SET LIST: DOWNTWOWN BRONX CAFÉ/BX1 ARTS FETIVAL
Anything to Declare?
She Reads the Letter on the Bx1, Oblivious to the Fact That She Missed Stop Fifteen Minutes Ago
My Father Teaches Me the Aesthetics of Poetry
Getting Ronald Reagan to Visit the South Bronx
About B-Boys in the Boogie Down
The BCA only asked for a seven minute set. This actually clocks out to about 8:30. Yes, I do try to time out my sets on paper before hitting the stage for a feature.
This may have been one of the most nerve racking sets I have ever done. At first I thought it was the whole hometown crowd deal or maybe the fact that it was such a premiere event for the Bronx. Nah. With such a short time on stage and me trying to get in as much Bx poetry as possible, I knew that I had no time for any kind of banter with the audience.
Fault as poet exposed. I need – emphasis on that last word – to communicate with people. It is very hard for me to just go up there and let the set speak for itself. I got no problem going up and doing one piece and letting that piece speak for itself but in a longer set I need to not talk about the poems but talk about the duende. Let people know that something is going on up here. I am not a poetic automaton that can go into poetry mode one second and then out of it the next.
Sharing poetry requires some kind of exchange, a kind of trust thing. Y’all (the audience) can trust that I have tried to put together a well thought out set with some kind of intentional story arc that will give you some insight as to how I view the day/poetry/life/the cosmos. In return, I need (Ding!) for the audience to give me some kind of response that they are along for the ride. Applause is, in my estimation, a pretty base line barometer of attention. Some folks just clap cuz they see the rest of the bar is clapping and have actually not heard a damn thing I said since they were too busy kicking it to the latest poetry groupie that walked into the bar. Silence can actually be a real intense response but it’s a thin line between ‘Ohmygawdwhatishegonnasaynext’ and ‘IwonderwhowonAmericanIdol?’
Banter takes care of all that for me. It lets me gauge the room, see who is with me, who could care less and then tailor my performance around that.
Meanwhile back at the Downtown Bronx Café, I am shitting a brick when I realize that I have almost ZERO banter time.
This leads to one of the most nervous readings I have ever had. I’ve been nervous before and I’ve been disappointed after but it’s rare these days for me to be nervous while doing the actual poems themselves. (Note: this is only for features I still get very self conscious during open mics.)
Despite all this, the feature went very well. The poems told their stories and I was in-and-out in quick, but not too quick, fashion.
As part of the event, I figured I would put together the set in the form of a mini-chapbook: The View from Mt Eden Ave. The actual chap is only eight pages and requires just one staple to keep it all together. I couldn’t justify charging even a buck for this thing so I came up with THE most masterful promotional gimmick ever…
Sign my mailing list and you get a free copy of the mini-chap.
Nice! Right? Wrong! The only folks that signed my mailing list were the four nice folks that actually purchased the full chap book. Which means—I could not give away my poetry! LOL
There are still a couple of copies of The View from Mt Eden Ave nicely inserted into the latest printing of Sorta Rican so BE DIALIN’ PEOPLE! (Inside Joke Y’all)
As of this writing, I have NO plans to feature anywhere in the immediate future which I am kind of digging cuz it may just be time to start submitting some more work to journals.
Love ya like commuters love a seat on the 4 train at rush hour