Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poetic Justice V

By Tony E. Boyd

Pam DeRossitte wears the Hoodie

Host Jared Carter -Be Sweet
The Groove continued in Fayetteville Friday night. Poetic Justice again graced the stage at Common Grounds. In its fifth incarnation, we the audience  were treated to heartfelt sentiments, raw emotion and the strength of courage. Poetic Justice 5 did not have the quantity of Poetic Justice 4 but it did have the quality.  The MCs for the night, Leora Jackson and Jared Carter, are stalwarts of the Poetic Justice stage.  Familiar faces in familiar places.

The whole idea behind the Poetic Justice open mic nights, according to founder Leora Jackson, is to give people a platform to discuss important issues that matter. Whether that discussion comes out in poetry, song, monologues, readings of something relevant, or just speaking off the cuff. Participants that grace the stage discuss a wide range of subjects from very personal matters to issues that affect society’s outsiders to issues of the 99%. Some comments are direct. Some make great use of metaphor. Clever wordplay is the order of the night.

Pam DeRossitte, our first brave soul, came to the stage to perform “A Time To Learn”. It was an original piece about racism and the ignorance surrounding it. She relates a tale of self-discovery that begins at a very early age and progresses with innocence (and stupidity) until the proverbial wool is pulled from her eyes. She had no real concept of racism, segregation, racial turmoil, etc. til then. One personal take-away from her piece is that people should realize that just because something has always been doesn’t mean it should always be.

Roslyn Imrie
Jared Carter returned to the stage as a performer bringing his perspective to the issues of the day. He started with an untitled piece that touched on the dangers of just being Black in the wrong place, at the wrong time, dressed contrary to what you’re supposed to. Through the night, he entertained, educated and intrigued us with various other original works. One called “Be Sweet” was an ode to his daughters. Another piece lamented the evils of technology. In between all of that, he also found time to encourage the crowd to join in and participate.

Next to the stage came poetess, Roslyn Imrie. Her piece was called “Totem”. Self-described as an autobiographical piece, “Totem” was wave after wave of vocal ups and downs. Intermittent pace. Emphasize and de-emphasis. The power of her words reached out to the audience in both tone and cadence.

As Roslyn left the stage, there was a ruckus in the crowd. 

Granny Jones-Pull your Pants up

We all turned to see an elderly lady making her way through the audience to the stage.  Escorted by L.I.F.E. – Life In Front of Everything, our intrepid mystery woman stepped gingerly on they stage and introduced herself. Call her Granny Jones, she said. She told us she was sent by Leora Jackson to “say a few words”. Kind of reminds me of quite a few grandmas that I’ve seen over my lifetime. Granny Jones used her stage time to point out what I consider to be one of the great tragedies of our day. She spoke of how much was sacrificed by so many for freedom, education and equality of black people yet the benefits are not being taken advantage of. Yes there are still battles to be fought but by using the gains already made we can keep moving forward. Leora’s second stage incarnation, Granny Jones, offered the audience a reminder and a call to action.  We must not squander what was so painfully won.

L.I.F.E. (Stacy Harper) brought her considerable talent to the stage next. Her experience as a life coach has given her a wealth of fodder for her enlightening prose. This new piece was titled “Midnight Moments”. We all listened intently as she read and sang her encouraging message. There are times in our life when things are not going well. Our positivity is low. Its too easy to fall into that trap. We are all special and significant. It’s best not to forget that.

Stacy "LIFE" Harper
Newcomers were a big part of Poetic Justice 5. Another one of those newcomers, Julie, came to the stage next. She read an original piece called “Playing Hooky”. It was a tale about teen angst and their need for support/unconditional love. That support may not always come from biological family but people we choose to be our family.

Pam came back to the stage to share more of her heart with us. This time it was to remind and challenge us about the tragedy of Trayvon Martin. In her pink hoodie of solidarity, she spoke of the injustice that was done, the effects on those Trayvon left behind and how so little has changed since. She invoked the #BlackLivesMatter mantra. Vigilance and action are key. Ignoring and inaction are deadly.

Cherokee Lann
After another piece from our fearless leader, Cherokee Lann came to the stage to perform his original work, “Expiration Date”. Cherokee is a very expressive performer. His vocal range and intensity adds a lot to his written word. He brings you more and more into his frantic, tortured world with each successive line. His cadence and pitch were on point to the point of hypnotism. You felt his pain, lamented his plight. It’s one example of what writing from the heart can accomplish.

Danette Simmons, reluctant newcomer, found the courage to grace the stage. Thankfully so because she read a poignant piece about a person growing up in a tragic situation, seeing the worse that life has to offer. However, somehow, that same person is able to grow up to be a very loving, caring and helpful. We have no control over where we are born or to whom. We have no control over those around us. We can only try to be the best person that we can be.

What’s a night of Poetic Justice without song? Thankfully, we didn’t have to find out. Two new brave souls came to the stage to entertain us with song, Amanda and Tia. Amanda had made an announcement earlier about a showing of a documentary about an African American composer from Arkansas name Florence B. Price (look her up) that will be shown on AETN on Nov. 16. Tia chose to perform India Arie’s “I Am Ready For Love” in acapella.

Tia Ade

Amanda did a selection from the works of Florence B. Price on which she collaborated with the famous poet, columnist, dramatist, essayist, novelist and songwriter Langston Hughes. Both ladies were talented and brought the audience to their feet.

All in all, another successful night for Poetic Justice. If you keep missing it, stop. Get yourself to the next one. Come have your soul stirred, your spirit lifted, your views challenged or confirmed, your mind entertained, your heart touched. It’s a time and place for learning, self-discovery, sharing and community. Even if you don’t want to actually get on stage, there’s room for you in the audience. See you there. Peace.

by Tony E. Boyd

Pictures of PJOM5: