Spoken Word Artist Fong Tran joined us on September 8, 2018 for a terrific workshop and performance!
Fong introduced a great discussion with unique activities that encouraged us – as performers and speakers – to take ownership of our physical space.
He discussed the importance of “claiming your space” as a performer, and talked about how words, ideas, connotations, and other details can give rise to our bodily language. Fong also shared a few of his own poems, allowing our guests to workshop one of them to discuss ways he could approach the poem differently, while helping us consider strategies for writing/performing our own work in unexpected, fresh ways.
We had a great presentation by Elena Smith (Reference Librarian with the California State Library) who joined us on August 25, 2018 to talk about all the poetry resources we can find at the California State Library/History Section!
Amongst the wealth of information she discussed, Elena gave a case study of Bay Area poet Ina Coolbrith, who was the first Poet Laureate of California. Through the library’s various tools, Elena was able to carefully construct a picture of Ina’s life with the help of various catalogs, citations, and targeted searches. Through her research, we were able to discover a poet who reshaped her trauma and pain into art.
Elena also encouraged us to never delete or trash the writing we produce – no matter how much we don’t like it – because it can help shape our own stories and those of the world around us for future generations. Our writing – no matter how we feel about it – can be important historic resources, not just for our state or city or culture or society or art, but for our own lives.
Actor Francois Battiste joined us on August 25, 2018 for an insightful talk about approaches to performing your poetry out loud.
He briefly shared his journey to becoming an actor, how he approaches his roles, and how poets might perform the voice in their own work.
Francois highlighted the importance of finding a way to position yourself in the context of your poem (who it’s being spoken to, why it’s being spoken, who it’s being spoken by, the environment its being spoken in, its language, etc.) and discovering it’s performance from there.
There was so much she covered that evening, including how poetry and literature have intersected with her life during different times.
She told us interesting stories about her life growing up, and shared thoughtful reflections and unique experiences from her life. She also showcased some of her amazing quilt work. It was such a full evening by such a talented individual!
One of the many cool things Eleanor shared was how, growing up, William Faulkner would visit her family and tell them stories as they sat on the porch. She showed us her copy of The Days When the Animals Talked signed by Faulkner for her parents. “He treated us like we were his own grandchildren,” she said. She also showed us her early edition copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin – a special gem of great, great value.
And that dress she wore in the pictures to the left – yep, she made it!
With her love of reading as her inspiration, writer Bridget Mabunga studied English at Chico State where she received her Bachelor’s degree, and later continued pursuit of her passion at Sacramento State where she received her Master of Arts in Creative Writing. While at Sacramento State, she won a Bazzanella Literary Award for Graduate Creative Nonfiction.
Bridget’s work has appeared in Under the Gum Tree, Kartika Review, 2012-2013 Kartika Review Anthology, and online at MotherShould? She’s also been a featured reader at TrueStory in Sacramento.
Bridget has worked as an Assistant Editor for Narrative Magazine, and currently enjoys working as a Writing Specialist at UC Davis where she assists students from varying backgrounds in “putting their power on the page everyday.”
She took the stage to read from her manuscript Obedience for the first time at Scriptorium on Saturday, December 9, 2017. She also shared wonderful insight into her writing life.
Participants in our Writing Enrichment L.O.V.E. Project on Wednesday, August 9, 2017, embarked on writing projects – from creating unique stories on paper to composing the story of how earth works on a large poster. One of our participants even stepped outside of his comfort zone to share his “Earth” story with us at our open mic event that Saturday!
The common core writing standards require children to write in a variety of genres. Writing proficiency is a process that can take many years to develop. This workshop was designed to engage 7-12 year old children who struggle with or are simply disinterested in writing.
Chris Jones is an up and coming American singer, songwriter, producer, and musician based out of Sacramento, CA.
With music residing in the midtempo range and delivering a thoughtful, honest, worldly, and smooth sound, his lyrics often deal with themes of love, drugs, and pain. He views his music as influenced by a variety of artists, including Frank Ocean, Carlos Santana, Prince, Marvin Gaye and D’Angelo.
Chris shared an evening full of original music on both his acoustic and electric guitar on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at Scriptorium.
Sacramento author, poet, screenwriter and educator Terry A. O’Neal was our first guest of 2017.
Terry is a bestselling author, whose poetry has been published in numerous magazines, journals and newspapers. Her previous publications include three volumes of poetry, Motion Sickness, The Poet Speaks in Black and Good Mornin’ Glory; two children’s books, Ev’ry Little Soul and My Jazz Shoes; and the award winning family fiction novel Sweet Lavender.
Terry has been named among the most popular African American female writers of our time, featured in a book entitled Literary Divas: The Top 100+ Most Admired African American Women in Literature – a list of women who’ve left a mark on the wider world through their writing.
We were thrilled to have Terry join Scriptorium on January 28, 2017 as she read her work and shared with us that evening.
What a glorious gathering we had October 29, 2016 as former R & B musician Jacque LaRue (of the singing group LaRue) joined Scriptorium! The evening was full of joy, gratitude, thanksgiving, beautiful music, and community. Jacque briefly overviewed her powerful story of coming to faith in Jesus Christ while in the entertainment industry.
One theme of this show was the influence of words. Jacque provided some great insight into the purpose of music and how it can positively or negatively impact individuals. She explained how the devil was involved with music before his fall, and his ministry in music continues today.
It is wise for people to be mindful of what place they put themselves in emotionally and psychologically when choosing to listen to music. Being aware of music’s influences can help provide direction in understanding how music may unconsciously direct one’s thought life, as thought precedes action. Music ministers, or serves people, in some capacity!
Sacramento State professor Doug Rice is a novelist, photographer, theorist, and scholar. He teaches film theory and history.
Doug is the author of numerous books including Blood of Mugwump (selected by late novelist Kathy Acker as runner-up Fiction Collective 2 First Novel Award, 1996), Skin Prayer (Eraserhead Press, 2002), An Erotics of Seeing (Black Scat Books 2015), and the recently published Here Lies Memory (Black Scat Books, 2016).
Doug’s fiction, memoirs and creative nonfiction have appeared in a number of anthologies and journals such as Avant Pop: Fiction for a Daydream Nation, Kiss the Sky, The Dirty Fabulous Anthology, Alice Redux, Phanthoms of Desire, and others.
He was the recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Scholar Award from Sacramento State University, and recipient of the 2007 University President’s Award for Scholarship from Sacramento State University.
His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, which recognizes the country’s top fiction, poetry, and essays published in small presses the previous year.
Doug holds a B.A. degree from Slippery Rock State College (Pennsylvania), a M.A. degree from Duquesne University (Pittsburgh), and studied for his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh. He has taught creative writing and film studies at Duquesne University, LaRoche College, Kent State University and other universities.
On October 1, 2016, Doug read from his newest book, Here Lies Memory, which explores the place of memory in the daily practice of living, examines what language and photographs do to memory, desire and love, and investigates what gentrification is doing to the personal lives of those people disappearing from the streets and homes in the Hill District and the North Side of Pittsburgh.
Marc Anthony Richardson is a novelist and artist from Philadelphia.
Year of the Rat, his debut novel, was winner of the Ronald Sukenick innovative fiction prize. A ten-year endeavour, Year of the Rat focuses on themes of critical social issues concerning minorities and the poor, dysfunctional families, sickness and mental disorders, the elderly and the disabled, substance abuse, and over-medicating.
Marc joined novelist Doug Rice at Scriptorium to read from his debut novel Year of the Rat on October 1, 2016.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jovonny “JDWorldWide” Devicente is a poet, hip-hop artist and activist.
Over the years he has performed all over the Los Angeles area, including the famous performing arts theatre, Da Poetry Lounge, Los Angeles City Hall, and the internet radio program Speak and B Heard.
He wrote, directed, and starred in the documentary Police State (currently in post production). In the documentary he speaks with various people throughout Los Angeles about their social views, and interviews the creator of the Zeitgeist Film Series, Peter Joseph.
Now that Jovonny’s relocated to Sacramento, you can find him performing his music and poetry at various local venues including Old Ironsides, Queen Sheeba and Scriptorium Saturday.
His efforts as a conscious artist and thinker have not gone unnoticed, especially in the hip-hop community. His Twitter account @jdworldwide has landed follows from Public Enemy’s Professor Griff and Digital Underground.
Jovonny’s work focuses on conspiracy, philosophy, spirituality and global social issues.
He performed music and poetry at Scriptorium on Saturday, September 17, 2016.
Philippine-born and LA-raised Elsa Valmidiano is a writer, poet, feminist, literary activist, globe trekker, and women’s freedom fighter.
Elsa began writing as early as she started reading. Though life took some turns as she studied law and became an activist for women’s rights in the U.S. and her Motherland, the Philippines, she never stopped writing and incorporates much of her activism into her writing, preferring to term herself “literary activist.”
Her works have appeared in local literary journals such as Maganda Magazine, Tayo, Make/shift, Burner, As/Us, Literature for Life, and others, as well as the anthologies Field of Mirrors, Walang Hiya, Same Difference, and Circe’s Lament. She was shortlisted for the Ivy Terasaka Award for the Short Story and a finalist for the Rita Dove Award for Poetry.
She will serve as Fiction Editor for As/Us and seeks those whose stories need to be told, especially in an industry that oftentimes marginalizes and tries to silence stories of “otherness.”
Elsa holds a Bachelor of Arts from UC San Diego, a Juris Doctor degree from Syracuse University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Mills College. She has performed numerous readings throughout the Bay Area.
Elsa currently resides in Oakland with her husband.
She was our special guest at Scriptorium on August 6, 2016.
On Saturday, July 30, 2016, our second L.O.V.E Project, Strategies for Overcoming Life Adversities, featured some practical advice on living well. The session highlighted ways all people can benefit from posturing themselves with basic attitudes, strategies, and principles in life, with focuses on:
Thank you to John and Leah for their love and wisdom in leading this session!
Our inaugural L.O.V.E. Project session kicked off on Saturday, July 23, 2016 at Robbie Waters Library and was a tremendous event! I wish more people could’ve heard these remarkable educators – with more than 90 combined years experience in education – share their insight into how we can serve our students as parents, teachers, and communities. If you are a parent, this event was for you as we head back into the school year.
Critical thinking is an essential component of Common Core. How often are you encouraging your children to critically think?
“To start critical thinking at home, start off with a ‘What if?’ when you’re home with your children, cooking in the kitchen, having dinner together or whatever family things you do together. Always try to pose questions to them that start off with a ‘What if?’ because they’ve got some really good ideas. They’re thinking, and you can kind of help push that out.
In tomorrow’s world when they’re at their job and working on a team, they have to be able to speak well, have very good vocabulary, and have to demonstrate what they mean. They have to get that picture that’s in their head out there in front of everybody.” – Lisa Silvera
Turn failure into success. Are you aware of what your child/children’s strengths are?
“Don’t take failure as failure. Failure is success because now you know what not to do. I tell my students you can’t fail. You cannot fail.”
“See where your child is strong.”
“Let’s focus on [students’ strengths] and try to build them up with the strengths God gave them. If we start comparing our children with somebody else, they’re going to feel like a failure because God didn’t make them like that. He made them this, and it’s a perfect you.” – Deborah Williams
Think It. Say It. Write It. Read It.: Finding Pathways to Achievement
“As far as strategies and learning to find their voice, you learn about what type of learner [students] are. Maybe they don’t read, but they can act really well, so that’s going to be a strength of theirs. So then you have them write a little play, even if you’re dictating it for them. The words they’re going to use they’re going to be able to read. That whole Anita Archer thing – if you can think it, you can say it, if you can say it, you can write it, if you write it you can read it. It’s that can-do attitude.” – Hollis Hepper
Parents want to know they are important. And that their children are, too.
“Your children buy into their teachers, which is one of the most important ingredients to pushing that child to achieve. Even with the parents, they have to feel they can trust the teachers. You’re building trust through your interaction. Just the little things that you do matter in the eyes of a parent who has nowhere else to go.
Teachers who know how to build solid relationships with their students can get almost anything they want out of those kids. And parents support that kind of learning, they support that kind of education.
What they don’t want is to feel devalued. And they don’t want their children to feel devalued. But when you feel like you’re a contributor in a classroom, a valued contributor, you feel like this is where you belong. This is a place I can learn and be successful.” – Andrea Francis
Joy is an award winning spoken word artist hailing from Oakland and Berkeley. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies from UC Berkeley and her Master of Arts degree in Education from Stanford University.
She has authored five books, and in June 2014 won third place in Oakland’s Got Talent for her spoken word piece, I’m A Survivor. In 2015, Joy was awarded Poetry Video of the Year by the National Poetry Awards for her video performance of I’m A Survivor.
Joy writes about local and national social issues, especially within the Black and disability communities.
She joined us Saturday, June 25, 2016 to give her words, poetry and wisdom!
When Christy Wade shared her poetry at the debut Scriptorium Saturday Poetry Show on Saturday, April 5, 2014, it had been five years since she’d performed any of her work on stage. But that night she returned to the mic. It was an honor to have her use the first Scriptorium Saturday event as her opportunity to re-present her work to the public.
Having written poetry since the age of fourteen, she is a well-versed poet, and is a seasoned open mic artist. From her pen comes poetry about life, love, history and social change, as well as themes geared towards encouragement and empowerment.
Hulon “The Survivor” Thompson is a poet, artist, musician and survivor. He was our featured guest at Scriptorium Saturday on September 19, 2015, and gave a courageous presentation on his life growing up in Compton, triumphing over a cancer diagnosis, his poetry that reflects personal growth into his self-made identity, and conscious art pieces. It was an evening of testimony, creative thought, and encouragement.
“I started writing raps and poetry at the age of fifteen because it was what my friends were doing at the time,” says San Francisco-born rapper and poet Terrence Thomas, “but suddenly I began to develop a sincere passion for my ability to express myself through my music and my poems. Rapping and writing poetry became my source of release and a way to get whatever was in my heart out,” he says.
This love of the craft of writing and rhyming is not only a hobby or passion for Terrence, artist name Chaziel, but is a direct reflection of how he has been revolutionized by the love of God. It was during time in prison that Terrence came into contact with the power of God in a way that transformed him spiritually and artistically.
Although he had known about the Lord all his life, it was at the age of 23 he came to accept the power of God’s grace and mercy on him in a way he had not quite done so before. Because of hardship and, more importantly, victory, he has a clear vision for the purpose of his music: to testify about the grace of God in his life and provide “common ground” to whoever is willing to give an ear to his testimony.
He describes his work as different – but different with a cause. We were glad to have Chaziel at our Poets of Faith show on June 21, 2014 to share the meaning and power of that cause with us.
*”In October of 1968, an eighteen-year-old girl was on her way to work in Watts, California, when she was struck by a Southern Pacific train as she crossed an intersection. After the train dragged her body thirty feet, amputated her right leg, and severed her left thumb, the teenager called out for Jesus and promised that, if allowed to live, she would be a witness for Him.” (*from the synopsis of “Follow Your Vision and Never Give Up!: I’m Determined to Be Someone Someday” by Barbara Sterrett)
Ms. Barbara Sterrett was our special guest at our show on August 2, 2014. She shared from her memoir, “Follow Your Vision and Never Give Up!: I’m Determined to Be Someone Someday,” and talked about a devastating train accident from over forty years ago that left her physically impaired.
When asked during the show what had pulled her through the series of obstacles she’s faced in her life, Ms. Sterrett said she had no other way to explain her endurance except faith and belief in the power of God for her life.
Husband and wife authors John and Leah Savage joined us on Saturday, April 16, 2016 to share from their motivational books, Eagles in the Midst: Overcoming the Wilderness and Married to Love. Centered on love, healing, restoration, self-identity and testimony.
Eagles in the Midst, authored by John Savage, is born of God to encourage your heart and bring clarity to the path of life you now walk. No matter what your current circumstances are, God wants to give you fresh hope and meet you right where you’re at – this very moment. In the midst of John’s personal pain and struggles in life, God has continued to meet and exceed his every need.
Married to Love, authored by Leah Savage, is Leah’s personal testimony of being married to Christ, who is Love. It is her story of intimacy with Him, and His work of transformation and illumination in and through her.
At our July 25, 2015 event, Robert Prather shared a presentation on his art and cartoons, along with a special presentation on his first comic book, “Grand Soulful Gent.” He spoke about his journey to becoming an artist, his influences, the significance of music and MC Hammer to his work, and much more about the artist’s life.
Shaun Parker is a hip-hop artist, lyricist and poet born in San Jose but raised in Sac-Town, a graduate of Pleasant Grove High School, and soon-to-be-graduate of our own California State University, Sacramento. At the ripe age of nine, he began putting his pen to the pad in the form of poetry, which has ultimately developed into a passion for music. Having been inspired by his Aunt Jacque who was in an R & B group in the 80s, and hip-hop icons such as N.W.A., Rakim, Public Enemy, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar, music has become that creative place Shaun has made his home as an artist.
He sees his work as lyrical, in-depth, purposeful, progressive, and with a retrospect on life. At our debut show on Saturday, April 5, 2015, he gave us a spoken word interpretation of his musical lyrics.
Francesca Elizabeth is an emerging jazz artist based out of Sacramento, California. Her passionate and soulful style of music is influenced by such female artists as Billie Holiday and India Arie. She desires to share a message of hope with her listeners. She has a passion for music that began as a young child singing in her local church choir. Her message is delivered by means of acoustic guitar, which she has played for the past 7 years.
She performed a beautiful medley of song and reflection at our show on April 11, 2015.
Jen Palmares Meadows is a Pinay American writer living in the Sacramento, California area. Her work has appeared in such publications as Brevity, The Rumpus, Denver Quarterly, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Memoir Journal, Kartika Review, Essay Daily, Tayo, Live Science, and other places. Jen earned her undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University and her MA in Creative Writing from California State University, Sacramento.
The daughter of Philippine immigrants, Jen grew up in a southern California suburb on a street where all the houses were peach in a home with a big brown van parked out front. She writes about motherhood, family, duality, faith, and sexuality. In her essays, she strives to create ‘beneficent nonfiction,’ that is, truthful writing with a positive purpose and a use.
Jen joined us on Saturday, March 5, 2016 to share some of her new work with us.
Born and raised in South Sacramento, artist Dan Ligaya was raised by Filipino-immigrant parents who migrated to Sacramento in the 1980s. After being inspired by the artistic abilities of people in his family, Ligaya began composing abstract art during his sophomore year of high school. Eventually he transitioned into landscape and impressionistic art, before delving into political work and developing an interest in portraits. Today, Ligaya sees his artistic portfolio as an integration of photography, videography, and investigative journalism. Ligaya shared his original paintings, his photography from his trip to Kenya, and a short documentary of his trip to Africa at our show on Saturday, January 9, 2016.
Family. Family serves as the inspiration for why Mrs. Ida Francis began writing poetry in her twenties. It all began at family gatherings, where Mrs. Francis took on the task of writing poems on members of the family. She says poetry is a matter of telling stories, and that the communication of poetry, itself, can tell people what poetry can do – and so perhaps inspire people to begin their own journeys of writing.
Though having been in Sacramento, now, for quite some time, Mrs. Francis is a Southerner through and through. She was born in Madison County, Mississippi and attended colleges in Little Rock, Arkansas, before making her way to Sacramento, California in 1953 to live with her Aunt and Uncle, who attended a fellowship called Kyle’s Temple African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. After her arrival, Mrs. Francis joined her Aunt and Uncle in attending, too, and the rest is …present. She has become, what she calls, a “fixture” at Kyle’s Temple, graciously serving as secretary for well over half a century.
In Mrs. Francis’ life of service, the pen plays an important role – both professionally as a secretary and personally as a poet. She is a prolific writer of words of love, laughter, and inspiration in the midst of those she loves towards those she loves – including the ones she performed to at the Scriptorium Saturday show on May 17, 2014.
Alvin Jefferson III, ART III, is a young man with a heart for knowing and growing in God, and is a growing artist as well. He’s learning and coming into form as a musician and artist, and has a desire to continue building on his work and vision as he grows as an artist in the Lord. He performed at our Poets of Faith II event in 2014.
A supernova is the explosion of a star, and if there’s an artist who’s pen name warrants such a vivid image as metaphor, it’s probably emcee and spoken word artist Noah “Supanova” Hayes.
For the past decade, Noah has spread his message of love and hope across this globe, from the famous Nuyorican Poetry Cafe in New York City, to Cafe Nuba in Denver, Colorado, to Da Poetry Lounge in Hollywood, California, all the way to international venues in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England.
On stage, he has performed with legends in hip-hop and jazz such as KRS-One, Raheim of the group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5, bassist Milt Hinton and composer and clarinetist Artie Shaw.
When Supanova isn’t bringing dynamic words of hope through the mic or on stage, you can find him spending time in outreach to the Boys and Girls Club, or working on his blog, where his poetry reaches audiences as far as Tokyo, Japan.
It was an honor to have Supanova share some words with us at the Poets of Faith show on June 21, 2014.
On August 23, 2014, Joseph offered a special presentation combining different expressions: artwork, poetry, and kung fu. Joseph was an open mic performer at our very first show in April 2014, and was gracious enough to come back out for a memorable show. He presented a kind of layering of language for us – intricate and detailed art and thoughtful and introspective poetry – all deepened by the accompaniment of kung fu presentations by Christine Galinato.
For our February 21, 2015 Black History Month show, 88-year-young T.R. Francis gave us a special presentation full of reflections and historical insight. The show was full of love and perspective as we listened to his words and the words of those who have been impacted by incredible life!
Cheri Douglas is a writer, a teacher, and leader of a large online ministry via Twitter under her handle @cheridouglas, and via her website, TweetingGodsLove.com, which she started in 2009. The purpose of TweetingGodsLove.com, and her whole online ministry, is to “lift her spirits and the spirits of millions of Americans losing jobs and businesses in the recession that has ravaged the American economy.”
Her work is a labor of love, dedicated to lifting people up, giving them hope and the empowering message of Jesus Christ. In addition to her wealth of work as an evangelist and instructor, she’s in the process of completing a book called called, fittingly enough, Tweeting God’s Love. We have been glad to have Cheri with us at various Scriptorium events.
It was the poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes that inspirited Ty Alovera to begin her journey as a writer in the seventh grade. Though, for nearly three decades after that time, she used music as her expression of choice as a traveling musician, she would find herself turning back to poetry as a way to recovery after her own personal tragedy. In poetry, she has discovered the groundwork of her restoration and rehabilitation, has found the written word to be her essential place of creation and performance. Born in Florida, raised in Oregon, instrumentalizing and vocalizing from Alaska to Arizona, and now poeticizing in Sacramento, California, she is a well-traveled person and artist. She is mother & grandmother, lover of children & of animals, harpist, guitarist, vocalist…. & poet.
Antwan Alameen doesn’t really feel like he fits in. One of his biggest challenges in life has simply been receiving acceptance, as he has always embraced his individuality. Like many young folks, he spent his teenage years trying to find his identity, but ended up just feeling frustrated at not being able to conform in the ways people wanted him to. The very ones he hoped would help him find his place and purpose in life were the ones who ended up letting him down. One day, he met a missionary who introduced him to the Word of God, and he began to study the life of Jesus.
“From that time,” says Antwan, “I learned about Christ and [His] love and grace towards mankind. I learned that God’s ways were absolutely the best ways for humanity.” This growth in understanding of Jesus and His work compelled him to share the Good News with others, although inside, he still struggled with figuring out who he wanted to be.
But in 2014 Antwan decided that going through the turmoil of trying to gain approval from others was a burden he was no longer going to bear, and began focusing on living a life pleasing to God. He believes that one way God is now using him is through music. His newfound passion is connecting with people through the art of music – and not alienating them, as he once was by other people. It was an honor to have Antwan share with us at our Poets of Faith II show in 2014, which was only his second public performance.