“In a Turkish town, waiting there for me”
Finally! A Latino college reading with actual Latinos in the audience!
After what was just an amazing workshop with Roger as moderator, and Rich, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor and myself (Can it get better than that? The opinions and perspectives on political poetry were way too fuckin’ cool.), it was up to Columbia for the Dia de los Muertos reading.
Team Acentos had a reunion of sorts as it turned out to be me, Rich, Fish and
Jayme as the featured readers alongside our host for the evening and resident birthday girl, Nina. I have always wanted to get Nina to Acentos on a more regular basis and would love to see her grab the flag and be the standard bearer that would bring in more articulate, gifted Latinas to the Blue Ox. Damn that law school!
Unintentionally, I hogged up quite a bit of performance time which wasn’t a big issue because the musical act still hadn’t gotten their yet but once they did Nina had to cut short Jayme’s and Rich’s time. I kept waiting for the “two more” sign but never saw it.
Nina and Justin put together a great reading which also let me speak with some great minds and good readers. Vivienne showed up and dropped her poem that I think is some damn good writing. Another young lady, Ruby, displayed great poise and strong work on the mic as did Diana Marie, a Columbia Creative Writing MFA, who I had a great discussion with as to the oral nature of poetry.
She wasn’t feeling me on all my points but was certainly of the open mind set to debate. This is where the slam can be a pain as the mundane, pedestrian nature of gimmick poetry becomes lumped in with strong performance poetry that only really succeeds when there is strong content to be found in the work. Diana pointed to some stage work as all flash and little substance. She is right on a couple of levels and it is hard to differentiate the work that you love and aspire to in comparison to some ourpourings that are little more than over extended dialougue.
The discourse could have been more in depth but Pa Lo Monte, an Afro-Carribean drum circle, was in the fullest of effect and had the crowd jumping and the place spinning with beats that brought the tribe together in dance. The reverb said community, and the movement spelled celebration but it my have well been a war dance as the message was clear– We will not see the traditions of the past fade to darkness, our forebearers would greet us with una chancleta on the other side, if we did.