Sweet Stanzas

On a small, dimly lit stage, beneath an array of soft purplish lights, stands a black man in his twenties, draped in an oversize brown suit. He wears prescription specs, through which he stares at his feet, as if counting the scuff marks on his designer loafers. The lanky, six-foot-three-inch budding poetry phenom, who uses the moniker "Tyme," clutches the microphone.

The ethnically mixed crowd at Alligator Alley's Urban Sweets Poetry Reading stands as a mute chorus, awaiting the poet's next stanza. He lets the anticipation build for a few seconds, then cuts loose.

"In reality of the truth, I am you and you are me. So therefore when we strive for eternity, we shall be equally yoked in unity," he rhymes, his eyes now closed. "We spread love throughout the land. People can't under- or over-stand, despite whatever level of consciousness they might be on, bringing love like a quiet storm. And we together form the one, which is truth. The infinite upholder, the father, the son, and that which comes bolder as the spirit, because we are one. Peace!"

Thunderous applause greets the poet as he exits the stage, an even exchange for the heartfelt verses he has shared with the audience.

"I've been on the poetry scene about five years," Tyme says later. "The spoken word down here is very prevalent. It's serious. You've got some hot poets coming out from all diverse levels. Physical, conscious, and spiritual levels. Me, myself, I prefer the spiritual level."

Born Henry J. Williams III, the 27-year-old North Dakota native is just one of dozens of local and out-of-state poets featured in the weekly Urban Sweets Poetry Reading every Thursday night at the Fort Lauderdale nightclub. Since its inception a few months ago, Urban Sweets has become a forum for up-and-coming and established poets from as far away as New York, California, and New Jersey to showcase their verbal craft.

Urban Sweets was cofounded by Shelly Parris, following the demise of Love Jones, a poetry slam that used to meet at Krystal's in Plantation.

"I started going out to Love Jones, and I loved the vibe that it created," Parris says. "And once it started to fall apart, there was a void in the community, and I wanted to do something to bring it back," she says. "Basically on the South Florida scene, the poetry, the spoken word, is just as prevalent as it is in New York. We have a lot of Northern ties, and we're trying to put South Florida on the map."

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Ean Smith