by Steffany Overby
As our host of the night Glori said, “The Center of Neo is the Female Voice” and as such we celebrated all of our female poets with Ladies’ Night. Taking a break from rigorous studying for finals, Shae started us off with Beauty and The Beast. Sunni aka Captain Grandma celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Inside These Walls “I wish you had just said something or rather I wish I had just listened to all the nothing’s you did say but I don’t hear so well.”
Doc spelled out the truth of the poem all poets face in her New Sh** The Poem I Need to Write. All I could do was nod my head in unison. Shelby taught us again the 2 sides of every relationship and heartbreak “There’s not a word for ‘I hurt you and I was hurting and you hurt me and you were hurting’ but we have to quit playing the blame game.” *snaps* Melanie rocked the mic with 2 short poems starting with Untitled “where silence becomes a sound is where we live, unhappy and unhealthy. I can’t, won’t, don’t want to break free.” And then Melanie let us know that even though it was ladies’ night she wanted to take a moment to appreciate and not bash on the men by sharing her piece Making of a King “you are so misunderstood because in this world it seems there’s no value in understanding…but despite the physical, mental and emotional abuse of this life, you are still breathing and still standing.” Teresa was finally able to perform How to Touch a Black Woman’s Hair with Tova in the audience and it was glorious. (Mark your calendars now to go see Teresa and Glori B. in Frontera Fest Short Fringe 1/22/16…you can thank me later.) Tova rocked the mic in Suggestion from a White Feminist Poet “and don’t I always let you stay…don’t I always let you bask in all that my tears have made?” Shayna Marissa continued the strong cadence with her poem “to the man who took advantage of the daughter”…which was then followed up by another equally powerful poem by Jaxx in her Really New Sh** Shamash Hopes & Ghost Bombs. Tenci graced the mic and started with her poem Chat with Injustice, and much to the crowd’s delight she sang her own version of Ribbon in the Sky by Stevie Wonder. Ash Calypso absolutely shut it down with her piece Settle, They Say “Settling…it’s just to go get somewhere and sit. To accept where you are, to just take some sh**…But settle, they say.” (I promise all the ladies out there need to hear that one if they are constantly receiving grief for not being married yet.) Lydia was back with another powerful piece dedicated to her mom Resuscitation of Lost Language or Recipe for an Immigrant Mother’s Justice. Sister Sue made another appearance on the mic…much to her surprise…and utilized the opportunity to give a Public Service Announcement to the crowd to “Keep it GOING Next Year!” And we definitely plan to. Angie then asked that we have a moment of silence in honor of an amazing poet our community lost Cocoa Fire. Fatima used words from the crowd: fire, angelic, rough, black and forever to poetically share with us all the importance of thoroughly reading any contract before we sign it…like ANYTHING….for real for real. Our Feature of the night was none other than Rachel Wiley, a native of Columbus, Ohio, who was absolutely amazing!! She had us laughing and then deeply thinking and then laughing again. One of my favorites without a doubt was Gorgon “Is it so much easier to make us monsters than to simply make us dresses?” And everyone should hear Brass Knuckles before the new year rings in “So let’s name the rest of this year the year of not settling for anymore of this basic a** sh**” Seriously, I bought her chapbook Fat Girl Finishing School because I want to hear those poems again and again. Kelene got up for a few short announcements: 1) please see Christopher Michael for details about signing up to compete to represent NeoSoul at WOWPs and 2) There will be a SLAM on 12/17/15…and 3) OPERATION SOCKS is still in full effect! So, if you have any new or gently used socks to donate please contact her or Ilbersalle Fallon. And just like that she ended with a short 45 second piece called Teeth that definitely had bite. Based on the vibe she was getting for the night, Shaunie switched up from sharing her newest piece with us to instead let us hear The Mantra again “#Irefusetodiealostsoul.” Pierrette announced that it was her last night of NeoSoul because it was her last week in Austin, TX. She shared what she has learned about self acceptance and love in Beauty. We will definitely look forward to anytime she decides to return for a visit! We learned that Soups has been driving up from San Antonio and that she has challenged herself that she can only come if she actually gets on the mic. Score!! Soups shared her New Sh** “come as you are but we’ll be damned if you leave that way.” This poet here…can’t believe we made it this long without hearing her awesome words. Ashe closed us out for the night in the heartwrenching way only she can in Questions for God or Anyone Who is Listening. All in all it was an incredible night. There were so many amazing females both on the mic and in the crowd. Thank you to everyone that showed up and showed out. I’m lovin’ the new call and response by Glori B. by the way: Damn! That’s a good problem to have!