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The Poets of Fighting Words
The filmmakers, searching for authenticity, chose the works of the following authors for the poetry contained and performed in the film.
Thaïs Carmen makes her feature film debut performing an original poem in Fighting Words, the film that co-stars her father, Edward Albert, in the role of "Marc Neihauser." Carmen graduated from the College of Creative Studies at the Universary of California at Santa Barbara in 2002 with a B.A, in Literature. She has written and published her own book of poems called "Fireplay," which is available through her publishing company, Eat Poems Press, and can be ordered at email@example.com. She is a visiting reader at UCSB and Oxnard College and has been featured on "Eve of the Poet" at Muddy Waters. Her work has appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent and the Malibu Surf Side News. Carmen also writes songs, which she has performed at the House of Blues, the Wadsworth Theatre, and the Ford Amphitheatre.
Mona Jean Cedar
One of the most unusual performances in Fighting Words is given by Mona Jean Cedar, who performs one of her own poems and another written specifically for her to perform in the film in both voice and interpretive sign language. Cedar, a Los Angeles based poet who is also a professional dancer and musician, deftly blends interpretive American Sign Language in her performance poetry and music "using her sign language as a song and her body as an instrument." She also enjoys teaching dance to blind, deaf and mentally and physically disabled adults and children. In 1999, a chapbook of her poetry was published as part of the Laguna Poets Series entitled "…to Express & to Shine."
Bridget Gray grew up in Chicago and was educated in theatre and dance at Northern Illinois University, but she is best known for her written and performed poetry. She entered her first poetry contest at the age of fifteen and has entered and won countless contests since then. She was last year’s LA Grand Slam Champion, the first HBO Soul Poetry Slam winner, and won the local slam competition, Battle of LA. Currently a member of the Da’ Poetry Lounge/Hollywood Slam Team, she has performed at the Pan African Film Festival, the Malcolm X Festival, The African Marketplace, VZN Records’ Conscious Hip-Hop Seminar and UCLA. Her poetry has heard on Los Angeles Hip-Hop Station 100.3 The Beat and National Public Radio. More recently, Gray released a spoken word CD entitled "Shades of Gray" and performed, not surprisingly, on HBO’s "Def Poetry Jam".
A native of South Central Los Angeles, Javon began his poetry career in the winter of 2001, and the following year he qualified to represent Los Angeles at the 2002 National Poetry Slam Tournament, where the Los Angeles Slam Team placed 5th in the nation. In 2003, the same team won the National Poetry Slam Championship, placing 1st over more than 60 teams and becoming the first winning team from Southern California. In addition to this, Javon and the Los Angeles Slam Team won all of the Battles of Los Angeles. In 2004, Javon joined the Hollywood Slam Team and won the West Coast Regional Championship and the 2004 National Championship, making Javon only the second person in Slam National’s history to ever win back to back National tittles. Javon is a 5 time intercollegiate Speech & Debate National Champion, and has won the Brovero-Tabor award for being the best all around competitor on the national community college level. He has coached Speech & Debate at California State University, Los Angeles, where he is completing his Masters of Arts Degree in Communication, with an emphasis in Critical Performance Studies. He begins Northwestern University Ph.D.’s program in Critical Performance Studies in the fall of 2005.
One of the most soulful poets in Los Angeles, April Jones has stolen the hearts of audiences with her descriptions of love, loss and other four letter words. April is an established poetry slam veteran whose passion strikes like lightning from the stage. April has appeared at various venues in LA including the Bourgeois Pig and Da Poetry Lounge.
Though she began writing poetry at the age of 12, it was at 17 that this California native stumbled upon a poetry reading and met her true love, spoken word. At 21, she has now been published in a few anthologies, as well as featured in the online poetry magazine, PoeticDiversity.org. Recently, she has taken her talents to a new field, music. She sometimes reads under different aliases. You may have seen her as Betty Boop, She-ra: Princess of Power, The Star, JJ Big Pimpin’ or, The Muse. However, she is best known as Jasmin. She has been featured in a number of spoken word readings in the greater LA area, such as the Bourgeois Pig, Unurban Café (performing with The Really Big Show) and Abbott’s Habbit in Venice.
New York City native Jerry Quickley is now probably the most well known performance poet in Los Angeles due to his extensive exposure on HBO’s "Def Poetry Jam" and his own popular and energetic weekday radio shows on Pacifica Networks in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Houston and San Francisco. His poetry has been published in The Los Angeles Times, The LA Weekly, The Village Voice and the Penguin-Putnam book Slam. While in Manhattan, he was the Playwright in Residence at the Tiki Ti Theatre Company in 1994-1995. Since moving to Los Angeles Quickley, like Bridget Gray, has won the Los Angeles Poetry Grand Slam and has also been a finalist at National Poetry Slams held in Portland, Connecticut, Austin and Providence.
Rives is one of the hardest-hitting spoken word performers on the scene. He has won slams from L.A. to Berlin, and a bunch of cities in between. His crowd-pleasing improv from the Finals Night stage at the 2002 National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis earned him 5th place, and he swept all three invitational Big Money $lams at the 2002 Austin International Poetry Festival. A paper engineer by trade, Rives spends his free time in Los Angeles designing pop-up books. His most popular title, "If I Were a Polar Bear" is available from Piggytoes Press.
Conney Williams is a Los Angeles based poet and performance artist who has
performed his poetry across the country. A member or the Anansi Writers Workshop
at the World Stage in Los Angeles and has been published in various journals
and anthologies. In 2002, Passage Publishing released a collection of his
poetry, "Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet."