Somebody Blew Up Bar13

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.

Acentos with Martín Espada

Acentos with Martín Espada
Originally uploaded by oscarb.

Time to process everything that went down last night.

The positives easily overweighed the negatives, by a landslide.
Yes, I had a bad day at work but I left that at the office.
Yes, there was rain but it actually chilled for a minute.
Yes, there was a drunken rabble rouser but he was actually digging the poetry.
Yes, it was hella loud & packed in the Bruckner but we survived.

I think that might be it. Otherwise, an insane night of poetry that left everybody (including ye olde cynic) stunned.

The Open Mic was A game ready and loaded with folks that have been supporting us and what we do. In no particular order: Kyra Wolfe, Kamila Aisha Moon, Rachel Griffiths, Raul Maldonado, Chris Brandt, Ed Garcia, Roger Bonair-Agard, Eliel Lucero, Jessica Torres, Rich Villar, Marty McConnell, Jai Chakrabarti, Lynne Procope, Lovella Rose, Matthew Charles Siegel, Maria Nieves, Christopher White, Liz Nieves, Jorge Monterossa, Carlos Andrés Gómez , Mara Jebsen, Oscar Bermeo, Dawn Saylor, C R Avery and Sandra Maria Estevez

This lineup looks All-Star in mad mad ways. The carpet micers did not come out in force and I was kinda expectin that anyway cuz they are more apt to show up for names that have high media value versus high literary value.

I started out the evening nervous. Nothing new there. By the third open micer, I was good to go. 25 people got on the Open in 75 minutes. Not too shabby. Shows how cool our folks are and there respect for the mic.

NEW SHIT! Yeah, people brought some and the crowd ate it up. Highlight: Jai with the new ‘sestina’ shit. Werd.

The feature. Damn, y’all. Martín is a pro. Punto. He went up there and rocked out. Part history lesson, motivational speech, rallying cry and all poesia, he was ON and the crowd looked on him with the proper rock star status he deserves.

The after jam was craziness cuz I finally was able to sit and talk with Martín. It is no big secret that the man has consistently left me awestruck and flabbergasted. I have met a lot of names over the last four years and have hung tough with most but Martín was always the enigma but last night we talked and laughed and the walls came crashing down.

“You know it’s cuz of your poem that I met my girl friend, right?” That was the level that we brought it to, where I could be straight up fan boy and still be cool. Then my whole world was changed with some words that Martín dropped my way. (Hate to pull the nebulous curtain but that stuff stays with me for now and, maybe, for always)

A little trip downtown and then we were in full jackass mode. I was acting quite the fool aka par for the course. Over some good eats I get a call from Bella and then I put her on the phone with Martín which was all kinds of funny as he was dropping the “hot choe.coh.latte voice” Hysterical!

Let me say this, I am exhausted. Beat. Done. Out for the count. But ready to raise the bar just a little higher.

Who’s next?!?!