On Oct. 8, the Spoken Poets Club put an interesting spin on Coffeehouse: the usual instruments were silent, but not the voices.
Down in the depths of Montgomery Hall, in the ironically misnamed “White Room,” nine members of the St. Mary’s Spoken Poets presented a series of fervent “slam” poems that were as much performance art as they were spoken word.
The first poet to perform was Marshall Betz, who offered three original poems, including “Unspoken but Broken,” “To Wish Upon a Rock,” and the insightful “Facebook: An Autobiography.”
One of Marshall’s favorite authors is Jane Austen, a radical in her own time, and when asked when he first started writing poetry, Marshall replied, “You never really start writing poetry, you just put your pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and it happens.”
Next was Taren Parsons, who, even with a strong dislike of microphones (and who apparently is disliked by microphones as well), was able to share three poems. Her first poem was “Women: A Song of Hate” by Dorothy Parker, whose works Taren says she came across one day while browsing in the St. Mary’s Library.
Her next poem was “O My God, Shoes,” which expresses her aversion to copious amounts of shoes; Taren finished with the first poem she ever wrote, entitled simply “Running.”
After Taren was Spoken Poets Vice President Megan Kile. In her first poem she offered what she decided was “The Problem with Shakespeare,” followed by “Icing and English Ivy.”
Megan first got into slam poetry during high school, apprenticed to one of the hosts of Baltimore’s premier slam scene, SLAMicide; some of her influences include Andrea Gibson, Baltimore local Chris August, and Buddy Wakefield.
Chris Blocher, according to Spoken Poets President Helen Coy, “couldn’t even conform to slam,” as Chris took the stage to read one of his original short stories. Chris invited the audience into the bleak world of a father-and-son family simultaneously brought together and separated by drug use and peddling.
The impassioned and flowing language could very well have been described as poetry, however, and elicited much applause from the audience.
The next poet was Brandon Winter, the slam rhymester sporting a Slayer shirt. Brandon made the crowd enjoyably uncomfortable in traditional slam style with edgy poems like “Drag King,” the internet-themed “Pervert’s Playground,” and “Nazis.” His last poem was the laced-with-sarcasm “If Only I Didn’t Have to See You Tomorrow.”
Allison Smith offered a poem called “W(hole),” an emotional epic which played on her own name with phrases like “Ah! Listen!” and “All is undone.”
“I really cannot stop writing poetry,” she stated, “It’s a compulsion that will never end because poetry is my life.”
The scheduled line-up was interrupted by a last-minute entry by sound technicians Nick Hughes and Tom Dickey. They were so moved by the performances thus far that they decided to deliver a small list of haikus, like the heartfelt “Mm, alphabet soup. I wonder if it’s still hot. Yes, it’s still too hot.”
Isaac Nixon, a.k.a. “Master Lyrical,” was up next. Isaac was one of the founders of the St. Mary’s Spoken Poets Club, and he laid down a smooth, lyrical poem called “Trapped in the D.” A frequent open mic performer, he mentions the Def Poetry stylings of Mos Def as one of his major influences.
After Master Lyrical was Maurielle Stewart, who started off with the classic poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou, one of her favorite poets. She also presented two original poems, “Lightning” and “Subject.” Some of her other favorite poets are Saul William, Sonia Sanchez, and Langston Hughes.
Helen Coy, the President of the Club, was last but certainly not least. She read four original poems: “Program,” “In the Pen Dance Day,” Men’s Department,” and “Rainbows.” At the audience’s urging, she left us with an encore entitled “Dick.”
Helen has a long-time interest in acting, but within the past few years has decided to express herself through poetry.
“The audience is an active participant [in poetry]. That’s what I love about it. Sure, there’s an element of competition, but it isn’t as cutthroat as the theatre-world. There’s an element of brotherhood; a knowledge that we’re all here for the same goal: to give people hope.”
If you enjoy writing/performing poetry, then the Spoken Poets Club is always looking for new members; just contact Helen Coy at firstname.lastname@example.org.