In the Northwest Philadelphia are POETIFY is a neolexia formed by combining words poetry and edify. For poet RuNett Ebo of Germantown, the recent POETIFY is a superlative example of this. Though it came on the tail end of Black History Month, it is only the start of a spring roster of poetry programs that will educate, enlighten and edify the local African American community and raise monies for a local book drive.
POETIFY was held at the Germantown Church of the Brethren Fellowship Hall & Family Life Center, 6601 Germantown Ave. on Feb. 26. Part of the proceeds and all of the donated books from this and every last Sunday of the month event goes to the non-profit Black Writers Museum, 23 E. Maplewood Mall in Germantown.
“We started off this year with a plea that reading is fundamental,” Ebo said. “We want to make it easier for young people to get books. So, those who bring gently used or new book written by or about an African American, you receive a discount to POETIFY.
So with the backdrop of the MTM Band, some 20 poets from Mount Airy, Germantown, East and West Oak Lane, and the surrounding area took to the open microphone at the fundraiser. The poets discussed everything from love and heartbreak to post traumatic stress, the aftermath of abuse or having a family member murdered and ways to politically proactive.
“I am now 31-years-old but if you looked at my life at 19, you would not think I would be here today,” admitted Anthony Washington, a member of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in the Cedarbrook section of Mount Airy. Washington, known as the church’s “Love Poet,” attributed a spiritual revelation for his transformation.
In “Harsh Reality” poet Herman Lee said that at one time the “system swallowed” him. He noted that time and maturity had accounted for his more positive outlook on life. For spoken word artist Charice Robinson, it was her first time coming to POETIFY, yet she said she felt at home introducing excerpts from her narratives. Well-known poet Pat McLean also recited of her poems about finding one’s voice.
One of the featured artists of the evening was the poet known simply as “Jaz.” studied musical theater and painting at the University of the Arts. She has been published in the Westward Quarterly, Philly Cypher, and Ascent Aspirations. She was a finalist in the 2008 11th Biannual Poetry Card Contest for Blue Mountain Arts. She read from her new chapbook “The Carving Out of a Butterfly’s Wings.” “I think things like this is something that our culture and our people need,” said Jaz.
Celeste “The Sophisticated Poet” Preston was the guest artist along with songwriter Greg Sover. Both received thunderous applause and the customary “throwing of pens” from the audience to encourage them to keep w
“We always have a family friendly atmosphere,” said Ebo. “We keep it real and make it plain but we tell the (participants) not to bring it here if it’s profane. We want to keep this going because it’s also about preparing our children to read and write so they, too, can take the open mikes.”