Last night, I had the privilege to go to Denton Black Film Festival’s “Poetry Slam” at the Black Box Theater. I have never been to any kind of poetry slam, so I was bubbling with excitement and anticipation to attend. Unsurprisingly, the buildup was worth it, because it exceeded my expectations. This festival never seems to disappoint me.
If you have never been to the Black Box Theater, it looks just like that, a black box. It is a very intimate venue that perfectly set the mood for the night. Music was played by Denton and UNT’s very own DJ Sir J, who also made the experience all the more enticing. I found myself writing his information down for future events.
The event was hosted by Denton Black Film Festival’s music director Frederick Nichelson and Verb Kulture. Verb created a very welcoming and open environment so that everyone felt included on stage. Even I felt comfortable and encouraged by simply being in the audience.
The night started off with open mic poetry, open to anyone who wished to perform. I appreciated this aspect of the event because it allowed anyone in the community to express themselves. The night transitioned into the actual poetry slam competition, featuring some of the same poets who performed during the open mic. Five judges were randomly selected from the audience and were given boards to display their scores. The remaining four poets moved on to the final round. The tension grew as we got down to the final moments, because money was on the line. When it was all said and done, Javon Rustin won and received a cash prize of $350. Second place went to Lgb Jay Sentino, who was awarded $100.
Each poet brought their own styles, emotions, and stories. They gave it their all and let their meaningful words pour out, and allowed us to feel and think with them. The crowd was absorbed, and engaged with each poet. I enjoyed that everyone there was present and in the moment. I seldom saw people on their phones, which was very respectful to the artists. I noticed that the audience was very diverse. People from all walks of life came out, from young to old all with a blend of backgrounds. Every performance was followed by a loving and lively roar of applause. The artists were truly captivating and never ceased to move people and make us reflect.
The poetry slam delivered on the promise from Black Film Festival of “stories that empower, art that inspires and culture that builds.”