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TVOne’s ‘Verses and Flow’ Keeps Bringing Poetry to Life

Chrisette Michele and Omari Hardwick

It isn’t often that you see spoken word on national television. So it should come as no surprise that viewers are responding favorably to TV One’s Verses & Flow, which showcases spoken word and music performances every Monday night. “Just hearing the feedback and comments from our fans around the nation…People love it! And when people love something you’re doing, you’re obviously doing it right,” said poet-turned-actor Omari Hardwick, who serves as the show’s host.

Now in its second season and engineered by Lexus, the show remains a driving force in providing a platform for spoken word artists against the backdrop of live, mellow performances by artists such as Eric Benet, Elle Varner, Luke James and Tank. Upcoming shows will include performances by Carl Thomas and Musiq. Featured poets in the coming weeks are Queen Sheba, Prentice Powell, Poetri, Ant Black, Maestro Gamin, Malcolm London, Rudy Francisco, Zora Howard and Carlos Robson.

“You can love poetry or not, but the message that these talented young artists are giving on national television doesn’t happen often,” said Hardwick, most recently seen in the film Sparkle. “They speak on love, faith, loss, struggle, sexual orientation, religion, poverty and more. There are all issues that everyone deals with, so it will hit you in some way. As a poet myself, I feel that conveying a message via poetry can be just as powerful as any other form of communication whether you agree with the message or not.”

Singer Chrisette Michele, who made a recent appearance, believes the show is opening doors for others to follow. “I’ve been told ‘No’ often when it comes to poetry,” she recalled. “‘No, you shouldn’t put spoken word on your album.’ Spoken word and poetry as well as rap were my first loves and interests. They’re what opened my heart to self expression. After talking, spoken word is Communication 101. I’m glad it’s here and it’s definitely paving the way for more shows of its kind…If someone isn’t a spoken word enthusiast, they probably haven’t listened to much. Verses & Flow is a great introduction to the craft. I guarantee no new listener will be left un-recruited. But the key to spoken word loving is listening! Test out your listening skills when you watch this show.”

Poet Javon Johnson, who returned for another season on the show, believes that in addition to the spoken word, musical guests add multi-tiered sophistication to the show, because audience members benefit from a live band and the ambiance of a lounge. “It’s grown and sexy. Period,” said Johnson. “It provides us with something different to watch…Even non-enthusiasts have to love the passion, power and performances of the artists’ words. To listen to relatively young, mostly Black people speak brilliantly and beautifully about love, race, politics, sexuality, parenthood, uplift, etc. should appeal to any number of us who are interested in community, individual empowerment and betterment.”

The final show will air on October 1. Following the finale, poets can visit the show’s official website to make submissions and apply for the third season.

“Verses & Flow is not like any other entertainment television show,” said Hardwick. “This is an outlet for poets and music artists to express themselves in a way they may not have had before.”

Chrisette, whose new CD, Better, is slated for release this winter, concluded, “The sexiness of the show is the passion that comes with self expression. The artists here are overcome by the prose and lyrics they’re delivering. Any sexy girl loves a great mind. Communication is the key to great love and that’s what Verses & Flow is all about.”

Margena A. Christian is Senior Writer for EBONY. Follow her on Twitter @MargenaXan

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