Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Poet, Hip Hop Artist, Community Organizer
The first time I met Brandon was on an acre of land in the middle of an orchard in Ojai. He, along with a group of ferociously spirited and talented men of Street Poets, made the trip from LA to partake in a day of creative workshops, beginning with an equine session at Reins of Hope. As the men entered the stable to familiarize themselves with the horses, I turned away for ten seconds, only to look back and see Brandon down on one knee with his head up against that of the white horse, sharing a moment. Connecting.
Since then, I have had the honor of getting to know Brandon through the lens of a camera, shooting a documentary with him about making music to benefit those on the receiving end of our mistakes – using art as a means to heal. Brandon, the poet and hip hop artist, so effortlessly evolves and involves others in his journey, and by doing so, creates a cyclical symbiosis that feeds all involved.
One of my favorite quotes of Brandon’s is this: “Search your wounds and you will find your gifts.” Brandon’s capacity to deal and heal in circumstances with such grace and empathy for himself and others is something spectacular to behold – it is simultaneously of the ether and purely human.
Brandon has shown me through his art and expression that unconditional love for the self exists, even when the world has locked you away. And whether it’s the world or ourselves who close the lock – we can get out of it. And in my opinion, as Brandon has shown, the only way to do that is with and through other people. If we were to ever be encountered by beings from another world, I’m almost certain they wouldn’t be interested in our technology or intellect – they would be interested in our emotions, our hearts, our capacity to feel. Brandon is a profound example of how to blossom this idea into the mainstream. He embodies it with his music, poetry, community outreach, and personal relationships. I cannot say enough about this man, this friend, this Brother. If you are ever in a position to engage with him, do. You will see a world you love. You will see yourself.
I choose writing because it saves me. It saves me from a feeling of nothingness. As a child, I had nothing that I could do with my feeling of despair, or the hurt and pain I saw so present in the world around me. But when I wrote my first poem at age twelve, something shifted. I felt empowered. In that moment, I didn’t feel weak or worthless. I had the taste of a miracle, and it helped me to keep writing to this day. That was thirteen years ago – I never completely stopped writing.
I felt so torn and so twisted and so ugly and so insulting. I felt like an insult to the Beautiful Face of Life. Writing gave me a way to not feel like that.
I felt like I could put all my problems outside of myself, watching them float in mid-air in front of me; and then I could Peacefully Exist.
I could view my problems and find ways to remove the suffering.
My cousin Marty showed my Aunt Barbara who died of cancer my poetry years before she passed away. He showed my lovely Aunt that first poem I wrote. But he didn’t show her my name on the poem. She cried, and asked, “Who is this?” and he looked at her and said in a gentle voice: “Brandon.” She looked at him with an amazed look in her eyes. That’s why I write. To give people that feeling, to open up the floodgates of their tears and let them flow into beautiful rivers that release the pain and let them stand on a new ground of the becoming of their own wounded, beautiful Heart.
Even now when I write, it’s like life breath for me. It’s how my soul survives, it’s how I live. Without writing, the essence I am that is called my Spirit would die, and I feel like it would fade into non-existence.
I felt like it would fade, though I know the Love and Light would pull it into it’s hug where I could be a Baby again — innocent and sweet.
“My pen is the staff from God,
Words are the embodiment of poetry that motivates nations to follow me
And Poetic Expression leads us to our destinations.”
Photo by Daniel DiScala- danieldiscala.com