Tshombe Sekou Interviews with OPWR: Spoken Word Saturdays

Date: 17 Jan 2015
Interviewer: Ms Creoleness aka Adrina Smith, New Orleans
Subject: Tshombe Sekou, Japan

Q1: What is the strategy behind Tshombeism?

A: If what you mean by strategy is purpose, let me first specify that the “ism” has little to do with some form of ideology or iconology, but more to do with a principle of defining self and sharing myself with others who are like-minded; the concept of the ism portion of the idea was conceptualized by a good and dear friend of mine who goes by the name of Seaniemo (a radio DJ out of D.C.) who has been studying a lot of my works from long ago, once he made the statement “there goes another one of those tshombeisms…” and like that it stuck! But if we are to use your word “strategy,” it would be simple: discovery.

Q2: When I say Tshomebe Sekou, His work, His words, His way. What does that mean?

A: I suppose that it means that you have discovered something within my works, actions, and most of all character as a person that identifies a poet; a philosopher, an activist, a human being worthy of examination. To me, it means exhibition, and that’s what it means to be an artist—to be in exhibition why else would one choose such an exposing practice if not to be inspected and shared?!

…and to speak a bit about the exhibition of our own art, the allowance of inspection and inquiry is something we must not fear…to examine art is to appreciate it; to inspire it, and to become greater in it. In my work I had to become transparent and welcome without fear the scrutiny of perspective, learn to not fear opinion and not to hold on to the sensitivities of creativity.

So when you ask what this statement means to me, I suppose it means to be fearless and welcoming.

Q3: When you are in the studio, what do you want the listeners to capture from it?

A: Well I believe that when we are writing poems, it itself is a dimension of our creativity of its own, when we have decided to lend our voices to that work we are giving it a new dimension of existence; it’s like taking a 2D image and making it multi dimensional not just in the 3rd Dimension. When we begin to voice our work, we are giving it life, spirit if you will, and we are commissioning ourselves to intercourse with other sense beyond the ocular perception…some may have called it a full body experience, or whole sensing…see, when you read a poem you get to develop your own voice and sense of perception to understand the process or to relate, but when an artist begins to aid you in that by sharing with you there own intentions, the experience deepens…and to me that’s what the intent of transforming my work into an oratory medium. This is what I want you to feel!

Q4: How have your roots from New Orleans influence your writing?

A: Well, New Orleans provides a foundation of ancestry, culture, and identity; yet that is only a microcosm of it; New Orleans while it is my birthplace, is just that a place and the world is filled with places to limit ourselves to identifying with just one—a river passes through many places before it reaches a destination, and in those travels it picks up many things along the way contributing to its passing along, but once it reaches its destination it matters little of where it originated, but more on what it brought with it—our lives are like a river, we can focus on one place and miss all the places we have passed without realizing what we are carrying with us to the end of our journey. New Orleans is a code in my life stream, a place for me to always call home, a place for me to identify as the source of my origin, but it is not where I am going.

Q5: I want you to talk to the people about the Alien track especially with you serving overseas.

A: Oh yes, Alien—this poem was born out of a sense of observed frustration ( I do that a lot, observe my actions and interactions with things), while I was sitting at an open mic called “spit that” in DC last year I was recalling my engagement with a border agent while processing through custom into the U.S.—this track is an exposition of what it means to be an American today, where we live under the concepts of bravery, freedom, and independence, but we live in fear and distrust; where color still defines placement and treatment—where the sounds of our names strikes the heart with terror, we have begun to fear even ourselves—so while this may be an enjoyable piece to listen to, it is at the same time a dirge for who we are not and pretend to be.

Q6: Talk to me about Mickey Williams and how those collaborations came about…

A: Oh yes, Mikki is one of the few artist I have had the pleasure of working with—I’m a bit selective in that regard because I need to be able to feel and understand the artist I collaborate with—and with Mikki there is a resonance that spoke with me; there are others such as Tantra Zawadi, Mahogany Diva, Epiphany Castro, and fellow poets from the Poetic Voices writers crew…but, back to your question—Mikki and I had been sharing poetry and ideas back from when she hosted a show here on blogtalk radio and had invited me on as a guest and out of that was born a friendship and kinship in art and spirit and from that was born the opportunity to work together on a small project called “Formulation”—the project just came together out of random creativity with intention—an oxymoron I know, but somehow it makes sense to me—us. Thank you for asking about that, and I am sure Mikki is appreciative as well.

Q7: Tell everyone about your evolution as an Independent Artist. Past present and Future…

A: Well, that’s a rather lengthy journey, but I think I can bring it together in a few short points: The independence in artistry is about the freedom of reliance, boundary~less creativity, freedom of release, and charitableness of art…I found myself in poetry searching for a means of freedom from matriculation and perceptions; from presuppositions and subjection, that to me being independent in the ability to create was purpose. This meant that I had to learn every aspect of creating and delivery what you receive today—I didn’t start a poet, I started with the expressions of anger and bias rhetoric—and one day someone called it a poem, and from that point begin my discovery of being creative and the process continued to magnify from there and I believe that it will continue to evolve as long as I don’t fear the process: I don’t fear perceptions, acceptation, genres and classification, I don’t fear the truth of who I am.

Q8: How have fatherhood changed you?

A: That’s a well placed question, it has given me more patience to see what I am looking at rather than looking at what I am seeing—in a lot of way being a father creates a deepening in my creativity because now for the first time in my life I have an active—living—interactive mirror before me—who will undoubtedly someday inspect the works I am presenting now. Fatherhood has increased me.

Q9: Tell the people something about Tshombe Sekou?

A: Sometimes I love having the gift of being a poet, but I dislike being a poet sometimes because the responsibility feels burdensome at times—once you become fully engaged as a poet, you begin to examine things for more than what they are, you begin to see almost compulsively a cup of tea as a part of both the ocean and the land coalescing in one body and somehow feel compelled to share and rather convince others of how wonderful such a discovery is—even at the risk of being perceived as abnormal. But I don’t really consider myself a poet, that’s for you to perceive and define; I find myself more an examiner and even a seeker of many things and whatever it is I discover is what I begin to share with you…I have mentioned in the past—probably in some other interview or form of disquisition that you can tell a tree by its fruits, and a fruit will reveal a tree through its seed; well I believe the same is true of an artist, so what you find when you examine my works and words is me…

Thank you for your questions…
Tshombe Sekou

Open Conversation | Radio Appearance

One of my favorite places for web-radio is at the one and only Epiphany’s House, and she has invited me back for discussion on my new book “Freedom, As It Happens”.  This will be the first open discussion I will have about the poems in this personal collection of work; I say personal for two reasons, the first of which is that poems are always personal (should be) and secondly because this collection is more autobiographical in nature.  Epiphany is a great conversationalist and the setting she facilitates makes for a great atmosphere for talking about poems and other things (to keep it simple).

You are cordially invited to listen in, but furthermore if you have been on the fence at purchasing this book (time are hard—when the choice is bread or poems) then listen in for a chance to get a copy for FREE.  Also, the book will go on sale for a significant discount during the airing of this broadcast.  So come by and listen to this conversation…yeah eavesdrop by invitation.

I thank you all for the consistent support and daily visits here.

again that link is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/epiphanyshouse/2014/05/18/epiphanys-house-online-celebration-of-tshombe-sekous-new-book


What Would You Say…

excerpt from an interview with Radio Show Neo-Lystically Speaking (circa 2010)

Host: Tshombe, if you were given a 30-second slot to stand on a grandstand and have the world hear what you have to say, what would be your message?

Tshombe: I would recite to them Proverbs 7:4-5 – Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward.

Host: Wow!

Radio Appearance| Announcement & Invitation

Every once in a while I receive an invite to be interviewed in the subject of poetry, rarely is it beyond that save one venue; this being my fourth appearance on the Epiphany’s House (hosted by the Bay Area’s Epiphany Castro) I am excited about the conversation we’re going to have, which is rarely just about poetry (which is sort of poetic—in my head).  Epiphany has invited me back for the second time this year to serve as her guest in closing out the year 2013; I am certain that we both have had a profound and productive year, and a chance at discussing that in the open on air is exhilarating.  As reader of my contents, I extend an invitation to you (if available) to check us out at the below details.  Please if the moment moves you call in with your poems (haiku, dirges, wakas, etc.), I would love to hear your words…as her maxim goes, “this is the place where artists meet!”

Location: Online @ Epiphany’s House on Blogtalk Radio

Date & Time: Sunday afternoon 29 DEC 13 : 3pm PST (CA) / 1pm EST (NY) / 2pm CST (CHI) / 5am JST (Japan – Monday Morning)

Call-In #: (914) 338-1801 (press “1” to get in queue) or Skype Available

My previous interviews with Epiphany: April 2013 | October 2011 | October 2010

A Conversation In Poetry | Radio

Earlier today (Japan) I was privileged in an engaging dialogue with colleagues within the poetic community on the lovely broadcast known as Epiphany’s House, a venue known for its extensive and exclusive list of guest; however, that aside it was a great and relaxed time to discuss poetics which is always a fun subject for me as both a student and writer of the genre.  If you’re interested you may check out the 2hour segment of discussion and me sharing poetry live on air.  In the next few days I will share my full notes collected prior to this interview for those interested in getting the full picture.

I would like to give special thanks to the wonderful host Epiphany Castro (Shiva Dances Records) and her assistants who make it all happen behind the scenes; those who came out to share in the audience, as well as those who called in to share a few words.  It is always an esteemed pleasure to be in the midst of like minds and open hearts.

In great love,

Tshombe Sekou

Epiphany’s House Presents Tshombe Sekou | Blog Talk Radio

New Icon (tshombe IV)After many years of being the interviewer in poetry radio, I now take the rare opportunities to avail myself for dialogue on other radio shows; this I think, is highly essential in giving context to one’s own creative process while enriching others. The host of Epiphany’s House, Epiphany Castro, has asked me to make a third appearance for her 2013 National Poetry Month lineup, which to date has been phenomenal with some of my most favorited poets, last week it was poet Shihan who sat on her couch—how could I refuse?! This being my third visit to her set, and each time was something new; she still adulates the opportunity…and I appreciate the gesture.

So she and I personally invite you to share in this conversation of poetic musings:

Date: Sunday 21 April 2013

Time: 3pm EST | 12pm PST | 4am (Japan, my time)

Place: Your PC | Skype |  or phone ( Epiphany’s House Presents Tshombe Sekou! via Blog Talk Radio.

*with open chat, so please let me know in comment section if you’ll be there so that I can recognize you.

“For many moons he has been a guiding light to those of us in the artistic community, and even those who are not; he is simply a marvelous human being, and so much more…”

Epiphany Castro, Host Epiphany’s House

Please join me as I sit down and have some great conversation with the wonderfully gifted Tshombe Sekou regarding poetry, life, and whatever flows in inspiration.

Take the hyperlink above and you will be in the right place!

Infinitude: inside the poem [poem discussion]

Discussion with Poet Tshombe Sekou regarding his poem: “Infinitudes” 

available for reading at www.tshombeisms.com 


Discussion facilitated by poet Lana Joseph: https://www.facebook.com/lana.joseph.1


Session began at 12:56 PM on Sunday 06 May 2012, local Japan  


LJ:  I’m here (SMILES)


Tshombe Sekou:  ah ha! Blessings and light to you.


LJ:  To begin with … I appreciate you immensely for wanting my thoughts on your work… blessings love and light to you too!


Tshombe Sekou:  I know that you are serious about your work and that means that you will be the same with anyone else’s work. 


Amiri Baraka stated once…


“…if you want to know the truth about your poetry, ask someone who is equally as serious about their work or ask a complete stranger.”


 LJ:  That is indeed a powerful statement & I am in total agreement with that assessment. Thank you!


And thank you for your acknowledgement. 


Yes… I value our gift and I have a few notes about some things that I was hoping to reach a bit of clarity on…


Tshombe Sekou:  then I am prepared to address them…


LJ:  So with that being said, let’s dig in! 


LJ:  THE FIRST NOTE:  The word “They” in your first stanza… gave me pause. The reason for the pause is that I felt as though you had already given power and immediate ownership to those who are considered “They” as opposed to using the word “Some”


Tshombe Sekou:  I chose it as an antecedent pronoun; it refers to those before me (souls); “Some” is sort of segregated to just anyone.


LJ:  I see… I’m clear now.


LJ:  SECOND NOTE: Fantastic metaphors!!! I Love the Jazz concept… Poetic Brilliance… and how the way the stanza makes your reader feel…


   My mind would drift on Tranes for Miles…

   Ra in the meadows of blue’s 

   Pyramid sand dunes

   against sunflowers and moon trees

   infused with the quintessence of purpose.


LJ:  Tranes for Miles… clarity in Tranes, is that an aesthetic decision to make it plural?


Tshombe Sekou:  (LAUGHS), yes that stanza was one of my favorites to construct, especially since jazz has been the cornerstone of my development…I wanted the reader to take a trip with that one.  

Trane (John Coltrane) for Miles (Davis); yes, I extended a poetic license at pluralizing “Trane” for context of auditory rhythm.


LJ:  (SMILES) I see…


How about “would cats be like “Yo’ I’ll sell you mine” is the “yo’ ” a typo or an aesthetic choice as well?


 Tshombe Sekou:  I chose the urban vernacular to give it a more concrete, yet definitive of the environment that surrounded me and the sense of alienation by expressed language.


LJ:  Yes… I love the language it works well.


searching for new time in new bio-vehicles

trading bodies like cats trading in rides

would cats be like “Yo! I’ll sell you mine

because I’m low on cash;

I can’t afford to occupy

because the mortgage is too damn high.




Tshombe Sekou:  Yes!  That part was really to connect with the audience with something real familiar while we are “making-believe”; the tether back to reality or fantasy, depending on which you choose is real or make-believe.


LJ:  Awesome!


Tshombe Sekou: I actually leave some imperfections in my poems, it keeps me grounded, and it also gives some people a reason to judge.  That gives me the sense they read something in my works, kind of the “can you find the error?” challenge, if you will. I am a puzzle maker when it comes to a lot of my work.


LJ:  I believe that, I too leave some imperfection in my work as my own aesthetic decision, as we are perfectly imperfect, God’s choice; he gave us our gift.


Tshombe Sekou:  yes, it keeps the arrogance at bay!


 LJ:  Indeed!


In Addition, I realized that ‘time and space’ was repetitive… yet placed where they worked well…


Tshombe Sekou:  Time and Space is the whole context to being here before…it is the infinitude.


LJ:  I love the way you made the reader see and feel the connection of being here before…The transition here:


and maybe its what gives context

to the illogical,

love at first sight.”


Brilliant! Has so much merit… well… the entire piece does…


Tshombe Sekou:  Thank you! That was such an important shift or bridge for me in writing this piece, especially since what generally rest at the center of our existence is love; the most complex simplicity and misunderstood subject of our life.


How do we explain, “love at first sight” unless it is something we once new, we recognize it! ; If we were to break that down, it means we re~ (do again) cognize (call to memory or think) love.  Meaning it was here before.


LJ:  Indeed!!! It makes sense whether a person would like to believe in it or not. 


Tshombe Sekou:  Hence I ask that we “make-believe”


LJ:  (SMILES) I love that too! 


When I read that entire stanza, I felt the depth and height in which you soared, actually throughout this entire work of art; I too LOVE JAZZ therefore the connection was at the forefront.


The references were even rhythmic!!!!


Tshombe Sekou:  In poetry, I believe we should be so bold as to challenge the sense and thinking of readers; we have a captured mind so let’s do something with it…you feel what I’m saying?


 LJ:  Yesssssssssssssssss I LOVE it and strive for that as well.


My spirit was uplifted because I connected so well to so much of it. It is always incredible when a poet/writer/author can come along and put into words the ideals that are fixed in your own mind, but not written yet; with this work of art you’ve done that…


Tshombe Sekou:  Ha!  I know exactly what you Mean, especially since I read more poetry than I write; it’s like at times I want to say “what, I was thinking that years ago and never wrote it.  They beat me to it!”



…since it’s all energy

it will return to us in reciprocity

as water to the ocean.


this could be poetic philosophy

          even prophecy…





Tshombe Sekou:  Yes, that was a bit of a wild section and wasn’t quite sure it would work for the reader, but then I remembered that Miles Davis said once, “don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there!” so I stepped out with it.


LJ:  Yes… (SMILES) And I too READ more than I write as well. I LOVE IT! Which is another reason why I LOVE your work. I Love scribes that not only move me spiritually, but also, moves me to a level of high minded philosophy, which you always you do for me in your poetry.


I’m glad that you stepped out there… The reader might not make the connection right away, but if he or she READS YOU—and I do mean READ from the soul; it will become clear, if not, well that is sometimes the risk we take when we step out there.


Tshombe Sekou:  true indeed, we offer an opportunity to the audiences to see who we are in all of the brave-vulnerability of our expressions; there is always the chance that many will not fully understand and few who will.  This is the life of a poet, and those who fail at grasping the idea that every expression will either miss or hit the mark will fail at transcending into higher levels of art.


LJ:  Then you break everything down regarding poetry as you see it to be… I love the way you make it very clear that you are not trying to change their beliefs…


Tshombe Sekou:  Well, I am a firm believer that poets, much like the ancient writers who wrote the beautiful poetics of the scriptures, will define the context of the future; almost as if we are writing what they will come to believe.  We are writing their beliefs, their definition of “now”, we will be “making them believe”.  This is why I find it so important to develop and be bold in challenging our scripts because someday someone will use them to govern thought and beliefs just as we have with the Holy Books.


LJ:  Yes! I remember that Walter Mosley once said:

Of all writing, the discipline in poetry is the most demanding. You have to learn how to distill what you mean into the most economic and at the same time the most elegant and accurate language. A poet must be the master of the simile, metaphor, and form, and of the precise use of vernacular and grammar, implication and innuendo. The poet has to be able to create symbols that are muted and yet undeniable. The poet, above all other writers, must know how to edit out the extraneous, received, repetitious, and misleading. A poet will ask herself, ‘Why did I use that word, and how will that usage affect meaning later in the poem when the same word is used again? A similar word?’


Tshombe Sekou:  Absolutely!


LJ:  I look forward to rereading your Exquisite Scribe, and I have a feeling that it will be read over and over…hundreds and hundreds of years from now, and discussed even more; even used in literary classrooms. By that time your little baby princess Nina Kai will say, “My Daddy wrote that!” I can see her beautiful bright angelic smile with so much pride and honor (humbly) in her sweet voice.


Tshombe Sekou:  (LAUGHS), I think you’re right!


She has been a great source of inspiration, as she has an “old, been here before” way about her already.


LJ:   I appreciate you more than I can express. That is all I had to go over with you and I graciously thank you once again for allowing me the opportunity. Thank you for the honor to give my thoughts, and get clarity on those few areas; I feel honored and deeply humbled. 


Blessings to you and your beautiful wife and princess Nina Kai.


Tshombe Sekou:  Thank you for the time dear one, it is always a great thing to give and seek clarity; I have learned much in this dialogue and give a huge thanks to you for the time and consideration.  It is I who is humbled by the inquiry and courage to challenge understanding; this is what being a poet is about: learning.  Writing the poems are only half of the equation, learning and discussing them is the other half; it gives them longevity. 


Tshombe Sekou:  be in peace and love, Tshombe.



Will do dearest one… Thank you!


Discussion ended at 2:28 PM on Sunday 06 May 6, 2012 local.