By: Tony McCray
One of Pensacola’s best kept secrets, Abena Isake (otherwise known as Kelly Pogue) exploded onto the stage of performing arts at Downtown Pensacola’s DeVilliers Square on February 12th during a Black History Month celebration.
Polimbatree Griots Ensemble, founded by LePoleon Williams, produced the event
spotlighting Ms. Abena Isake, along with the talented members of the troupe, to perform the poetry from her 2008 book, “Collage of an Ebony Soul”.
The Polimbatree Griots Ensemble entrance presentation was patterned after the entrance into the village by griots of the traditional African culture as the village awaits their performances. By the same token, the audience at the Polimbatree event was very eagerly awaiting their performance when they entered the DeVilliers Square atrium. The event was well attended as there was standing room only at the 321 N. DeVilliers St. building on the corner of Belmont and DeVilliers Streets the business district.
Abena’s presentation was preceded by an intermission of networking, purchasing from vendors, and the increased conversation of anticipation for Abena’s spoken word performance. There were people in the audience that have known her since her birth and have watched her develop as an adult talent in the process. For example, Ms. Georgia Blackmon, the owner of The Gathering and Book Center, has hosted Abena at her bookstore when it was located on North “E” Street. The event was a book review and book signing of “Collage of an Ebony Soul”. When asked about Abena and her presentations, Ms. Blackmon responded with a hardy laugh and said, “Awesome! The young lady is very talented”!
Abena started out with the poem “Sankofa”, “She Sang”, and “This Mourning”. Then she announced that she was about to perform “Moonlight: A Love Poem”, which she does not usually do. She then asked Mrs. Georgia Blackmon and Mrs. Chapman to cover their ears as she began speaking the verses of loving caresses, passionate touches, and very tender moments. Abena began to blush as she finished the Valentine’s Day inspired poem.
LePolean Williams, in an interview with the Pensacola Voice, said that the February 12th show was a “culmination of 2 years of work”! They met when she was impressed with his delivery of the spoken word at a community event along his drumming. Following that experience Abena took her sons to learn how to play drums with training from him. Then, she said that LePolean asked her to provide a poem with his music in the background. Thus the Polimbatree Griots Ensemble began to grow with more members like Nielah Spears (a dancer, singer, and producer), Jakima Murphy (dancer and singer), and Ivy Holman (dancer and singer)!
During the interview, Abena was asked what her favorite poem is and she stated, “Woman of Blackness”. She recited that poem for this article expressing the power that exudes from the first verse, “What do you see, When you look at me; Simply know this, That I am Blackness”! What the audience at the DeVilliers Square received that night from Abena and Polimbatree was pure poetry in blackness and they received a standing ovation for what and how it was presented. If you would like to purchase Abena Isake’s book “Collage of an Ebony Soul” you may order it at The Gathering or by calling the bookstore at (850) 438-4882.