“when we’re gona set you “
i’ve been tryin to post last week’s craziness for ever. problem– i start small and go big, so let’s try to keep it brief
11.10 monday:: good turnout at 13 for samantha raheem (who wuz fuckin excellent) and the slam renewed my faith as roger is joined in the third round by elana(!) and abena(!!!) i’ll make a special note of abena’s emergence– she is one of the spirits that can take any endeavor and make it better just by her being in the room. nuff said.
11.11 tuesday:: teaching at mind-builders has become a true trial by fire as my program director has been hit with a couple of emergencies and has missed a few classes. as the drama and dance instructor, i was hoping she would be the one that would be keeping the kids coming back for my creative writing. as i understand it is way more fun for a kid to learn to uprock and improv then to hit a free write. no such luck and now i have to make this class progressive AND fun. this is why my goatee has a ton of gray. all good, the fire tempers… the fire tempers.
acentos with willie perdomo! nervous as all fuck and i clearly admit it on the mic (breaking one of the rules i love to spit out!). it takes me a couple of open micers to get back into the flow and i am just overwhelmed at the quality of the open mic as we are quickly approaching the…
“for real, i can’t fit nobody else in” mode of open mic.ness
willie came through on his promise to rich and debuted two brand new poems that may one day find themselves in a book or anthology and to which rich villar can proudly say, “i made that happen.” craziness!
the infamous “crazy bunch” added to the acentos down home flavor and put willie in an unusual position… doing his down-home/this.is.how.the.ghetto.really.is*take.it.or.leave.it/listen+learn
poetry in front of some folks that now where he is embellishing for art’s sake. the truth in poetry debate is pretty old and one of my dad’s maxims has always permeated my poems “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” definitely a challenge for one of our most revered voices but if it wasn’t for the challenge– why get on stage? i am glad to see willie come through and add his presence to our legacy and it was a true honor and pleasure to have intro’ed him.
the afterparty was bananas! new bartender (dont call her bartendress), tina was off da meter. a lil loud at the BCA reading a week before, she found out that acentos is a whole different vibe and responded accordingly lending us all her respect. afterwards she thought it would be a good idea to follow a manhattan that eliel had bought me with a tequilla shot. sweet girl but she reminded me the devil is made of marzipan.
guy, siegel, juan lindo, rich, and jessica kept the party going till 3 and i was seeing more hints of the oft-mentioned botanica sessions creeping into the acentos fold.
11.12 wednesday:: yes! i made it to work on time!! the BCA has a reading at 7 up in riverdale and i choose to hit that instead of a reading at columbia u regarding the role of arts in america’s prison system (according to my well places sources, i kinda made the right choice)
i got there late and missed one of the main readers but still got to hear a bit of good fiction (dat’s right- fiction not poetry)
leslie shipman asked me to read so i said sure and busted out the ghetto chapbook i’m carrying around right now to keep the greatest hits organized, tentative title the view from mt. eden ave
i did ‘brooklyn back break beat’ to a good response on the latter images and then went into ‘ceviche’ and pulled a robert bly on them by stopping in line three and explaining my love-hate relationship with brooklyn.
the half drunk fordham u’ers laughed and lapped it all up and hell, if i cant have a good time, then whats the point.
11.13 thursday:: back to brooklyn as roger sponsors what normally would be called a salon but instead becomes a night of revelry, inappropriateness, and some hard truth telling as in the midst of all the corona.ness, we speak of writing and how it affects us as men.
these moments are few and far between and can easily be dispatched with a well placed joke but its very healing when we focus away from being the center of the stage and let the conversation flow organically and unfettered. there are two things that i love to do when that happens
1) watch and absorb
2) put people in the hot seat
of course, this also means that i dont mind being put in the hot seat and i also enjoy that my own view points are heard
much more may come of this then just bar tales and strange christening
11.14 friday:: no poetry! yeah! i can relax and… ohshit!… i get so wrapped up in work i forget syreeta’s birthday and rush to brooklyn in time to hear some ill beats, notice the pulp in a mango martini, and have a pair of mojitos come my way by divine intervention (and daniel’s hand)
this is the four out of five days that alcohol is getting the lead role and i am just makin a note for personal reference. afterwards, i meet up with ray to help calm him down from the disappointment of a good party gone bad. it’s all good time as we hit the spaceship casita still reveling over the almost was
11.15 saturday:: celena glenn has a cd release party that turns out to be half cluster fuck (why your opening act gotta be that long?) and all mind fuck as celena is really trying to take this performance poetry thing and warp it into her own image. more power to her, as the results are unexpected, intrusive, and entirely original. no alcohol! as i hit the caffeine hard instead. and the after part resumes at the spaceship casita with ray holding court over a mix of friends. the convo sadly turns to poetry (i have to start hanging out with other artists, on the real) and eventually def poetry. “oscar, your viewpoint?”
and believe it or not, i answer in a clear two sentence answer that takes only a minute to come out.
more silliness, and more introspection as i seem to be sipping a lot of tears in my vodka lately.
11.16 sunday:: one there was no poetry and then there are days like this… three events.
1) grisel has a reading at BMCC at 11am. say it again, eleven in the ay-em. my interest is piqued as it is billed as a spanish language in poetry symposium and of course, as with most of these college things, its not.
grisel reads an hour of poetry, fiction, song, and skits letting me see her range as a performer and then we hit the q&a.
questions like “ever performed at the nuyorican?” leave me a lil sad.
comments like “hispanic artists arent really supporting each other” leave me annoyed.
opinions like “tree and park poems are so unimportant and i want spanish poets to be more radical” leave me pissed off
being that its grisel’s q&a, i dont play the dick role and turn it into my personal playground, i just wait for a goodmoment and calmly address the students asking some of the sillier questions and lay em out quick and clean then return the floor to grisel. worked out pretty nice.
afterwards, i was invited for some brunch and had a blast with toro, noel, and some new friends. someone challenged that erasure was better than zeppelin… dats all ju need to know
2) the louder workshop with lynne going over performance. i love workshops, the exchange, the revelations.
lynne had me read tony hoagland’s “hate hotel” and then had me read it mad… i dont like dat shit and wonder just how much i am going to do to get an audience reaction… there is one poem i have in my head that needs that type of intensity but it is a price i’m not sure i can pay.
3) synonymUS jam! more fun as we try shit out that we arent or shouldnt be trying on a regular open mic. ray has been keeping the synonymUS name alive and well through these studio recordings and new marvelous work has emerged. abena (i’m bringing it back, full circle) has been integral and her talent on vocals, instrumentation, and organization have been key. scott williams, peter dressler, jessica elizabeth, and omri have also been regulars making the next incarnation of synonymUS be a worth while event if just to see how it compares to version one.
i went multi voice with vivienne miranda and had her take the role of leticia in my poem. a good start to what i hope may be some more group work with other spanish speaking poets.
and dats de week in review… back to you, russ!