It started off shaky as the quintet of drunken, rowdy firemen did much to make you forget these guys risk their lives playing with fire. I know it's a stressful job and they need to blow off steam like anyone else but damn...try to rise above the stereotype! Thankfully, they cut out just before we got started and it was smooth sailing for the rest of the show. (A few of them did come back after the show was over, leaving M.C. Siegel and I in the surreal position of drinking at the bar with drunken firemen to our left and drunken policemen to our right. Every poet's dream!)
The open mic was tight, like a 38-year old grandmother squeezed into her granddaughter's spandex. No, wait...that's not a good thing. And the open mic most certainly was. A good thing, I mean.
I kicked things off with Adrian Castro's Pulling the Muse from the Drum:
It is youMaya Azucena went next and things flowed nicely from there. Eric came through and had me read his new-to-me piece with him, Security, quite possibly my new favorite of his.
It is me
A collection of feathered drums
red & white
We pulling the muse
from the drum
the muse that is we.
We squeezed all 16 poets into the open mic before taking a break and coming back for Fish's feature. His parents were in the audience, seeing him read for the first time and I can only imagine the pride they must have felt because he absolutely left it all on the stage. From Puerto Rico to the Bronx, raw to heartfelt, shouts to tears, he displayed a range that surpassed all of my expectations. It's cliché to talk about taking it to the next level but that's exactly what he did. With gusto!
It was the kind of night that leaves you hopeful and inspired and excited to be a part of something special. If you missed it, you missed it.