Da Black Pearll, née Tinitha Warren, has been building a strong reputation for prose-poetry with an uncompromising womanist bent and a flair for ingenious wordplay.
It’s no mean feat to prevail in the Twin Cities spoken word scene. Seems about everyone with an attitude and access to open mic night at one venue or other holds forth, glutting the scene in a bottleneck of poseurs pretending to wax profound.
So, you have to give it to Da Black Pearll, née Tinitha Warren. She has slugged it out in the trenches over at least the past decade, building a strong reputation for prose-poetry with an uncompromising womanist bent and a flair for ingenious wordplay. And now, she steps her career up a considerable notch.
She hosts Speak Out Sundays Open Mic, the ongoing monthly evening event (every third Sunday) at The Nicollet in Minneapolis. Her debut as a book author comes the first of the year with The Nucleus.
An excerpt from “I Am Living Free,” in her new body of work, reads, “I can speak about war and revolution/Political confusion/Death, drugs and prostitution/But it’s no use/When we all know the reason/Just keep coming up with an excuse/Like the reason why we are literate/Yet act like we’re dumb/So afraid of your own creativity/It’s like your fingers are numb.”
Da Black Pearll, Chicago born and Twin Cities raised, found a love of poetry in the fourth grade and hasn’t stopped writing since. Fast forward to adulthood and such acknowledgements as the 1993 National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship Award, participation in the internationally celebrated B Girl Be hip hop festival in 2007 and 2009, and winning the 2011 Erotic Poetry Slam at, of all places, Kieran’s Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis.
The release event for The Nucleus takes place January 21 at The Nicollet, corner of Nicollet and Franklin avenues. Meanwhile, coming December 18 Da Black Pearll performs at the next Speak Out Sundays Open Mic, featuring ace spoken word-performance artist David Daniels (Kolorado…A Western Tale, Black Hippie Chronicles).
Da Black Pearll (DBP) gave MSR an email interview, reflecting on her craft.
MSR: How did you come to host Speak Out Sundays Open Mic?
DBP: Jeremy [Konecny], the owner of the spot, requested that I use The Nicollet for open mic; and I told him that I thought it was a dope idea. The first night that we had it, we opened it up to radio listeners online and had about 145 listeners.
It’s a beautiful space, and everyone is welcoming. There is a lot of artwork on the walls, and [Jeremy] features local artists there a lot with all of their paintings and stuff. He told me that he wanted me to help him open it up for artistic expression and make it my own, so I am trying to do the best I can.
MSR: You looking forward to performing?
DBP: I perform there a lot. I want to expose more young artists and have them come and share their worldviews. I think it would be really good. The location is surrounded by three alternative schools, and I would love to hear some of those kids release the beauty inside them. It’s a good place to release. I am really excited about The Nicollet and Jeremy opening the space up.
MSR: You’ve been writing since you were little. How long have you been performing?
DBP: 1996. I also host another open mic downtown Minneapolis at the Elixir Lounge on the third Thursday of every month called Groove Theory-Poetry in Motion. It’s an [ages-] 21+ event I have been hosting down there for the past year. As a matter of fact, we just celebrated our one-year anniversary. It was beautiful. Red carpet and all.
MSR: How did you start?
DBP: I got into spoken word when I stepped away from my shyness of speaking before people and grabbed the mic. Hard to believe that I was a shy girl when it came to those things, but I grew up in Minnesota when the racism was a lot worse then what it is now. I grew up in Hopkins and Saint Louis Park, MN when it was not so multi-cultural and Black-friendly. I was scared to speak in front of anyone, White folks, Black folks, it didn’t matter. I really didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.
It wasn’t until 1996 when I met [now well-known spoken word artist] Desdamona at a poetry reading that she was doing at the bookstore that used to be on 13th and Lake Street that I kind of crawled out of my shell and began to share my work with the public.
MSR: What’s next?
DBP: The release date for my book is the third Sunday in January, the 15th, 2012. So, I am excited about that.
This is not the most organized [event], because I have done so much more. But I am working on that. I need someone that handles all this for me. I feel like a chicken sometimes. With my head cut off.
For more information about the Dec. 18 Speak Out Sundays Open Mic at The Nicollet, see the Spot listings on page 7.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.