Poetry’s Ryu, B.A. Braxton

Posted: March 25, 2016 in Uncategorized
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I think I’m a fairly lucky guy. I was born into a family of talented people, I grew up with peers who have gone on to develop extraordinary abilities, and I’ve met many an amazing person throughout the course of my life. This particular amazing artist is a newer addition to the talented ranks of my life. Introduced to me by an old college roommate (what up JoHo!!), the first I heard of him was one of those, “Oh you guys would definitely get along. You’re so much alike.” I typically scoff at such claims, but I’m proud to be compared to such a great mind. His newest work of poetry, Therapoetic, is what a musician would call a concept album. An in-depth therapy session seen through poetry, expressing layer after layer of the artist for the world to see. As I so love to do, I got a chance to ask him a few questions about his work and life in general. Get to know him, check out his work, and thank me later.

 

 

Who is B.A. Braxton?

I think that’s what the new book is about:  who is B.A. or Brandon?  I think when people read it they’ll realize he’s like a puzzle, with very particular pieces that need to be put together for him to be whole.  There’s a whole lot going on in just one brain.  The way I like to explain is that its like a get together in his brain.  Everyone’s over to play cards but while they’re playing, they talk about the ups and downs of life.  It’s a party that I invite the reader to join

 

What inspired you to take this path with your creativity?

I’ve always had a big imagination.  It wasn’t until around tenth grade that I really started to look at writing as something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I wrote my first two “books” in high school and just to see what people thought I would let people take it home and read it.  And to my surprise, they loved it and that’s when I knew that this was my calling.

 

Many music artists, spoken word artists, and poets use a nom de plume. Was there a particular reason why you chose not to with your poetry?

One of my favorite artists, Charles Hamilton, said something to the extent of “I don’t rap for the fame but I rap for the change…that’s why I rap with my actual name.”  In my mind, if I’m going to put this time in and put this work out for the world to see, then I want it to be me.  Pen names are cool and maybe one day I’ll use one or someone will come up with one for me, but right now, I want to stand behind my work.  If my writing comes with praise and awards, then of course I’m fine with that but I’m just as content with any criticism that will come with it too.  That can only make me a better writer.

 

A lot of art has basis in hyperbole and fantasy. When it comes to poetry and music, however, there tends to be more of a raw and realistic edge to it. Your new work, Therapoetic is clearly more along the lines of personal reality. Where exactly does reality end and the poetry begin for you?

Therapoetic is basically a fine line between real and fantasy.  When I first started thinking of ways to describe the book, I was going to call its genre “autobiographical fiction.”  This is a book that does detail my life and pieces of my life.  What I didn’t want was just another ho-hum poetry collection—slap the poems together and that’s it.  I wanted to tell a story along the way.  So I came up with the idea of a therapy session.  Like I said, I’m composed of many different pieces and by creating these characters, it’s a fun way to tell that story. You mentioned music and poetry in the same breath which is awesome because one of my goals for Therapoetic was to make it as close to an album as possible.  Some of the best albums ever created are rooted in personal revelations.  The poems act as songs and I wanted each character to feel like a different portion an “album” and each character to have their own “sound.”  

 

In a time when most people will tell you to cater to a specific audience, you seem to have great diversity in your subject matter and even you pop culture references. Is this diversity something that is a focus for you and yourself as a brand or is it more organic?

Organic.  I have a lot of interests and I don’t’ want to do myself or readers a disservice by not sharing as much as I can.  I love poetry but I’ve always felt like by adding more and more about me, usually through random pop culture references, the poems are one, more relatable and two, they reveal personal details about me.  I don’t normally express myself thorough everyday conversation, so this is the bridge that I invite people to cross to reach my mind and what goes on it.

 

While going through your blog, TallGuyTalk.com, I learned you too are a hip hop artist. Do you feel you lean more towards one form of expression over the other or is there a conscious effort to keep music balanced with poetry?

I wish I could say that’s true man but I’m not a hip hop artist.  It takes a certain individual to be able to not only write a verse to be able to perform it too.  I don’t like performing my own poems in front of people, let alone stand there while they read it so I tip my hat off to people like you. Now, I do write my own songs and verses for people.  I recently had one of my songs featured on a project and it’s definitely a different feeling, hearing your words through another person. But she did a great job with it.  (Nicole Learner, “All Yours”)

 

Are there any challenges that are exclusive to one form of expression over the other for you?

I think with writing songs, I get a bit more rope with how I can say certain things.  It’s a lot easier to be rawer and grittier in a song than in a poem.  Let’s just use a rap song for example.  It’s easier to accept curse words and more explosive language in a rap song than it would if I were to put those words in a poem.  And I’m not necessarily sure why that is.  It’s all poetry.  One just happens to be accompanied by production.

 

Like me, you’re clearly an anime fan and a gamer. You’re also someone who’s not afraid to display his intelligence and think outside the box. Has this ever led to the “you’re not black enough” stereotypes that seem to befall a lot of alternative thinkers in the black community? If so, how do you deal with it?

I think I use to get a lot of that when I was younger.  It’s a phrase that never made any sense to me.  I just never want to be put in a box man.  I don’t want people to see that I’m releasing something new and automatically think they can tell what it’s about.  If I don’t fit into your nice little box that you’ve created for everyone else, then I’ve done my job.  I’m a nerd man.  I’ve been absolutely fine with that for a while.  If you really think about it…I saw this meme the other day that said the hardest part about being cool in high school is being a loser the rest of your life. Obviously a bit harsh but I think the point that I took from it is the people who were labeled nerds or who didn’t necessarily fit in with the cool kids are the people who are really doing something with themselves.  Those are the people I hang out with. I always like to surround myself with other people who are trying to do something positive with their ability, whether they are black, white, gay, straight, man woman, etc.  And it just so happens, a lot them are nerds like me.

 

You clearly have a strong passion for what you do. Have you mapped out any type of endgame? Where would you like to see your art take you when all is said and done? Or is this simply something you enjoy doing and sharing with the world?

There are so many things I want to do, man.  I’m not the corporate America type so I’m working hard to making this craft into a career because I have so many ideas in my head.  It’s honestly hard to shut my mind off.  Obviously I want to be an author but I also want some of my books to be movies or anime series.  But at the same time I want to work in television as well.  I think I can do a lot of damage as part of creative team for a company like the WWE or maybe even write my own television series.  I’ve had a couple ideas floating around my head. But whether any of that happens or not, I’ll always write because I love to do it and I’ll always share with the world because it’d be no fun keeping it to myself.

 

Therapoetic is rocking the Amazon and Kindle stores right now. Is there anything else you have in the works that you can let the world know to keep an eye out for?

The next thing I plan on releasing is my first “story” I guess you could say.  It’s going to be a novella.  The only thing I can reveal is that it’ll be suspenseful.  It’s an idea that I’ve kept on the back burner since high school but I finally felt it was time to start putting words to paper. Other than that, I’m still working on my first novel.  I’ve been at it for over seven years now.  That won’t come out this year but I do plan on finishing the first draft and then I’ll probably shop that around some publishers.  So it’s going to be a very exciting time for me and my laptop this year.

Random joints:

Which do you prefer: Manga or Anime?

Anime.  I don’t think I ever fully accepted reading a book backwards.  

 

Top 5 favorite games you think no one else has played

Ah man.  Let me see:

Brave Fencer Musashi:  An absolute classic from the PS1 era.

Bushido Blade:  Still the most realistic “fighting” game of all time.

Mazin Saga Mutant Fighter:  Saw this in a retro store the other day and almost bought it.  Underrated.

Vector Man:  Either the first or the sequel.  Not sure why he didn’t take off as much.

Shenmue:  You know how dedicated you have to be to play a game that requires you to go to work as gameplay?

 

Top 5 favorite anime you think no one else has watched

BoogiePop Phantom: Still fuzzy over the plot but it’s animation is strikingly beautiful.

Banner/Crest of the Stars:  I usually hate space centric anime (not named Cowboy Bebop) but this was cool.

Gunslinger Girl:  Crisp animation with a very unique plot.

Ronin Warriors: This would depend on how old you are.  But this is a nostalgic pick.  

IGPX:  Surprisingly really good.  Plus Michelle Rodriguez is involved which is only a plus.

 

Top 5 favorite albums (regardless of genre)

The Cool by Lupe Fiasco:  My favorite rapper’s best album in my opinion.

Back to Black by Amy Winehouse:  One of my favorite singers of all time.  Felt every feeling of every word she sang.

The Pink Lavalamp by Charles Hamilton:  Should be on anyone’s list of best “mixtapes” (really an album) of all time.  Such a talented individual.

Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park:  Just an amazing album.

Confessions by Usher:  You can essentially get through anything with this album.  Last great Usher album.

 

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