Ajali Poet Feb.2014

Ajali/ Cassandria Funches

46 years of age (July 17, 1967)

Born: Texarkana, TX 

Reside:  Houston, TX

Goals: To heal as many people as possible with my words.  To awaken the dead with thought provoking content. 

Talents:  Spoken Word Artist, Play Write, Singer, Graphic Design Artist, Emotional Coach, Mentor, Listener

Achievements: Giving birth to two beautiful children, Alvin & Breyana Funches-Thomas – who grew up to marry to beautiful people, Cerenthia Scott & Brandon Lowe. And then there are the typical things people say…Strong Family, Order of Eastern Star, Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority, AWRT-American Women in Radio and Television, Manager of the Quarter – Radio One Houston.

Motivation:  My motivation comes every morning when I inhale, seriously! My family also motivates me – knowing that I make them proud and never bring shame to my family name.

Upcoming Projects:  Above the Rim pre-game show Rockets vs Pacers basketball game 3/7/14, Jen.e.sis at Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) 4/26/14, Rage of Passion the play, SOUL’D OUT the play and EYES WIDE OPEN the Cd project.

What do you believe your best known for?

Ajali: I believe I’m best known for my giving spirit.  Being there for others, in their time of need

How does it feel to know that whenever your name is mentioned its responded with smiles and positive feedback?

Ajali: It feels awesome! Knowing that I’m not in a space of yielding drama or discord.  I pride myself on that, seriously.

 In your eyes what are some positive aspect of Houston’s poetry scene?

Ajali: I love the Houston poetry scene and I’ve been around it since 1996, when I moved back to Houston!! One thing that I love the most is you can find a spot almost any given night.  

Using only 4 words how would you describe Lady Pariah?

Ajali: Loyal, Connected, Eclectic, Beautiful

If you could create a DVD for every home in this country to watch who would be on it and why?

Ajali: If we are talking about a movie and celebrity actors: Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P Henson, Ving Rhames and Kerry Washington.  These actors bring very strong performances.  Most of their movies have touched my spirit in one way or another.

Why do you believe there are more men performing than women?

Ajali: believe a lot of women have a fear of failure and embarrassment.  Men on the other hand, have a tendency to lack the embarrassment gene, as do I.  There is also the factor, women find other things that will take their time away from their writing (family/children) and move in that direction, which will cause them to step away from the scene (which did I for a period of time).

What’s the toughest part about being a female poet?

Ajali: The most difficult thing about being a female poet is laying your foundation in the beginning.  You have to come hard and stand on what you’re writing.  You don’t want to get caught up as a victim in the scene.  What I mean by that is, you come with the soft little love pieces, male poets will try to hit you with “New Meat” lines.  So, you have to come with substance and walk with integrity.

Outside of poetry what other aspects of your life are you passionate about?

Ajali: Ajali Entertainment is the parent company of poACTry.  We are a group of poets/actors that write/perform Poetic Stage Plays.  We travel to perform our plays and hope to get on the big stage one day.  From my mouth to God’s ears.

Does your work and educational background interact with your writing?

Ajali: I think so…I’ve been in the media industry since 1996.  This environment breads creativity.  I love that!! In college, Texas Southern University, I studied Communication/Journalism.  I’ve been a writer since I was a small child (7-8yrs old).

What poets (from Houston or anywhere) inspires you?

Ajali: I get my most inspiration from my mentor, Angie G. (Angela Olivia Guillory).  From the first time I saw her perform, I gravitated to her.  It was her style, verbiage, walk and poise that drew me in completely.  Others that give me goose bumps are Rain the Poet, Kayenne Nebula, Lady Pariah, Karega Ani, Lyro, TimBuktu…I could go on and on…

Do you think our poetry community having a reputation for not being supportive of each other is founded?

Ajali: I think everyone should be where they can be and support who they want to support.  I know that you can be more than one place at a time, and supporting every poet gets very expensive.  I used to stress myself out about going to everyone’s sets and performances.  Now, I go where I can, when I can, and when I feel like it.  I think some poets take it personal and really shouldn’t.  One thing to remember, a lot of artist rely strictly on their hustle to eat, so spending $10-$20 to hit each venue and/or show is not going to happen ~ so, when I see anyone, I’m excited to see them and I don’t worry about the people that didn’t make it.  They have their reasons and it’s not for me to judge if those reasons are valid.

What are your first memories of Lady Pariah?

Ajali:  LOL…I love her so much…My first memories of Lady Pariah are at Harlon’s BBQ downtown.  This little white girl walks in with her backpack, journals, tablets and a bunch of bangles bracelets.  She looked so out of place and I wanted her to feel comfortable.  When she got on the mic, it was a different flow, but it had substance.  I could tell she had something to say.  I approached her and told her good job.  Our friendship grew from that moment!

You can find out other information at AjaliEntertainment.com, Fb: Ajali Entertainment, IG: AjaliPoet, Twitter: @AjaliPoet

There will be an interview airing the week of 2/17/14 on OLD GRUMPY RADIO HOUSTON & NEW YORK 

Thanks for the opportunity Deidre – I really appreciate it!!

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