Black Girls go to Jazz poetry?

Absolutely!  On November 22nd I ventured over to Larchmere for an event that I wasn’t quite sure what it was about.  I received the invite from an out of town Facebook friend and all it said was Kelly Harris at the Nia Coffeehouse. A new coffee house on Larchmere? Not exactly. It’s the name of the event, no coffee or food available. In fact we were in an art gallery.

I arrived a late to the event at Larchmere Arts.  A live band was playing, I felt like I was being stared at as I arrived. The door was behind the stage so there was no entering unnoticed.  I paid my $5 and settled in next to my friend that sent the invite.  About that time the keyboard player and MC for the night, Vince, welcomed everyone and asked if anyone had come prepared to share a poem.

Shoot, was I supposed to prepare something?? I’m not a poet…

My small panic attack subsided when two people raised their hands.  Vince asked them who wanted to go first but no one spoke up so while that was being decided I looked around at the artwork on the walls and the people in attendance.  

There were about 20 brothers and sisters there, most of them rocking locs, dreds and other natural looks.  The spot was cozy, and at times felt like I was back in college at a  black student union hangout or pan african studies function.

There were 2 poets from the audience, and Vince did a poem called “Got Words.”  During his intro he spoke about the validity of having the words on paper as opposed to memorizing the poems.  He eloquently explained that the art of poetry traditionally has be a written expression, and that not being able to memorize your work doesn’t make anyone less of  artist.  As the poets spoke the band created amazing background  music to set the tone of the poem and I was beginning to understand why it was called Jazz Poetry.

Vince reading the title poem from his book Got Words

Vince reading the title poem from his book Got Words

Kelly was the headliner, and as she spoke I felt like I was at a concert as opposed to a spoken word set or poetry slam.  From her mic check to a poem called Stop Don’t Shoot I was captivated, she even did a slow jam poem.

Cleveland native Kelly Harris on stage

Cleveland native Kelly Harris on stage

The night wrapped up with announcements about upcoming Nia Coffeehouses, and Vince asking if “everybody’s hearts, minds and consciences were clear.”  Mine was, and I'll definitely be back.

-S

Check out the rest of my pictures from the Nia Coffeehouse at Larchmere Arts