Back to life, back to reality

Raphael Cohen hosting the Eastlake Sessions' Story CircleMad props to Raphael Cohen and all the organizers over at connectingarts for letting me feature with DeWayne Dickerson at the Eastlake Sessions.

It’s been way too long between features for me and I was really excited about this chance to share work from the Palimpsest series with an audience that really didn’t know any of my work.

As you can see from the pics, the vibe was very chill and communal but definitely for grown folks thanks to the dope layout of the loft, great art all around, view to Laney College/E 8th Street/the 880, still-motion photo setup, good food (I contributed a lemon-feta pasta with baby spinach- yum!), and fly music.

DeWayne DickersonDeWayne’s set was all kinds of fly as he read stuff from his forthcoming book. His poems highlight the ridiculous contradictions of public/personal policy when it comes to issues of blackness/gayness in a time of war economy with a poetic speaker who is unafraid to put those contradictions out in the open. DeWayne’s craft comes in his ability to stay true to that voice’s genuine pain without resorting to sermons-to-the-choir or Wikipedia history lessons.

I was up next and came through with this set-list:

• Palimpsest: B-Boy Prayer
• A Bodega on Anywhere Avenue
• Palimpsest: Ghazal
• Fire Escape
#3, from The Wooden Horse by Clemente Soto Vélez
• Psalm for Public Housing
• Palimpsest: The Break

Oscar Bermeo at the Eastlake Sessions' Story CircleLight on banter, and almost no explanations in this set but I still felt like I was connecting with the room (about 40 folks in a nice size space).

Notes on my performance:
• I still get nervous before a reading. Like really nervous and real edgy.
My voice was shaking for the first poem.
• “Fire Escape” is a brand new poem written after Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Hidden Door.” Still have to actually finish the poem as I was still writing it about three hours before I actually performed it.

With all that said, my true reality is that I have to get started on revising the Palimpsest poems so that I can get a new chapbook out there in the world, and (hopefully) get more readings.

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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