Li Fe Malcolm and Walter "Wally B" Jennings — Tampa spoken word leaders, longtime friends, cofounders of the live poetry event Black on Black Rhyme and both CL Best of the Bay winners — are celebrating birthdays this week (Wally B today, Malcolm on Jan. 1).
Wally B won Best Spoken Word Artist in CL's 2011 Best of the Bay and has been a mentor for young, at-risk adolescents, helping them learn the power of the written and spoken word through his leadership of Hear 'Em Say Teen Poetry. In our Best of the Bay write-up, we praise Jennings performs for his towering presence and dispensing of turbo-charged poetry and narratives that hit home with acrobatic wordplay and real-world wisdom.
Both a poet and activist, Malcolm led journalists on a tour of Tampa’s depressed neighborhoods during the Republican National Convention called the 99 Percent Tour. He talked about socio-economic injustices and discrimination with a long list of facts to back up his charismatic eloquence. He is also an organizer of the “Write For Our Future” program and financial supporter of WMNF’s “Poetry Is” and “Sunday Forum,” and volunteers regularly by giving performances at Metropolitan Ministries.
Malcolm's new monthly event, Straight-up Poetry, celebrates his 40th birthday with a roster of established spoken word artists. According to Wally B, he will be there to reunite with Malcolm, as per tradition, to celebrate too.
The annual birthday celebration performance takes place at Ybor City Jazz House, 1611 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa. $20 at the door. lifeizpoetry.com.