2014 is off to an amazing start in the OKC arts community. In addition to all of the events happening locally, one beloved artist from the metro is also making noise out of town. Candace Liger, winner of The Vine Open Mic Poetry Night’s post-Thanksgiving slam event, went to Dallas last weekend and conquered the Women of the World Poetry Slam. On Tuesday Night, The Vine – fresh off last week’s celebration of its one year anniversary – celebrated Candace’s victory at Urban Roots. Before Candace stepped to the mic to give us a taste of what she unleashed on Dallas, some other local poets – and a not too shabby stand-up comedian – did their thing on the open mic.
First on the mic was a first timer, Ms. Ebony Ezzhani. When I first arrived, I saw Ebony consulting with OG poet Coop, and I knew she had it in the bag. Side note: If you are considering getting on the mic for the first time at Urban Roots, I would highly recommend that you talk to Coop beforehand if you can. He will tell you himself that he never gets nervous, and he has a way of instilling that confidence in others. Speaking from experience, the first time on the open mic can be quite a harrowing experience. Add to that the fact that you are called upon to go before everyone else, and you get an idea of what Ebony was up against. She nailed it like a champ. She did not appear the slightest bit unsteady as she delivered a stirring poem declaring her freedom from the past. That’s how you do that right there. Kudos Ebony.
The night was a little bit lighter in attendance than usual, although a respectable crowd was in the house, and by that I mean you could sit down if you got there early enough (Urban Roots be jumping – shout out to Chaya Fletcher for creating a haven of culture and community for us all, and David Threatt for starting a full-fledged movement in the arts). Still, it was an exceptionally strong night on the mic for the men:
The usually quiet Fahrenheit brought an exceptionally intense poem about relationships and the drama that can come along with them. He even managed a reference to box cutters without blinking or losing his trademark cool.
Donald Little, aka Wood, recited an especially moving original work about being a non-biological father who was more than a stepfather, but indeed a father to his daughters in every sense of the word.
Juan (Forever)Moore started out his poem crooning a little bit of Luther before reciting his salute to his bride Tina, whom he credited with turning “me into us.” Juan did what Juan does, representing the epitome of faithfulness and love within the bonds of matrimony. Go on ‘head Juan. I’m taking notes and trying to be like you.
Coop did an interactive poem, putting the audience on the spot and causing us to say what we were afraid to do. I personally thought J. Wigg’s response was the most hilarious. You really had to be there, but it involved bowel incontinence.
Then a brother named Exum did a respectable stand-up comedy routine. I have seen people bomb on the mic, and he was not one of them. Exum was actually funny, as he discussed the pitfalls of fatherhood, dating and dealing with other people’s kids, among other things.
Staci Brown represented as usual, doing a “moving” poem titled “Moving Day.” She began “what the fuck just happened?” and moved through the poem before deciding to start again at the beginning in order to try to get it down perfectly. Staci has become one of my favorite poets. If you ever hear her poetry, you will never feel like someone is just putting on a show. Staci has a way of making her audience feel what she has lived through like few poets I have encountered. Real talk. Respect.
But tonight was all about Candace Liger. Our champion was home with the spoils of victory, and we came to celebrate with her. She shared with us some of the poetry that she conquered Dallas with, not even watering it down for her beautiful mother who joined her at Urban Roots. She even danced a jig. Again, had to be there. She displayed the beautiful spirit, emotional intelligence and amazing mastery of the spoken word for which she is quickly becoming known both at home and away.
Speaking of away, Candace is going to Austin, Texas to do it again March 19-22, and we’re all going to help her get there to represent us. Candace is a full-time mother and a full-time student as well. She needs our help to make the journey. Let’s give it to her. To contribute to Candace’s Austin trip and for more information, visit http://www.gofundme.com/62shrc. And while you’re there, donate. Much love.
Brian C. Scott