This past Friday, I had the pleasure of attending a truly inspiring spoken word poetry showcase here in Newark called Friday Night Writes. As it turns out, this show takes place every Friday and has been for a little over a year at the cafe Art Kitchen, located at 61 Halsey Street (corner of New Street). The show was so impressive and refreshing compared to the stigma and negative perception placed on Newark that I thought it warranted sharing with our GlocallyNewark readers.
Things kicked off at 6pm, hosted by a NJ native and veteran spoken word poet, Starski. What struck me most about the show was the inclusive spirit and familiarity everyone seemed to have with one another – especially in light of the fact that as I came to realize, people were here from so many different parts of New Jersey. The show begins with an open mic segment where everyone is allowed to perform an original piece of poetry. Frankly, I could not believe the amount of young people in one place at one time who all shared such a love of the arts and poetry. There were students from North Star Academy as well as Rutgers and Montclair State University students, not to mention the adults in the audience. And the talent and creativity these young writers posessed was astounding! The range of topics and approach to writing that they exhibited was proof that there is much more going on in the city of Newark than what we see on the news.
After the open mic portion was closed, there was a feature presentation. Friday’s feature was a young man named Timothy DuWhite. He was introduced to the audience as a well-versed performance poet who had recently competed at the national level with a team from Montclair State at an event known as CUPSI. He was also a freelance writer and photographer for a number of magazines and websites. Once he approached the stage and began his set, I was floored by the honest and imaginative content he wrote and performed – for instance, a poem written from the perspective of a widow speaking to the women her deceased husband had slept with throughout their marraige. I got to speak with the host for a bit and he shared that the show has been going on regularly since June 2011 and has featured talents from here in New Jersey and as far as North Carolina, Washington DC, and other states, many of whom have performed throughout the country and internationally. He also mentioned that he would be travelling to Charlotte, NC this week to attend the 2012 National Poetry Slam and hopefully recruit even more emerging and accomplished poets.
I will make it my business to come back to the show as much as I can, if not only to support the arts in Newark as well as our youth, but also because the show was quite honestly worth much more than the $10 cover charge. And if you haven’t seen it for yourself, I definitely recommend that you do so soon.