What happens when you go to the kitchen cabinets, pull out your best pots and mix the best combination of herbs, juices and a dash of love? Some say that magic begins and if the chef is up for the task, she can create the most precious meal passed down from ancient generations. Verbal Gumbo is that pot of heaven, mixed with the healing herbs of a vibrant community right in the heart of this country, Omaha, Nebraska.
Every third Thursday of the month, co-hosted by Michelle Troxclair & Felicia Webster, this evening features poets and story tellers who use their lungs to breathe life into its audience at the House of Loom. I have attended only a few and each time it is a night of surprise as I listen to each artist share their verbal recipes for healing the mind, body and soul. Last week was especially great because it was the celebration of Juneteenth, the official holiday recognizing the emancipation of slaves in America
The evening was none the less a true experience of the eclectic community that makes up this city. Not only did I meet so many personalities, I was also educated on issues like the history of Juneteenth and what it means to be a modern day slave. And if that wasn’t enough to keep you entertained, you could get a henna tat, eat from the cheerio bar (in recognition of the Cheerio brand ad controversy) & listen to the opening poem by The Wordsmiths!
Upon entering I was greeted with a “Racial Profiling Kit” presented by the ACLU. Shortly after, I witnessed the host Ms. Felicia invite the guests with her talented beatboxing and rhyming skills. She definitely set the mood straight before the poets hit the stage!
I was invited to sit upstage and soon I became embraced by the warm lights and ready to enjoy the show. The night featured a variety of poets, all powerful and passionate in their own right. First up was poet was Zadecha Pointdexter, sharing a story of how the women in her family created magic in the kitchen. “…This is how we remember our history,” she shouts. And then continues to tell us how to make the best batch of peach cobbler you ever had. Believe me when I say that that poem was so good my mouth was watering!
Of the many more poets that shared (just over 20), they each deserve their own interview but for the sake of time and consideration, I will just say that they were all worth it to hear! Feature poets who made an appearance included Kim Louise, Frank Oneil (pictured below), Melissa Kandito, Devel Crisp, Trac Schacht, Marina Kay, Sam Herron (pictured below), Gina Morong, Sharita Nichole, Heidi Prairie Song, Justin Gilbreath, Nate Y (teen poet), Maribel (teen slam poet) Savannah (teen author), Franklin (teen poet), Donna, Giba, Mentl Stymulant and Nina, host/spoken word artist, Davida Webb and Shukura Huggins (whom the co-host called the Mistress of Spoken Word)!
Overall, I enjoyed hearing the variety of styles and voices bless the mic. Verbal Gumbo is a sure reason to expand your horizons and learn something new. And if you’ve got a poetic voice of your own and the courage to share, you should definitely visit! The admission is cheap, the drinks are fair and the audience is always embracing. When you do decide to visit, don’t be afraid to invite a friend as this is a sure way to start your weekend off right, poet or not.