leaving the bronx museum of the arts reading, i tell maria that i could not be happier about the whole thing. from top to bottom, i was completely satisified.
“you really are totally pleased, arent ya?”
yep, i believe i am.
“wow, i am so not used to this from you”
from the jump i knew that last night would be a beautiful event. the cynic in me disdains such moments of confidence since high perches are synonymus ;-) with high falls but my instincts were saying 5×5, mofo, 5×5. i got to the BXMA on time and was happy to see tony and rich there. eliel and kyra soon followed so we have features and host all in place but very little audience. for a hot second it looked like it was gonna be an open mic of me, rich & maria but then here come the belgians!
thats right, ya heard correct, the belgians! almost forty of them came to hear some poetry and at this point, we were all ready, i jerked the curtain and hit em with the warm up piece (a very silently received version of MotB) and we were off…
eliel delivered an amazing 10 minutes of poetry. on the advice of luis cartagena, he asked for no applause (remember yesterdays topic?) until the end of the set and it worked perfectly. as a true professional, he stayed true to the time constraints and crafted an uplifting but realistic portrayal of a soul in crisis, on the verge of complete despair that finds momentary peace in the beauty of the city. a brief respite that is just enough to survive till the next day which, in reality, is all we need. this is the biggest leap i have seen in eliel’s development since he debuted “Platform Plea.” he tempered his natural theatrics and replaced it with an even steady reading that let the language carry the brunt of emotional impact. complete with a sylvia plath cover, this feature displayed a daring side to his manic ways and signals the arrival of a poet comfortable in his own silences. fans of eliel should definitely check out his next feature at spoken word cafe where, i am sure, he will pull out some more surprises.
next up was kyra wolfe and she delivered all the goods. here is a poet that can feature at any venue in the country. she has an amazing perspective that allows us to see situations from both the insider’s and spectator’s point of view almost like hearing the director’s commentary over a really intense movie dvd. the gypsy spirit propelled kyra’s poems as she led us through nyc in both its glories and tragedies. i am moving into loudNOTES territory now so let me step back and say that i am envious of kyra’s talents and hope to hear more of her work since all it does is challenge and inspire me. she certainly takes the “candle light hiding under a bushel” award cuz everybody was floored by her poise and command of the stage and her words. she has been consistent appearances at Acentos and bar13 but i think she should be out and about a lot more than she is now cuz her work is the shot in the arm that people need. i have seen a good range of her newer work and she has enough material to fill a half hour set. at this point i would love a peek at her older material to see the evolution of her writing.
the open mic was a mix of sure fire poets (rich, maria and dawn saylor), some local voices that brought the flavor and one aspiring rapper that attempted to demolish any connection that rap may have to spoken word. when he was informed that we couldnt play his music a full panic hit his face.
but your lyrics are tight, right? you got your flow and some proper verse, right?
then no worries, right?
“i dont think these people are on my vibe, ya know”
you an artist? you got fire?
then make them vibe with you
what a waste of breath. money hit the mic with an entourage of four that did nothing through both(!) his raps and then his manager tried to plug his young charge. as soon as they finished they went back to the doorway they were hiding in the whole night but before they left, i let the manager know that he should teach his artist’s some proper audience etiquette and i let the youngsta in on a lil (not so) secret- if you never get a feel for the crowd, the crowd will never feel you.
closing out the night was tony brown who made me happy to be a curator. tony loves nyc and i was happy to bring him down especially to the bronx. in return tony dropped a set of classics and new hotness that showed me all the promise that slam holds. i was seeing a samurai blade, time tested and steel proof, of poetry that cut through all in lightning fashion. not only was i happy to host/curate but even happier to be a part of an audience that heard poems that tony doesn’t use so often these days which is something I definitely understand y’all know that i am all about the new hotness but sometimes the fan boy in me steps out and wants to experience some of the performance i keep reading about. lets say the fan boy walked away extremely giddy.
and we got a wonderful sendoff from one of the belgian tourists as he thanked us for a wonderful initial exposure to american performance poetry. is this a fuckin beautiful life or what? we were the first voices of poetry in these peoples lives. whenever they think of poetry in the states they will think of this night. cool shit, huh?
the afterparty was at the local cuchifrito spot where we celebrated world peace (“thanks to us, the belgians will NEVER attack the US’) over coronas, cafe con leche, mofongo, cubanos y mojito.
i can continue going on about how amazing the night was but i better stop before i lose my hatah status, tu sabes?
love ya like poetry on the concourse