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The women word weavers took the initiative to create a relaxed supportive venue

where poets and spoken word artists could enjoy each other’s company, revel

 in each other’s creativity, and keep the genre of spoken word alive



In The Company of Poets

Words on Water Poetry Series 

 Concludes With Contest Winners

By Junious R. Stanton


In The Company of Poets a fierce female spoken word ensemble -- composed of Nish Pugh, the conscious poet; Debra Powell, the Wisdom Poet; Oni Lasana, the Story Poet; and Pat McLean, the Warrior Poet -- sponsored a Summer Poetry series called Words on Water in Fairmount Park’s Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row, Kelly Drive and Waterworks Drive.

The women word weavers took the initiative to create a relaxed supportive venue where poets and spoken word artists could enjoy each other’s company, revel in each other’s creativity, and keep the genre of spoken word alive. The once-a-month Words on Water series provided a free and open space where an eclectic group of artists, musicians, and free spirits could come together to see and hear some of the area’s most dynamic and creative personalities.

In addition to In The Company of Poets reading and performing their own works, providing open mic opportunities for aspiring artists to share their talents, they also sponsored a poetry contest to encourage unpublished artists to present their works and get feedback from the judges. 

Last Friday (September 5), the series closed out before an appreciative audience many of whom participated in the open mic reading their poetry, singing, and performing. The winners of the Summer Poetry Contest -- Marilyn Edmond, Lisa Haines, Millicent Seels and Charles Younger -- performed their submissions before a supportive audience. One contestant Andrea Edmonds was unable to attend to receive her prize and read her submission. The series was a way for the ensemble to give back to the community.

“Philadelphia has been very supportive of us the last two years," Pat McLean, the Warrior Poet, explained. "We went to a lot of places and we asked Lloyd Hall and they said we could do it for no charge. This started last summer, this is the second year and we are hoping we can do it every summer.” 

The genesis of the poetry contest was to provide a venue where new poets could gain exposure and overcome their fears of performing before a live audience. 

“The idea of the contest was to give new poets a chance because when we were starting out it was hard for a new poet because you have to get past that fear of putting your poetry out there and letting someone else read it because it’s a personal thing," Pat continued. "Since we have a lot of people who felt comfortable around us, we figured with our name attached to it a lot of people would submit.”

The sisters of In The Company of Poets create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable about sharing their work and being themselves. “We generate love, we be like that so the people get it from us, the energy we put out,” added Debra Powell.

For Charles Younger, being a contest winner was icing on the cake. His experience with the poetry scene has been as a producer and supporter for the last ten years. So for him to be given the opportunity to submit original work and to be one of the finalists was exhilarating: 

"The contest was something that I thought I would do because I run my mouth a lot and I’m very supportive of the artists. But it was an opportunity to try something new. This was my first contest, I’ve never submitted anything, not from nervousness, but in an effort to support them [In The Company of Poets]. I just took advantage of it and I appreciated that I was a finalist.”

Left to right: Debra Powell Pat McLean, Charles Younger, Millicent Seels, Marilyn Edmond and Lisa Haines

For Marilyn Edmond, being in the contest was a challenge to see if she would follow through and take advantage of the opportunity to submit her work for public scrutiny:

“It was a challenge to see if I had the heart to do it and follow all the guidelines. And I did that and I sent it in so it really means a lot. I’ve been writing for a while so getting feedback on my writing was good. So the fact that I made it through and they asked me to submit it, that said it all to me. I really feel proud about it.” 

The gathering was friendly and more importantly everyone was supportive of the performers giving them immediate and positive feedback in the call and response tradition.

The Summer series has ended but In The Company of Poets are off to new ventures and venues sharing their talents and energies. The winners have been given the encouragement to continue writing, performing and adding to the wealth of the poetry and spoken word traditions. 

Photos: Junious R. Stanton

posted 11 September 2003

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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update 16 December 2011




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