ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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: sinuous, subtle transformations — shape shift a genie might — pungent, like incense, rustled by a reedless wind, susurrant sizzle-cymbaled syzygy, uniting that, familiarly met, we had thought we knew: blindness, preceding a first kiss; bittersweet, after; with the mastery of mood, trilled to transcendence, exhorts womanly independence, presence embrace experience beside others.
Comprehensive, exploration; circumambient, her awareness, 360 and beyond, Tantra addresses the poetry in the world, its poet; one another enjoined to the present, evolving through media, in print and performance: visualizing word for the page, spoken on stage or before the camera, shaped by accompaniment to music — never diminished. Hers is responsibility, taken — for herself, on behalf of others, others — on her own. Whom Brooklyn began now enlivens a world, sought and received.
She permits neither the page’s edge nor the stage, end of the music or the script to limit her means of engagement, its method or her role define. 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, both mother in her own right and mentor in Girls Network Worldwide (GCN) – partial beneficiary of proceeds from her writing — the Kings County District Attorney’s Office’s Women’s History Month Award in 2001.
Plural of the singular, singularity of the plural, 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 the 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, this year, by Do It Now Recordings (DIN) and distribution in South Africa. With Dana Byrd, collaborations —“Secret of Life,” 2010 (Nev Records and DIN), “Don’t Let It 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), and counting — number the DJs: Josh Milan, Nastee Nev, SoulAgenda, Dolls Combers, Indy Soul, Steve Paradise, Djeff Afrozila …
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), succeeds her debut alifepoeminprogress (Chuma Spirit Books, 1999).
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