AN INTERNATIONAL POETRY, DANCE & MUSIC COLLABORATION

Jesus and Bacchus, troubadour and troublemaker, Derrick C. Brown is an American beat poet of unpredictable dichotomies. He emerged in the late-1990s from the international competitive SLAM movement, which placed equal emphasis on the emotional impact of performance as on the meaning and form of the poetry. Brown’s work is theatrical in that vein, though his themes and tone have never fallen within the conventions of SLAM poetry. “One moment tender, funny or romantic, the next, visceral, ironic and revelatory – his poetry reflects the full chaos of life,” writes author Janet Fitch about Derrick Brown; poetry as religion, as therapy, as a sport, a joke, as music, romance or just as one big party, Brown says ‘yes’ to all of these possibilities. Over the course of fifteen years, he has performed more than 1500 times across the United States and throughout Europe at venues as diverse as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and La Sorbonne. He has opened for major rock bands and performed with famous comedians. His most recent work is in collaboration with the Dutch contemporary dance company Noord Nederlandse Dans and American musicians, Emily Wells & Timmy Straw.

This new work, 'Strange Light,' is Brown’s longest and most ambitious work to date. Simultaneously a cosmic love story and an auto-biographical soul-search, the poem culls themes present throughout his poetry into a single work, where they are clarified in the light of a new found personal vulnerability. “When you die, it is poetry that leaves the body,” Brown writes – so it follows that life is all of the poetry vibrating within the body. The poem tells the story of one such body: “a man with strange light and tiny blisses,” from birth, through love, sex and the terrifying present, to death. This body babbles the myth of self-creation, the birthright of the poet. As clear as it is completely crazy, as angry as it is compassionate, 'Strange Light' is a battle cry for the weird, the angry, and the unsatisfied, for messy lovers, psychedelic dreamers and anti-cynics. It rail against the childhood fears and adult regrets that keep one from embracing life. “Embrace life,” is the poet’s eternal admonition, to which the poet Derrick Brown adds only one thing: “write your brains out.” For according to Brown, writing down the poetry that vibrates within our bodies is living.

Noord Nederlandse Dans is a contemporary dance company based in Groningen, The Netherlands. Led by Julliard-educated choreographer Stephen Shropshire, the company is building a repertoire of emotionally and intellectually challenging work, emphasizing physical stress, technical precision and strong musicality. Founded in 1997 and led by Mr. Shropshire since 2009, the company organizes two annual productions, which tour throughout The Netherlands and internationally.

Emily Wells, the composer, is a gifted and very original violin player and musical performer. Her performances are virtuoso feats of violin, ukulele, synthesizers, singing, button pushing and knob turning, resulting in lush beat symphonies. Her sense of timing and her singular control over a dense array of musical components is mesmerizing. Her composition for 'Strange Light' is a restrained, yet emotionally evocative suite that drifts through ambience, folk, hip hop and back again. She has been performing with poets since 2007 and is featured in two of the performance poetry concert films The Drums Inside Your Chest. She has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

Timmy Straw, an Americana / Crunk / Folk based in Portland, Oregon, also contributes to the soundtrack.

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