Just Read the Damn Poem (A Performance Piece)

Just Read the Damn Poem

(A Performance Piece)

What, I think…as I practice each day

SHOULD be more important…

the verbalization of my message

…so that it will be clearly heard

when doing spoken word…

or the way…that I visually perform

there are some who believe that it is

far easier to understand what the poet said

when he or she heeded the unofficial

hell…even the blind oracle can see

that in the end…the only damn thing

I’m not trying to win no Academy award

just wanna be recognized as a new age bard

so I refuse to allow gesticulations…to take

precedence over my metaphoric articulations

after all…I AM A POET…NOT AN ACTOR

and performance shouldn’t be the main factor

that I, a serious artist…will ultimately be judged on

pits and all…into the microphone

some may think my shit was weak…

lacking a certain punch…while others may

think dat shit was heavy and phat…

and I don’t mean the way you feel

a lot of intelligent thought goes into my poetry

and it shouldn’t get lost in some fucking

theatrical delivery… no I’m sorry …but

of that Def Poetry Jam bullshit…cuz,

I don’t want the audience or judges overlooking

heckler’s advice …and just read

that really matters is the POETRY

after I have spit my life…

after an all U can eat lunch

I’m not getting caught up in any

the vicious bite of my acerbic wit

giving it to them raw …without the performance grease

Yeah, yeah …I know when the scores

are all tallied up I might end up with the least

…all because I dared to read my piece…

now don’t get it twisted…I ain’t hating on the others

who bravely shared this stage…I’m just saying tho

…at my age…memory is one of the first things to go

so fuck it…if I don’t make the cut for the slam team

I’ll just move on to the next venue…

still following my dream, just hope that I left

some poetic thoughts in at least one person’s head

…who didn’t care if it was performed or read

so if I must…I’ll accept defeat

as long as I got you to think

and no matter what

I ain’t buying into the notion

that my shit stink…

but for those who still feel

dis was bullshit and it stank

…I ask you to do this…the next time you hear a poet speak or perform …

close your eyes and listen to the spoken word

picture the imagery that is meant to be heard

and if the poem strays too far from the norm

you might get lucky and hear the voice

of Steve Cannon…the unofficial heckler….shout out

and for that priceless piece of advice

“JUST READ DA DAMN POEM”

I feel that we all owe him.

A review of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon by Nancy Mercado

A review of
The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon
by Nancy Mercado

Penguin Books, 2014

Willie Perdomo’s latest collection of poems, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, published by Penguin includes four sections that interplay voices and characters, the language of music, street jargon, Spanish and English and Spanglish.

As a Nuyorican poet who emerged on the scene in the 1990’s, Perdomo is comfortable in meshing a variety of elements that may have no business being together but come out clean and intelligible in the end. His book is a fusion of street culture, life in the halls of learning, dual languages, dual homes or no home that resulted in a multifaceted life.

In the first section of his book: How I Came to My Name, the book’s main character, Shorty Bon Bon describes himself to the reader in the first person. In adjacent poems another character (perhaps a spirit) describes Shorty to Perdomo in past tense. The language used includes musical terms in both English and Spanish much of which is slang. In juxtaposing the communication between the characters, between the reader and the poet, in Perdomo’s particular use of language and in his creation of instantaneous mixtures of images, the complex and fast world of Shorty Bon Bon is made vivid.

A musician by trade, Shorty is also a slick street hustler. His hustle has found a home in his musicianship. Shorty learned his craft by listening to the masters not by attending school. He is so sure of his greatness, he is arrogant:

So cool

     That I chased God like he was on the run.

 […]

So cool

     That when Puente heard my speed, I made him bite his

     Tongue. I’m saying—I made the Mambo King bleed.        (12)

Rather than being distasteful however, Shorty’s arrogance is amusing. Besides, his greatness is validated by the spirit who addresses Perdomo.

In the second section; To Be with You, gone is the “spirit” character who communicates with Perdomo and introduced is Rose; a singer who is Shorty’s girl. Here, Rose’s tumultuous relationship to Shorty takes precedence. Their separate accounts of their struggling liaison and of one another, sustains the play of communication established in the first section. Rose addresses Shorty through a series of letters while Shorty addresses Perdomo directly. The language Perdomo uses is again a sofrito of English, Spanish, Spanglish, street talk and proper terminology e.g., the use of the word pubis.

The greatness of Rose as a singer is a metaphor for her amazing intellect, beauty and female power. Rose is a formidable challenge to Shorty. So much so that regardless of Shorty’s coolness she leaves him in the end.

The third section of the book; Fracture, Flow, sees Perdomo melding into Shorty. The communication here is between the poet and reader; the voice in the poem is the poet’s and that voice is Shorty Bon Bon’s. Set in Puerto Rico, in this group of poems, Shorty recounts life on the island vs life on the mainland, the treatment of Puerto Rico by the United States and the island’s political state. Through the use of metaphor, Perdomo refers to such historical events as Columbus’ treatment by the natives when he lands on the island, the dignity of Puerto Rican nationalists, the Ponce massacre, how the island and mainland are treated with the same brutality by those in power, the selling of the illusion of freedom.

The final segment of the book; The Birth of Shorty Bon Bon  45, realizes the death and rebirth of Shorty Bon Bon. Just like the poet himself, Shorty has died and is reborn anew. His transformation played out on a metaphoric 45 vinyl sides A and B.

Telling the story of one character throughout a book of poems is a risky proposition; a tool usually reserved for novelists and short story writers. But the persistence of a character among the sewn shards of language and colliding metaphors throughout Perdomo’s book, unifies the work and gives pause to the reader to ponder; is Shorty Bon Bon really Willie Perdomo?

The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is a must read for anyone seeking a poetically visceral experience of what it is to be an amalgamation of things which, in the end is truly American.

________________________________________________

Nancy Mercado is a writer, editor and activist whose work appears in dozens of anthologies and literary journals. Most recently, she presented her work at Casa de las Americas in Cuba. Mercado is an Assistant Editor for eco-poetry.org and an Associate Professor at Boricua College in New York City. She authored the collection of poetry titled: It Concerns the Madness. For more information go to: http://www.pw.org/content/nancy_mercado 

Tribes announces….. Tribes 2.0- Live from Steve’s couch

We are announcing Tribes 2.0: Live from Steve’s Couch —as a way to keep the old Tribes spirit alive  — and keep a flow of new energy into the 6th St space. So Gander TV put in a camera and mic in 6th St for us.

The working dynamic here is that since Steve left 3rd St and the open door, every night a performance policy there, there has not been the kind of flow-through energy that sustained him and Tribes for a couple of decades. This is an attempt to find a way to find some new Tribes energy, to enter the digital world, and to have some fun with art.

You don’t need to do anything different than what you always do here at Tribes, shoot the shit, heckle and read to the blind guy. The only thing that will be different is it’ll be taped for people to watch live! (And there will be future events which we are in process of developing)

We will be setting up times and dates for people who want to participate. If you’re interested please send us an email at gatheringofthetribes@gmail.com

Our friend & contributor Fred Sievert’s God Revealed!

Buy his book here: http://www.amazon.com/God-Revealed-Revisit-Enrich-Future/dp/1614486999?tag=tribesorg-20

About Fred:

Every life is a unique journey, and each of us travels through life accumulating experiences and memories that ultimately impact how we behave in every moment.
Like you, how I will interact tomorrow with my spouse, children, siblings, coworkers, friends, and even adversaries is impacted and altered by my unique accumulation of life experiences.
It’s both an incredible gift and an enormous responsibility to realize that among my unique personal experiences, at least some contained revelations and messages from God.
I’ve shared my experiences on this website to persuade you that God does in fact speak to us through our life experiences.
As you read about my journey, I hope it will inspire you to be on the alert for future messages from God and to ponder your own past for messages you may have initially missed.
I came to know God through my own contemplations, self-study, prayer, and revelation. That process has provided me with the foundation for a very strong faith and meaningful testimony.
I recognize the value of early childhood training and education in a particular faith, with an emphasis on the Holy Bible. But that was not how I found God.
Unlike many lifelong Christians, those of us who found our own way may have missed rich religious training in childhood. We tend to know what we believe and why we believe it and can often provide cogent and effective arguments for our theological positions. But we do lack the foundation of years of biblical studies and a familiarity with God’s Word with all its beautiful and well-articulated values and lessons.
The stories I share on this website do not dwell extensively on my own theological beliefs. They are not intended to be a prescription for finding your own place in the family of believers. Continue reading

Review of Breaking Ground: Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York 1980- 2012

Review of Breaking Ground: Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York 1980- 2012 (Abriendo caminos: antología de escritoras puertorriqueñas en Nueva York 1980- 2012) for A Gathering of the Tribes

By Adriana Scopino

Like the figure of the woman facing a blue web in the painting la on the cover, Breaking Ground: Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York 1980- 2012 (Abriendo caminos: Antología de escritoras puertorriqueñas en Nueva York 1980- 2012), the Puerto Rican woman poet in New York City is both her unique self and creative expression and part of the web of social, cultural and economic realities of the city in which she finds herself.  Recent anthologies of Puerto Rican writing and poetry such as Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings – An Anthology Paperback by Roberto Santiago, Puerto Rican Poetry: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times by Roberto Márquez, and two anthologies from the 1990s, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe by Miguel Algarín and Bob Holman and Puerto Rican Writers in the USA: An Anthology Paperback – May 1, 1991 edited by Faythe Turner, have included women writers or writers living in New York City, but none have set out to do what editor Myrna Nieves has done here. Each anthology is an artifact of a particular time and place. For Breaking Ground, Nieves assembled forty-six writers from twenty years of poetry readings at the Boricua College Winter Poetry Series to document a place and time in the evolution of Puerto Rican literature. Although the parameters of the anthology may seem narrow (the writings of Puerto Rican women poets and fiction writers who have lived in New York for at least ten years during the years 1980 to 2012), the results of the collection are panoramic: memoir, short fiction, spoken word, lyric, narrative poetry, erotica and use of both languages Spanish and English and powerful, unforgettable writing. Very well known writers such as Carmen Valle, Esmeralda Santiago (When I was Puerto Rican) and Sandra María Esteves, share these pages with writers not so well known to a wider American audience; well established writers next to up and coming writers. Continue reading

Steve Cannon’s poem in Live Mag! NYC

MAKE THE CUT

Listen to me
What it is
No goddamned excuses
Yawn, yawn, yawn
Ask for more
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Fuck that shit
I said, “No…”
Well, excuse me
Back and forth
Working out good
The blue shirt
Tell the truth
With open arms

http://livemagnyc.com/about.html

_________________________Steve Cannon