Nearly three-dozen participants braved the harsh winter cold Saturday night to attend the Word Life poetry slam at Cream & Sugar Cafe, located at 5840 W. Madison.

Saturday marked the fourth bi-weekly meeting of Word Life at the cafe since Nov. 5. Operated by spoken word artist and slam founder, Markell Mooney a.k.a. Kell-O-G, the slam was originally conceived as “Poetry on the Patio.”

“Poetry on the Patio” took place this past summer on the back patio of 5156 W. Concord Pl. However, seeing that the patio setting would not work in the winter, Mooney, who also emceed Saturday’s slam, requested space in neighborhood cafes.

“I actually was here when Cream & Sugar first opened a year and a half ago,” said Mooney. “I thought it would be a wonderful spot to hold the set once we were forced indoors during the winter.

“The atmosphere is great. When I approached (cafe owners) Phil and Chantele Powell about holding the sets here they loved the idea.”

The open mic takes place every first and third Saturday of the month from 8 p.m. to around 1 in the morning. Saturday night’s performers featured beginning poets, such as myself and Shontanika Brown, and such veteran performances as Yahya and Black Peace.

Spoken word performer “Mama” Brenda Matthews’ stirring “HolidayTime,” left nary a dry eye in the house. Matthews, who has been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, recited on all the decisions she regrets in her search for love and how they might have been different had her father been their to guide her.

Matthews recalled to the audience: “I used to cry at night asking God where is he? I wanted to write but there was no address. I wanted to call but your number was unlisted. I tried to fill my glass, but it was never half empty.”

Even the bald muscleman wearing a dog collar with a tattoo of a cobra on his neck needed a Kleenex after this one.

Artist Black Peace performed his poem, “Asking for Trouble,” which featured the lines, “Our country owns 80 percent of the wealth and it still wants more. Meanwhile the poor goes from smoking blunts to taking blunt force. Who teaches the neighborhood thugs to sell drugs?”

Yahya, whose name means “John the Baptist”, performed “Truth of the Matter” an honest

look at the struggle of African-American women.

“I see her staring at a burnt top; but not a call on the phone; love ever flowing, love ever growing; but not knowing; on her back she carried many tribes.”

Mooney said nervous beginners must psyche themselves up to recite. I supposed that’s why I calmed down during reciting of my own poem “Flowers of Sulfur” which featured the lines, “I lounge on a banana hammock with a perspiring glass of lemonade; The lemon-sliced sun winks from across the broad horizon.”

“The presentation is really less important than the content [which] reflects your true self,” said Mooney. “[If] you believe in what you’ve written, the audience will appreciate your courage and separate your performance from your words.”

There is a $3 admission for performers or poetry readers and $5 for general admission.

For more information about the Word Life open mic contact Markell Mooney at

773/287-0541. For more information about Cream and Sugar Cafe contact Phil Powell at 773/914-0797. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cafe offers juices, coffee, cappuccino, espresso and turkey or ham Ponini sandwiches.