The man at the microphone is upset, and he has a list of grievances for the world. A long list of everything from politics to prepackaged entertainment, delivered in a performance that’s equal parts poetry, song and speech. “iPod drones and booty shaking clones,” he intones. “Manipulated puppets on a string!”
Some of the crew behind The Art of the Spoken Word night at Club 421: LaTenia Caldwell, Tia Hill, Khephera Ma’at, Femi Abdullah and Shereeta Lacey. The next performance is tonight, April 7.
Featuring acts ranging from sophisticated commentary to sweet soulful singing, The Art of the Spoken Word has been running for nine months now at Club 421, 7051 N. Michigan Road, garnering crowds of up to 100 people the first Wednesday of every month. The next event will take place April 7. Event founder Shereeta Lacey, of Baby Mama Drama Productions, said her goal was to bring people together. “I would consider it part of the conscious community,” Lacey said. “We went with the spoken word because it is part of hip-hop. It’s what IS. It’s youth, it moves beyond color or gender barriers.” The open mike draws more than just spoken word. It’s all about art, dance, singing, whatever means of expression someone brings along with them. “We had one lady that didn’t say anything,” Lacey recalled. “It was hilarious. She jumped up, said, ‘Hey!’ then stared out at everybody for about five minutes, then sat down. We get all kinds of acts with open mike. Some people rap. Some read a poem. Everyone has something to say.” For event MC Femi Abdullah, the importance of spoken word is its immediacy. “I think spoken word, especially now, is the underground current of artists who want to act for a change rather than doing it just for the sake of doing it,” Femi said. “We want to provoke thought and change and positive movement and not let it get too commercial.” Abdullah is also part of the group LOTUS (Living Our Truth Unveils Success), resident artists for the evening, who perform outreach events at schools and elsewhere. “We want to teach young people what’s up, to be aware in society of what’s going on around them.” The Art of the Spoken Word takes place the first Wednesday of every month at Club 421, 7051 N. Michigan Road, at 8:30 p.m. The next performance is tonight, April 7. For more info on BMD Productions, check out www.scarabys.com/babymamadrama. To learn more about LOTUS, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.