If you’ve ever watched an episode of Russell Simmons, “Def Poetry Jam” then you’re familiar with the innovative variations of poetry. A poetry group in Charlotte, N.C. has blown a breath of fresh air into the typical Open Mic night forum. Nearly eight years ago, The Black Ink Monks were established on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University. Larry Eaton and Brian Ferguson were the masterminds behind the idea of bringing a poetry group to campus.
The Monks have an “Open Mic” night in Grimes Lounge every first and third Sunday at 8 PM. On any given Sunday, you attend you can find scores of students and visitors sitting around candle-lit tables enjoying smooth jazz-like music in between poetry sets. The Monks specialize in contemporary entertainment, giving their audience an exuberant, insightful, and comedic experience to remember. Ask any Monk member and they’ll tell you that you will hear a variety of poetry, spoken word and freestyles at their sessions. Ink Monk member, Ryan “Simply” Kirkpatrick, known for his simple-yet-witty delivery said, “The Monks are a conscious group seeking to educate others on our diverse style. We want to provide a place for people to vent.”
So the obvious question is…Where did the name, “Black Ink Monks” come from? Well “Black Ink” means Black writers and “Monks” describes the way the group is dedicated, like monks to their art form. The group is made up of about 15 students aged 18-24 with a knack for vicious wordplay. Ink Monk Vice President, Jeremiah “Pharaoh Scripture” Allen, is a native of Boston, Massachusetts, while other group members stem from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and California.
Typically, the Ink Monks are invited to perform at local high schools, slam venues and clubs in the Charlotte area. Now that you know what The Black Ink Monks are all about, why not start a poetry group at your junior high school, high school or college? As the former Asheville, N.C slam master Allan Wolf said, “The points are not the point; the point is poetry.” Get the word out — poetry has a brand new twist.
If you would like to see the Black Ink Monks perform at a specific function or venue, Please Contact: Black Ink Monks President, Brian “B-Mental” Burch at 704-536-4279.
Article by WTW reporter/columnist Shannon E. Cross