Close your eyes and let me take you back to 1997. We are having drinks in Chicago at a famous poetry lounge. The host takes the stage to present the next poet and you hear, “Darius Lovehall.” Darius steps to the mic and says, my poem is called, “A Blues for Nina.” The room lights up with snaps and cheers. This is how I felt at Busboys and Poets. I felt I had been teleported to that famous scene in my favorite movie, “Love Jones.”
While in DC, my friend Greta and I had a girl’s night. We only get to see each other once or twice a year, so we decided we will try this restaurant we found in the “Eat the City” group on Facebook. Greta hit me earlier in the week to tell me her friend was performing at a poetry slam too. Of course my artsy ass is in. I love poetry and I love poetry slams!
After dinner and getting the word that the world was ending, thanks to the “Rona,” we headed to Busboys and Poets. Hell, it was going to be our last night out, so we might as well live it up! I’ve never heard of this place before. I’ve only been to one real poetry slam in a lounge, and that was in Dallas. Nashville definitely doesn’t have anything close to this.
Entering Busboys, I felt at home. There’s a bookstore in the back corner which blew me away! There were so many books by authors of color, pictures of famous poets, authors, activists, and actors/actresses on the wall. In the words of Jill Scott, “It was so black ass!” I felt proud to be there. At the same time, I had a reality check. You would never see something like this in Nashville. If you do, please believe it would be the gentrified version.
We made our way to the back where the poetry slam was taking place. I liked that it was set up like a lounge. Low light, candles on each table, R&B playing softly through the speaker while the host was setting the mood on the mic. Talk about a nice date night!
Since we had already eaten, we decided to get dessert. Looking over the menu I was pleasantly surprised at the options. My thoughts were, we could’ve just eaten here. There was everything from lamb sliders, to vegan nachos, shrimp and crab fritters to vegan BBQ chicken bites, from Poet Mojitos to Thin Mint Lattes. You can have whatever you like here. I ordered the banana bread pudding and Greta had the apple pie. Both were really good.
The show starts. The poets’ ages range from 18 – 40. Each killing it in their own way. Their styles were so different. From freestyle off the top of the dome to intense poems about fuckboys and sensual poems about mind fucking. Cheers, clapping, snapping, and “Yassssss Bih” were the sounds in the room. I’m living in the moment. Like, look at my culture cheering each other on, respecting each other’s opinions and style; accepting each other’s differences and leaving no room for judgement! A place to definitely love!
The judges were different people in the audience. After each poem, the poets were rated on a scale from 1-10 and the host kept a running score. In between the rounds, there was a feature poet. One young lady absolutely blew me away. She was Greta’s friend we had come to see. Mama absolutely killed it! Her poems were personal; you could feel each poem on a personal level and apply it to your life.
I was introduced to her before the poetry slam began. She was soft spoken and humble, but when she hit that stage another person arrived. It was like an alter ego. Before I knew it, I was yelling, “All facts, speak on it, Yassss!
Needless to say, I enjoyed myself at Busboys and Poets! I will definitely be back! Busboys is a place for creatives. So much inspiration in one building. Check it out if you are in DC.