With the temperatures warming up and college graduations happening, there is no doubt that there are tons of events happening in Rowan County! One of them being a spoken word event called “Un-Censored: Poetic but Real” which has been taking place at EastSquare Artworks twice a month since April 19. Located at 120 E. Innes Street directly across from Smoke Pit in Downtown Salisbury, EastSqaure Artworks is an arts incubator space focusing on artists and events which create social and economic impact. Owners of EastSqaure Artworks, Whitney Peckman and Syed Ahmad, have provided a diverse and cultural art experience while showcasing their own beautiful glass and textured art work for years. The current exhibit at EastSquare Artworks is called “None of the Above: Awareness on Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline”. In June, the new name for the gallery will transition to Heart of Salisbury Yoga, Wellness and Arts.

 

An Artists’ Safe Place 

“Un-Censored: Poetic but Real” features local and traveling poets who perform poetry with a live band. The band consists of keyboarder Jonathan Stout (High Point, NC), drummer Chris McDonald (Salisbury, NC), and lead guitarist Brosnan Granger (Charlotte, NC). They’ve dubbed themselves “The UnCensored House Band”. I started this spoken word event to provide an outlet that allows people to freely express themselves without the fear of being judged for the things they have gone through. As a spoken word artist myself, I know firsthand the healing that comes once you write those painful pieces and the closure you get when you share them. Not all poetry is painful though. Some poetry reminds us to laugh and to experience the joys of life. To be a true spoken word artist, you know not only how to write, but how to deliver your message to your audience. However, “Un-Censored: Poetic but Real” encourages artists who have never shared before to share their story. Both the poets and the audiences are diverse coming from different backgrounds and ethnicities.

The UnCensored House Band

 

Some of the pieces that you may hear talk about include immigration and the experiences those impacted families are going through. You may also hear what African Americans are going through as it relates to police brutality. Then there are empowering pieces that cause us to think about just how powerful we all are no matter race, sexuality, or religion. The main goal for UnCensored is to allow poets to express themselves in an atmosphere that is open so others can hear what they have to say. There are even writing tablets on each table for anyone who wishes to share something that comes to their mind as they are listening.

Poet/Author/Motivational Speaker, Timogi Jackson, who has blessed the mic, had a lot to say when she was asked how she felt about UnCensored, “UnCensored may be uncensored, but it is not ‘Un-Sensored’”. When you arrive all your senses will be engaged. As you approach the building you can smell the delectable eats from the nearby food vendor wafting through the air with the sole purpose of ‘undermining’ your diet. Next, you may even begin a two-step as you hear the live band ‘unapologetically’ having their way with their instruments. Once inside the aesthetic of the building is beautiful to behold with unique art by Whitney and Syed who are each ‘unquestionably’ talented. Last, but certainly not least, your spirit will be moved by the poets who share about everything from life, relationships, politics, sisterhood, the state of the world, and our ‘undeniable’ need for more love. The host, Phennix, may be deaf, but she hears very well. She hears through her heart in a way the ears alone could never ‘understand’. UnCensored is an opportunity to have all your senses engaged.

 

Rising from the Ashes

Poets are allowed to use a different stage name other than their real name. When I am in my zone performing, I use the name “Phennix”. Because I am deaf/hard of hearing, I pronounce the word phoenix like “phennix”. To better explain how my stage name came to be, I look back to a time in my 20s. I graduated as valedictorian in the Pathways to Employment Program from Central Piedmont Community College. Even though I was very proud of this accomplishment, I had a hard time finding employment, as most office jobs request you to be able to hear well on the phone. My frustrations led to a lot of writing. In discussing my poems with family, my brother referenced “phoenix,” like rising from the ashes and birthing a new bird. That stuck with me. I was a wounded heart and angry soul, until I touched the mic. My poetry speaks about being born deaf/hard of hearing and the different experiences I had growing up to become the woman I am today. In being transparent, it helps the other poets become comfortable with the pieces they have to share.

Join local spoken word artists and enjoy live music, wine, beer, and food prepared by local chefs at “Un-Censored: Poetic but Real”. It is truly an awesome event!  Click here for more information about this event and to view the schedule.

Though Rowan County offers other poetry venues, each venue is unique to the owners and the host who create moments for an exchange of words. So, get out and get inspired at one of the many local open mic sessions.