Same message, different styles. Last week, Acentos circled around Martín Espada in the tradition of el griot, the sage, el curandero, the shaman, the keeper of stories; tales that are not just myths and retellings but the actual embodiment of who we are as a people. I’ve often talked about familia Acentos or the tribe and you would know what I am talking about when you see us roll deep. We come through as a force but not in any kind of lemming Xerox style but as a straight up maelstrom of poetics and passion. And it was only proper that these rebel child(s) can look up to an elder and be chill for a sec. Hear how it was done, how it still must be done and will continue to go down. “always weaving…”
Last night was a different style vibe. It was a straight up political rally. Mondays brings a different crowd, a bit more on the touristy side. “Outer borough? You must be mad if you think I’m going to a cultural event in one of the outer boroughs.”* And we have more space in 13 to pack people in and we did. 150+. Which annoys me a bit cuz I’m a snob like that. “Where were you fuckers for upperCASE? For louderEDGE? Huh?”
And so it goes.
Amiri Baraka delivered a stream of (political) conscious poetic operetta that was akin to being hit by both the wave and being pulled by the undertow at the same time. Amiri comes straight from the soul, a very cliché term that is damn appropriate for this situation. I have heard a few select poets (ironically enough Miguel Algarín & Bob Hollman stand out in this group) that deliver poetry that is so finely honed to almost appear to come directly from the subconscious to the outside world. Even their bodies react instinctually to the poem and one begins to formulate theories and forms to something that at its base is more primal than intellectual.
Baraka’s poems were not only a barrage of political points coming from a variety of directions but they also felt like they had one distinct target. Not to say that the man didn’t go out there. He dropped some lines and went on some tangents that had me thinking he forgot he was on a mic for a second but then, right on the precipice, he would bring it back. He also dropped some very politically left statements. It felt like he was fucking with us and making sure that we were actually listening versus just being there.
Between the two styles, I would still lean more to Espada. I am a story teller at heart and it takes a lot for me to get worked up over one particular thing. For me its always about the constant fire over the burning flame but there is always room to add some styles to one’s repertoire and i sure as hell picked up something last night.