I recently got the chance to speak with Impact Poet JuruDaWise about her new business, Ebony Enterprises 9, and her open mic events in the Tri-Cities.

What can you tell me about your open mic events?

I do pop-up-style events called “A Spoken Space: A Safe Space To Be Heard” — Open Mic and Poetry/Spoken Word nights at different venues, cafes, and restaurants in the Tri-Cities. I want to get the community more involved in the creative arts, and give them a way to release pressure from the day-to-day routines of our growing city. I moved here from New York, and I want to bring that culture of the underground jazz/improv/spoken word café vibes. After many talks with the community, I’ve had a lot of requests to keep going, but limited places to go. I see a need for a positive outlet that’s not always a bar for the adult crowds, and a judgmental free zone for anyone who would love to express themselves artistically. I want to provide themed nights for families (PG), young adults (18+), and mature adults (21+). My project(s) will always be unity-based, meaning LGBTQ+ and diversity inclusive, always!!

Do you just put these on yourself, or is it through a group of some kind?

For some context, I just became a business owner. I have always had a very independent, entrepreneurial and ambitious spirit, and I wanted to build a business that was about supporting other Black-owned businesses, and teaching or reminding others about our strong roots and rare history through activities we love. With that in mind, I created Ebony Enterprises 9, LLC (EE9). EE9 is my testament to my own personal strength and rarity. I am proud to be one of one, among other beautiful individuals that make up humanity. I want to create a long-lasting, unique, wonderfully reinventive, and honorable legacy. I want to create many chains of Black-owned businesses in areas in which we thrive best, such as: Performance Arts, Technology, Skin and Hair Care, Education, Fashion, Spiritual Teachings, and Natural Medicine.

That sounds really cool! I love it. But for now, you’re focusing on the open mics?

Yes. My current project, “A Spoken Space”, falls under the Performance Arts category. Writing is my strong suit — especially poetry. I love words and the way they go together, in all the endless combinations. I’ve been writing since I was five years old, winning spelling bees and poetry contests in Upstate New York from elementary through high school. Writing has always been my favorite outlet for my personal and artistic expression, and I have chosen to run far and long with it. My mind always works faster than my hands, but I have built a beautifully reliable relationship between my mind and my body, and I can write as fast as my hands can move. I can write poetry as if my heart speaks in rhymes, and I am able to write on the spot without much hesitation, for anyone about anything. I like the classical way of things and find that speaking with other people, being close and intimate, is much more rewarding and ultimately more fun than I realized, and I decided to capitalize on that.

In New York, I was a part of the spoken word scene. It was more jazzy, improv spoken word — people really getting down and snapping and becoming part of the crowd. And in New York, a lot of buildings have these sub-basements. So even when it’s hot and cramped, it’s a whole vibe. It makes you feel like you’re part of a secret club or something. And for the most part, it wasn’t a culture built around alcohol. You could go out any time and find something happening… the city that never sleeps, you know?

But here it does. That's one of the things I noticed when I first came here. The only places that stay open late are bars. And alcoholism is a huge issue here. I've had my own issues with alcohol, and now I’m sober. Alcohol, everything. And I want to keep that going, you know? Maybe what this place needs is something else that stays open a little bit later. A place that isn’t a bar.

That totally makes sense. I love the idea of expanding the opportunities for adults to gather together and do something positive.

Exactly! So I’ll keep bringing people together communally, to express themselves in a safe and familiar environment. I want to bring a sense of connection and culture to the Tri-Cities, and I hope to start a trend for the arts to be revived and supported here. My goal, ultimately, is to help move our youth away from the drug and alcohol pit, and create an additional outlet for the creative arts. I also want to give adults a fresh break from life that isn’t a bar, or too formal of a place — somewhere to really relax and enjoy themselves. I hope to provide comfort and entertainment for ALL of our community, including the LGBTQ+ and the Native communities, and to encourage all the different cultures to come together, to find common ground during these times — something we all can be a part of and be proud of, through creative storytelling, spoken word, and the performance arts, for years to come.

What else do you want people to know about A Spoken Space?

Inclusivity is so important, especially here. I want to have events that are focused on different groups, like people Indigenous to this area; they could do anything they want — storytelling, poetry, anything that's powerful. And one of my best friend's boyfriend, a veteran that did two deployments in the Middle East and saw some really wild stuff, has been diagnosed with PTSD. And I thought, what if we had a veteran’s night? Honor your lost brothers and talk about the realities of war in an environment where other people will know and understand what you’ve been through, as a firsthand witness to all of that tragedy. I know, it sounds sad and graphic. That's exactly why I want to make this stuff for adults, so that other adults can hear this because, you know, you can't run away from it. And this veteran has never opened up to anyone besides me and his therapist. What if the whole room was there to support him?

That sounds AMAZING. I’m so glad you came to the Tri-Cities! You are infusing this place with community-driven progress and cultural development.

Thank you! My biggest accomplishment so far is actually making two of these events happen. After eight long years of planning, it’s FINALLY a reality. I am very proud of my project “A Spoken Space: A Safe Space to be Heard” — and also for stepping into the limelight, so to speak, as a Black lesbian woman, and pulling off two spoken word events! I am beyond excited, nervous, and extremely proud of myself for starting EE9! 

Just hearing other people's stories — a lot of times hearing people tell stories for the very first time — it’s a beautiful thing. I want that. We need that.

An image of people standing together in a group posing for a picture, a person on the left is holding a small dog.
“My first Spoken Space was a success!! Thank you to all my beautiful friends and family for coming out to support! Thank you for the beautiful souls who shared their beautiful hearts and minds.”

Janiece Spence (JuruDaWise)

Owner and Founder of Ebony Enterprises 9, LLC

Phone: (509) 405-5856

Email: ebonyenterprises9@gmail.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/jurudawise/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/jurudawise

Sara Quinn is the Editor in Chief at Tumbleweird. She lives with her amazing spouse, Brendan, and her doggos, Lila and Jewel. Sara makes art, writes stuff, reads A TON, and plays a lot of video games.