Same time/Next Year

Almost three years into Acentos I finally book myself into the feature slot. A good deal of thought went into that little piece of narcissism. First off, I have been to a good number of poetry readings where the host/curator believes his/her own poetry is the cure all. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about adding a piece of personality into the proceedings and have made it a point to not change who I am or how I act when I am up on that mic. For good or bad people know that when they are coming to Acentos they are coming to hear a lil bit of me in between the poems. The key is the part where as a host you actually let the poems speak for themselves and keep the proceedings moving nicely with a nice touch of praise for work you enjoy and a dash of bitter for work that doesn’t suit your aesthetic. Change the recipe too much in either direction and I think it all goes to hell. But that’s just me.

the turn of the page
Originally uploaded by oscarb.

Three years later, I think I have proven that I can effectively curate without having to rely on just my friends or just the features that I know can get asses in seats. Which is another beef that I have with some readings. “Why you gotta book _______ 5 times a year? When you do that, you are just being lazy and doing everyone a disservice.” Again, this is just my opinion.

Past all that, I am a huge fan of annual cycles and love to chart and mark that journey around the sun whenever I can and, lo and behold, it has been one year since my louderMONDAY feature at Bar13. I was just recovering from the most vicious attack of gout yet, basically bedridden for six weeks, and in need of the company of fellow poets. You can read through the post for some other thoughts but the short version is that it was the most important reading of my poetic career at that point.

Flash forward to the here and now– I am happily engaged to be married and preparing to leave the city that has been the only home I have ever known. Scary? A lil bit but the reward on the other side of the continent far outweighs any trepidation I may have to change. But that did not stop us from over-hyping the event as my last NYC reading ever (“the reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated” thank ya much Twain) it is quite possible the final curtain call for me in that I am not as interested in the stage as I was a year ago. And this, dear friends, is a good thing. More and more my focus is shifting to a well edited, carefully crafted poem that just plain works as opposed to a poem that works both on stage & on the page. The lines have blurred and my ego has shifted to a new place and this feature helped celebrate that change.

Mind you, I still thought I could pull an ob.special and bust out at least a trio of fresh out of the oven new hotness for the feature. Between a trip to Boston to be with bella, an interview for a documentary, work, and spending time with friends, the ob.special was not meant to be. This led me to put together a feature based heavily on the August Cornelia Street feature that was lightly attended by familia Acentos but which produced THE seminal moment in my life. I also included three newer poems, a trio of covers and one poem that just needed to be read at Acentos *No, Maria, not that poem!*

For your perusal, here is the set list. A mix of work that speaks more to where my art is heading versus my previous sets that revolved around a central theme or used a particular poem as the axis for the other poems. Let me tell you, only in front of the people I call family can I rise to a new level of confidence in my work. Gracias, Acentos, all your love was deeply felt and well appreciated. Sheet, you almost made me cry… twice! Almost, but not quite. ;-)

Take care, y’all!


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
-Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata

• Pacific Lullaby

• Menagerie

• To The Poets Sleeping By My Window

• Carlos Varela’s Una Palabra

• The Hue of Ripened Fruit

• Soneta De Mi Musa

• Federico García Lorca’s The Gypsy and the Wind

• orange alert

• a hex on past muses

• a hex on the man who stole my leather jacket

• Barbara Jane Reyes’s [state of emergency]

• The Poet is like a Guerrilla (after José Maria Sison’s The guerrilla is like a poet)

• Viewing the World from the Back of a Turtle

• About B-Boys in the Boogie Down

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1 Comment

  1. Hey Oscar,
    It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other, but I do remember you as a gracious host and there is definitely a reason you were able to create such a warm space. I wish I could’ve shared in your last moment, but it was best for me to be there in spirit. I recently found out that someone from my youth died of an overdose and it’s placed me in a sort of dazed funk…like, hmmm, why are we all doin’ this? I can honestly say that when I was in your space, I felt like people were enjoying exploring that question both seriously and joyfully. Good luck to you, and thanks.

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