Every Tuesday my friends and I attend the open mic night at the Busboys and Poets 14th and V location. As we file into the dimly lit room, with walls covered in murals honoring great artists of color through history, we have the privilege of hearing from a vast array of artists that share their respective talents and works. But the nights I treasure most are when Charity Blackwell hosts the event.
Charity Joyce Blackwell is a D.C. local, and Trinity University graduate, who has made a name for herself in the world of spoken word poetry: a genre of poetry intended for performance. Because of her finesse, confidence, and overall captivating presence, Charity has also expanded her career to encompass hosting events such as the Poetry Slam's Out Loud National Competition, and the weekly open mic nights at Busboys and Poets that my friends and I frequent.
Charity’s work has such notability, that she has performed her poems for BCC News, The Kennedy Center, The Lincoln Theater, and many more. Most recently, she filmed a TED Talk that will be available for public viewing at a later date. You can find out more about her and her work on her website charityjoyceblackwell.com, or through her instagram, @charityjoyceblackwell.
When Charity takes the stage there is no mistaking her talent. The poems that I have witnessed her perform are based off of the relationships she had with her parents who both passed away over the last four years. Despite the cataclysmic loss of her family, Charity has captured the essence of her parents, and the lessons they have taught her, through her poems. She honors her father through a poem that is an extended metaphor about him cheering her on at the sidelines of a basketball game, and she honors her mother through a poem about the act of giving.
In the poem honoring her mother, she recalls that her mother valued giving to others. She recounts a time when her father criticized her mother for giving money to homeless people because “you don’t owe them anything.” To which her mother replied “who am I to judge?” Charity recalls that her mother told her to give because “baby this world will eat you alive,” and that is how she got her name: Charity.
From this revolutionary up and coming artist, we can all learn to give a little more of ourselves to help our communities, as she does. Whether that be through acts of kindness, or through poetry that touches a room full of people every Tuesday night.