January 3, 2008

Spoken Word at Java Jazz, December 28

Java Jazz is a cozy coffee shop in the Main Square Plaza on Delaware Ave. in Delmar; the owners, Mary Alice & Cathy, are both activists in the peace movement. Since Autumn they have been scheduling various local performers -- folk singers, story tellers, & poets.

Tonight, the poets "Herbal Tea" & "The Storm." The Storm had read 2 of her poems at the open mic at the Lark Tavern in November; I think Herbal Tea was with her that night, but he didn't read. They performed their poems from composition books & note-pads, alternating back & forth, & I caught 2 out of their 3 short sets.

Their poems were mostly rhymed & half-rhymed hip-hop style, but not the strident, obsessively-rhymed, monotonous beat that we sometimes hear from the young street poets imitating what they hear on the radio. These poems were more introspective, about the dreams, aspirations & feelings of mothers & fathers raising children (& who were there at one of the tables), the difficulties & pleasures of adults being in love, in a relationship together. During the second set they did a collaborative piece about being together, the back & forth of the lines like the relationship itself. The Storm's love poem, "What Do you See?" was written last night & Herbal Tea heard it for the first time with the rest of us. Herbal Tea countered with his simply stated "Don't Blink" (because love could go away).

Their poems had the rhymes, the direct statements of pop lyrics, rather than crafted images like modern poetry, but for that reason it was easily understood on first hearing & accessible to the audience, which included some children & youths as well as adults. A relaxed, informal & at the same time touching performance.

The Storm & Herbal Tea perform regularly at Simply Fish & Jazz on So. Pearl St.

Check out Java Jazz at www.javajazzcafe.net.