were called and they had the opportunity to audition.  I immediately thought about all of the African-Americans who auditioned at the Apollo theater in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance.  Many of them probably had the same thoughts these people are having right now.  Gifted performers seeking their chance.   I drove away still clinging to what I had just witnessed.  One woman’s book becoming an opportunity for many in Detroit is uplifting.  The following day proved even more uplifting and it all started with an addiction.

My addiction for a good cup of coffee is well-known.  You can always find me anywhere that has a great Mocha and I found myself at Biggby Coffee on Woodward near Wayne State University.  Upon entering the shop, the smell of coffee filled my nose.  My eyes however, glimpsed the sight of  a few familiar faces.   T Elice and Adra Robins were hosting their Fall edition of Coffee, Arts, and Entertainment Forum.  I’ve missed several forums prior to this one but this time I was in the building!  In between speakers, I was greeted by my fellow writers and colleagues.  I quickly made my way to the counter to purchase my Mocha and noticed the big smile of Quincy L. Lewis.  His book “Off The Block” was just released and his Tuesday blog talk radio show “Straight From E-Block”  was giving his listeners all they could handle.  Quincy and I always get in a good laugh before the business of networking whenever we run into each other.  WXYZ Channel 7 Public Affairs Director Chuck Stokes was  in the building as well.  Chuck Stokes is as visible in the community as he is on TV.  His commitment to the city is unquestioned.   Local actress and personality A.J. Williams was present. You can  see her in a new stage play “What Shall I Do?” Starting this Friday Nov. 11th at the Charles H Wright African-American Museum.  Also on November 11th Versandra Kennebrew will be releasing her new book “The Art of Reinventing You”.  And they are not the only artist with a big weekend ahead.

    (Versandra Kennebrew and Chuck Stokes networking)

Job losses have given some people time to explore their creative expression.  For some, the time has come to reap the benefits of perfecting their craft.  In Detroit, that time is right now.  Me and all of the people I have mentioned in this blog are part of the new Detroit Renaissance.  Much like our predecessors in Harlem during the 1920’s and 1930’s, we are committed to what Langston Hughes called “The expression of our dark-skinned selves.”  That alone should tell you that these are exciting times here in Detroit.  I consider myself  blessed to be a part of it!  Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

The Essence of Motown Literary Jam info:

http://www.essenceofmotownlitconference.com

The Sacrifice of 3 Days

I had been feeling stagnant. I had renewed my passion for writing and was going to school but something was lacking.  I had lost my job due to the economy, so there was time for other opportunities.  One such opportunity presented itself in the form of a men’s conference at the church I attend.  My wife had attended the women’s conference and found it to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  I never been to a men’s conference before and the benefits of attending seemed too worthwhile to pass up. I know plenty of guys of all backgrounds but this would be the first time I would be around a group of guys in a spiritual setting since I graduated from Lutheran High West.  I went to a mixture of Catholic, Public, and Lutheran schools from K-12 while maintaining my southern Baptist roots. I tried to pull as much as I can from each.  You could say that I am a spiritual hybrid and it has been to my advantage.

A thousand things ran through my mind as I gripped the steering wheel of my van.  The only man I knew personally that was going to be there was my friend Terrance Walker.  Everything else was a mystery.  What would Bishop Michael Jones talk about?  What are men in church concerned about?  How are these men like me?  What could I learn or hear that would promote my growth as person?  Those questions motivated my thinking.  Expectations were building.

Expectations are fragile as we all know. Mine took a hit immediately, not enough to shatter but caused the shields to be raised.  There were women of all ages in the entrance performing  in whatever capacity there were assigned with excellence yet something bothered me.  I couldn’t help but to think about how tone-setting it would have been to have men in these spots.  A brother there to welcome another.   These women also remind men of why they came.  Some to better themselves for their wives and daughters. Others, to deal with the ones that may have done him wrong or the ones he was doing wrong with.  I went into an almost empty gym…..I was one of  the first ones there.

Handshakes and names were exchanged as more men filled into the empty seats.  After praise and worship, Bishop Micheal Jones then went into his lesson backed by years of wisdom and bible verses.  At the end of the night, I felt good about the lesson.  The teaching was spot on but I felt like it was restricted.  Not as open and frank as it needed to be. Partly because there were women present.  Men need that type of dialog.  No sugar-coating. Men can only be reached through raw truth backed by scripture.  Sugar coat it and he rejects it almost immediately.  This may work for men already in church but as for the ones who are on the fence, it won’t cut it.  Those who come to this conference fresh off the street won’t respond to an evening bible study.  They need the direction only a church can provide.  This is the very reason they came through the door.  To confer with God minded men.  I was hoping that we would get to some candid discussion during these 3 days but it was not to be.  This is pretty much how the conference went Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday morning.

Lunch was served and it was delicious!  I found an empty table and sat down.  I tried to get the vibe of the men there.  I had to remember to save a seat for Terrance but I knew there was a chance he wouldn’t make it. I wasn’t worried. We had already agreed to meet up before the outing to C.J. Barrymore’s, which was the finale to the conference.  Oddly enough, no one else sat with me.  I hoped that I didn’t scare anybody off by the way I showed no mercy to those chicken wings….they were good!  In between texting my wife, I couldn’t help but to notice how big of a mistake this is!  If I was a guy of the street, I would have no incentive to join this church.  This was a perfect time for someone to make a new friend and win a new member.  Luckily, I was already a member.  I spoke briefly to Bishop Jones and made my way to the trash can.  Now I had to meet with Terrance and run home to email my instructor.  I didn’t need to get on the bus to the outing as the church planned.  My house was on the way and I had been to C.J. Barrymore’s enough times to know my way there without a problem.

I had been home, emailed my instructor, and picked up Terrance from his house before turning into the parking lot at C.J. Barrymore’s.  I was about 90 percent sure the church bus had beat us there by at least an hour yet I saw no bus in the parking lot but it was no matter.  C.J. Barrymore’s is an outdoor/indoor entertainment hub.  Multiple go-kart tracks, batting cage, and other outdoor activities surrounded the outside.  Two bowling alleys, laser tag, and a vast collection of video games occupied two indoor buildings.  Upon entering the main building, Men, Women, and Children of all ages were enjoying all this place had to offer but we could not find anybody from the conference except for 2 other guys.  The fact that just about all of the seats there were reserved except for the ones at the bar made it worse!

We split up and made random checks around the complex and confirmed that we were the only ones from our conference there.  I was thirsty and saw the bar.  I wanted a beer in the worst way but that was not why I was here.  I had to show some strength.  Women came with their Children and from my estimation, they out numbered Men 7-1.  Had our Men been there, these women could see true men in action and having fun. More importantly…They can see that real men exist.  Maybe by seeing these men in action, they could see something special going on at our church or something special in one of the guys.  Either way, it’s a win.  We could have been a symbol to other Men walking around.  Once again, it was not to be.  After hanging around for an hour, we called it a day.  Whatever opportunity for us to have an impact, passed like the go-karts whizzing by us.

I returned home after dropping Terrance off.  I was physically and mentally spent.  I told my wife how everything went and made my way to the patio.  My body felt like it was 500 lbs as I dumped it into the chair.  I only weigh 204.  Memories of past disappointments flooded my mind and asked my experiences these past 3 days to join them.  The funny thing is… I couldn’t do it.  One thing I can say is that I crossed a personal barrier by even going, which was big.  I often stayed away from groups.  I can also say that I was proud of myself for the effort that I put into these  3 days.  These facts put a small smile on my face.  My wife was upset that the return for my 3 day investment wasn’t what I expected.  In the beginning, I agreed with her but I had to think deeper.  Maybe my days at the men’s conference were not for me.  Maybe just being there set in motion a chain of events yet to be seen.  Standing at C.J. Barrymore’s taught me something else. That I was willing to support my brothers through it all.  Whether I knew them or not.

Men’s conferences are important!  Whenever a tribe or army invaded another in the past, killing all the men were the primary objective.  It’s no different today.  Our community is under attack from Devil on multiple fronts.  Even bringing the battle to some Men in their own bedrooms.  Men’s conferences at churches across our nation are critical.  God gives us the uniforms and weapons but men’s conferences gives us the strategies.  It doesn’t matter whether a man drives a Phantom or an Astro van.  We all need these conferences to succeed.  This may not have been one of the better ones but they have a template to improve upon.  The world around us won’t let up and nor should the church.  Those saved and un-saved are depending on it!  May the Lord bless and keep us all.  Holla if you hear me.

-K. Greene

Embracing The New

             The question I got asked the most the past 2 weeks was…Who’s going to win the Super Bowl?   My answer was without a doubt was the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Now that you Packer fans have had your chuckle for today,  I will continue with my yearly Super Bowl disclaimer:

            If you placed a bet due to my extensive yet oh so limited knowledge of professional sports and lost,  I am truly sorry.   However,  there are no refunds for your losses as I am quite sure there are no kickbacks from your winnings!   Thank You!

               I Watched the game like any fan yesterday.   Holding on to the hope that Roethilsberger could pull it out with 2 min left and a timeout.   He couldn’t and the Steelers go down in defeat.   Since the opening 2 min of the game,  Aaron Rodgers proclaimed himself as the new hotness with crisp, pin-point accurate passes.    The older Steelers defense seemed powerless to stop him.  I worked at American Axle for 15 years until I was overpowered by New.   Not a quarterback or a person,  but a way of life.  I was sure that the job that I was on was secure.  A strike and a buyout ended that job and I found myself unemployed and back in school.  Totally not to my liking.
              I thought working 50-60 hrs a week was an ideal way to live but the New showed me something different.  It showed me that my brain is still sharp after doing the same thing everyday.  Also that I had many other talents that 50-60 hours a week on a machine prevent you from doing.  For me, One of those was writing.
It’s impossible to stop New.  New does not have a specific time or place to hit you.  It just does.  Hirings, firings, Marriage, or divorce.  Places or people embrace the New.  The New reminds us to keep looking forward.  Without New, We would have a hard time becoming anything.   If you feel your life is lacking,  Go to church.  The New you need is there!   Holla if you hear me!

                                                                -K. Greene