Every Thursday, fans of poetry gather at the Amen-Ra Aahket center, or Amen-Ra’s as it’s locally known,to enjoy the performances during the Black on Black Rhyme poetry show. Visitors listen to poems from the event, which also features poets from the Back Talk Poetry Troupe.
The event showcases seasoned poets, some who have been writing poems for over 15 years. It also features aspiring musicians, comedians, and poets who are courageous enough to take the stage for open-mic.
Black on Black Rhyme, which is celebrating its 10th year of existence, started off with a gathering of friends at founder Keith Rodger’s apartment.
“We use to have poetry drive-bys at my apartment,” Rodgers said. “We had no radio advertisement, no fliers, no promotion at all. We just had poetry readings at my place and people would drive by, get free food, entertainment, and be out.”
After a year of hosting poetry affairs at his residence, the crowd grew beyond capacity. The Black on Black Rhyme Poetry show was forced to relocate to The Mt. Zion Calypso Café and finally ended up at Amen-Ra’s every Thursday.
Brandon Hollins, a Florida A&M University theater student and Back Talk Poetry Troupe member, performs at the event weekly. Outside of the classroom, Hollins is known as Trooth, an alias he said explains his relationship with God.
Trooth completes multiple tasks on the day of the event from arranging seats, greeting visitors, helping clean up, and performing.
“I come every week to rehabilitate the mind of self, in hopes that my light will beam on others,” he said.
Thursday night’s event proved to be successful. As the lights dimmed at Amen-Ra’s, about 50 people gather around the stage, eager to hear what the poets have in store for the night’s show. Rodgers and Poet Bobby Blackmon entertained the crowd with a duet poem they presented, entitled “Poets Get Lonely Too.”
Afterwards, Blackmon said, “People should come and be a part of Black on Black rhyme for two reasons, to be entertained and to get wisdom.”
Sexuality, politics, social and racial issues are some of the topics that are addressed from various poets. Audience members rattled car and house keys, instead of claps, as a token of appreciation to poems they enjoyed.
Williana Jean-Jacques, a student that plans to transfer to FAMU next semester, said she enjoyed the show and loved how cultured it was.
“I came expecting just poetry, but the show is so much more,” said Jean-Jacques who was visiting Black on Black on Rhyme for the first time.
Rodgers said that he is impressed with the success of the Black on Black Rhyme Poetry.
“It’s therapeutic entertainment,” he said. “We encourage people not to do better, but to be better.”