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4pm on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018

Poetry Slam and Open Mic Night, hosted by Christian Wills at UDairy Creamery

Inside Market’s ice cream shop, an audience listens intently to the young poet on the day that celebrates the life of the great civil rights leader. Christian Wills is reading an original piece he’s written about Martin Luther King Jr.—the poem’s title: “Who’s the King?”

Evidence in his name we give him the glory Passed to the children we telling his story History will remember him as a peace preacher Divine leader, word of mouth wisdom feeder Breather of life to those not yet living Impacting a nation to change up its thinking Here to liberate his people and make us all equal Advocate to the good of all of God's people So let me ask, Who's the King?

The poetry space at the front of the shop may be narrow but it runs deep, with five rows of chairs, three seats across, and a lineup of square, red stools running alongside the counter.

Most people have come specifically for the fourth monthly Poetry Slam and Open Mic Event. The others? Well, Christian admits: “I think some people have come in just trying to buy ice cream, and then they see that the event is going on and they stay and sit. It's all good.”

A man to sow hope in an era Where segregation kept his people backs down with the beretta Hoping for a life more better More than whatever Where Blacks and Whites can be birds of the same feather Dismiss the beef like leather And find your queen like Coretta Whether light, dark, or mixed like Chimera I gotta ask, Who's the King?

Christian is one of the University of Delaware Associate in Arts Program students who help run the UDairy Creamery. He started the slams in October at the request of his UDairy manager:

“I guess you could say it all started when we had this poetry contest, when we first opened up the creamery. I talked about childhood memories and reflecting back on the memorable moments of eating ice cream and the phases of going through adulthood enjoying ice cream as well. It was a short little poem, only two stanzas long, but it won over the hearts of the people who enjoyed it. And I won. If you go into the Creamery now, they actually have it hung up on the wall, with a picture of my face next to it.”

Deep inside, we have a regal royalty Something as humans we exhibit morally Historically beaten down in groups or masses But as time past, we act fast to uplift from the ashes Find our crowns that we bear in our hearts Reclaim the status that we had from the start Never depart, the reason why he spoke out for justice Feel his aura, his presence, as it rises amongst us And so they ask, Who's the King?

So far, the monthly “slams” have attracted a diverse and growing audience of UD students and faculty, people from the neighborhood, artists from the Creative Vision Factory and more:

“The first time, it was very experimental. It had some flaws. But people showed up and it was enjoyable. We had more people come the second time, and the third time it was a whole crowd. And it evolved into this larger thing.”

“I do readings, I write my own stuff, and sometimes people come in and do readings of other people's stuff, some famous, some not-so-famous. But I've also opened it up to artists who can do music and songs. They can do spoken word, they can do raps if they want to. It's pretty much open to everything.”

The next slam is planned for February, and word spreads from UDairy Creamery’s Facebook page. Until then, here’s one more from Christian Wills:

Take Me To The Moon

A poem by Christian Wills

Someone, anyone Please take me to the moon I've heard about its rumored tales Of the golden paved roads layered in cheese How it often gets tangled within the ropes of trees The footsteps left by man Or beings not from this world How it hides it darker side And when it shows Hides its face altogether It's a magical mystery I must solve so please Take me to the moon I want to see how small and insignificant Earth is from one of its many craters Discover the vastness of space from the surface Looking in all directions As I've heard the moon has no up and down Questionable as it clearly knows how to spin and move around Defined by no borders See how the moon dances around the Earth, reminding us how free it is in all of its glory As the moon paints the universe as it's Star Spangled Banner See it without suspicion If anyone can fulfill my wish, please Take me to the moon Keep notice of this world, the temporary things it desires They fade in history, yet the moon lives on in talks of legends old and new I can't stand it... Human devices used on human beings, labeled with statuses that'll divide us Only for the people at the bottom of the barrel to be weaken and flightless As the top go on and multiply Where is the love inside us? All I could ever ask for now is silence Silence...like the deep space, where no one can hear the Earth's cry Please hear my ply Someone, anyone Please...take me to the moon In exchange I can give you my deepest secrets My inner thoughts, wrapped around a pocket full of sunshine I have words crafted in stardust A bottle of wishes Lamps and vases that hold hope A small cup containing the very essence of victory The vastness of an entire universe covered in the palms of my hands And beauty, locked in a chest, with your name written on it I'll give it all, just to merely gleam at the spectacle that lights the night sky The message I have to share with the world is insufficient and underappreciated Maybe if I'm there...just maybe...a new spark...a new hope will reign... Space serving as my canvas, the moon my workshop, my creativity shall thrive If you're out there, let me grab hold of your attention Again, I only ask one more time Someone, anyone Please, take me to the moon

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