Tag Archives: poetry

Life and Beauty – Spoken Words of Steven T. Licardi

stevenbooks2By Jenna Weis

Finding beauty and self-acceptance in our ever-changing modern society can be found with the help of many creative outlets if one allows it. When faced with a struggle early in life, poet, author, and visual artist Steven T. Licardi found his calling in the written word. The West Islip native exudes positivity and brings forth social issues in his poetry to connect with and inspire his audience. Taking the stage from South Hampton to the Upper East Side, Licardi’s greatest personal achievements as a poet are opening for award-winning poet Buddy Wakefield at the Velvet Lounge in East Setauket, and performing throughout California.

Before all of the numerous honorable mentions, awards, and truly making a name for himself in the world of poetry, his journey began with writing as an apparatus for Licardi to express and understand his emotional states. As a child he was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder, which made it difficult to connect with his emotions. Creativity allows Licardi to fully connect his mind and spirit.stevenspeaking1

“I think writing and specifically poetry provided the best way for me to make sense of my emotions. My manifestation of a PDD was a developmental disconnect between my cognitions and my emotions, and the ability to express myself helped to bridge that gap.”

The road of self-remedy has also paved the path of self-discovery for Licardi who has built his confidence and stamina to use his talents to be heard, understood, and cause emotional reaction. This seems to be a driving force for Licardi, as it would for anyone who is immersed in the creative world. To do something of passion that attracts attention as Licardi has accomplished is a true success. Not only his words but his delivery resonates a powerful punch of hope, even when addressing serious issues.

“My writing and my art are inspired by a desire to get people thinking, to explore a facet of culture, of society, of life, or of humanity. That is why a lot of my work deals with social issues (mental health, death, pop culture, etc.) I want people to understand, to think, to feel. To experience something new”10700317_831358190231647_2061123366574394804_o

Once an obstacle, now Licardi praises the mere experience of feeling an emotion, any emotion. What can bring more of an emotional force than the thought of death? Specifically, your own death. The ultimate inevitable end-game we all face has fascinated Licardi for quite some time. He is in the final stages of finishing a novel he began 10 years ago which explores death from the point of view of the main character “Anaximander”. Working on this project has guided Licardi to an unexpected new outlook on life.

MVI_7096.MOV.Still001“If you embrace death, invite it into your home, sit and have a cup of tea with it, take it by the hand and say, “Come with me. Guide me” (because a good guide always knows what your final destination will be), it will show you how precious everything is. A glass of water becomes a delicacy. The fact that nothing will last makes everything beautiful and perfect.”

Licardi’s poetry strengthens our perceptions and challenges us to believe in something, stand up for it, experience new things, and embrace life and all its beauty. He will be performing at SPARKBOOM’S JINGLE BOOM: HOLIDAY BASH event on Saturday, December 20th at Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery located at 213 Main Street from 6-10PM along with James Kim, Frankie A. Soto, Meredith Nussbaum, and Bri Onishea. There will be craft beer courtesy of Saint James Brewery, treats from Stella Blue Bistro, Hint water, prize giveaways courtesy of Sip Tea Lounge, Lotus Vintage, Kilwins Huntington, and Escape Pod Comics, live music and windows tinsled out by Reme and Caitlyn Shea.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rain roomJenna Weis grew up on Long Island and graduated from Commack High School in 2007. She received her Associates Degree in Visual Arts from Suffolk Community College then went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Criticism from Stony Brook University. This is her second summer working for SPARKBOOMTM, first as Lead Blogger. She hopes the blog will really engage readers to want to see more of the artists work at our SPARKBOOMTM events and help further promote the artists themselves.

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Chatham: The Marrying of Poetry and Philosophy

By Steven T. Licardi

cid-437Chatham is a diamond-in-the-rough kind of poet. Our acquaintance began like any other evening at The Muse Exchange, a local open mic at the Velvet Lounge in East Setauket. Chatham performed an erotic piece that was, in complete sincerity, incredible. I had to know who this fresh, talented stranger-poet was. I approached her and was surprised to discover she was a graduate student at Stony Brook University who, like myself, studied Philosophy. Instantly, we began engaging in discourse, discussion, and all things poetic. When the time came to choose the poets to appear at the SPARKBOOM event, I knew instantly that I wanted her to be a part of the line up. She will challenge the way you see things.

Chatham, a rather mysterious creature, is just as passionate about poetry as she is about philosophy. I wanted to know more about how she first got interested in poetry. “I grew up the youngest of three siblings by a strong distance of years,” she said, “and word-working quelled the alienation I felt from the extent to which I lagged behind my older sisters in age.” Also like myself, Poe was one of her first great inspirations.

“It wasn’t until my third grade teacher (Mrs. Whitt) read us Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ that poetry took off for me. Poe was my first great love, and my family still teases me to this day by saying that my ideal mate will be a tall, lanky individual with dark hair and an intelligent, subtle sadness. I think they’re right.”

(My personal favorite is “The Bells,” but I digress).

Chatham’s philosophical background is evident from the opening lines of her pieces. This became only more apparent when I began to discuss her style. “I speak/read hyperbolically and intensely most of the time – I hinge on certain words, I live in them, I repeat them until I don’t want to hear them again for years. I fall in love with sentences (my own or from others) and I inscribe them as facets of my own personal mythology.” she reiterated on the relationship between poetry and the day to day grind.

“I think there’s a performance that underlies every moment in our lives, and rather than being a barricade guarding who we are or the ‘authentic,’ it’s the very condition for the possibility of authenticity or an ‘I’ at all.”

Indeed, in many of our interactions, we inevitably begin to engage in intense discussions of the nature of things, especially (big B) Being, the mark of Heidegger. “My style, whatever it may be, is the effect of both indulging in and struggling with this sentiment – that both on-stage and off, the performative can’t be escaped.”

I wanted to know what kinds of things compel her to write. As with most poets, her answer was multifaceted:

“Be it a fleeting look from across the room, Virginia Woolf’s ability to capture the complexity of a character, Audre Lorde’s unforgiving sensuality, Poe’s morbidity, my favorite memories with my father as a child, Kendrick Lamar’s verses, the tinge of Ani Difranco that stains my car speakers because we cried together so many times by way of them, a random act of kindness (or an act of cruelty), and on, and on…”

When I asked Chatham what she finds herself writing about most, we again found ourselves on a hermeneutic tangent. “Somebody once told me that philosophy is compensatory, and I believe this applies to all writing. I think the self is the biggest enigma, the inexhaustible secret, the other within myself – the question whose answer I can’t capture and therefore the thing my writing can’t let go of.” Poetry, I have often said, is the purest form of understanding – the ability, through use of precognitive language, to bequeath another person with an experience (emotionally, consciously, and spiritually). “Everything I write is an attempt to illuminate what can never wholly be illuminated,” she said, “and that’s what keeps me coming back. But that’s where the good stuff happens – failed attempts at totalizing yourself – because the immensity of what can be said is inexhaustible.”

Aside from her philosophical aspirations, I wanted to know the thing that compels her to write and perform. “Well, there’s alienation from other people and a disjunctive within myself for which writing has been the only remedy,” she revealed.

“But maybe, more importantly, poetry affects people, and it does so in ways that you can’t pre-meditate. Novelty is built into the reception of a written piece, and it is a novelty of feeling something together that isn’t necessarily (and can’t be) the same for each person.”

She further elaborated on this shared experience of poetry: “There’s an ethical implication to all of this that’s really beautiful, and it’s that non-reducible difference that has the capacity to unite people just by virtue of experiencing it together. I guess that I hope that one day some of the things I write will be able to invoke something for someone, as I know that I am continually invoked by the performative display of others.” As for what she hopes to accomplish, she added: “I just want to feel something. I want to make others feel something. That’s enough. Actually, that’s the most powerful thing of all.”

Much of Chatham’s work speaks of deep-seeded sensuality, forthright yearning, affection, and, above all, a need for connection. This became evident when I asked her to quote a bit of her own poetry. She offered:

“Graciously, upon the bone of my breast / I place the feeling of your gaze / where I can keep it best / where the weight is a burden I hold only for my breath, / a quiet masochism I carry while so immured in your depth / better left unspoken, unactualized, unaddressed / tediously, upon the bone of my breast.”

Her naked words are a metaphor for the nudity of her spirit.

Chatham’s academic and poetic work both inspire me equally and immensely. Her passion for the advancement of human intellectual thought and, further, her want of human connection comes through in the delicateness of her poetry and the trailblazing of her prose. Her work will most certainly help to frame the continuance of mankind’s relationship with itself. Expect your horizon to be broadened. Perhaps a few more colors will be added to your dawn.

Hear her words personally, in-person at SPARKBOOM‘s “Beards, Bards and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st at the Walt Whitman Birthplace (Click HERE to RSVP).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Steven T. Licardi (The Sven-Bo!) is the author of “Death By Active Movement” (Local Gems Press, 2013) and is a spoken word poet, actor, artist, and public speaker from West Islip, NY. Steven uses his many projects to raise awareness of social issues, for advocacy, and as a means to educate others to be compassionate. He hosts as blog called “Cross My Heart And Hope To Write” that explores the relationship between love, beauty, and the human condition. Find out where he will be performing next at TheSvenBo.com.

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Metapoetic – Poetry that Preaches

meta

By Steven T. Licardi

The first time I met Metapoetic was at the first meeting of Poemstars, a group of Long Island poets of which we are both a part. Meta is, polite, and mildly intimidating. As the group began to build rapport, I found that Meta and myself were on the same page with a lot of ideas and issues. He has since become a close friend, a spiritual adviser, and, above all, a poetic inspiration.

The first thing I wanted to know is where the name Metapoetic came from. “The name is a play on words,” he said. “In literary terms, it means beyond-poetic. But when I created it, I thought of myself as being the metaphor of being poetic.” Meta, who is a deacon at his church, speaks poetically with the cadence of a sermon, even in normal conversation. I am always so interested in hearing his opinion or perspective on particular issues, so I wondered how he first found poetry. “I have always been interested in how words dance together. It started with writing raps. I believe someone inviting me to a Spark O.N.E. meeting – a Hampton University poetry group – and it sparked my interest. I was so awe inspired by their words and cadence.”

Because of his theological background, Meta’s style is peppered with Bible citations and metaphors for divinity. I wanted to know more about it. “I think my style is pushing it out with a lot of effort. I want you to catch every word I say. I used to mumble a lot when I first started performing. After performing once in Virginia, I told myself I would actively attempt to annunciate as strongly as possible.” And he does! Meta, who is rather soft-spoken, bursts into finely articulated speech when he performs, with a booming vocalization that appears almost painful. This delivery always encases a message. “I usually write to inspire others,” he said. “So I try to fill my poems with anything inspirational. This is usually due to the many times I am in a rut myself, and I usually speak to myself as I speak to others in my poems.” Perhaps his delivery is rooted in a deeper strife.

“I hope I can inspire any demographic that struggles day to day with life, to see that even if you feel you can’t talk to anyone about your problems, you can talk to the page.”

I wanted to know if there are other poets who have inspired Metapoetic. “I am influenced by underground poets; poets who are writing with purpose. A few poets that have inspired me the most are Saul Williams, Shadokat, Mili, Black Ice, and Ayo.” But he recognizes the need to create his own image. “I try hard to not duplicate others,” he admitted. “I want your hand on my every word, but I don’t want to use everyone else’s cadence; I want you to come to Christ, but I don’t want to beat you in the head with Bible verses and clichés; I want to inspire you to succeed, but I don’t want to act like I have it all together.” It is that selflessness in Meta’s work that makes it so uplifting. He preaches without preaching. He invites you to take it or leave it, with indifference toward your decision.

Like all poets, I wondered why it is he chose poetry over other forms of expression.

“Because poetry is the most naked you can get….You can have no instrumental, no hook, no breakdown, no rhyme scheme, no filler. Just a marriage between heart and page.”

I also wondered – because I love picking Metapoetic’s brain – why he thought Long Island has such a diverse poetry community. “The interesting thing about every community, when it comes to poetry, is the content usually goes hand-in-hand with why people are writing. Due to the great amount of diversity in Nassau and Suffolk County, I believe there is such a large amount of reasons why people write. Some write for change, some write to keep things the same, some to inspire, and some to condemn.” But Meta, and myself, want to see more. “Be more of a talk-to-action community,” he implore, “that our words would be a catalyst for more movement than workshops.”

I asked Meta to choose a few lines of poetry that he is most proud of. He exhorted:

“Let my ear be the pen your tears are dispatched to / I just want you to attach to a new vision / wear contacts adorned with gold 7’s / because your glass ceiling is the heavens, / but please / don’t get grandfather clocked into a routine away from a smiling heart, / your days should not be marked with swinging pendulums, / monotony has always been built with hairline fractures.” (From “Concrete Angel”).

Metapoetic will be performing alongside the rest of the artistic cast at SPARKBOOM‘s “Beards, Bards and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st at the Walt Whitman Birthplace (Click HERE to RSVP). You can read some of his poetry and see him perform. Meta is very approachable, with a kind heart, and a gentle tongue. His friendship is something I cherish immensely, and the ways in which his poetry and presence has enriched my life is something I want to share with others. Let him preach to you softly about life from the pulpit in his heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Steven T. Licardi (The Sven-Bo!) is the author of “Death By Active Movement” (Local Gems Press, 2013) and is a spoken word poet, actor, artist, and public speaker from West Islip, NY. Steven uses his many projects to raise awareness of social issues, for advocacy, and as a means to educate others to be compassionate. He hosts as blog called “Cross My Heart And Hope To Write” that explores the relationship between love, beauty, and the human condition. Find out where he will be performing next at TheSvenBo.com.

 

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Mc2: The Energy in the Equation

By Steven T. Licardi

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Photo Credit: Dan Woulfin

The first time I met Mc2 was my first night at The Muse Exchange, one of Long Island’s best open mics. I don’t remember how we got to talking, but I remember a warm openness to him that was almost stoic in nature. When I first heard his poetry, which is often a wispy critique of societal norms, it added a nuance to him that gave him a fly-on-the-wall sort of quality. We immediately bonded and he has since become one of my closest poetic allies.

Mc2 (who also goes by the name Golden Lotus) explained to me the origins of his stage name, which, I must say, I was instantly tickled pink by. “I am the E in the equation E=Mc2. It came about fifteen years ago sort of on a whim. It felt clever; I still think it’s pretty clever.” A Massage Therapist by trade, Mc2 got into poetry sort of by accident. “I had to write a book report in middle school about a poet. I picked E. E. Cummings. I had never seen anyone write like that before. I was curious, and I decided I could be fantastical and write anything. I started putting different interesting phrases together as a patchwork.” Over time, it evolved and has since become rather forthright and unabashed. I can see how E. E. Cummings would impart flavors onto its overall taste.

Mc2’s experimentation got him interested in looking at the world in different ways. Like most poets, he carries a sense of hypersensitivity to the world around him. “I like to catch my writing prompts from everyday reality,” he told me, “things that feel immediate to me and that I’m intrigued by. It could be hearing a snippet of a conversation in a supermarket or something that emerges into my attention.” Hip-hop has also been a mentor and you can hear it in his delivery style:

“Hip-Hop has influenced me greatly in the sense of people putting together these fragments that sort of cut right through everyday BS. I feel like hip-hop and poetry are two creative places where the person is the central fixture of a brainstorm.”

Along the same vein, I asked Mc2 what it is about poetry that draws him to it. “It’s cathartic. It’s an interesting community of people. I’m really interested in seeing what other people do and how they interact with reality.” He also touched on something that I think speaks to the beauty of poetry at large. “When you do something that has a certain degree of release involved,” he offered, “there’s an opening that happens that leaves a strong connection between people about the unspoken parts of life.” This comes to a fore often in Mc2’s own work. He added:

“Poets also tend to be weird and quirky people, which is a quality I find endearing.”

This led to a brief discussion about the poetry community on Long Island in general, which I feel is vast and unique, yet little known. I wondered why it feels so unique. “It has to be, because there aren’t a whole lot of places on the planet that can be what Long Island is,” he illuminated me. “It’s a blend of blue collar ethics, old money, and chaos. There’s an intensity that’s palpable. There’s also a serenity that’s palpable. That spectrum creates an interesting arts community.”

I asked Mc2 what he would like to see more of from the LI poetry community. “I’d like to see people go deeper. I want the community to be more personal, more real. I want to know how life is affecting people beyond their personal interests.” Something I have heard spoken about by many poets is the need for the youth to get more involved. “I’d also like to see it done in ways that no one has ever done it before, so I get excited when I see how the younger kids are doing it,” he added.

Of his poetry, each time I hear it, I find myself reflecting on the taciturn minutia of every day existence. That’s what makes his work so palatable. I wanted to know if there were any lines from his writing that he felt best captures his vision as an artist. He offered this nugget:

“We’re living from crisis to crisis / yet born from breath to breath.” – Mc2

You can catch Mc2 performing live on Saturday, June 21st at SPARKBOOM‘s 2014 kickoff event “Beards, Bards and BOOM” at The Walt Whitman Birthplace. (Click here). He also co-hosts The Muse Exchange every second and fourth Thursday of every month at the Velvet Lounge in East Setauket. He is kind, humble, and passionate about the artistic community on Long Island. He has always struck me as a kind of guru – not of anything in particular. Life, perhaps.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Steven T. Licardi (The Sven-Bo!) is the author of “Death By Active Movement” (Local Gems Press, 2013) and is a spoken word poet, actor, artist, and public speaker from West Islip, NY. Steven uses his many projects to raise awareness of social issues, for advocacy, and as a means to educate others to be compassionate. He hosts as blog called “Cross My Heart And Hope To Write” that explores the relationship between love, beauty, and the human condition. Find out where he will be performing next at TheSvenBo.com.

 

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Bri Onishea – The Dream Catcher

By Steven T. Licardi

2.25.14 Dante RedHeffner SettlesBri Onishea is one of those poets you never see coming. I met her at a local band show; we had a mutual college friend. She had previously contacted me expressing an interest in becoming involved with the Long Island poetry scene, but I had never actually spoken to her face to face. It turned out we lived a few blocks over from each other in the same town and both graduated from Suffolk County Community College the same year. The first time I heard her read was at the Walt Whitman Birthplace as part of the Generation Y Poets Showcase. She was awkward. She was unsteady. But she didn’t need to be – her poetry was a powerhouse of emotion, imagery, and message, delivered in a soft, take-it-or-leave-it kind of voice. I was instantly enthralled.

Bri, a recent graduate of SUNY Geneseo, brings a fresh eclectic flare and gentle sarcasm to her work. Her Irish and Native American roots offer a unique view. The first poem I heard of hers dealt with Egyptian mythology, revealing a deep fascination while relating it to a deeper desire to live righteously. As I interviewed her, however, I was surprised to learn that poetry, for her, wasn’t always so intimate.

When asked how she first got into the craft, she told me;

“Strangely enough, poetry and I had this odd love/hate romance going on for a while….I think what threw me off about poetry when I was younger is that it seemed like what was most sought after and admired by my peers and teachers was a conglomeration of intelligent-sounding words with some imagery thrown in for fun. It wasn’t accessible or relatable.”

For most of her adolescents and early adulthood, she considered herself more of a prose writer. “Even as recently as three years ago, poetry and I were still waging this type of internal battle.” Things began to shift after seeing Buddy Wakefield perform as part of his Night Kite Revival Tour at Geneseo. She realized that poetry could be so much more than just words on a page. “I wanted to go out and change the world that night. But then I’d find myself in my writing classes trying to define what poetry was.”

What struck me early on in my friendship with Bri is her brash, unwavering critique of poetry in general. This is something I feel gives her work a welcoming edge. She illustrated this when recalling a poem from one of her undergraduate classes. “There was this one ‘poem’ we looked at in particular that was simply the word ‘lilac’ written out over and over so that the letters formed flowers. [Concrete poetry, I digress.] To me, that’s not poetry, that’s a damn drawing!” This, coming from a poet who blew me away the first time I heard her, was refreshing and humbling to hear. “We had a long discussion in that class about whether poetry was simply poetry based on whether the author defined it as such. It seemed pretty arbitrary to me. At least prose was more clear-cut.”

One of Bri’s biggest paradigm shifts came when she met Cori Winrock, one of her professors at Geneseo and a prominent poet herself. “She was young, and hip, and creative, and I was intrigued enough to experiment. She had us create jam words, made us write poems from the last line backwards, encouraged us to ‘write ourselves scared’ and to ‘imagize everything.’”

But her final push towards pursuing poetry performance came tragically when a close friend of hers died unexpectedly last year. “I had trouble focusing; as an obsessive person by nature, I kept thinking about him, thinking about life and death, and all I could really write were these snippets of lines and images to convey how I felt.” The musician Frank Turner, her friend’s personal favorite, also became a source of inspiration. “His music is all about seizing the day, carpe diem, rah-rah-rah, and I loved how honest and open he was. I knew I wasn’t in a position where I could just sit around and waste time anymore, I needed to go out and create on a grander scale, touch people, meet people, be involved in something.”

When asked about her influences, Bri is quick to answer with song lyrics. “There’s a lyric from a Something Corporate song: ‘I met a girl who kept tattoos for homes that she had loved/ If I were her, I’d paint my body until all my skin was gone.’ Some days I wish I could make my body an easel, so I could go off-the grid crazy, paint my body with every line or lyric I’ve ever wanted to pay homage to, wrapped around beautiful spiraling henna designs, use words as a sort of mood ring.” She also draws inspiration from light, shadows, textures, and color, which clearly feed the beautiful imagery that infests her work. They seem to instantly instill a sense of synesthesia.

This became clear when I asked her if she could choose one line from a poem of hers that she felt best captivates her style and persona. She offered me this gem: “’Temporary’ has a sherbet lemon flavor that lingers on the back of my hippocampus. I’ll return to this one day, a bittersweet candy memory.”

One of my favorite questions to ask fellow poets is why they do what they do; what is it that draws them to write poetry. “Why poetry?” she reflects. “Because I can’t stop, I’m not half bad at it, and it seems to speak to people. I truly believe that some things are a compulsion, not a choice.”

This straightforward way of speaking also sets her work apart. It has an air of blue-color innocence, as if spoken from the mouth of someone who is just trying to pay their bills and keep their head above water. Her poetry is poetry for non-poets. I think it is a reflection of where she has been and her personality in general. Amid such natural flowery speech – separated by long pauses where she tries to collect her thoughts – the randomness of her personality shows through. “I’m in love with Sarah Kay,” she says, “for reals. Like, I feel pretty jipped that I’m not Sarah Kay.” Her sincerity is remarkable, even for a poet.

Bri Onishea is a relative newcomer to the poetry scene, but whereas others have only gotten their feet wet, Bri has dived in headfirst, only to emerge soaking wet to tell others how cold the water is. I have seen her develop her stage presence and hone her delivery skills into something incredible. When I was asked to handpick the poets to perform at this years SPARKBOOM event, she was an immediate choice. Her poetry is a force to be reckoned with, although it is more likely to take you by the hand and comfort you by saying: “Don’t worry, I’m lost too.”

You can see & hear Bri perform her words performed live on Saturday, June 21st at SPARKBOOM‘s 2014 kickoff event “Beards, Bards and BOOM” at The Walt Whitman Birthplace.

For more info, visit sparkboom.org. RSVP to our FB event here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Steven T. Licardi (The Sven-Bo!) is the author of “Death By Active Movement” (Local Gems Press, 2013) and is a spoken word poet, actor, artist, and public speaker from West Islip, NY. Steven uses his many projects to raise awareness of social issues, for advocacy, and as a means to educate others to be compassionate. He hosts as blog called “Cross My Heart And Hope To Write” that explores the relationship between love, beauty, and the human condition. Find out where he will be performing next at TheSvenBo.com.

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