A nice winter’s day in Florida, 72 degrees, sunny and clear, so we sat outside Exotic Bites for lunch with 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Jamaica organizer, Damali Adele Ife.
Hummus, babaganoush, tzatziki, and Egyptian musaka (Terri’s favorite), pita and mint tea. (and leftover baklava we had from the night before that the waitress forgot to put in our to go order…yummy).
The first time we saw Damali’s beautiful face was on the youtube video she sent us before we knew anything about her. The video was a personal call from her home to the poets of the world, a call for change.
The video made us both cry, because we were so amazed that this stranger across the oceans was moved so much by the idea of 100 Thousand Poets for Change that she sent out such an honest personal plea. It was one of the first responses we got that really made us feel like it was real, not just an online virtual illusion.
We got one from Yashika Graham too.
Damali took/takes the whole 100 TPC thing VERY seriously. She was always the poet in the back of the room at the reading, she says, wondering why everyone just came and read their “political” poetry and then went home. She wanted to do more that just rant about what was wrong. 100 TPC gave her that opportunity and she embraced it fully.
We were excited in 2011 to meet each other for the first time, making the human connection beyond the surreal and disembodied resolution of virtual communication. And we were tirelessly excited about the possibilities for 100TPC future as we shared all the details of the first events around the world. It was the second time we met Damali in person, in Hollywood, FL. Last year we met at Young Circle Arts Park and gave a cell phone radio interview together for “Carribean Riddims”
It was awesomely great to see Damali a second time! She has this energized immediacy about her, a telegraphic intensity, when she’s talking you know she has a big vision, and she knows she must make it work.
Damali has come together with other passionate and dedicated poets and artists in Jamaica to expand the message and try to make real change. One of her strong partners is d’bi young who in 2011 was in Cape Town, and helped organize the 100 TPC event there with the Badilisha Poetry X-Change. She moved back to Jamaica, her homeland, and worked with Damali, Yashika Graham and other poet and musician activists on 100 TPC JA 2012, which focused on bringing attention to the silence that surrounds child abuse in Jamaica and beyond.
Terri, Damali and I sat at the café table on the Harrison St. sidewalk dipping pita in humus, hardly taking a breath for more than two hours, telling local stories, sharing news from the world, comparing notes from Kingston, Jamaica to Santa Rosa, California.
Our minds traveled through the obstacles we encounter in organizing and how to remove them. We looked at organization problems and solutions learned from New Orleans, Albuquerque, Palm Desert, Los Angeles, San Antonio, retracing our Santa Rosa on the road journey and the lessons we learned, the models, working and broken, that would give us hints of where we all should go next.
We gave Damali one of the 100TPC buttons we got from Viktoria Valenzuela in San Antonio, TX. She took a picture of it with her cell phone, then pinned it to her shirt. This is how global goes global…this is how we truly connect.