Although most people recognize February as Black History Month, it has one day dedicated to showing love to those around you.
This holiday is named after Saint Valentine, a martyr, who served as priest during the third century in Rome.
The true origin of Valentine’s Day is slightly vague. However, according to history.com, one theory is that the holiday started in the year 1375 when English poet Geoffrey Chaucer recorded the day as a romantic celebration in his poem “Parliament of Foules.”
During the Middle Ages, it was often suspected that Feb. 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season. This theory added to the idea that Feb. 14 should be celebrated as a day of love.
Another theory suggests that Valentine’s Day began as the celebration of life for Saint Valentine.
In 269 AD, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives or families, leading him to outlaw marriage for young men. Valentine, who opposed this decree, continued marrying young couples which eventually led to him being beheaded by the emperor.
As the years go on, Valentine’s Day continues to be celebrated by people all over the world in many different ways. In today’s time this holiday is filled with flowers, chocolates, special gifts and dinner dates.
One way Valentine’s Day was celebrated locally this year was with a poetry show. Black on Black Rhyme is a collective of poets, artists and lovers of creativity.
“ValenRhyme” was a show put together to celebrate love and happiness all while being entertained by stimulating local poets and artists. The show was held on the south side of Tallahassee at Catering with Care Cafe.
About 10-15 poets performed various poems about love, relationships, feelings and marriage.
Lenda Bentley, one of the performing poets and members of Black on Black Rhyme, started writing spoken word in eighth grade. However she did not start performing until after college in 2018.
Bentley, who stopped writing spoken word in college, decided to resume her craft because, in her words, life was fighting back and she needed a way to talk about it.
“My friend invited me to a Black on Black Rhyme and on the second night of the event I performed one of my own pieces for the first time. That same night Keith Rodgers, the founder of Black on Black poetry, asked me to be a part of the troupe.”
Since then, Bentley has performed at numerous events across Florida. She has also written a book of 28 poems which talk about healing trauma and dealing with your emotions.
When asked if she had any advice for upcoming poets, Bentley said, “One, not every poem has to be written to be performed. Sometimes you can just write for yourself and share it with no one. Two, there’s no mistakes in your art, don’t delete your poems, start over, or throw them away.”
Bentley performed two pieces at the show and also promoted her “Book 28: A Collection of Poems about Trauma and Healing,” which can be found on Amazon.com
The show was catered to couples, and had about 20 attendees, some of whom performed pieces as well.
One of the attendees, Summer Day, said she had a great time at the event.
“The show was really good and very unexpected. The people who performed were really talented and had great poems.”
Day, who is a poet, says she did not expect the show to be so entertaining.
“When I first heard about it, I thought it was just like any other poetry show as far as the type of poems and poets, but I was completely surprised when I got there. Majority of the poets were older married people who had been writing poetry for years.”
Day said that she was caught off guard by the poets and their pieces.
“They all spoke about different things but they also all related back to love and feelings. Their poems gave me ideas and insight on things I’ve been dealing with personally,” Day said.
Black on Black Rhyme hosts ValenRhyme every year. It also hosts many other events throughout the year — and throughout the country and world.
It has had shows in Tampa, Jacksonville and Abh Dhabi.