RSS

Monthly Archives: November 2015

Sweet Home Vallejo Archives: Vallejo Poetry

From the archives of Sweet Home Vallejo:

DV IMAGE

This is Charles, owner of the mobile bookstore which sets up in front of the Art Department during the Farmers Market on Saturdays when I’m not traveling out of town for business. I would like to thank Chandra for allowing me to submit the following which I’ll share with you right now.

When I moved to Vallejo a while back, one of the first places I wanted to visit was the Listen and Be Heard café, a famous hot spot for spoken word artists in the North Bay. Unfortunately, the café closed down before I had a chance to share pieces from both of my books, The Depths of My Soul and The Voices of South Central. Without a venue for self-expression, I felt lost as I’m sure the lyrical artists felt when news of the café’s closure was announced.

Despite the loss of Listen and Be Heard’s physical presence, previous owners Tony and Martha Cinader Mims have maintained a strong online presence for their legion of supporters. One click to their website is an indication poetry is alive and well on their end. Although the Mims have moved away from the city, there are places and individuals who won’t allow the gift of the spoken word to fade away.

Slam artist GO is one of the leading names when it comes to spoken word poetry in the North Bay, especially Vallejo. He also participates in a monthly program in nearby Fairfield entitled Life Sentence produced by 3rd Eye Collective, for which GO is a member of. I had the privilege of meeting this dynamic spoken word artist and he was one of the first Bay area residents who greeted me with open arms when I started my new life in this part of the state. When you listen to him speak from his heart, you feel the energy and visualize his feelings about life, which are very powerful indeed.

Next up, is Profet’s Poetry by the Bay. Held every second and fourth Thursday inside Panama Red coffeehouse inside the Vallejo Ferry Terminal, local poets get a chance to share their self expression on the mic. Since Profet started the venue and kept the poetry flow going in Vallejo, this talented artist recently released a CD of his own works called Profetic Lyrics. He isn’t one to toot his own horn and is just happy to give a first run program beginning with the music of Khe Note, a band originating from the North Bay headlined by lead vocalist Khela. There are other bands who perform before the artists go on stage, so if you’re in the North Bay or waiting for a ride back to the City, I urge you to stop by and check out Profet’s show.

Finally, there are a group of poets who deserve mention. The next generation of spoken word artists go on stage every month inside the JFK Library for their Teen Poetry Slam. For all the negative talk about our young people, here is an event which is positive, encourages them to share their voices with the rest of the world and gives them an outlet to use that energy rather than the types of activities often mentioned on the printed pages of a newspaper. Prizes are handed out to middle and high school students who participate and I’ve even helped out by lending two of my own books for the winners of one slam. Our young people can do a lot to turn this city around, if we’re willing to listen to what they have to say without prejudice while understanding the challenges they’re facing in these troublesome times. That is not to say every young person is striving to be better than we were, but for those that are, they need our support without a doubt.

Vallejo is a city that is rich in talent..There may not be a Listen and Be Heard café anymore, but it doesn’t mean the spoken word has gone away. The gift of poetry always flourishes in times of distress, and for the venues mentioned above, a much needed relief for a city which sorely needs it.

Written in December 2009.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Commentary: The Unthinkable Just Happened with Amazon

book

The unthinkable happened; Amazon, the online juggernaut which started out as a bookstore, opened their doors in their new brick-and-mortar store. Yes, you read that right: Amazon opened a brick-and-mortar store. It’s hard to believe, impossible to digest but this actually happened. Known for their overwhelming consumer power online, the retail giant has now occupied space in University Village in Seattle. Perhaps this quote from BuzzFeed sums up how indie bookstores feel about Amazon’s recent acquisition: “Amazon just convinced us to divorce our wife then married her.”

Now doesn’t this make for a delicious dish of irony? Amazon, which caused so many indie bookstores to close their doors because of their notoriously low prices, free shipping and convenience at the click of a button, now finds themselves selling physical books to customers in an actual bookstore! Of course, it wasn’t long before the indie bookstores had a little fun with them. For one, Paul Constant of the Seattle Review of Books offered a challenge to anyone who would ‘showcase’ one of Amazon’s books and then buy it from an indie bookstore. Allison Stieger answered the call by finding the book at the Amazon store, but buying it at Queen Anne Books, a local bookstore. Take that Big A! This has been a method Amazon has used to their advantage, so it was nice to see the tables being turned for once.

Who knows how long Amazon’s physical store will stay in service. A year? A month? A week? It doesn’t look to be a ‘pop up’ store, where businesses set up in vacant retail space for a short amount of time. They’re in it for the long haul, it seems. With that, you would think the other brick-and-mortar bookstore, Barnes and Noble, would feel threatened by this move, right? It’s not enough that Amazon’s new store is located in a mall where they used to be (link at bottom), but now with 647 stores and counting, BN’s latest weapon against its ruthless competitor seems to be – coloring books.

This revelation comes to you courtesy of Adweek.com:

But Barnes & Noble does have one obvious advantage that dot-com competitors don’t, and that’s spacious, comfortable stores—647 of them at last count—stores that the chain has gotten extremely good at turning into event spaces, most often for book signings with bestselling authors or celebrities hawking their latest tell-all tomes. But on Nov. 14, Barnes & Noble will be staging its most colorful event yet: All of its stores are inviting adults to come in, sit down and color.

Yes, as in crayons, pencils, markers and coloring books. Between noon and 5 p.m., anyone can wander in and regress to an activity lost to childhood. The company is calling it the All-American Art Unwind.

Barnes and Noble will encourage attendees to submit their drawings to Instagram or Twitter for submission to “a huge mosaic that a computer program will create from thousands of expected submissions.” The bookstore is gambling the experience will bring more interactivity that will be the hook for supporters to keep coming back – one they hope will keep their stores open for the long run. It would be easy to knock this, it really would. However, one wonders if Amazon will expand from the one store in Seattle to across the nation. If and when that happens, Barnes and Noble might be in serious trouble.

Amazon is Corporate America personified. The irony is that while they’ve encouraged self-published authors to have more of a say in their written works, the outlets like indie bookstores and their closest competitor Barnes and Noble have suffered. How long will it be before Amazon dominates the entire literary market and completely guides the destinies of many authors in the field? Time will tell if Amazon Books is a passing fancy, or the beginning of the end.

Charles L. Chatmon
President, Chatmon’s Books

Links:
The Seattle Review of Books – Independent bookstore fan showrooms Amazon Books
BuzzFeed: Here’s Why People Are Upset At Amazon’s New Seattle Bookstore
Amazon is opening its first bookstore today—in a mall where a giant Barnes & Noble used to be

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
%d bloggers like this: