Saturday, December 10, 2016


by Tony Boyd

            The eleventh incarnation of the Poetic Justice Open Mic night brought with it a new venue. PJOM was held at the fledgling theatre called Artist Laboratory Theatre. It is a smaller, homey, more intimate venue. It’s the brainchild of Erika Wilhite and her partners to provide a neighborhood type venue to provide a diversity of artistic expression.

            Our MCs for the night were Jared Carter and Steve Toston better known as D.J. Jockstrap and Mr. Ladebac. The atmosphere was subdued. Patrons trickled in at their leisure. The MCs got the night started off by discussing how and why Umoja Soul Writers’ Group (the spearhead of Poetic Justice Open Mic night) puts on the poetry slam. One of the main purposes of PJOM is to provide an open forum for anyone to discuss their experiences with and feelings of social injustice. It can be therapeutic.

            With all of that out of the way, our first performer steps to the mic and its Jared Carter with one of his always though-provoking untitled pieces. It had no name but if you listened you could glean a sense of what he was trying to convey. In this case, I felt he was conveying the difference between the privilege of white people vs. the lack of privilege experienced by so many people of color. The sentiments he wanted to convey were conveyed as a verbally painted tapestry. So awful is social injustice.

            Not to be outdone, our other MC, Steve Toston, step to the mic to drop some knowledge and understanding. His piece was entitled “Race Was Invented for Division. He seemed to point out the stupidity and futility of race proven by science to be just a made up thing. It’s a source of so much separation, divisiveness, mistrust, and conflict. Not to say there wouldn’t be any of those things without the artificial construct of race just that they might be based in reality.

            I have been to all of the PJOM nights. I have seen some incredible performances. So when I tell you a young lady named Regina blew up the stage, you can believe me. She blew up the dang stage. Regina sang a riveting, soul-stirring, a cappella song with the assist of just one key to start called “Sadness Dismiss”. It was a touching look at the sadness of loss and the strength to face it. Her voice was so very moving inducing you to feel as she felt. I guess you can tell I was impressed by her performance. Did I point out that she was a newcomer?
            We had other poignant performances including a young gentleman by the name of Dillon who brought political discourse to the night, reflecting on the recent presidential election. Yolanda waxed poetic about Black men being in danger and the Black Lives Matter movement. Jared sprung a named piece on us called “America The Beautiful”. Here’s a hint: Its not like the song. Another newcomer, Lola B. laid bare her soul and poured out her heart to us as she spoke of her bouts of depressions and the causes behind them. It took a lot of guts to open up like that. Being able to express openly in a safe, supportive environment is one of the main things that Poetic Justice Open Mic night is about.

            Lady Jazmynne, singer, poetess, and activist, opined about what it meant to be a house n—ger vs a Uncle Tom back in the day. Then she compared it to what’s going on today. She pointed out that her perception of a 20th century House Negro is someone who feels they already have a piece of the proverbial pie and identify with the oppressor.

            The night carried on with many heartfelt revelations of heartache, pain, and childhood strife. Speakers were able to share without judgment. We also had some lively freestyle from our MCs.

            All and all it was a good night. It was an intimate gathering in an intimate setting that encouraged the participants to open up. There was a take away for each and every one of us. Thanks to Erika Wilhite and the Artist Laboratory Theatre for hosting. Be one the look out for announcements about future events.
Erika Wilhite
Jared Carter

Lady Jazmynne Matthews

Lady Jazmynne & F.L. Jones

F.L. Jones

Steve "Mr. Ladebac" Toston



By Tony Boyd

            Hello dear readers. This installment marks the tenth incarnation of the Poetic Justice Open Mic poetry slams. Yay, Poetic Justice!!! Once again it is being staged at Club Lush just off the Fayetteville Square. Our hosts tonight are Jared Carter (a PJOM staple) and newcomer host, Danette Simmons. They are introduced  by PJOM creator, Leora Jackson. Before letting the MCs take over the show,  Leora read a couple of relevant poems. The first one she read was “Ka’Ba” by Amiri Baraka and the second, “I Too Am American” by Langston Hughes.

            First up, Danette Simmons stepped to the mic to perform Oh God Forgive Me When I Whine”. This poem extols the virtue of being humble and to always appreciate what you have. Afterwards her fellow MC Jared Carter performed an original untitled piece of his own. Mr. Carter’s soul is bourne out through his written word and performance of said word. His affinity for the plight of people of color and other marginalized populations is apparent in his work.


            Lady Jazmynne (Jazmynne Matthews) ascended the stage to perform a piece of her own called “Dear White America”. In it, she discusses the dichotomies of America, how we speak of equal and fair but in reality its not equal nor fair. We preach of tolerance and acceptance but practice intolerance and exclusion. She also spoke of the myriad of issues that plague Black America and the lack of progress to resolve them. The mood of the room was one of acknowledgement of the knowledge given and weariness of the truth of her words. Following Lady Jazmynne, F. L. Jones stepped to the mic with “Psalm 23 For The Workplace” about working for God. Then Steve “Mr. Ladebac” brought his own poetic lyrical nature to the stage to perform “Hunger Pains” discussing starvation, poverty and a poor childhood. He followed that up with “Trapped” (Being trapped by life’s issues and problems) and “My Pleasure & My Love” (a love poem to his wife).


            Minet Black, a newcomer to the PJOM stage, broke us off with “The Will Of A Woman”. It was a no holds barred biographical tale of being a single parent and the difficulties of coming up on her own. She also performed a second piece entitled “Justice” about the fact that suffering injustices while seeking justice is no justice at all. A string of performances followed. F.L. Jones reprised her original “Why Can’t We Say Her Name”.  Jared Carter performed his titled piece called “The Beginning of Me” about the injustices perpetrated on Black America and the false views about us down through history.  Not stopping there, he also performed “Walking With No Hitch To Your Own Rhythm” advocating individuality and independence.


            Things switch up a little at this point because for the first time at Poetic Justice Open Mic night we are treated to the freestyle stylings of Mr. Ladebac (Steve Toston) and D..J. Jockstrap (Jared Carter). It was a crowd pleaser. Bodies were moving. Hands were clapping. Attendees were grooving. Good stuff. Afterward Lady Jazmynne stepped into the spotlight to sing “Jericho’s Wall”. The song spoke of virtues of cooperation and working together. To put it more succinctly, it was about understanding that “ a house divided can not stand”. The next song she performed was a cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gone Come”, poignant in its own right but Lady Jazmynne also educated us on the short, troubled life of its originator. Mr. Cooke was killed 11 days before his most famous song was released. It was ruled a justifiable homicide.


            Another newcomer to the PJOM braved the stage. Her name was Kaylee and the poem she performed earned her an A+ at school. It’s entitled “Shattered”. “Shattered” tells the tale of a bad relationship and how great, how sweet it was to escape it. In keeping with that theme (sort of), Jared Carter performed an untitled work of his that says that love is patient. I took that to mean that love has no condition and that it doesn’t leave when the going gets tough.


            Bringing up the rear, so to speak, Minet returned to the stage to perform a couple of more pieces. The first is a personal one about hurting over a lost love but finding salvation in God and one about hiding your real self yet finding and being your real self.


            With that, PJOM X was in the history books. It lived up to its billing. It was an open mic to voice opinions, heal souls, lift spirits, fellowship and have fun. Sharing is caring, people. Up next, PJOM XI.


By Tony E. Boyd

            As I sat in Club Lush watching people slowly amble in for the poetry slam, I am struck with a sense of melancholy. Poetic Justice is an important for being a creative outlet for angst, anxiety, depression, expression, joy, beauty, and so much more. I am a little disappointed at the meager attendance numbers. I know you are out there, creatives. I know there are feelings in your heart dying to be expressed. Well, at least in my opinion.

            The night starts off with our fearless leader, Leora Jackson, doing the open. She then switches to her F.L. Jones persona to deliver a reading of Langston Hughes’ “I Too Am America” followed by another of his other famous works “Mother To Son”. Next up, Leora introduces the host, Lady Jazmynne. She is a local singer, performer, poetess, and activist. You can learn more about her at Lady Jazmynne got things started by discussing the meaning of Umoja. (If you don’t know, now would be a good time to look it up.  It will stick with you better than if I just tell you.) Afterwards, she performed an original work about current events including the devastating massacre that occurred in an Orlando nightclub and the scourge of racism.

            The meat of the show begins. Coming to the stage are brave souls willing to grace the stage and share their souls with us. First up is Jared Carter with an original piece, untitled as usual (I think it’s a style decision maybe?).  He weaves a tale of the ills of police brutality, profiling and racism. He is followed to the stage by a new to me poetess going by the stage name of “Ms. Yolanda”.  She weaved a poignant story of infidelity and its downfall. It also serves as a lesson to current and would-be “side chicks”.

            Next up, we were graced by a musician/singer who shared with us two original songs. The first was a little ditty called “Sinners” about a woman, a wife arrest for not paying child support even though she was too sick to work.  It was a passionate rendition, a bit angry if you asked me. You could tell it was a very personal piece to him.  The second song, “Never Found: Lisa’s Song” was a sad ode to a young lady who was lost and never found. As a parting shot, he put in a plug for his own upcoming open mic night.

            Leora “F.L. Jones” Jackson returns to the stage to regale us with an original piece entitled “The Blacks Will Rise”. With this piece, she expressed her sadness in the travails of Black people and pointed out the things that need to change. Not being done yet, she pulled “Why Can’t We Say Her Name” out of her bag of tricks. She engaged the audience, imploring them to say their names. Whose names you ask? She was talking about Black women who were murdered unnecessarily by police. She wanted to bring their plight to light. To drive the point home even further, she read aloud the lyrics to Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us”. The title itself pretty much says it all.
            More musical entertainment came up next as Lady Jazmynne sang an original song written by her husband called “Coping With Life”. We all are trying to cope with something, mental, physical or emotional. She was followed onstage by Stacey “L.I.F.E.” Harper. She performed her original piece called “God Put A Rainbow In The Clouds” which was filled with life advice.  Stacey works as a life coach and can be reached through her website,

            Washaka Matthews, Lady Jazmynne’s husband, stepped up next to deliver his own original piece entitled “Awaken Within”.  It was a very ethereal piece that spoke of the absurdity of life, of holding on too tight to conventions, separations and inane rules that we abide by that hinder our happiness. His point, to me, was that life is too short to let those things keep you from your happiness.

            Things tooled along.  Jared Carter read us another of his “Untitleds” about life’s trial  and tribulations. Lady Jazmynne sang a tribute  to Michael  Jackson. We had a newcomer going by the name of Sweet McCoy who read a couple of original pieces. The first piece she read was called “Jesus Wept”. The second was called “Relationships” about ones that go bad. Ms. Yolanda returned to the stage to read her “When I Was Five, Was I Alive”. It was a tragic , heart rending poem about child molestation.  F.L. Jones returned with her original work “Oh Valentine” about one woman’s abuse, driven to murder, falling into depression and madness. Jared shared another “Untitled” about the misunderstood. Bringing up the rear, Clay Cole returned to the stage to sing “Out of Hand”, an original song about being miserable and in denial about your life.

            The night actually turned out more lively than it began. Ask anybody who performed, I believe they will tell you it was a positive experience, therapeutic even. Poetic Justice Open Mic has a theme for performers to draw from but open expression is the name of the game. If you have something to share that does not fit the theme, it’s not a deal breaker. Poetic Justice IX  was a continuation of all the others, a safe haven for open expression and acceptance.