The story so far…

08/01: As the Slam season ends with the Nationals in Seattle, I discover Bar13 and
the louderARTS Project. The performances of Roger Bonair-Agard, F Omar Telan, Bassey, Mayda DelValle, Kamal Simonette Dixon, Eric Guerrieri & others blow me away and inspire me to write a new poem that I debut on the mic two weeks later to a good reaction.

09/01: I continue writing new poems but fail to connect with the audiences as my work is raw and unpolished—as are my performances… On September 10th, I see three poets thrilled to move to New York… The next week the New York spoken word community gathers and expresses their feelings about 9/11. No poems from me as I just take the mic to express my concern for all New Yorkers.

10/01: With the woman who inspired it in the crowd, I debut the “Ceviche” poem and receive incredible feedback from the 13 crowd… Attend my first Open Mic at Barnes&Nobles in the Bronx and am dismayed at the amazing amount of bad poetry in regard to 9/11. I decide to change the vibe of the crowd with a comedic poem. It works and I learn about the real power of spoken word.

11/01: Try my hand at Slam and fail miserably… Continue Slamming/Continue losing… “Mercy on the Battlefield” is debuted on the 13 stage

12/01: Never advancing past the first round in any Slam I decide to retire from Slamming… George McKibbens invites me to Slam in a team he is putting together for competition… I unretire from Slam… The 3 Minute Prophets (George, Brother Earl, Evert Eden & myself) compete at Justin’s (P Diddy’s restaurant)… We lose and I am bummed out

01/02: After a month long hiatus, 13 returns and I debut more poems

02/02: Begin rehearsing “Mercy on the Battlefield” with Ray Medina who adds original music to my Salsa poem

03/02: Lynne Procope puts out a call to any poets interested in combining their poetry with music, dance or art… I respond and recommend Ray as musical director… synonymUS is formed and a new reading series is born… “Capicu” debuts and is chosen as ‘Poem of the Week’

04/02: louderARTS celebrates it’s 4th anniversary with Circus13, a wild party/poetry reading with an emphasis on comedy. My role– defending White Castle eating champion… This adds me to a line up that includes the founder of New York Slam and five National Slam champions

05/02: synonymUS debuts… “Mercy on the Battlefield” is performed with full music and Sabrina Hayeem-Ladani dancing in the background

06/02: I celebrate my birthday at 13, advance to the second round in a Slam(!) and get a bonus slot to read my third poem… After nine months at 13, I feel re-born

07/02: Roger Bonair-Agard asks me to open for his set as I get my first feature slot… Slamming at the SoundZ Bar, I meet Chance who invites me to perform at Cornelia Street

08/02: louder chooses me as one of their upperCASE features… A large crowd of friends & family sees me feature on an amazing evening… I attend the National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis as a spectator and accidentally become the ‘Sacrificial Poet’ for a San Francisco/Los Angeles/Boston/Chicago bout… louder is eliminated early from competition but that just allows all of the 13 crew to party harder and enjoy the company of poets from all across the country

09/02: Perform with Taylor Mali at an elderly residence in one of my best moments as a poet… Invited to join the louderARTS Project and become co-SlamMaster at Bar13… Feature at Poetically Incorrect at Cornelia Street Cafe

10/02: Feature at Morgie’s Café alongside Willie Perdomo… My best friend, for the first time ever, ponders on the possiblity of Oscar: Professional Poet.

11/02: On a whim I attend the Wednesday Open Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café and earn an invite to slam for their Friday night feature… Come in dead last but earn another invite as I get the support of the crowd

12/02: Return to the Nuyo for a second place finish on Felice Bell’s final night as host

01/03: the New Year starts with returning founder Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and louderARTS organizing a free night of all-star poetry to be recorded on CD.

Today: The CD recording is a success! A standing room only crowd sees the collective come together and deliver both a fabulous performance and flawlessly produced evening!

Author: Oscar Bermeo

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below, and To the Break of Dawn. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

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