Monday, April 27, 2009
Check It... Caits Meissner
Check out Caits Meissner, the twenty-four-year old multitalented individual, who calls herself a “cancer style, homebody, creative pushing, hard shell and soft underneath.” She’s dope!
Meissner, who grew up in a small town outside of Albany, New York credits the small town living for a part of who she is today.
“I believe folks that grow up far from cultural centers are a special breed,” she said. “We are forced to create our own magical existence in the middle of the distinct nothingness.”
Meissner moved to Brooklyn when she was 18 to attend art school and as she puts it, the rest is history. But the small town lessons remain.
“I've always made things and sought out what was not handed to me,” she said. “Must also be my pops for his undeniably fly taste in music and insistence on hipping me to the goodness.”
Meissner is definitely creative (she must have been put on to some fly music and goodness, because her craft shows it). Enter her MySpace page and you’re impressed by her spoken word. Then you should dig a little deeper and you’ll find yourself visiting several pages created by Meissner, which include her poetry and design work.
We reached out to her for a Q&A. Check out what she had to say.
The Mad Bloggers: How would you describe what you do?
Caits Meissner: Hmm, this is a tough one. I usually just use a lot of slashes, you know: poet / writer / performer / graphic designer / educator / music-maker. I'm still looking for an all-encompassing phrase (open to suggestions!) Really, I write. I take that writing and find places to publish it. I also speak it out loud on stages to audiences. And put it to music. I try to make sure what I create is honest. That is really my only requirement and the rest falls into place from there. Labels are hard because they keep you stagnant and stuck. Hasn't anyone ever told you that coloring outside of the lines makes the best pictures? Then again, labeling helps our brain process a pretty insane world. I think art breeds that insanity, but in a good way, and stretches our minds beyond the easily processed. So I suppose just being called Caits shall do.
TMB: How long have you been doing the spoken word thing?
CM: It must have been February of 2006 that I first stepped on a stage. It has only really been a blink in the grand scheme and it's funny how this stuff just starts to define you. "Well, I guess I'm a poet now..." Truthfully, I've been writing since I was able to hold a pen. That counts for something, too, right?!
TMB: Who do you work with?
CM: Many brilliant folks! My last EP showcased production by Afta-1, Young Raven and Jory Leanza-Carey from Broadcast Live, as well as singing from Yarrow of Lady OsoFly and the inimitable Honey Larochelle. I've collaborated with singer-songwriter Tomas Doncker and a whole slew of poets, too many to name. Currently I'm working on music with the aforementioned Yarrow, as well as MC Eagle Nebula. Just released a track on producer Just Plain Ant's album "Dig Deep," and have upcoming work with German producers Comfort Fit and Portformat, as well as Spain's The Aftermath. Working with singer Maya Azucena on a few joints. It's an incredible, ever-expanding list. I can't wait for you to hear it all!
TMB: Is this your career or do you have a "day job"?
CM: I have a day job, as many of us still do. Pretty blessed to tell you that my pay-the-rent work is something I'm also passionate about. I teach a few hours a week, elementary and middle school students, various multi-media art classes with a slant on academic skills and critical examination of the world. My kids provide endless inspiration and unparalleled joy. Plus, I get to sleep in late! I also freelance graphic design for various projects (holla if you need work). That’s what I have a four-year degree in. All is creative, fulfilling and challenging and adds back to my artistic life is varying ways. However, the jury is still out on what the summer will bring, so send on some positive energy, dear readers!
TMB: What's your inspiration?
CM: Love, heartbreak, friends, other poets, musicians and this terrible and fascinating city. I've answered this questions so many times and it's always the same: I find inspiration in the smallest things, peeling a morning orange, and in huge concepts, death, decay and spirituality. The goal is to approach life with an unabashed curiosity, and to try and remain open in the face of threat and be open to getting hurt as growth and fodder for your art. Keep feeling.
TMB: Who are your influences?
CM: So many people! Wow, where do I start? Let's do a "lately" list. The poets I've been reading lately are Yusef Komunyakaa, Roger Mitchell, Erica Miriam Fabri, Marty McConnell, Patrick Rosal, Hafiz and that's just the tip of the iceberg, really.
In terms of spoken word, I grew up inspired by folks like Sarah Jones, Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, Ani Difranco (don't laugh), Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez and of course, the brilliant lyricists I found hidden in my Dad's record collection. I was also a hip-hop obsessive and listened to copious amount of rhymes that influenced my early work a great deal. In fact, it's still inspiring me.
I'm lucky to count myself among a rich artistic community in NYC and beyond, where the friends I name dear to my heart also make music and poems that do something holy for me. Now, that's blessed.
TMB: What's your future plans with your craft?
CM: Ok, that's a hard question. I'd like to seriously work on more music, pursue publishing, tour more often, secure a manager/booking agent (know anyone?) and keep creating art that moves people. I just want to follow my heart and see what rises. Can't go wrong if you are following what directs YOU verses you always directing its path. Hard work with a little bit of faith.
TMB: You seem to be a real creative purpose, what other projects are you involved with?
CM: Hey! Thanks! I'm working on two separate collaborative hip- hop music projects at the moment, as well as my own tracks here and there contributing to other's albums and the like. There is a new-media publishing project being cooked up between a fellow poet/designer and myself. A collaborative tour in the works with poet James Caroline out of Boston (book us!) I'm also currently in the middle of the NaPoWriMo Challenge, where poets are challenged to write 30 poems in 30 days for April (National Poetry Month.) I intend on editing the work for release in chapbook format sometime in May. Look out for this.
TMB: How can people get your work?
CM: Hop on my myspace page to order my CD (or download it) and cop the chapbook. Folks can also email me, if they wish, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on Caits Meissner, check the MySpace (www.myspace.com/caitlinmeissnerpoetry)