Truth Underground lights up Durham

Gerret Warner and C.J. Suitt

The Clarion Content is delighted to be leading the marketing and publicity effort for the in production documentary film, Truth Underground. The film is a behind the scenes look into the lives of three poets immersed in the local Spoken Word culture.

Unbeknownst to many of us in Durham in addition to our foodies, painters, writers, musicians, and fashionistsas of renown, our area also hosts a burgeoning Spoken Word scene. So much so that the Indy Weekly, called us a hotbed for Spoken Word culture a couple years back.

The Clarion Content is delighted to be working with the fabulous production team of Warner and Company, along with our own Ned Phillips, to bring this ancient art form, spoken word poetry, back to the center stage prominence it so richly deserves. We spent a good many hours brainstorming with Gerret Warner, our director, and Phillips several months back about which piece of the vibrant Durham socio-cultural whirl we were going to follow to produce our first documentary. We discussed the fantastic music being made here. We talked about the food culture Durham so delights in, but we finally settled on Spoken Word for a couple of very particular reasons.

One is outreach. The Spoken Word community is incredibly active in its outreach and education programs. We have filmed the poets teaching after-school poetry workshops to kids from Northern High School in Durham to the Carrboro Arts Center in Orange County. The poetry community, the Spoken Word artists locally, make an aggressive effort to share and teach their art form to young people. They know and actively preach that poetry can be a real outlet for strong emotions that might otherwise get channeled into less savory acts. And when you see 40, 50, 60 kids staying an hour and a half after school to work on their poetry, then bursting with energy to be one of those who get to read their poem to the group, you could weep for joy.

In addition to wonderful communitarian and educational components that led us to choose Spoken Word as our subject, there was also the question of prominence. Our foodie culture gets written up everywhere from the New York Times to Gourmet. Word is trickling out on our world class artists (the national community of artists know, at least,) ditto for the music and the musicians. But Spoken Word poetry is being performed at an amazingly high level around these parts to tiny audiences. DPAC quality performances are taking place in clubs on Miami Boulevard and NC 55. Amazing to see if you can get there in person, but we want to shine a spotlight through this film that brings these performers to the size stage that their works merit.

We are thrilled and honored to be working with members of both the Sacrificial Poets and the Bull City Poetry Slam. We are following their 2013 seasons, the lives, and the stories of three poets connected to the local community. It is a journey of heart and soul.

We were able to host our first fundraiser in support of the film, last Friday night, after Durham’s April 3rd Friday Art Walk. You might remember the downpour. Rodney Derrick, a friend and client of the Clarion Content, generously lent us his loft for live a Spoken Word Poetry Salon. We showed the trailer, which had premiered the previous week at the Southern Documentary Fund’s “Upcoming Projects” event at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

The highlight of the evening’s salon was, of course, the live spoken word poetry. C.J. Suitt, among others, dropped poems that reverberated across the room, shaking souls, stirring emotions, hearts and minds, while moistening tear ducts. It was chilling and ecstatic simultaneously.

Words can barely begin to convey.

Talk to somebody who was in the room.

Or come out and catch some live Spoken Word poetry next month in person at The Scrap Exchange for 3rd Friday May 17th. The  Scrap Exchange ,a venerable arts and community institution in Durham, is all about outreach and community activism. They are allowing us to bring in some of local Spoken Word maestros and some of the local youth poets as their 3rd Friday entertainment next month in lieu of a band.

We will be showing clips from the upcoming film, along with the trailer, and there will be those amazing live poetry performances.

We are still very much raising the funds to make this project happen. Please visit the Southern Documentary Fund our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor to read more about the project and make a tax deductible contribution. Help this film get made. Help the world class, local, poetry community get on a bigger stage. Help fund the outreach, the education, the youth motivation.

Check out the in-process trailer here.

These are some pictures from our first Truth Underground fundraiser in the Baldwin Lofts.


all photos courtesy of Clarion Content intern Rivka Grossinger



photos courtesy of Clarion Content intern Rivka Grossinger



photos courtesy of Clarion Content intern Rivka Grossinger



Director Gerret Warner and the amazing artist Erin S.



Director Gerret Warner and Producer Jessie Warner (L to R)

Director Gerret Warner and Producer Jessie Warner (L to R)



photos courtesy of Clarion Content intern Rivka Grossinger



photos courtesy of Clarion Content intern Rivka Grossinger



photos courtesy of Clarion Content intern Rivka Grossinger



photos courtesy of Clarion Content intern Rivka Grossinger


Gerret Warner and C.J. Suitt

Gerret Warner and C.J. Suitt

Aaron Mandel

Aaron Mandel is a writer and an accomplished public speaker. He is the publisher of the Clarion Content. For more than a decade, the Clarion Content has covered Durham’s arts, politics, music, and cultural milieu. From breaking news stories to the hottest local acts, the Clarion Content is on the scene. The Clarion Content published more than twenty distinguished guest columnists and garnered nearly a million views. Mandel is a volunteer for the Durham Mighty Pen Literacy Project and serves as the President of the Board of Sustain-A-Bull Durham, a local small business collective with more than 200 members. He writes regularly on the Clarion Content and has been quietly writing fiction since the 4th grade. Mandel has been published in the Raleigh News and Observer. He has also produced numerous art shows, including, “Durham under Development”. He was a featured speaker at “The State of Publishing” conference. He has presented to Durham Chamber of Commerce, “Chamber U” on the “New Media”. He has also served as the play-by-play announcer for the D.B.L., a Durham youth basketball league. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religious Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. An avid policy debater at Indiana and a Nation Debate Tournament qualifier, Mandel was also a member of the New Jersey State Champion two-person Policy Debate Team. He has lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, and Baja California, Mexico.

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