NOTE: I am permanently tired. Figure it's going to last until India's at least one years old. There's just no getting around it.
Tuesday at Acentos was amazing. I mean really. It's been ages since I've done a full-on 30-minute feature, much less here in NY. Nowadays, many more people know me as a host than a poet. Even Oscar had never heard me read more than a single poem at a time! The space, the Blue Ox Bar, is this cozy little spot in the South Bronx that gets packed with 50 people, and Oscar and Fish filled it, tireless promoters that they are. I was strangely calm before I went on, distracting myself with the rare ability to socialize as opposed to working the room like I do on Mondays. A couple of pints of Guiness helped. That I'd only gotten three hours sleep the night before was a factor, too, I'm sure.
I started off with a couple of thank you's and props to Oscar for what he's accomplished, then read Credentials, the poem about my name. I started with that one specifically because it addresses WHO I am and was also my of apologizing for not speaking Spanish. I really need to get over that because I'm the only one that gives me shit about it. I followed with Running Bases and Prodigal Son, paying subtle homage to my featuring in the Bronx for the first time and then, Bosco, Bilingual and Belated Regrets for my grandmother. Took a minute to present Oscar with the journal I'd done up to commemorate the night, complete with an excerpt from a Jimmy Santiago Baca poem and best wishes from the audience that had gathered. Then, I flipped the love and read Happy Endings, the piece about a certain battle that led to my being banned from a certain venue a few years back. Closest thing I have to humor in my repertoire! Next was the new piece, Mozer, Bethea and I and it felt like it went over really well. There's that moment when you can tell you've made some people think beyond what they know and it felt like that with this one. Definitely my new favorite piece. Finally, I closed with Breathless, the only poem I still have memorized!
I was pretty relaxed throughout, though I caught myself rocking on the barstool I was sitting on a whole lot early on. Nervous energy finds its way out somehow. I used it mainly because I was so tired but also because of what Willie Perdomo said at louderEDGE a couple of months ago, about letting his words speak for themselves without distracting the audience with a performance. "Like Miles Davis used to sit with his back to the audience." I liked how it felt and think it went over okay.
During the break, I sold some of the new chapbook, something I always hate doing. It's always been such an awkward thing for me. I can promote the hell out of other people's things but I'm still not good at it for myself.
One of the best things about the night was reading to a largely latino audience and feeling like I belonged there. I've got permanent issues about not speaking spanish but it was nothing but love at the show. Listening to the open mic, hearing the latino/nuyorican experience expressed in so many different ways made me more comfortable with myself but also made me vow to get better connected to that part of me. Have to stop blaming it on not being raised around it and just find it within myself and embrace it. Acentos will be a big part of that for me as I plan to be there every 2nd & 4th Tuesday!