The @ttic: It’s More Than Just Poetry

HBO's B.Yung speaks up. Surprised? You shouldn't be.

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Kuroji Ntu

Bright pink lights illuminate the otherwise dimly lit meeting place called The @ttic, a monthly gathering of spoken word artists spilling their inspiration to the audience -- at least until the next punchline.

Located at Station 9 (1438 U St. N.W.), the event (pronounced, of course, "the attic") meets each first Friday of the month. It’s not your average poetry open mic night -- there are no snaps or whispers or chants; it's raw talent speaking raw truths. The only chants and whispers heard are those from the audience, whose responses are almost always in agreement with the artist’s message.

The main attraction for last Friday’s show was B.Yung, the young artist hailing from Brooklyn and one of HBO’s "Brave New Voices." Speaking from his soul at almost-unimaginable speeds -- with a Corona gripped in one hand, and his mouth a mere inch from the mic --he delivered his passionate prose to an anxious crowd. As a homeless kid at age five, Yung began his journey to become one of the best poets in the nation, drawing inspiration from his own painful childhood, inner-city blues and everyday social realities.

Starting out as small showcase event at American University’s Greenburg Theater called "Silence is Forbidden," the @ttic has blossomed into one of the best spots to frequent on a Friday night. It features artists from all over the United States and from television shows, including HBO's "Def Poetry Jam." Komplex, a Caribbean-born poet representing Brooklyn, hosts the event and provides the perfect dose of comedy with his laugh-out-loud sarcasm.

The @ttic is quickly becoming one of the most popular poetry events in the District. "The @ttic’s success has been based not solely on the fact that we bring in some of the best talent but because people want something different to do rather than the norm of clubbing," said Beny Blaq, who produces the event. He's a poet who's also CEO and founder of Beny Blaq Entertainment.

Blaq is exactly right: The people, the food, the vibe boasts of a relaxing ambiance filled with some of the District’s most fabulous socialites, party promoters and local celebs. Onyx, a contestant on VH1 reality show "I Love New York" was spotted in the front row enjoying the show.

As the @ttic continues its ascent in the District, so do future plans. "We want to franchise the event as we have begun doing with The @ttic North Carolina," Blaq said, "and also to make it a household name in D.C. -- which it is becoming."

The next event is set for Friday, May 7. Admission is $10 before 8 p.m. (e-mail to sign up) or $15 general. If you can't make it, catch the livestream here.

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