Giving back…

Since this adventure has started, I have been trying to hit every Open Mic I can find and have done everything from being silent audience member to flat reader to stellar performer… rinse, lather, repeat (meaning—going through the cycle again. one of my all time favorite euphemisms!)

Eventually, I will be the type of writer who can consistently go on the mic and always account well for himself. Be able to read new off-page material that is both immediate & pertinent and reprise wonderful familiar tomes that create an instantaneous connection with the crowds (remember—more than three is a crowd) of people who are listening to my work. In front of me are many role models who I have the pleasure/luck of being able to call friend. From time to time, in the middle of being cantankerous jack-asses, I will ask key questions in regard to writing & performing. This is my good fortune and I don’t take this blessing lightly. I respect the space my friends have allowed me to enter, try not to intrude much and behave as a well mannered guest. The Gemini in me, note title of Journal, realizes the circular nature of this existence and am now seeing it come right back at me.

I don’t think I am all that on the mic but I sure act like I do.

I have not had a serious writing class in my life but I sure talk like if I did.

I am my own personal PR machine and it works. You believe that you are a certain persona and act accordingly as the world accommodates itself to this image. As such, new poets are viewing me with a similar reverence as I have to my mentors. I am not going to name them but I know who they are and I make it a point to treat them with the same respect and compassion that has been accorded to me. This shit sounds really sanctimonious but I really believe it.

No one had to befriend me at Bar13. I was quite happy hanging out by myself in the back. In fact, the ability to enjoy poetry on my own was one of the things that automatically endeared me to this new world. I was loving listening to poetry all by myself. Same with going on the mic, it was a wonderful self-indulgent moment. Then someone noticed me on the mic and went out of their way to encourage me. Compliments and critiques followed. Some acknowledgement in print. Reprinting of a poem. Being asked to feature. All of this has turned me into a better writer, performer and ultimately—person.

And it all could have, just as easily, never happened and I could still be in the back of the room writing insipid verse and performing it with an unsure voice.

This is not the journal entry I thought I was going to write.

This is an acknowledgement to Guy, Lynne, Roger, Fish, Seve, George, Ray, Sabrina, DSL, Franklin, Berzin, Vixi, Ed, Omar, e(g), Marty, Yolanda, Ebony, Felice, Elana, Bob, Chance… damn, it’s a lot of people and all their contributions are so different and so key.

Some of these names are here because they have kept pushing me all the time.

Some of these people may not even know why there names are here.

All of them dropped something into my poetic hat and it has all come back to em.

Soon, I am going to start a new reading series and there will be a whole new group of people coming to the mic. They will find a voice that they didn’t know they had and I am going to be a part of that and I am going to take the responsibility very seriously.

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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