Patriotic Article
Military

By Army Spc. Charlene Apatang Mendiola

 

Poets Use Spoken Word To Entertain Troops
(June 23, 2011)

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Robert Bob, a circuit action specialist with Five Rivers Company and Lee Phillips, a systems integrator with Intecon, perform one of their spokenword poems during a "Poetry Lounge" session on Camp Liberty, Iraq on March 26, 2011. Sessions such as these were created to help build morale of ser vice members on Victory Base Complex while deployed.
Robert Bob, a circuit action specialist with Five Rivers Company and Lee Phillips, a systems integrator with Intecon, perform one of their spokenword poems during a "Poetry Lounge" session on Camp Liberty, Iraq on March 26, 2011. Sessions such as these were created to help build morale of ser vice members on Victory Base Complex while deployed.
 BAGHDAD (6/20/2011) - Spoken word has been a popular form of oral art today since its inception in the 1990s; it is used as an outlet for people to share their views inspired by life experiences, religion, politics and emotions.

Typically spoken as a rhythm of ‘food for thought,' incorporated with rhyme, but still making sense to the audience is a strategy used by most spoken word artists.

Service members and civilians on Victory Base Complex had the opportunity to share their artistic talent on stage during the Writer's Block and Poetry Lounge sessions.

As a member of the 3rd Eye Alumni, a group of poets founded by service members, Robert Bob, also known as Scott Free, a circuit action specialist with Five Rivers Company, said he started hosting the shows on VBC back in January 2010.
Continuing the heritage left behind by the group since 2005, Bob said the purpose is to help the troops pass the time while on deployment.

Designed as an escape from reality while boosting morale for the troops, Lee Phillips, also known as Verse Lee, a spoken-word artist and a systems integrator with Intecon said, “It is also an avenue for people out here to express themselves through poetry, song and music.”

“Our poetry shows are different out here,” said Phillips who is also a show co-host.

Slam poetry, as it is also known, is more akin to a conversational dialogue and generally performed in a storytelling manner.

The topics of the poetry in this environment encompass a multitude of deployment experience including family, love and hate relationships, which allows the audience to feel the artists and their poetry.

“The very first show I attended out here was absolutely entertaining,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kelly Bonds, material readiness officer with Material Readiness Division, J4 Forward, United States Forces – Iraq. “It was certainly refreshing to sit back, relax and put all things aside for a few good laughs.”

Bonds described the show to be the single event on VBC that takes the level of entertainment from very serious to extreme laughter in minutes.

“We interact with the audience to get them involved and feel comfortable,” Phillips said.

As a host, Bob works to keep the viewers entertained throughout the show. “The energy you give is the energy you get,” he says during each event. “When I feel the liveliness from the crowd, it makes me feel good.”

Like most of the talented artists on VBC, Sylvester Hurt also known as Sleezy, started out as a spectator in the audience. The spoken-word artist and help desk administrator with Diagnostic Retrieval Systems Technologies said he was first introduced to the show by word-of-mouth through friends, and since then has been an active member.

“I enjoy writing and getting up on stage to share my talent with others,” Hurt said. “Because we are in an environment like this, I want everyone to have fun and enjoy the show like I did.”

“Poetry night is a communication outlet for me,” said Spc. Le'Stevion Harris, a new spoken-word artist and a cable systems installer with the 151st Signal Battalion. “It allows me to be honest with myself as being able to share my experiences.”

A spoken word piece can be powerful and meaningful with the right emotion behind it. Prior to the shows, artists gather for peer-to-peer critique, delivery and stage presentation, Bob said. “We have sessions like this so we can help each other out, especially for the newcomers interested in getting on stage.”

Poetry is free and stepping up to be the voice for people who don't have one can be an ever-changing experience, he said.

Whether it's performing on stage or listening to the artists, it would be quite an experience for anyone to attend the event for the first time.

The amount of energy throughout each event and the vibrancy of the crowd keeps the shows alive for the troops and civilians to enjoy.

Article and Photo by Army Spc. Charlene Apatang Mendiola
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
Copyright 2011

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