National Poetry Month Begins With Some Spoken Word

Helena D. Lewis and Ill-Literacy

April 1, 2008

Cielo Garden and Supper Club

Better Than: A night at home watching Def Poetry Jam.

I admit I've always secretly wanted to be a spoken-word poet. Witty, charismatic and thought-provoking; what's not to love? But the ability to express my deepest feelings - on stage to a room full of strangers no less - has evaded me.

Sitting on a lush, white modern sofa, I realized that I'd be able to live out my dream vicariously through the performers of the night, but how good would my performance…I mean… their performance be?

To find out the answer to that question, I had to wait a while. The door opened at 8 p.m. to a sparse setting in regards to both the amount of people as well as furniture, but first impressions are often misleading. As time passed, an endless flow of people began to flood through the door. I should know better than to arrive on time; for some reason after almost 20 years of living here, I'm still not on Miami time.

At 9:30 when the restaurant was packed and the energy flowing, the open mic segment of the night began. An intro was provided the host and insanely funny curator of the event, Ingrid B.

If you ever find yourself wondering where Miami's hidden talent hangs out, look no further. Five immensely talented poets who live in the 305 (or at least somewhere in the vicinity) displayed their ability to captivate an audience with words full of passion and insight.

When those poets were finished, I believed that the show might have reached its peak, but I should have known better. Hailing from New Jersey, Helena D. Lewis graced the audience with her mastery of the language and more importantly the ability to make an entire audience laugh their asses off. This woman is as blunt as possible with poetry that runs the gamut of explicit sexual escapades to the “stank breath” of somebody trying to talk to her. In the latter she says that the dude's breath “had more kicks than Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” a line that had the whole crowd laughing in unison.

Ruby, Dahlak, Nico and Adriel, better know as Ill-Literacy also took the mic. To say that they were influenced by hip hop would be an understatement. Thankfully, they artfully used that influence to construct a performance that is distinct, and unlike many other spoken word artists or entertainers in general, it's difficult to pigeonhole them with any one description. They were versatile, molding words and ideas from popular culture into revolutionary ways of thinking and somehow still manage to entertain.

A the end of the night, I was disappointed that my opportunity to vicariously live out my dream was over, and I could tell by the expressions on those around me that I wasn't the only one that felt that way.

--Ashley Rousseau

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I have had an intense romance with words my entire life.

By the way: If you go to The Bohemia Room, ask Ingrid B. what a B.A.P.A.N. is. Warning: The answer is not suitable for young children.

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