|Posted Dec. 1, 2006|
Flower petals lay scattered on the floor of Harris Art Gallery on Nov. 16 as people waited for the third year of the E’turnale D’vine poetry café to begin.
As more and more people began to fill the small gallery Monique Chambers, the show’s organizer, made her way around the room smiling and saying hello to her supporters, offering them refreshments that were placed tactfully next to the rear entrance.
At 8 p.m., the show began and all of the long hours and hard work that Chambers had invested into it were suddenly set in motion.
“I started this three years ago because I wanted a way to show that there is good, clean talent out there,” Chambers said. “Talent that can manipulate words into art without cussing or violence.”
Performers went on stage and proved their talent.
Occasionally a poet would step to the microphone and begin to speak with confidence, but a close look would reveal a slightest tremble in his or her hands.
Then suddenly that small fear would fade away and he or she would transform into another person completely wrapped up in the emotion of a piece, so much so that nothing else mattered at that point except the words coming out of his or her mouth.
The audience of about 50 people soon became mesmerized by the words of each poet.
Performers like Rudy Francisco from San Diego, who spoke about the definition of love, had the audience shouting along in agreement.
Poet Noni Limar spoke on the definition of race and American social values, which brought the audience’s applause to a high.
“You could tell that people were touched,” junior psychology major Mike Cordova said. “ It makes you see how much poetry can really affect people.”
After 10 performances, a combination of poetry, rap, comedy and singing the audience was left to a short intermission and encouraged to grab a bite to eat.
But with all of the emotion in the room, it was a little hard to swallow.
The intermission was important because the audience needed time to take in every emotion of each performer, to dwell on the words that meant the most to them and to reflect on each hand gesture and small step that was made significant by words spoken with such conviction and passion.
When the show began again, there was an air of expectation.
Chambers and fellow poet Phillip Allen did a beautiful piece about women and their expectations of men.
Women in the audience were brought to tears when Chambers and Allen emphasized that every woman should be treated with the respect and admiration she deserves.
Then with a touch of poetic grace; six of the most respectable men on campus walked into the audience and began to hand each women a single long stem rose.
It is safe to say there was not a woman with a dry eye in the room.
“I thought it was the best part of the show. She picked a good group of guys,” Ashley Joseph, junior psychology major, said.
“They were the guys that you would actually want to get a rose from, they get good grades, do their work, are genuine and are making moves on campus,” she added.
With E’turnale D’vine in its third year, Chambers wanted to make this year special.
With help and support from several supporters such as the Multicultural Institute, African American Student Alliance, Coalition for Diversity and others she had a budget of $1,400 to work with.
Chambers gives credit to God for her poetry and for her motivation to organize the show for the last three years.
Initially her motivation for the event was to showcase her poetry and talent, but now as she has grown she does it for new reasons.
“The focus this year was more on the audience and the artist than myself,” Chambers said. “I wanted it to be about spiritual growth and encouragement for the people there.”
Jillian Peña can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.