Party People/Party People

For the crew I run with, few things are better than scoring a good payday for your poetry. Most of the folks I know wouldn’t charge a dime to read their work for the right cause and what better cause than a brand new audience that isn’t judging you for any past reps or sheet like that. Throw in some loot and a few extras like complimentary lodging and airfare and you hit the jackpot! This is exactly what happened this Friday as I visited Syracuse U for La L.U.C.H.A.’s annual Cafe con Leche celebration.

I head to JFK, hop on board a plane and an hour later I am in the New York state highlands. How high? The locals were unanimous in their support for Bush… That’s how high!

They ask me to do a half hour set and while in the hotel room (Which was slammin’!) I have a near panic attack putting together the set list but pull it together in the end and get together a nice set that includes some new hotness in the mix.

Being pretty new to doing college readings, I first expected massive auditoriums of folks and then have settled for just a nice small room of listeners, which basically means, I don’t show up with any expectations any more. If I seem a little more spoiled in the future, blame Syracuse. These folks did it right- professional sound people, a real stage, catering a la jibaro with pernil, arroz con gandules, chicharon de pollo, empanada de pollo, empanada de res, maduros and the all time favorite, red Kool Aid! WEPA!! Add an awesome soundtrack (Thanks to co-feature, Shaggy Flores) and some of the best-dressed minorities in the highlands and for a minute, I thought I was at the Copa.

That’s the good news, with the bad news being that I am first up to bat. More jitters as the emcees announce me while Shaggy throws on Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican” and I am off to the races.

THE (un)USUAL SUSPECTS
-Mercy on the Battlefield
-Sorta-Rican
Capicu
-Getting Ronald Reagan to Visit the South Bronx (an intro into the short poem portion of our evening)
-Poem for the Hispanics Who Insist on Mispronouncing the Menu Items at the Chino-Latino Restaurant
-The New York Times Finally Got It Right When They Took the ‘R’ Out of My “Aight!”
-Martin Espada’s “Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands”
-Where’s the New Shit, O?
-Poem for Dia de los Muertos (new.hotness)
-Killing all the Stars (new.hotness)
Oda Para Leticia
Ceviche

In the “Reversal of Fortune” department, the poetry went over pretty well while my banter was wearing thin. I may be over exaggerating on how well the poetry went over cuz I could feel the crowd slipping from me towards the end of the set. I could blame it on “Leticia” but I actually hit some new highs reading that bad boy even though it was off the page. Ditto with the page version of “New Shit.” It was also cool finding the nerve to bust out some new.hotness at a feature though in actuality I needed it in the set maybe more to keep me on my toes than the audience. I front loaded this list with the golden oldies towards the front but I think I mixed in enough tonal shifts (TM Mara.Wherethehelldidmybloggo.Jebsen). The honest thing to say is that I may not have been the SLAM.riffic poet that a college (re: Friday Nuyo) audience wants to hear. Final grade would probably be a B+ but I know I gave these folks their money’s worth.

In preparation for last week’s louderTRIBUTE show, I memorized Yousef Komuyaaka’s “Blue Light Lounge Sutra for the Performance Poets at Harold Park Hotel” which now ranks as my all time fave how.to.dis.wack.ass.mofos.on.the.mic poem. There are some serious truths in this poem and it’s all done in a way that goes past being petty but still leaves a mark, ya know?

Let me end this tangent now before this turns into a novella. And end it with this lil ditty- I was at the Syracuse airport by 5 in the am so that I could make sure to be at work by 9am and as of this writing I have only enjoyed two bouts of one hour sleep in the last 40 hours. Poet rock star? Not yet. Not even close.

Love ya like freqent flyer miles!

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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