By Kirsten Lamonica

February 8th, 2020, was a cold Saturday evening as I stepped into the warm embrace of the The Linda—WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio.  There to attend the 7th annual A Month of Love and History: The Wakanda Black Love Edition the anticipation built as I began to hear the buzz of the audience. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  As I made my way to a seat in the corner, the silence of the cold night that had been so prominent was replaced with the loud buzz of cheerfulness. This welcoming sound enveloped me with open arms, and with a quick glance around the room I knew that this night was going to be the farthest thing from dull.

The show began with an introduction from the charismatic host, Jav Rux, followed by an opening battle between two DJs which somehow increased the energy in the room even more (which didn’t seem possible until it happened). Then, there was an introduction from the co-host, Bklyn Shay, who was just as charming as Jav Rux.  The two of them cracked endless jokes, providing the room with a relaxed and comedic feeling that allowed you to just sit back and enjoy a nice laugh of your own.  One of the greater aspects of this event was the encouraged audience participation. By getting the crowd involved, the event felt more like I was attending a small gathering with friends rather than being in a room full of strangers. As long as it remained respectful and didn’t interrupt someone during their reading or performance every person had the freedom to talk as they pleased, joke as they pleased, and cheer as loud as they pleased.

After the introductions, the event dove head first into the world of poetry and hip-hop. Every performance flowed rhythmically with intelligent and passionate language and lyricism.  Many of the performances were also layered with strong tones of eroticism.  While to some people it may have seemed too bold and scandalous, this eroticism contained an underlying although, not-so-obvious political statement. Throughout history, black women in particular have had their sexuality built and distorted by white poets on many occasions. By incorporating eroticism into their work, these writers deconstruct the misconceptions of their sexual lives and assert their truth.  Where once black people had been silenced and shamed for their sexuality, it has now taken the reigns of Modern Black Love poetry.

Two favorite poets of the evening included Dawud Muhammad and Billy Buchanan.  Dawud Muhammad’s piece discussed “the forgotten love in your history”, and was beautiful in its expression of the freedoms that an individual desires.  His writing was also politically charged with mentions of police brutality and the mistreatment of black people—issues that have become the fuel for social justice marches and action.  Meanwhile, Billy Buchanan’s piece celebrated his wife and motherhood.  Within his sweet and honest words, you could feel the deep appreciation and affection he feels for her.  Everyone in the crowd seemed to have a hard time keeping a smile off their face as he listed all of the things that he loves about being a husband and father.  Maintaining a lighthearted voice throughout his reading Buchanan succeeded in evoking laughter and allowing us to reflect on themes of family and relationships.

Ultimately, this was a night ablaze with energy and an excitement that never ceased.  It was the perfect event leading up to Valentine’s day, and a wonderful tribute in its celebration of Black History Month. The work of these artists’ came from a place that was close to their souls. Through every historical reference, political comment, message of love, and the tears that were shed—I felt like my eyes and ears had been opened to an entire community that I had never seen as clearly before. It’s safe to say that I was captured and incredibly impressed by the pieces I heard, and I can’t wait to hear more from these poets and musicians in the future.