Monday, June 8, 2009

Penning Poetry

This week’s “Business Question of the Week” takes me back to the days when I wrote and performed poetry. Kimberly Tyler from Maryland asks:

I can see that you are now heading in a business direction with your career and everything, but I was just wondering if you were still able to write and perform poetry. I saw you perform poetry nearly a decade ago at Del State, and I was wondering if you had abandoned your poetry skills for everything else that you’re doing?

Omar Tyree Answers:

Wow! Talk about more perfect timing. I was up in Philadelphia last week, and a group of several friends informed me that this new downtown poetry spot was hot and piping. So they asked me to stop by and enjoy. Well, I dropped on in, became inspired by the energy in the room, and immediately wrote the poem below to perform as a “special guest” that evening. And I do hope that I still have the poetic goods (smile).

Truth Serum, 2009

by Omar Tyree . . .

It’s been a long time
since I’ve tried to entertain the minds of like kinds
and for the past 10 years I’ve been in a state of decline
from poetry
Nah, that’s cool. I’m cool. Poetry don’t make no money.
Then I walk into an excited, loud, proud crowd
like this one, and decide to press rewind, and fall back into the time
when I used to do this (stuff), and do it well
at the North Star Bar in North Philly
Incognito in DC
Back Words in Baltimore
and the Neuyorican Cafe in the big city, I meant Apple.
So take a bite of this with sticky candy on top
and get your teeth stuck
hundreds of thousands of Americans are out of luck now
downsized, out-sourced, defaulted, kicked out, left out, walked out
talked out, and stalked out on the streets like the Walking Dead
and talking heads won’t fix it.
We need a prescription of economic penicillin to eradicate
the disease of addiction, but addiction is the American way
where we’ll pay for ANYTHING that makes us feel good.
(Shucks), that’s why I’m off to Hollywood now to become a dealer
of American entertainment.
Lights, camera, action, money, and poetry don’t make none
you’re with the networks that pimp the poets for $50 a pop and a chance
to make the next poetry inspired Mc Donald’s commercial
where you push a sexy box of Chicken McNuggets
during the NBA Championship
and brag to your family and friends about it.
Nah, (forget) that!
I wanna write the whole show and the jingle and keep getting paid
Finger-lickin chicken with McNuggets, McNuggets
Finger-lickin chicken with McNuggets
Get some
Finger-lickin chicken with McNuggets, McNuggets
Finger-lickin chicken with McNuggets
Get some . . . morrre
Ching ching! Pay check please. And excuse my urgency
but something needs to happen that pays the bills
something needs to happen that accumulates greenbacks and gold.
Can poetry be sold yet?
(Shucks), looks like I dun crossed over to the other side
the scorned capitalist, the bean counter, Mr. Bottom-Line
who don’t talk loud no more, I just ask the question softly,
“Where’s the money?”
Show it to me, so I can swim in it, like an Indecent Proposal
naked, dirty and sexy money
so I propose this to the poets, create poetry that makes some.
I guess you can see where my head is at, I’m on some executive (stuff)!
But at the end of the day, poetry still exists
because human thoughts and emotions are still priceless
and with simple pen and paper
even a broke (joker) can become GENIUS
and shine
like the sun.
That’s why we do it.
That’s why we do it.
That’s why . . .
we do it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cotton Candy or Spinach… Here’s hoping I can avoid both pitfalls

This week’s Business Question of the Week was sent in by Mike who hails from my hometown of Philadelphia, PA:

I'm nearly finished writing my first novel, First Floor on Fire, which is fiction but strongly inspired by my experience teaching in a tough public high school in Philadelphia. My book is an attempt at being both strongly intellectual, viscerally emotional and thematically complex. Most books make readers choose between cotton candy or spinach, and here's hoping I can avoid both pitfalls.

Omar Tyree Answers:

Mike, you can basically decide to write whatever book you want in whatever style you choose to write it in, but your success rate will ultimately depend on the book's acceptance from an audience. And if the audience wants cotton candy, they will toss your spinach out the window and disappoint you. However, writing spinach is still in the eyes of the reader. You may think you're being complicated, but who is to say that your complication will automatically be understood?

Artistically speaking, when viewing The Equation of life, many artistic individuals may begin to view their specific genius as universal, where it may not be. And I know this situation personally. I have always had a higher goal for my work that many readers have not shared. So you end up creating Art for a particular Purpose, and with a genuine method of your own madness. However, that does not mean that everyone will get it. This happens with poets all of the time. They believe that their individual poems are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but the audience is sometimes unmoved by it, landing you back at the drawing board of wanting to make a connection.

There is a reason why artistic professionals sometimes make a conscious decision to "dumb down" their material. They want to make sure that they reach a wider audience, and you cannot always assume that every customer is on the same literate level to understand your material. Nevertheless, if it is your goal to market to a higher group of intellectuals with your particular craft, then that is your prerogative to do so. But you must understand that you will need to accept how the audience responds either way.

That is the reality of a "free market." We all have the opportunity to choose what we want. Every artistic person must understand that they are not the only "genius" in the marketplace with a particular creation. And whether you call another person's Art "cotton candy" or "spinach," they are ALL creations that will compete in an open marketplace, and that will all serve a Purpose for a buying society whether we like it, agree with it or not.

So indeed, write the book that you want to write. But at the end of the day, you will need to make certain sacrifices to publish successfully for an audience who is ultimately outside of your personal computer. You feel me? When other people can relate and just "get it" it is indeed a great feeling. But sometimes, we can actually outdo ourselves by trying to do too much. So we must all make personal assessments regarding what we are willing to live with once we place our creative items out on the marketplace for sale. Because at that point, the creation is no longer yours. It's now theirs. That's what becoming "published" is all about.