In the film “Searching for Bobby Fisher,” a wunderkind stumbles onto the speed chess games of Washington Square Park and promptly gets his ass whooped. As his father drags him out of the park, chess hustler Lawrence Fishburne notes-

“You son plays moves in concert. He sets up for the attack! He doesn’t play individual moves!!”

Meaning that the child is not just reacting to the board and what his next move is; he is thinking many moves ahead and setting himself up for a victory from the get go.

This was the same kinda feeling I had when Luis Caratagena finished his set at Acentos last night. This is not a poet who is just working to his next poem or his next slam or even to his next feature- this person is preparing a larger body of work from jump street. It kinda cheapens it to refer to it as a one man show as Luis already has so many collaborative elements ingrained into his work that many one person shows throw in at the last second to add an MTV type feel to their production.

“Oh, hell no! Do you really expect people to sit here for an hour and a half just listening to somebody talk? Get me some pyro and a tiger!”

At the first louder than words, Luis asked me about the Acentos crowd and what to expect and what the mind set of the venue was. I was happy to tell him that he can give em all he’s got and to not worry about it- “They’re ready. I don’t know if they were ready six months ago and I know they wasn’t ready when we started lat year but they’re ready.” Anytime you put a Luis or an Edwin Torres or Alexis O’Hara up there you run the chance of the crowd saying “What the fuck?” and turning it off. I am glad to be a part of a community that is ready to listen to the whole poem or the whole set before making a judgement. Something I am starting to get better at over time.

Moving past the ‘what you say vs what you mean’ question, I keep coming back to the images that people choose and the tense that they find themselves in. Are they in a central place? Are they in the past? If so, are they backtracking or chronicling? How do they picture the future? Is there even a future? What’s the next move?

Jai and Ray brought me back a gorgeous chess board from India that is still pretty low on mileage- Anybody out there up for a game?

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