Open Mic Night & Slam Poetry Contest at DBFF

It was an experience attending the open mic night and poetry slam contest at Denton Black Film Festival on Jan. 25.

The poetry slam contest featured a dozen poets, each given just minutes to deliver spoken word poems in three rounds. DBFF was able to bring in local talent not limited to Denton, extending to artists throughout the metroplex who wanted to be a part of this platform.

“It resonates with a lot of people who haven’t seen a film festival that has events that compliment the art of storytelling [at the poetry event],” said Monique Bird, marketing director for the DBFF.

Verb Kulture, host and creator of Verb Kulture Entertainment, has a mission to introduce people to poetry and help them learn more about Dallas arts. When she’s not catching the attention of the audience, Kulture produces popular events around the DFW area. She enjoys hosting the poetry slam contest because it is a “great opportunity to expose people to poetry and help bring people to Dallas.” Moreover, Kulture said she likes that Denton is full of young and ambitious people.

UNT and TWU and their various arts programs have made Denton a hub for creativity. Though, Beatrice McBride, one of the photographers for the festival, was surprised there were events like these in town.

“Denton has its own creative vibe that is different from Dallas,” McBride said.

The night started with veteran poet Verb Kulture welcoming volunteers on stage. While most of the poems were funny, one of the most memorable to me was a poem called “Ones and Zeros: The Bias Merged” by Monda Webb, a poem about artificial intelligence and how the rise of technology doesn’t always work for Black people because it wasn’t made by or for them.

“…but when a faucet doesn't flow because of the color of my skin - suddenly I understand that machines are as good as the people programming them,” Webb said.

Each round featured memorable performances, but it was William Henry, whose powerful poems about heartache and problems over information technology, that won the night.

“Never saying what IT is but tonight I will say it. IT is over 500 years slavery, IT is over 300 black girls gone missing but America, you were able to find Tom Brady’s shirt safely and sound.”

William Henry believes that poems are a form of expression that reveal what people can’t say in real life. When William isn’t competing, he writes poems 24/7, exercising his skill with the Dallas Poetry Slam Team and Lost Poets Lounge in Denton.

Henry, who has been writing since the age of seven, won first place and a prize of $500. In second place was Rage Tench, winning $250 and in third place was Alex the Great, winning free passes to all the events at the DBFF along with $100 also received with finalist, Kalvin J.

From l-r: William Henry, Verb Kulture, Rage Tench, and Alex the Great.

From l-r: William Henry, Verb Kulture, Rage Tench, and Alex the Great.

Header image via Unsplash.

Header design by Kylie Phillips.