I think it was 2011, when I watched video after video of The Passion 4 Christ Movement’s (P4CM) Lyricist Lounge. I loved the authenticity, the vulnerability and the love for Christ that was conveyed through each word and each poem. When I came across Janette…ikz’s “I Will Wait…For You” poem, I think I watched it at least three times straight. I even wrote down the words because finally there was someone who was vocal about the frustrations of young, unmarried, post-college aged Christian women. The poem gave voice to those women who grew up in homes without fathers and grandfathers yet leaving us with deep rooted issues with men. Many women including myself can relate, and now there was someone being honest about it.
Jackie Hill-Perry’s “My Life as a Stud," Ezekiel’s “Almost (saved)”, Preston Perry and Itohan Omolere’s “Soul Ties” and countless other videos unapologetically poured out carefully selected words that put each of the poet’s struggles on display while also painting very vivid pictures of how the Lord turned it all around for them. Sharing their testimonies evoked much applause and snapped fingers but most importantly, repentant hearts. So, when the “Poets in Autumn Tour” made its way to my hometown of Brooklyn, NY last year, I made it my business to attend along with many of my friends. To experience the poems that have inspired and convicted me to go deeper in the Lord throughout the years live and in living color, made it a truly an unforgettable event.
This year, the 2016 “Poets in Autumn Tour” began on the first of September and will go through to the end of October. Brooklyn was the 2nd stop on the tour pulling in about 2,000+ people onto the beautiful campus of Christian Cultural Center in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The line to get in was long and packed with people anticipating to receive from these poets they’d been following for years.
The evening began with a spoken word performance by Chris Webb that created a detailed portrait of what the world would be like when Jesus returned. You could hear the 2,000+ crowd gasp, clap and snap throughout the whole piece. He set the pace of the night at a very high bar from which the other poets only elevated in their excellence. The talented five went on to cover various topics like marriage with Preston’s renowned poem, “Covenant," in which he beautifully and soulfully asks his real life wife, Jackie for her hand in marriage. Janette…ikz’s classic piece about singleness, “I Will Wait …For You," was an immediate and recognizable crowd-pleaser. Jackie’s powerful piece displaying Biblical womanhood entitled, “Women of God” was as challenging as it was empowering.
Ezekiel graced the stage looking real clean; capturing the audience with his crisp white outfit and beautiful white wings. This time the white outfit and beautiful wings weren’t a costume to play Jesus or Gabriel but to give a truer depiction of who Satan really is. Satan most likely won’t show up wearing a red and black jumpsuit, holding a pitchfork and sporting horns on his head. No, he's beautiful, very alluring, attractive to the eyes and ears. He pulls you in before you realize it’s even him. Performing the poem “As It Is in Heaven," Ezekiel presents a profound narrative of how Satan truly shows up in our lives that sharpened our discernment of who Satan really is.
And then the finale! The four poets, Ezekiel, Janette...ikz, Jackie and Preston teamed up on the evening’s final piece. I won’t ruin the surprise for you. You‘ll have to be there to enjoy it.
As a member of the audience that night, participating in the experience of “The PIA Tour’, I’m here as a witness to tell you that there was laughter and even some tears of passion and conviction. Many -- myself, included -- left uncomfortable; no longer desiring milk when we have graduated to meat. No more feasting on “tofu Christianity," as was brilliantly stated by one of the poets. We were all called to go deeper, to grow stronger in the Word and to live louder for Christ.
The tour just started so check out kingdompromo.net/poetsinautumn to see if they’ll be stopping in your city, soon.
By Jeanelle T. Drysdale