Oscar? Mr Spielberg will see you now

January is just about over and it has been quite the month poetically. The CD recording was one of the most exhilarating & anti-climatic moments of my life. I arrived at 13 pretty early and was happy to be back; the thing about Mondays is that something is BOUND to happen. It may be the worst poem you have ever heard, it may be the best poem you ver heard, it could be being called a ‘spic’ by a drunk 92lb WASP, it could be meeting that poet you always wanted to and then getting dissed, it could be anything.

Expecting the crowd to be rowdy and disruptive I was prepared for the worst and was happy to be proven wrong. I was helping out with crowd control and had some influence over who did and did not get it… “There is no list, tonight!”

My other unofficial duty is as louderARTS photographer, so you would see me popping up, here and there, taking pics of the crowd or the performers. After performances by Lynne Procope, Bob Holman, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, F Omar Telan, Suheir Hammad and Ed Garcia came my turn. I got on stage, the music hit, did my Salsa poem and was out.

That’s how quick it felt. I purposefully slowed down the end line to the most relaxed cadence I could manage just to drag the experience out for a few more seconds. At that point, I really wished I had pressed to be one of the performers who does two pieces but it was too late for that now. I had a great time, heard amazing work and took some wonderful pics.

“a lil bit louder, vol.1” should be out by April, stay tuned.

Let’s fast forward to this last week and my first ever audition. I’m not going into details but it is for a commercial spot for a pretty big network who wanted to produce a commercial for it’s Latino constituency. In the middle of December, I received a forwarded e-mail that had some of the early details. On a whim, I reponded back as professionally as possible and submitted my Salsa poem, “Mercy on the Battelfield” as just the exact thing they were looking for and they agreed.

Yep, I got hit with an e-mail in the next few days;

“Trim it to 20 seconds and let’s take it from there…”

Hhhmmm, this poem is about two-and-a-half-minutes… editing it down to 30 seconds is going to be rough.

“… and translate it into Spanish.”

Lawd-ah-mercy! It was time to circle the wagons and call in the troops.

Yeah! Team Bermeo came through like a champ. My friend, Betty L, came through with the translation after I did the editing. My Dad helped out a ton by reciting the poem in correct Castellano, which I recorded. My boy Jose, who had been in commerical advertising for the last eight years, gave me audition pointers and the man himself, Roger Bonair-Agard, agreed to coach me.

This is what life is all about… having family and watching them come to your aid with a Coke and a smile.

As if that wasn’t enough, I was featuring at Cornelia Street Cafe for Poetically Incorrect again. The normal group from MiGente showed up and then some as the place was packed but the real surprise was my louderARTS fam coming through.

Lynne, Sabrina, Rog, Marty & GinnaKarla were all in the house and the smile inside me was ridiculously bright.

(Big shout to the UPHA and head-hatah, Alexa, as she came through as well! Criollo skies, indeed!)

My set at Cornelia was a wonderful and totally fulfilling experience as I have resloved some of my issues about being ‘the guy who does all his poems in Spanish’ and went full blast into a set that had 5 out of six poems with Spanish in them. Hell, one was entirely in Spanish!

Moving on to the next day and my audition. It was everything I imagined. Brief and anti-climatic.

I knew it wasn’t going to be the movies…

Oscar: ‘…Puedes que te sea dificil entender.’

Director: “Oh my God! Some one hand this boy a contract! How much money do you need?”

O: ‘Huh?’

D: “Money!!! How much do you need for the month?”

O: ‘Uhh, let’s say $2,000?’

D: “Quick! Write him a check for three!!! Now! We can’t let this talent escape!!!”

Nope, it went just like I thought it would…

Oscar: ‘…Puedes que te sea dificil entender.’

Director: “hhmm, yeah, thanks.”

So what do I have from the experience?

A 40 second pure Spanish poem that I have fully memorized, some Madison Ave experience and the assurance that when I need em, my friends are there.

Cross your fingers anyway, it couldn’t hurt.

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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