“And I feel as if my home is in your arms”
part of hosting is keeping track of how long the feature goes on. when you’re up there time just loses all kind of meaning. a pause between a stanza feels like forever and a 15 minute set can pass by in a wink (more so for muthafuckas that have to tell you an epic between every poem) so as host, i gotta keep track of time to the feature know when their set is almost up. it’s always best to let them know when they have two pieces left; that way they can build up to their big send off piece versus having them do a complete switch of energy and jumping into an entirely inappropriate piece (one of my first hosting jobs had me cuttin the feature off like that)
so far i have only had one acentos feature cut himself off before the
cut-off point and that was manny xavier. just as i was going to tell him he
had two pieces left, he looked at me and said ‘i’ma do one last piece.’
well, that was easy. conversely, i have NEVER felt so bad giving someone
the cut-off, as i did with cheryl boyce-taylor. man, i coulda have her go
on for at least another 15 minutes. the work was just flowing right out of
her. she seemed a bit nervous to start the set (just some observation from
seeing her feature before and also the fact that she is one of those performers who cares so much about the work) but the nervousness was shaking
off and she was starting to jump into third gear when i gave her the cut.
i’m sure i gave her an extra five minutes or so but i still felt bad.
gotta get used to it, we are developing a great reputation for attracting top names– so i’m sure that it will happen again.
after the poetry is the after party and after the afterparty it must mean– cake! maria promised she would bake cheryl her very own special cake modeled after the one she baked for my birthday. this one would be a lil more special since cheryl is a diabetic and thus required a low sugar cake.
maria never baked one before but looked forward to the challenge and to send
back cheryl the same love she has shared with us. it was awesome. my favorite thing is how she keeps everything on the downlow, maria doesnt mention that the cake took a lot more work than normal and also minimizes how she transcribed all these lines from cheryl’s poems into the icing. the way maria makes it sound, you can just go to a local bake shop and order up an e e cummings icing sheet or a sharon olds stencil for $3.99.
back to cheryl, long ago i dubbed her the best hug in all of poetry. met cheryl last july when i opened for rog at the bowery. she had already featured at 13 that summer and i was left flabbergasted by both her poetry and the respect she commanded. rog, lynne & staceyann made it a point to grab seats in the front couches then sat like groupies. they stayed head high and mouth agape through out her set only stopping to applaud loud and hearty. at rog’s show i made it a point to give it my all (it was my first type of featured reading) and decided that i would direct my poems to cheryl. when the show was over i saw cheryl going around congratulating rog and saying hi to folks. i figured she didn’t have any big opinion on my work… till she came up to me and demanded the address to the ceviche spot. i gave it to her and made a great new friend. she would e-mail me a few weeks later to say that salinas was all that and a bag of moto. after that i would come up and always show her mad love and
she would always respond with a hug– the best hug in all of poetry.