‘Black Girl Speaks,’ students listen

Tuesday night in Lee Hall, the one-woman show “Black Girl Speaks,” starring Talitha Coverson, used poetry to highlight issues like minority army recruitment, homosexuality and black relationships.

“(Black Girl Speaks) holds up a mirror to everyone who attends – self included – and forces you to identify your strengths and weaknesses,” said Coverson in a press release. 

With poems concerning everyone from young men to homosexuals, Coverson said she tries to reach a wide array of individuals. “It’s called ‘Black Girl Speaks’ because it’s told from a black female perspective, but there is something for the masses,” she said.

In one piece concerning minorities and the military, Coverson used the audience as a part of her performance.

In her poem, Coverson shared her feelings about what she considered a governmental plan to recruit uneducated black men to fight in the war. She said while in the military these men will be trained to slaughter innocent lives with the promise of losing their own.

Refusing to stay away from controversial issues, Coverson, in a later poem, touched on sexual orientation. Changing into a blonde wig and a short skirt, she became “Sweet Thing.” This poem chronicled the life of a promiscuous “woman” who did explicit acts at night to hide from those who “prosecute the prostitute for something they do for free.”

In reality this “woman” was a man who believed he was a woman after being molested at the age of 13 by his father’s friend. Coverson said critics should not be so quick to judge individuals without knowing their background. She said the poem’s inspiration came from a friend who went through the same situation.

“(The poem) threw me for a loop,” said Angelo Porter, 18, a criminal justice student from Jacksonville. Porter, who came with a friend, said he enjoys the different ways spoken word could be performed. “(She) is saying a lot of real stuff,’ Porter said.

Keith Rodgers, the founder and CEO of Black on Black Rhyme Poetry Troupe, said he was drawn to Coverson because of the passion of her performance and the realness of it.

“No matter how low you are, she will lift you up, and no matter how high you are she will lift you up,” Rodgers said. He said he especially enjoyed her poem dealing with relationships, which he nicknamed, “Roll Over.”

She performed the piece to resounding cheers. The poem is about women trying to please their men yet their men still refuse to pay attention.

The woman in the poem cries for attention, but the man continues to sleep with his back turned. “My body is a 24-hour glass, and you look right through me,” Coverson said, “doing everything I do for you to see me.”

Dressing in high heels and wearing make-up and short skirts are some of the things Coverson said women do to gain the attention of their men.

“Very impressive,” Rodgers said.

Although she has a large fan base in Tallahassee, Coverson plans to create a bigger production to reach more people.

“‘Black Girl Speaks’ will expand to become workshops, seminars, conferences, creative writing programs, after-school theater programs, book publishing,” Coverson said, “and the show will be produced in multiple cities internationally and simultaneously by other black actresses. It will present a forum for honest black theater and for healing and growth.”

Coverson has taken her show to Atlanta and Detroit among other places. She has also performed in Amsterdam and Paris. This has been her fourth performance of “Black Girl Speaks” in Tallahassee.