ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tantra-zawadi - Pan African Princess
By Jack Cooper, Production Editor
Poets Wear Prada
A work of love — what Tantra-zawadi makes — what she achieves through her art, envisioning, she says, the “unseen reality.” A sublime soulfulness suffuses it, pungent like incense, subtle sinuous trans-formation shape-shifts as a genie might, rustled by a reedless wind. Its sizzle-cymbaled syzygy unites that, familiarly met, we thought we knew — blindness preceding a first kiss, bittersweet after — with a mastery of mood, trilled to transcendence, encouraging independence, womanly presence and voice, to embrace experience alongside others.
Comprehensive her exploration, with an awareness 360 and beyond, Tantra addresses the world and its poetry — poet to poet, enjoined in the present, evolving, through media, traditional and new, in print and performance, on the internet and off: visualizing word for the page, spoken on stage or before the camera, shaped to accompaniment by music — never diminished. Hers is a responsibility taken on behalf of others. Whom Brooklyn began enlivens a world; Tantra the artist is now sought and received.
She permits neither the page’s edge nor the stage, the end of the music or the script to prescribe her method, limit her manner of engagement or define her role. Conjunction, for Tantra, succeeds through sum of dramatic parts. “Girl: A Choreospective” augmented The Numeral Thr3ee Off Broadway, “Soldier Blues,” movement with words and music, further rite, to A Night of Three Goddesses at New York’s Lincoln Center. “The Fear,” contributed to An Evolution of Reinvention, “Stolen Dreams,” like “Leaving My Apartment and Other Urban Adventures” — songs, too, inspiriting the Von Duvois Dance Collective — shared meaning in context of collaboration and combined effect. Her performances, at large, grace diverse stages, enthrall standing room in South Africa, London, Berlin, local museums, audiences on radio and TV.
Tantra’s centrifugal perception, radial creativity and energy continually find wavelength to match her inventiveness and skill. She beats words into ploughshares. Love, conquering all, must still triumph over HIV and AIDS. Video of her poem “Scarlet Waters” assisted Product Red in emblazoning awareness. Tantra herself directed two short documentaries to that purpose: Girl, the Film — Volume I, A Message from Ardija Red-Cloud and A Silent Genocide — A Brief Insight into HIV/AIDS. “Girl” the poem received nomination for a Pushcart Prize in 2010; its author — mother in her own right and mentor for the Girl Child Network, partial beneficiary of the proceeds from her book sales — received the Kings County District Attorney’s Office’s Women’s History Month Award in 2001 for her artistic contributions to the borough of Brooklyn, and in 2014 she received the distinguished honor of Pan African Princess by Princess 'Deun Adedoyin-Solarin and Princess Muzvare Betty Makoni at a royal ceremony in the United Kingdom.
She reminds us root portrays gestation of seed. Tantra, in Sanskrit, expressive of expanding consciousness; zawadi, Kiswahili, precious gift — metabolize a different speech, a new place, new times. Tantra comes and goes on spoken word, enters on “poem” both the building and house. She continues to work with Precious Gift, her point of original collaborative departure configured on the number three.
Love Planet, released through Camio Recordings in 2008, traces Tantra’s participation in Collective Spirits to the reissue in 2013, by Do It Now Recordings (DIN) and distribution in South Africa. With Dana Byrd, collaborations — "Love Seeker" (Groove Assassin - Gotta Keep Faith Records), 2010; “Secrets of Life,” 2010 (Nev Records and DIN); “Don’t Let Go,” 2010 (DIN) “2 Shades of Deep,” 2011 (DIN); “We Are the Stars,” 2012 (Gotta Keep Faith Recordings); “Change All Over Me,” 2012 (Shines Records); “Guru Dance," 2013 (Uno Mas Recordings); "Happy," the Poetry Album from Josh Milan featuring Raw Honey Poets, 2013 (Honeycomb Music); "Out of the Blue/Remixes (Gene King - Shines Records) 2014; "Above the Clouds," 2015 (Mus Threee - Gotta Keep Faith Records); "African Mermaid" from the Soldier Ascension Album by Djeff Afrozila/with remixes, 2014-2015; "Do It For Love" with Tristy De Soul/Deep'endsoul, 2015-2016 (Vibe Boutique Records); "Things Gotta Change" with the Senegal-America Project, and exciting upcoming projects with fellow poet Rescue Poetix, master musician Jo Sallins and counting — number the DJs, Nastee Nev, Groove Assassin, SoulAgenda, Dolls Combers, Monocles & Slezz, Gene King, Indy Soul, Steve Paradise…
Prominent in periodical, widely anthologized, Tantra-zawadi returns to print, book three in hand — its forerunner, Gathered at Her Sky: Life Poems, also from Poets Wear Prada (2010), successor to her debut alifepoeminprogress (Chuma Spirit Books, 1999).
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