On a frigid December evening, passionate poets rocked the Casba during VOCAB and open mic night, an event for Indy’s finest poets. As a precursor to the poetic proceedings, DJ Scott Matelic filled the small, candlelit bar with smooth, funky R&B beats. The cozy bar was practically empty when I first arrived, but filled quickly as DJ Matelic caressed the vinyl. The energy in the room was high and warmth exuded from the lyric-loving crowd.
The first poet of the night was Rebelle, founder and host of VOCAB. She was a welcoming host, encouraging love and freedom of expression. Her poems spoke of racism, desperation and imagination. She was a best friend to every person who entered the club. A line that really resounded was “imagination and assumption lead you to stand alone.” Powerful words that are all too true for any human listener.
After three equally provocative poems, Rebelle introduced the night’s featured poet, Phoenix Cavalier, a fellow who happened to be an old high school pal. Phoenix prefaced his performance by stating that he was “totally nervous.” He went on to belt his heart out in a way best described as hip-hop, indie-a capella. His words were heartfelt and inspiring -- fun and thoughtful. His lyrics spanned from dreams of finding his true colors to the comedy of meeting a stranger who closely resembled his far-away mother. The finale of his three-poem set was met with a roar of approval. With hugs and high fives, the mingling group of semi-strangers formed a sort of family.
Following Phoenix, a variety of other poets read robust and deep renditions from their journals -- all of which were met with the same enthusiasm. The bartender at Usual Suspects, an occasional VOCAB performer, who served me “Broad Ripple’s Best” margarita before the show, told me to “expect a lot of love in the room” -- he was exactly right.