Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Groove was Compassionate

The Compassionate Groove 
by Leora Jackson
On a cool Saturday evening June 20, at Common Grounds Coffee bar, a young hostess prepped and prepared the stage for what was to become an emotional, emphatic, empowering night in which all listeners left with a feeling of accomplishment, awareness and understanding.

 That’s what Poetic Justice Open Mic #3 presented as the Compassionate Groove continued…
Jared Carter and Tina Gaston singing Nothing in this World


Patricia Rodriguez and Lakeesha Shaw, the hostesses for the event, opened the stage with Tina Gaston and Jared Carter, HandsUPNWA founders as they gave acknowledgement to the recent tragedy of the Charleston 9.  The HandsUPNWA Duo later sung, "Nothing in this world" by KeKe Wyatt and Avant.

Rodriguez, turned up the temperature in the room, by reciting a poem that her 14 year old son Diego wrote titled, ‘The Heat is on’.

 “To say the heat is on is to remember the summer’s dawn,” said Rodriguez.

The other hostess Ms. Shaw gave us a deep, cultural poem from a classmate that was written in 1996 by Jared Simmons.
Lakeesha Shaw

“Just like any other race, there lies a man behind each face. .. each chooses what he wants to be. His choices should not change the way you choose to treat black me. From this burden set me free.”

Abel Perry came up to do his poem, “Its Not JUST music.” He described how his love of music is embraced and powerful! “Its not just the beats ..music is much more than that.”
Abel Perry

And the best way to appreciate music, is with great songs from great musical artists such as Human Nature by Michael Jackson. This song was sung by a poet, musician,  and dynamic middleman in the community, Stephen Coger. His singing was awesome! The crowd sung along in unison with,

“If they say, Why, why, tell 'em that it's human nature. Why, why, does he do it that way. If they say, Why, why, tell 'em that it's human nature. Why, why does he do me that way.”



Anne Shelly, Executive Director for the Rape Crisis Intervention Center, gave a few words comparing rape victims and racial discrimination victims.



Stephen Coger singing Human Nature
Anne Shelley














“In regards to the Charleston killing, it is racial motivated…it is a hate crime! Very few victims of Racial Discrimination ever…ever..ever..ever..ever ..get JUSTICE,” she said.

Irvin Camacho enlightening the audience of Dream Walking as it related to feelings toward immigration and overcoming obstacles to rise above and continuing toward a dream.
Irvin Camacho

David Garcia of Fayetteville Free Zone and Jane Stitt of NWA IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organization Committee) came up to talk about Charleston. David explained that this is a very emotional moment to continue to see killings, shootings, murders of black people.



Jane Stitt and David Garcia
“I’m choking in the deaths of Baltimore. I’m choking on Mckinney TX. I’m choking about Rodney King. I’m choking on Eric Garner. I’m choking about Charleston,” said David as he broke down in sobs, feeling overwhelmed with intense emotion regarding the killings of 9 black innocent lives and many others. He later invited the audience to sing together with Amazing Grace.

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. ….When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.” And the audience chimed in singing along,  with a feeling of connectedness.

Myrlinda Huff came up next to talk about wanting and feeling the experience of Love.
“I want love to rain down on me, and I want to taste the Love on my lips” she said.

Gaston, came back to the stage and read a poem titled, I’m not your average Black Girl, in which she gave credit to the other women who paved the way, like Rosa, Angela Davis, Harriet Tubman and more. 

"They say I'm not your average black girl because I speak so well," she said.
Myrlinda Huff

F.L. Jones did a spin on a rap, called, “Don’t Blame Me,” in which she talks about her cousin Lupe who seems to always be in trouble. It had a nice beat to it.

“Don’t blame me when I tell you what Lupe did. He got caught, boy it was stupid…..Don’t blame me when I tried to get away. I turned around and told Lupe, ‘Have a nice day.” But, no..he did not let me go. He escorted me to the front door,” rapped Jones.

The audience joined in with finger snaps and laughed at the funny, comical rap about her troublesome cousin Lupe. Then Jones got serious with her poem called, “Shake the Hands.”

“I wish I could go back in time and Shake the hands of the people who gave birth to me, paved a way for me, slaved for me, struggled for me and died for me. I wish I could go back in time and shake the hands of Martin Luther King and say, Martin…we’re still trying to live your dream, but it seems that society is still so unfair and mean.”
F. L. Jones

Jones gave a dramatic episode in a monologue as she conversed with Rosa Parks while sitting on the bus and also a moving episode of walking with Trayvon Martin before he was shot. Jones had the audience feeling a connection between time zones as she also wished to go back in time to shake the hands of those 4 little girls in the Birmingham Church Bombing in 1963, which felt similar to the Charleston 9 church shooting.

“4 little girls who were targeted because of race, would never again get to see their parents or sibling’s face, as they were taking home to their final resting place on September 15, 1963 as bombs destroyed that place,” said Jones.

Later the hostesses Rodriquez and Shaw came up to the mic to declare a moment of silence and read off the names of the Charleston 9.


“We pay our respects to the lives that were lost this week in Charleston, SC; Cynthia Hurd- 54, Susie Jackson-87, Ethel Lance- 70, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor-49, The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney-41, Tywanza Sanders-26, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. 74, Rev. Sharonda Singleton-45, Myra Thompson-59,” said Shaw and Rodriquez as they took turns reading the names one by one.
Monica Ramos

Monica Ramos came to the mic to say a poem about her friend Patricia Rodriguez, the hostess.

“She is a passionate person. There is nothing she works harder on than being a parent for her son”

Laura Newman came up to do spoken word about White privilege and how she encountered it in the education setting while working on her dissertation.


“You have some white people who have so much privilege and this isn’t fair,” said Newman, who is also white. “They are just oblivious to what is occurring with minorities and are only about their ego and about themselves. It is disgusting, really. If you can’t change it, you just have to get thru it”

Laura Newman

Laasean Willis performed 2 songs, Comfort Inn by Jhene' Aiko and Why don't we fall in love by Amaire, with her last song describing loneliness.

“I’ve been on a loneliness paradise,” she sung. Her voice displayed love lost and the feelings that is encountered when one is without their love.  A very moving and deep song.

Overall, the Compassionate Groove was still present and very much engaging and flowing through the veins of all who attended.

Stay tuned to Poetic Justice Open Mic #4 in August. What will the next Groove be like???

Come and find out!

Check Facebook for Poetice Justice Open Mic #4 soon.

"Party in the city where the heat is on
All night, in NWA till the break of dawn
Welcome to Poetic Justice!"
Speaking on the stage when the mic is warm
All night, in the club till the break of dawn
I'm goin to Poetic Justice."
Welcome to Poetic Justice."


Poetic Justice Open Mic Team and some remaining audience members June 20, 2015

Photography by Patricia Rodriquez, Hannah LaReau, Irvin Camacho & Leora Jackson

Poetry Reviews:

“The event was fantastic: the artists talented, the audience attentive, and the vibe was just perfect.  It felt like a safe space for everybody.”  Stephen Coger

“The event was cool and laid back very eye opening made you think. Very refreshing and the dancing at the end was fun.” Ugochi Iloka

"I really enjoyed hosting it was a first experience for me and I just hope those in attendance had a good time and spread the word about upcoming poetic justice events." Patricia Rodriquez

"Poetic justice open Mic nights are more than just poetic food to feed your ears. .. it feeds the soul too." Tina Gaston


Stay tuned for more Poetic Justice in August!