Monday, May 11, 2015

Poetic Justice in the 'Ville: The Groove Will Not Be Silenced by Tony E. Boyd

Poetic Justice in the 'Ville: The Groove Will Not Be Silenced
 Poetic Justice Open Mic Nite #2 April 24, 2015

Hostess Stacy "LIFE" & Jared

Common Grounds was the scene again for the Poetic Justice Open Mic #2 sponsored by USWG. On this moderately cool night, poets and onlookers trickle into the venue waiting for the night's festivities to start. Jared Carter mans the door and the sign up sheet, engaging each and every patron as they come in. Personable young man. 

Then comes the disappointing news that the mic and amp normally used to power the show is not available. A flurry of activity ensues, trying to procure a replacement. All the while time is moving on. With options dwindling, Jared and his co-host for the night, Stacey (L.I.F.E.) White Harper decide the show must go on, opting to do the slam without aid of amplification. They explained the situation to the crowd in attendance, all of whom were supportive. 

Mr. Carter opened the proceedings with a song and an introduction of L.I.F.E. She masterfully engaged the crowd with anecdotes and clever banter. At the end of her time, she introduced the first performer of the night, Meghan. 

"Step The Poet"

Meghan regaled us with a poem created in response to a situation she had with a classmate in class about social issues. The classmate was not very receptive to discussion on those issues. Meghan's response highlighted the ignorance, selfishness, and privilege of her classmate. Snap, snap. 

Next up was a poet going by the name of "Steph the Poet". Steph the Poet's poem "Beauty" speaks to the oversexualization of women and the beauty of loving someone for their mind and soul, not just lust for their body. 

Justine followed discussing the funny of being transgender focusing on the silly things. 

Jared then graced the stage with another song. All the while, an appreciative crowd clapped and snapped their approval, despite the absence of a mic. 
Kaia was next to take the stage. She brought with her a poem titled Real Freedom. Her delivery conveyed her conviction to the words she wrote. Powerful!

Max Sauce
 Next up a singer named Jane sang a song from "The Prophet". Her silvery voice floated through the crowd garnering their rapt attention. She smiled sweetly exiting the stage to appreciative snaps. 

Max Sauce was next to heed the call to share with the crowd. She shared her personal story of coming out to her mother. Having lived through it, the fear and trepidation, she finds herself on the other side seeing the humor in it all.

Stacy "L.I.F.E" Harper
L.I.F.E. followed Max with a song called "Come To Me Peace". I can tell she is accustomed to public speaking and projecting her voice because the lack of amplification was no obstacle to her. 

After her song, L.I.F.E introduced the next performer named Graham who brought to the stage his personal tale of woe about a bad breakup. This is a common experience for many. Something that the crowd could relate to wholeheartedly. 

Steph the Poet returned to the stage to offer another original work entitled "Speed Dating". Steph strikes me as a man who is aware of absurdity in some of the ways males and females interact and has vowed not to fall prey to it. Just a personal observation. 
Fernando Garcia

During this early portion of the program, Jared and friends have been frantically working to procure amplification for the performers. Projecting is good but amplification is easier on the voice. 

Fernando Garcia is the first beneficiary of those efforts. He is an advocate of workers rights and his time on stage spoke to the disparity between the ones with the money and means for production and those who do the actual work to produce the product. 

Irvin Camacho
Several other performers took advantage of the stage time. Irvin Camacho read his "My Angry Father". 

Kaia returned to the stage with a piece about "Assumptions And Making An Ass Of Yourself". 

Leora "F. L. Jones" Jackson
Leora "F.L. Jones" Jackson spoke in recognition of women issues. Her poem "Oh Valentine" about domestic violence told a sorrowful tale of happiness and sorrow, acknowledgement and denial, suffering and compliance, mental breakdown and and lashing out, and finally, a disconnect from reality. A very poignant and gut wrenching piece. 

Luther Coram
Luther Coram spoke of removing "can't" from his vocabulary. (He actually went to great lengths to get the audience to say it so he wouldn't have to). His poem "Have You Ever" referenced the pain he felt losing his grandfather. 

Maricio told a story that puts a human interest element into the question of illegal immigration. 

Marie chose to use her time on stage to quote personal favorite poems of hers, "We Alone" by Alice Walker and "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks. She also did an original one called "Mom". 

A West Point man named Jimmy discussed his desire to fight for everyone's rights, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc. He discussed his journey to self-discovery and his philosophy of "the crucible". The crucible is a military training tool that tests the resolve of the soldiers trying to make the grade. Jimmy applied that philosophy to his own life and it enabled him to overcome many trials and tribulations in his life. 

Brandon Bledsoe
An unexpected treat came next with the Acapella rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" by Brandon Bledsoe. Bledsoe's distinctive voice pierced the room and called all in attendance to attention. 

F.L. Jones returned with another woeful piece chronicling the horrible Alabama bombing that took the lives of 4 precious little black girls in a church in Birmingham. Her poem was called "4 Little Girls, We Remember You". 

Michelle read poems by Ruby K. entitled " Self-Esteem" and "Beauty". 

Jared offered quotes from Zora Neale Hurston. 
Hobert Taylor

Brock Moses spoke of "Spiritual Awakening  In The Middle Of Cultural Change". 

Hobert Taylor brought a different element to the slam by reciting haiku. He recited the poems "The Caterpillar" and "Objective Efemora". He was supposed to be the last one but the groove could not be silenced. Marie returned to the stage to offer a poem about unrequited love. 

And with that, the Poetic Justice Open Mic closed down for the night, but the groove will not be silenced. Merely bide its time till its next incarnation Saturday, June 13 at Common Grounds again.  
Yeah, the Awakening of a New Groove!!!

See the YouTube video below.

USWG Members:

Leora Jackson              Michael Lafears            Rhonda Holmes          Tony E. Boyd   
Hannah Spivey             Lakeesha Nicole           Stacy Harper               John Bell
Juana Washington      Carmalita Nicholson      Shurla Jobe                Steven Tolson
Joe "Bloka" Mitchell    Carla Thompson             Patricia Rodriquez        Tina Gaston
Jared Carter                   Tyra Eckwood

Article and Photography by Tony E. Boyd
Tony E. Boyd, Contributing Writer, Photographer

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Freddie Gray:Black Lives Matter March in NWA by Tony E. Boyd

There was a non-violent protest in Fayetteville Saturday, May 2nd in recognition of the death of Baltimore Freddie Gray and the whole Black Lives Matter movement. If you were unaware, it was understandable. 

The protest was pulled together in a few small days and the word didn’t have time to spread as well as it could have.  Not to mention on the day itself, several other events were going on around town like the opening of the Razorback Greenway, the Farmers Market (great weather for it too), etc.  

The group that did show up was small in number (approximately 35-40 people) but large in determination and dedication to having their message heard. With police escort and protest marshals in tow, the intrepid group took to the streets with their protest signs and rhythmic chants about peaceful protests and support for Freddie Gray. 

The group walked at a brisk pace along the legal observer, Alison Carter and myself mustered the energy to keep up. The reaction of bystanders as the marchers passed through ranged from surprise to dismay to amusement to indifference to supportive. Some blew horns as they drove by. Some threw the thumbs up sign. Some clapped and waved. Others just stared. I recall not seeing any outright opposition to the march or its marchers. 

The worst thing I perceived was dismissive indifference. What’s all this, oh its about that, doesn’t affect me kind of looks.  The march took us on a little over 3 mile trek from the front lawn of Old Main, down Dickson street, up Block street past the Farmer's Market, down Mountain St. past the Federal Building, to the intersection of College and Dickson, ending at the parking lot of St. Paul's Episcopal Church (at the corner of College and Dickson, across from the new courthouse).  

There we were treated to inspiring speeches, impassioned poetry and calls to action. Speakers included Professor Pearle Dowe, political science professor from the University of Arkansas, Daniel McFarland, outgoing president of the Associated Student Government at the U of A, Jakym Battle, president of the UA chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, poet Juana Washington, along with students, Dara Gaines, Jessi Hicks, & Sussana Oad. Hicks and Oad were the organizers of this event.

 After which, a Die-In was staged for 109 seconds, to recognize the 109 lives lost by police brutality.  A Die-In is where protesters lie motionless on the ground in simulation of and solidarity with past victims of wrongful death at the hands of the police.

 It was a poignant moment and a good exclamation point to the message the protesters were trying to get across. At the conclusion of the Die-In, the intrepid group made their way back to where they began to conclude this particular effort of social consciousness about the need for better legal and social justice. Hopefully, one day, the judicial system and its corruptions would be analyzed and disputed. 

For more pictures, check out YouTube Video below:


From Contributing Author/Photographer Tony Boyd:

“On a side note, I spoke with Alison Carter who walked with the group as a volunteer legal observer. She expressed a desire to grow that type of volunteerism in Northwest Arkansas. Alison belongs to the UA Student Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild ( The Guild believes in human rights over property rights. That’s one of the reason their members volunteer to be legal observers at marches and rallies to make sure the protesters’ legal rights are observed by the police and  to be witnesses if they do not. You don’t have to be a lawyer or law student to become a legal observer.  They offer classes. If you are interested in becoming a legal observer, you can contact James Depper at .

I made to the decision to present the images I took in Black and White because in a way it’s a throwback to the unrest and racial tensions of the turbulent sixties. By eliminating the color, I feel it also removes some of the visual distractions from the message of the march”.