With the lights low and voices high, nude paintings and vulnerable hearts, Apache Café hosted an intimate open mic that stripped down the minds of young artists all around Atlanta. “Word is Born” is an open mic event that Apache Café hosts every third Sunday of the month that allows poets, artists and other creatives to come out and share their art.
The venue creates a relaxing environment with dim lighting that highlights the original paintings from exhibition artists that hang on the rustic brick walls of the room. The stage was lit with a soft blue light which brings out the celestial wall paintings on either side of it. Eventually, it was standing room only as girls dressed up and guys buttoned down poured in, conversing over the soft music and creative energy filling the room.
Although the venue itself was noteworthy, the motifs throughout the night’s performances were the most thought-provoking. The event was for ages 18 and over, so the crowd was mostly young adults. Even though everyone was generally in the same age group, it was a surprising and intensely humbling experience to witness how like-minded and connected this room of strangers were through their art.
Lines laced with lust
No matter the poet that stepped on stage, there was one topic everyone could connect to: sex. Some poets made it seem like the ink of their pen was made from their most explicit yearnings. One memorable testosterone-filled poem was an ode to full-figured women. The poet rapped about his appreciation for who he referred to as “thick chicks,” praising their bodies and bashing cookie-cutter beauty standards. Women were bashfully flattered by his candid compliments.
Later, a group of men collaborated on a poem about their raw feelings of their love lives. The idea of waiting for the opportunity to please their partners was underlined with tones of temptation and flirtation. What was their motivation to wait? It was eventually exposed to be the anticipation of the very moment of sensual satisfaction. Needless to say, this masochistic concept was written much more graphically by the poets.
Whatever the case, sex was a theme written in bold print in many poets’ notepads. On the other side of things, some poets yearned for a more divine pleasure in their performance.
We write by faith, not by sight
Words like “testimony,” “grace” and “mercy” were in abundance throughout the night. Poets confessed their woes but also professed the hope and joy that they found in their faith. One poet believed that he went through the struggles in his life because God wanted him to be an example of redemption after your mistakes. Another poet attributed her outgrowth of a relationship to the growth that she experienced in faith.
Claps and exclamations during the poems made it apparent that people could relate to the spiritual journey the poets wrote about. A common stigma labels this generation as “Godless,” so it was interesting to see that not only were there faithful poets but also that the crowd could share those same sentiments.
Writings of resistance
The most commonly addressed issue was largely the plight of Black people in America right now. Men, women, older, younger, it didn’t matter who it was, the crowd was the most receptive to these issues.
The poets were not afraid to speak their mind on the issue either. What might be considered the most memorable poem of the night started off with an anecdote about how a young Black poet went online to discover her ancestry and the epiphany she had about her own cultural identity when the results came back. The poem expressed her finally taking solace in her identity as a Black woman, even though her specific lineage was taken away from her in this country. The crowd cheered for her cultural pride just as much as they moaned and groaned as an all too familiar topic of police brutality was brought up in another poem.
This poet spared no details of how awfully she felt young Black people are treated by the police. The audience, filled with different ethnicities, was very vocal on how close this issue hit to home. People from all backgrounds were able to put themselves in the poet’s shoes to feel the agony that this particular subject area inflicts. Every poem about these issues sparked powerful emotion in the crowd and revealed a sense of bonding over their common disdain for them.
Similar lines in similar minds
“Word is Born” revealed something profound about the state of mind of young poets around Atlanta. The implication of the event was those inner thoughts of not only the poets, but the whole crowd was aligned despite their differences. Every single topic discussed was followed by either cheering to suggest the laughable relatability of the poem, or resentful sighs to painful experiences it drudged up.
Nevertheless, with every stanza the crowd felt the poet’s emotion. If you weren’t reliving emotions from an issue you experienced yourself, you could at least feel sympathy for the poet and the people in the audience that could identify with the same pain. The minds of the poets and audiences were so simpatico it spoke to the elusive similarities of life experiences.
Everyone jokingly groaned at men speaking a little too highly of their intimate endeavors, felt the hope of a poet finding their footing in the world through their faith and internalized the frustration of a poem about crippling oppression. Everyone ultimately related to enduring the same inevitable, unpredictable waves of life together.
Read between the lines
This is all to say that in a time of daunting discourse, maybe looking closer at the decoded minds of the youth can offer answers. The eloquence of every emotion confessed and the receptive crowd’s response is evidence of the essence of unity through experience that a group of people can have unknowingly.
Vulnerability and honesty brought a young crowd of strangers together on a variety of issues. So, maybe this means society has to start reading in between the lines to find some understanding between us all.