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Poetry Book, Future Feature Readings, and Poetic Excitment

I have neglected this blog for a long time, because I’ve been fairly busy with school, but I want to re-establish my online presence here and now. I am breathing, poet-ing, and living life all the time. In the course of these events, I have a few tidbits of incredibly explosive news.

Firstly, I have decided to self-publish a chapbook of poetry, which will be entitled Skinny Dipping with Strangers, named after the featured poem of the same name. Hypothetically, this poem will be released in early January or as early as late December! I will be working on it even harder once I finish final exams and begin my winter break!

Secondly, I will be performing at a number of shows in the upcoming months, including the open mics I already frequent. The soonest will come this Wednesday on November 20th at the 827. I will be performing a 25 minute feature, after which will follow an open mic and poetry slam! For all the information, check out the event here: http://www.the827.com/#!open-mic-night/cdoa

Or you can join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/556583157768045/

If you cannot make this performance, that will be perfectly fine. There will possibly be another Charleston-centric event I shall update you about on a later date.

Likewise, if you’re not in the Charleston area and clambering to experience Derek Berry’s poetic gymnastics, I have three great options for you. Firstly, I will be working in the coming weeks to produce a few low-budget videos of my performances, and maybe even some music-video-type projects for poems! Secondly, I am going to work on getting a professional recording of the poems that will appear in the book (and some other poems too) which I will be giving away for free to those that purchase the book.

Finally, I have a very exciting announcement. I will be featuring in the city where my spoken word started off– Augusta, GA! On January 2nd, 2014, I will perform a show at M.A.D. Studios, hosted by Catherine Zickgraf. I will also post again about this in the future. You can come out and see me play home field.

In other words, get psyched for the possibilities for the future. There have been other poetic concerns clouding my mind, but I don’t want to share them until they become officiated. Keep in touch, and I will keep everyone updated.

 

The Poet Inside

You wake up, your chest bursting open

your ribcage splayed across your bed, bleeding unto the morning

These words will rip you apart, will climb from your heart

there’s been a poet living there all along

On the Subject of Cats and Poets

I have heard poets tend to like cats as if for a wordsmith, keeping a feline companion has become a glaring cliche.

I read this perplexing article, which prompted me to respond.

I do not particularly like cats, despite the fact one has made a home out of my room. It is not so much that I own the cat, but rather, we co-inhabit the same area, a fact she too is not at all fond of. She forces her way in each night and perches on the windowsill, unblinkingly watching me sleep. Whenever I wake up in the dead of night, she stares at me intently as if daring me to close my eyes again, to let my guard down. Most nights, I suspect she is plotting her revenge for times when I have locked her outside in a rain storm. I try to exclude her, to leave her in some other, empty room, but she has claimed my bed as hers, my desk as hers, my clothes as her personal, extra-comfy throne.

However “cat people” came into being is still a mystery to me. I understand why someone might love a dog, who shows owners endless, unwarranted affection. Cats, however, disdain their owners. They are lazy and as tedious as taxes. They live to spite your efforts with a critical, demon eye. There can’t be much dignity in owning a pet who, in her eyes, owns you.

But there has been talk from Petrarch to modern day spinners that poets prefer the company of cats, as if we share their prickly self-obsession, their self-preening, egotistical ways. They do not demand respect either, but they expect it. I would certainly not allow Blake’s Tyger to lounge in my windowsill nor would I tolerate any of Poe’s black cats worming their way across my path. If one crossed the road, I would speed up to kill it before its bad luck infected me. And if I were Alice, utterly loss in the fantastical dreamland of my own adolescence, I would never act so kindly to the Cheshire Cat who seems to take great delight in confusion and disappearance.

Cats are not muses, cannot properly inspire anything but mutual distrust, especially when they swat your feet with sharp claws or when you kick them sharply in the gut. So I simply do not see why writing and cats should mix. I do not keep company with Crookshanks or Fritz or even Garfield. Jerry the Mouse might as well drop anvils on all their heads as well.

There is not much left to say on the subject, and I’m quite unsure why I brought it up in the first place. There is a common phrase, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” And if you don’t know why someone would want to skin a cat, you obviously have never owned one.

PURE. EVIL.

 

Come Out for the Coffee House Performance at Aiken Community Playhouse

Friday will be a quarterly Coffeehouse showcase at the Aiken County Playhouse. Featured will be The Company and Broadway Bound groups performing songs and some dance numbers. Try to come out and support the ACP. Tickets are $10.

I will also be performing some poems. As open mic season heats back up (for me, this is the summer because of the extreme lack of scholarly responsibilities), I will be amping up my poetry game. Firstly, I’m going to write new material. I’ve been using the same poems for a while now, churning out a new one now and then. But I’ve got to write more original pieces to share this summer. Also, I will be refining my craft, which means rehearsing pieces more often and memorizing them better. This is partly because I honestly want to perform better and partly because I want to win some poetry slams this summer.

So, this Friday, for ten dollars, you can see some amazing singers, amazing dancers, and one comic poet. Sounds like a plan? You betcha!

As an added bonus, I’d like to share some pictures of me performing poetry and of me at poetry events. Just looking at these gets me revved up for this summer’s festivities!

Performing at Sit-a-Spell last summer

Mahogany Lounge Poetry Slam

Performance at Arts in the Heart of Augusta

I’ve been performing at Sit-a-Spell since it first opened! I will be returning toward the end of this month!

Open mic sign up list at Cafe Rio Blanca.

Possibly the first time I used my Nook to read a poem off of.

During a poetry reading of “Sapiosexual”

1st Place in the Aiken County Language Arts Festival– poetry

A performance in my very own living room. Pretty cool tattoo, right?

Posing with Michael and BET/Defjam poet Jon Goode

One of my shorter poems converted into picture form by one of my friends.

Check out my poetry this Friday downtown at the Aiken Community Playhouse in the Black Box! To see videos of past performances, check the sidebar called “POETRY.”

Poem: Lightning is a Type of Creativity Too

I performed this the other night at Rio Blanca, the video to which is below the one I made of me in my room studio. Tell me what you think.

Here is the performance, cut off at Rio Blanca’s:

 

Cafe Rio Blanca Performance, pt. 1

Actually, this was my reading for the second round of the performances. I read two poems in the video, one relatively new and one not so much. Enjoy and share your thoughts below.

Part 2 coming soon.

A Poet By Any Other Name?

Some poets are named BARDS. Some are named POLAR BEAR. That’s right. There’s a British poet named Polar Bear and he’s pretty good. But what’s in a name? My poet-friend’s poet name happens to be Catherine the Great. What do you think of that? I’m a bit scared to throw on any sort of adjective after my own name, especially not one like Great. Her son’s poet name is Josh the Awesome (this kid is ten and already killin’ it. I guess I’ve got serious competition in the young poet department).

So, should I have a poet name and what should it be?

Derek the Dork?

At readings, I generally put down random names. It’s not that I don’t like my name. It’s great as an author name, but there is something cool about having a special poet name. I mean, what if people referred to you as Polar Bear? How FRICKIN’ COOL. At open mics, I would call myself the “Metaphor Magician” or “Derek Calypso Natural Lemonade Berry.” Sometimes, I’d put rude names that were a lot of fun to hear spoken aloud such as Seymour Buttes or Mike Hawksmall.

But I have gotten over these petty pranks and decided to create a real poet name. A stage handle. Why? Because it’s fun! Though, I’m sure not everyone agrees. Hear what poet and rapper George Watsky has to say about it:

So, before the weekend is out, I will announce my all new POET NAME! I’m still trying to decide. Also, I’ve been sending off my poems. Should I place my stage name or real name along with the poems? Just wondering.

If you have any suggestions for a cool name (keep in mind my work), please share!

Why Is It Important to Read the Masters

I recently looked on Litreactor.com, thinking about enrolling in one of their highly effective creative writing classes which include lectures and critiques from the country’s top authors. Unfortunately, it costs $395, a jaw-dropping amoung for an online class. In my opinion, anyways.

Who needs fancy smancy classes when you have books, though, right?

There’s a reason you spend hours and hours deciphering the writing styles of classics. You can use those same skills to analyze the styles and techniques of other writers you like. And yeah, USE them. Now, that doesn’t mean copy the style of your favorite author. But certain techniques are universal and can only be learned. You learn to write well by reading well.

Read good books. Write good books.

This works just as well any writing class.

If you convince yourself that by reading, you’re actually “working,” you feel less bad about reading all day and night. It has actually vastly increased my reading time. Now I can comfortably read and feel like I’m working on perfecting my craft. Which I, in fact, am.

If you’re a blogger only, read other people’s blogs. Subscribe and comment. And if you’re feeling especially generous, start with mine?

What is considered UNmanly?

We all know what might be considered manly (Chuck Norris, Daniel Day Lewis, and films about war), but what exactly does it mean to be UNMANLY? Because I am so oft labeled thus, I’d like to explore exactly what that term constitutes.

I could... probably achieve that.

Does it mean that I don’t “lift weights,” but instead attend Pilates classes? (Ok, fine, it’s Yoga…. Ok, FINE! Yoga on Wii Fit… Just leave me alone OKAY! I admit, it’s actually table tennis on Wii Fit, so just stop judging me, please!)

Maybe being unmanly means eating healthy cereal like Special K or some other granola-based barf disaster. Granted, painting my toenails and joining a ballet company… but wait, have you guys SEEN male ballerinas? They’re more fit than Rugby players. So maybe ballet IS manly? Because think about it, you spend all day with beautiful women in tights. Yet society seems to point to other adjectives when describing a male ballet dancer. It doesn’t make much sense.

Okay, maybe plucking your eyebrows still lies in the UNMANLY camp of activities, but other things that used to be considered effeminate have become more… well, manly.

What’s the big deal with being manly, anyways? I mean, so I don’t smoke cigars and wrestle bears, but why should I? I’m sure given the right occasion, I might put a grizzly in a choke-hold, but unless it’s attacking me, why would I ever attempt to do that? The quest to be manly evolved from when men went to war. I mean, all men went to war. There was no military to speak of, so when America needed to fight a war, it enlisted every man. Farmers and merchants and blacksmiths and horse riders. They took boys as young as 14, handed them a gun, and pushed them onto the battlefield.

Think on a Civil War battlefield where these men are strewn across the grass. Every grass blade sports flecks of blood, the corpses piled over each other. You can see by the position of the bodies that the battle lasted long. Three hours. But the boys kept running out, fighting. They kept fighting. And it was not as if either armies harbored disdain for each other– only months before, they had been countrymen. Yet now confronted with what they were told was the enemy, they fought. They killed.

They shot and stabbed each other and kept trying to do so simply because if not, these boys would look unmanly in front of their friends. To not fight was the coward’s way. It was each boy’s duty to fight and if he fled, he could never overcome that act of unmanliness, that betrayal of honor.

It was pointless. Wars fought for the same reason men today still choose to pile more weights onto a barbell if they’re lifting in front of their friends. There is a certain spark in some people that will encourage them to lay down their lives for a war. Others do so because they cannot do otherwise and continue to live with masculinity intact.

 

Poem: Voice From the South

A poem about where I’m from and where I ain’t from and ever’where in-between.

I shall be performing this piece tonight at Sit-a-Spell coffeehouse. Come join the fun.

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