Poetry on The Patio, one of Chicago’s longest-running outdoor spoken word performances, returns Saturday after a two-year hiatus.
Spoken poet Markell “Kell-OG” Mooney has been hosting this free community event for 17 years in the backyard of his family home at 5156 W. Concord Place.
“I’m excited about it. It’s just that you’re rushing to just be able to host and be that humanitarian,” Mooney said. “You just have to bring people in for three or four hours, keep them safe and engage them in nice words. I think that’s like the ultimate goal.
As the pandemic receded and patrons and performers asked about the next show, he “felt the spirit was good” and decided it was time to bring the open-mic show back to the West Side.
“I just did some poetry, and I was like, you know what we have to do. We just gotta do one…put one on the books for the summer,” Mooney said ahead of Saturday’s event. He added that his mother, who helped produce the event at her home, immediately agreed.
For the past few years, Poetry on the Patio has provided people and artists in the community with a safe space to share their lyrics on stage, enjoy a meal, and connect with others.
Chicago poet Pierre “DarkChild” Butcher said he was “ready to see Chicago come out and show off” for a family event filled with “good vibes and great artists.” Butcher will co-host the event.
Poetry on the Patio is also a platform for artists, both new and experienced, to “share their words,” Mooney said.
“We’re creating this umbilical cord that stretches from the west side of Chicago to the south side, to Englewood to the east side, where these different ones show up on the north [are held], at various shows in the suburbs. It’s just a big umbilical cord of poetry.
Doors open at 8 p.m. with performances until midnight, Mooney said. Being an open mic event, anyone wishing to share a poem or spoken word piece can take the stage, even if it is their first time.
“My advice to them is no one is above anyone at this point,” Butcher said. “These are spoken words. Your views and your opinion are yours… If you feel like stepping on stage for the first time, get out there and do it. You may not know it, someone might need to hear your words and your heart.
Although Mooney isn’t new to spoken word, he’ll be returning to the stage to debut a few new songs “that he’s been dying to share with the public,” he said. Some of his lines from his book Words of Life “might just stick out a bit during the show.”
The event will also include a fashion show featuring two local businesses, Cheryl Renee’s Things, an online and retail store selling handmade jewelry, clothing, shoes and various other accessories, and Suburban Knight Clothing, a luxury streetwear brand from Chicago designer Wilbert Williams, which draws inspiration from South Africa.
“We have so many vendors in Chicago that aren’t being recognized in the right way, so we’re giving them the opportunity to show off their product,” Butcher said.
Tami Yarborough, owner of Cheryl Renee’s Things, designs handmade jewelry that she sells in her boutique. She said the COVID-19 pandemic caused her to restructure her business, so she added clothing, accessories and shoes. She also offers hair styling and temporary tattoo services, so anyone who comes to the shop can get a full makeover.
Poetry on the Patio will be featured on Community Essentials, airing on Comcast’s Access Channel. Yarborough will be recording the event through its multimedia production company T Lynn Productions.
Yarborough said that since its inception, the show has focused on showcasing community people, artists and resources “to make people aware of what’s going on in their communities.”
Poetry on the Patio is about “cultivating community and bringing people together,” she said.
Mooney also said he was thrilled to let attendees know that earlier this year the Grammy Academy announced a new category to recognize best spoken word poetry album. Well-known Chicago poet J. Ivy, who was nominated for the 2022 Grammy in that category for his album Catching Dreams: Live at Fort Knox Chicago, shared the announcement on his social media, where Mooney saw it .
“It’s so good to announce something like this because it’s historic,” adding that he wants to let poets and artists attending the event on Saturday that they could submit their work and possibly be nominated. for the Grammys. “I’m excited to get into the studio myself and see if there’s anything I can do.”
As for other artists, Mooney said he heard about some Chicago poets who have participated in past Poetry on the Patio events, but there is no set list or features.
“There are big names that are going to shock the world. They’re going to pass, and you never know,” he said. “It’s just a pop-up show.”
“The whole main mission is just to bring people back to a safe environment and give them that feeling of family. [gathering]like you go to a barbecue in your backyard, you know, with your aunt, auntie or uncle… But with that feeling they get the poetry, they get the speaking, they get the pure essence of a performance through the artist’s poetry.”