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J. Otis Powell‽ (with interrobang)

Updated: Tue, 11 Jul 2017 05:45 pm


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J. Otis Powell‽: writer, performance artist, mentor, curator and consultant. A list of his clients includes, Intermedia Arts, Perpich Center Artists and Educators Institute, Innocent Technologies, Pillsbury House Theater, Interact Theater and the Givens Foundation. The Minnesota Spoken Word Association awarded Mr. Powell‽ their Urban Griot Innovator Award and inducted him into their Hall Of Fame. Powell‽ is also a founding curator for Bridges - a performance arts program with Pangea World Theater. Mister Powell‽’s fourth book, Waiting for a Spaceship was published by SPOUT Press in June of 2017. In February 2015 J. Otis‽ was poetry editor for Blues Vision, an anthology produced in collaboration between Minnesota Humanities Center and Minnesota Historical Society Press. Rain Taxi launched Pieces of Sky in 2014. My Tongue Has No Bone, a book featuring art by Janice Lee Porter was released in 2001 by Porter Publishing and his first book Theology was celebrated in 1996 and handmade by Traffic Street Press. J. Otis‽'s words have been recorded and released on several CDs: a DVD titled News as Abstract Truth with Bill Cottman, Unsentimental with Rene Ford, BALM! In association with SpeakEasy Records, THIS CAT IS OUT, with The New Day Blues Band, THEOLOGY: Love & Revolution and Words Will Heal The Wound.

 J. Otis‽ has studied with Gloria Anzaldúa, Quincy Troupe, Amiri Baraka, Alexs Pate, Sekou Sundiata and Yusef Komunyakaa. He worked as co-mentor and performed with Amiri Baraka for the Givens Writer's Retreat and TruRuts Endeavors. Grants and awards include: recipient of a Loft Creative Nonfiction Award, a Jerome Travel and Study Grant as well as a Jerome Mid Career Artist Grant and an Intermedia Arts Interdisciplinary McKnight Fellowship, he was selected for the 2014 CCLI at Intermedia Arts. Powell‽ was a founding producer of the award winning Write On Radio! at KFAI-FM in Minneapolis while working as a program director and community liaison at the Loft Literary Center.


Freedom “You ain’t free you just loose." from PUNIC WARS by Keith Antar Mason I have written myself Into existence I am not accomplished But I’m the person I want to be when I get there Free as I know how Loose as I can stand I save sacred things in poems To worship them in public Nothing good gets away It’s been proven we know how to die At intersections Where angels and demons cross On the edge of hope Can we prove we know how to live Can we be living proof of realities Larger than ourselves In the face of mathematics Can we hold forth the notion That one plus one is one In our journey toward freedom Can we bring body and soul together I tired of repetition until I understood infinity I built a new woodshed To practice freedom Fritz Kreisler said, "Practice is a bad habit" It could lead to loss of "The bloom of your musical imagination" It could lead to soulless memory Definitive interpretations Absolute power Tomorrow is fragile but momentum Has a habit so I practice Time is filled with practice Proficiency is as much habit as devise John Coltrane didn’t practice He played all the time His practice was like an Ocean practices waving Like the sun practices Raising the temperature Always with time hanging In the balance I practice opening my hands And letting go It’s amazing what one can do Once their hands are free I practice forgetting To remember and dreaming It’s come down to me My art and EYE I have wooed myself into submission One seductive line at a time It’s a process of reconstruction That affords us creativity It is creative process that adds meaning To otherwise fragmented realities We are born into worlds of influence Larger than ourselves so we deconstruct We reconstruct our own mythology In order to know which worlds are ours _______________________________ Ancient Young Souls Camouflage Maturation Tea Party In A Fox Hole Esoteric (revised) Speaking In Tongues

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

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Mon 26th May 2014 19:37

Thankyou for your comment on 'I Saw Myself' J. Otis!!! I love poems that smell :) I'm loving your words xx

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Barbi Touron

Sun 19th Feb 2012 16:24

To have a place to live I’ve recreated the universe
I’m writing an afterlife in case.

Stunningly beautiful and strong.

<Deleted User> (6315)

Fri 17th Feb 2012 15:26

In answer J :) Pride in the face of adversity and the fact that I try.. :)))

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winston plowes

Sat 28th Jan 2012 16:42

Hi Otis, That may well be true. I came a cross a phrase this morning... Grief is the price we pay for love. Win x

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Charlotte Henson

Fri 28th Oct 2011 09:21

i'm not sure i understand what you mean xD

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Greg Freeman

Tue 25th Oct 2011 13:42

Hi Otis, it's always a bit radical and usually impertinent when someone suggests excising the beginning of a poem. Thanks for explaining and defending why the lines are there. I really enjoyed the spirit of it all.

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Alison Mary Dunn

Sat 22nd Oct 2011 10:37

Dear Otis, thank you so much for your comment on my profile page, means a lot.

I'm in painting mode right now and haven't visited WOL for some time but will return to read your poetry when I can set some time aside to take your words in.

Look forward to this.

Best wishes


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Thu 20th Oct 2011 21:24

Hi Otis, I dunno whether you have given American a fresh listen, I Put it to Solomon Jabby's - Firmly Planted In Dub record. Added a sample of a pandoras box opening at the end. Give it a listen if you can, i would be glad of your feedback. The original album the music came from is Firmly Planted by Solomon Jabby, of which i strongly recommend.

Thank you for your comments on the original American, that i wrote. Yep, there seems to be a great deal of ignorance around, even after Barak's election victory. If anything, his Presidency seems to give license to those who would say 'They' got what they wanted. perhaps they will shut up now??? But i know myself, its deeper, much deeper. And i can only hope years of injustice, will one day find its peace.

there is more i could say, but i know you know where im coming from.

My wife is a zulu. She hails from SA. I spent time in the region working for the United Nations, and i know at first hand the plight of many at the hands of the tyrannical. Not all ears are unassuming.

thanks once again for your comments. I really like your work and read all.

By the way, my second sons middle name is Otis.
Im smiling at that.

Stay well Otis.

Best wishes and much love.


aka Mike


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Tue 18th Oct 2011 16:31

this one is dedicated to you. I think your work is fantastic.

Best wishes



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Sophia Dimmock

Mon 17th Oct 2011 18:13

Thank you for your kind comment J.Otis, you sound pretty wise yourself. All the best with your numerous exciting projects.

<Deleted User> (9734)

Sat 1st Oct 2011 22:43

Amazing work J. Otis Powell. The words in Quintets captured my every emotion.

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winston plowes

Tue 27th Sep 2011 19:32

Hi There, just listened to 'face of a child' on youtube. great delivery and the music was perfect. Win

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