With a backdrop of oil and watercolor landscape paintings, poets stepped up to the microphone and shared pieces of themselves with the audience.
Even though the sound system was faulty, the words were so powerful the whole room could hear.
The poet group ThirdEyeSpoken hosted its second anniversary event, "Wild-N-Off the Chain," at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens on Friday evening.
The event cost about ,1,000, and Gainesville High School paid for more than half of the cost through parent and student donations, said Lacey Nagy, co-founder of ThirdEyeSpoken.
She said about 100 people attended the event.
All proceeds of the event went to Florida Wildlife Care, a nonprofit organization that rescues sick and injured wildlife.
Nagy discovered the wildlife organization when her cat took a baby bird into her home.
FWC brought animals to the event, including an armadillo, screech owl, free-tailed bats and a opossum named George.
"It was really cool to see wildlife animals treated with so much respect and love," Nagy said.
George, wrapped in a maroon towel, nestled into the arms of FWC volunteer Pat Holcomb.
The yawning opossum caused FWC workers to laugh.
FWC supervisor Larissa Berkovich said, "They can open up their mouths pretty big, and they eat everything."
Eddie Barker, a ThirdEyeSpoken production member, played "Stuff That Works," a song by Guy Clark, on his acoustic guitar.
Barker said, "It just popped in my head on the way over here."
As a recovering alcoholic, Barker said he would have never attended a poetry event 10 years ago.
He said ThirdEyeSpoken has helped him leave some of that life behind.
"Keep your ears open, and you can learn a lot," Barker said.
ThirdEyeSpoken wasn't the only poetry group at the event. The Write Side Poets, a youth slam team from Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, made an appearance.
A slam recites original poetry, usually in a competitive setting. While slam teams throughout the state attended, they weren't there to compete but to share their poetry.
Maxis Madé, an 18-year-old from Florida International University, recited a poem about the tattoos she wanted, which included a crucifix, Star of David, gay pride flag, love notes on her chest and pictures of her future children.
Paola Ortega, a UF criminology freshman, is also a member of Write Side Poets. She presented a piece about racism and brought up the Jena Six controversy.
She gets her inspiration from Psalms and Proverbs.
"I want to speak for those who have no voice," Ortega said in her performance. "I have my own definition of silence: death."
David Maas, founder of "The Word Is Spoken" local open mic, performed a poem titled "Dear Santa Claus."
Wearing a red Santa hat, he compared a child's belief to a pop-up book that was slowly flattened.
The poem came to him while he was writing a different piece.
"It was actually making a broader statement about the loss of innocence, loss of childhood," Maas said.
Matt "Cuban" Hernandez and Felton "Knight Krawler" Stergis traveled from Jacksonville to attend. They are members of the Jacksonville Slam Team.
Hernandez described love as "confetti getting stuck in cement and rising with the breeze."
He said he likes performing in front of an audience because it's an "extreme energy exchange."
Stergis said that in order to get in front of an audience, poets have to condition themselves.
"It's better that you conquer your demons before you get on the mic," he said.
While presenting a poem together, Hernandez and Stergis kept repeating the sentiment of the evening. With the strength of their voices and increased fervor, they said, "My heart's an amplifier, I don't need no mic."
Ryan Schaufert, a friend of ThirdEyeSpoken, shared a poem about wars that can't be won.
"I'm a death row inmate and every day is my last meal," Schaufert said while on stage.
He said he enjoyed the group pieces the most.
"Usually poetry is just about one person," he said. "It changes the whole meaning of it."
Jimmy Nil Fishhawk, a production member and spoken word artist of ThirdEyeSpoken, talked about "clawing for fire."
By living in the country, he gets inspiration from nature.
Fishhawk said he liked listening to the younger talent. "Seeing these kids tonight just blew me away," he said.
Nagy said she appreciated the diversity of the crowd, especially the older generations who respected the poetic vision of featured artists. "I really dig that about our crowd," she said, "the generations that come and encourage us to speak our voice."