Feelin’ Satisfaction From The Street Crowd Reaction (Post NaPoWriMo Thoughts)

Wordle: NaPoWriMo 2010
Wordle: NaPoWriMo 2010

Not for nuthin’ but this last month was just amazing for my growth as a poet. How good was it? Even my low points helped me assess my place in poetry and make some hard choices about how much I value my own art.

The Breakdown

• NaPoWriMo 30/30: Back in February, when I was not feelin’ good at all about poetry, I would have said I wasn’t going to do the 30/30 challenge. As March rolled through I was thinkin’ maybe I could do sumthin’ different—a flash review a day, post OPP (Otha People’s Poetry) every day, recap a past reading every day—but I was sure it wasn’t gonna be a poem a day. Well, I did manage to sneak in a couple on non-poem entries to expand the definition of poetry but the real good news is I have a good number of drafts to work on for the rest of the year. Will I do it again next year? I ain’t sayin nuthin’ till April 2011 hits.

• Back to the Ole Skool: A major them in my NaPoWriMo posts has been my relationship with ’80s Hip-Hop. The passing of Guru and Malcolm McLaren to the next journey made me examine my connections to the source of my musicality. I come out of it feelin’ older but in the grown-n-sexy kinda way and not the old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn kinda way. Contemporary hip-hop is what it is and the naysayers can be all down in the dumps about autotune and rappers who don’t care about lyrics but there is still so much to still be happy about it (I see you, M.I.A.!). My perspective as someone who saw the art form grow from basement parties to stadium level is unique and necessary to share cuz what I’ve seen is not going to make any history textbooks, dats for sure. Also, hearing the work of John Murillo and Adrian Matejka at AWP let me know that US Poetry better get ready for the Aesthetics of Hip-Hop Poetics because it is here and only going to get louder in time.

• AWP: I came in not sure what to expect and walked out with a strong sense of national community. I’ve worked really hard over the years to connect with poets who share my same poetic, political and personal concerns and those conversations have bared good fruit for me as everywhere I looked in Denver, I saw friends and allies. I also kicked ass at my panel presentation and represented well at the One Poem Festival.

• Live readings: Back in the NYC days, I was featuring at different venues at least once a month. Here in the Bay Area, I haven’t been as lucky but the two chances I did have to read this month (Thank you, Eleven Eleven and Pen Oakland) reminded me what is scary and beautiful about a live reading. I still need to work on my elocution skills and best get to memorizing a couple of poems cuz it would be something good to add to the repertoire.

• Publication: Acceptances from an online journal, a literary magazine, and an anthology has me feeling like I’m hitting a good stride.

• CantoMundo: Another acknowledgment comes thru at just the right time for me. I’m going to be working with a fabulous group of poetas and I plan on bringing my A-game.

• Multi-Disciplinary: Last month I had a three-minute play and a short story accepted to a local college writing journal and this month I have a visual art project accepted for display. Surprised? Me, too! More news when it becomes official.

• Close But No Cigar: On the low points, I found out Anywhere Avenue was a finalist for this year’s Andrés Montoya Prize but Emma Trelles would win the coveted prize. Congrats to Emma for her victory and congrats to me for getting that far in the contest.

• Close But No Cigar 2: I canceled my trip to New York this month because the literary reading I was going to do was not getting back to me in time with firm details about the event. I didn’t want to miss out on a big reading but I also didn’t want to set myself up for failure either. I’m sharing this out not to be bitter and negative but to let other aspiring authors know they don’t have to leap at every reading offered to them; if you don’t feel like you are being treated right-then walk away. Do it with dignity and respect but don’t be afraid to say to organizers, “I’m a serious writer and I need to be treated as such. Can you do that?” If the organizers can’t give you a resounding YES! then find another venue. It’s taken me years to get to that point (Oh, the whack ass readings I’ve agreed to because I was desperate to read anywhere) but now that I’m here it feels good.

I think that’s it for this last April. Now I have to work on making every month, National Poetry Month!

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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