This post is extremely delayed but my experience at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe was so awesome! Since I could not attend a reading because of class and work, Nuyorican was the best alternative. I’ve been to this cafe three times and every time I go it is always a new experience, nothing is ever the same. On April 19th my friend and I made the journey to the Lower East Side on a rainy and oddly humid night to see the Friday Night Poetry Slam. We somehow ended up like an hour late only to discover upon arrival that it still had not started (breath of relief)! However when we got in it was so packed; we had to squeeze ourselves in the somewhat front row to look between the heads and shoulders of everyone in front of us. In the cafe seats are set up, people sit on the floor, there’s a balcony upstairs, and then there’s standing room. We of course started our night standing but ended up getting seats when people leave at the halfway point. The host was literally a clown, he had the whole venue cracking up before the slam began and between poets. After his opening to loosen up the crowd, the first poet took the stage.
The way the slam works is you have five poets competing in a audience-judged competition. The judges are chosen at random before the slam begins and they are given a white board to score the poets on a scale of one to ten. Then the rest of the audience puts in their input with cheers or boos for the specific scores. It’s an awesome experience in that you are not only watching, but you also take active participation in the slam. All of the poets were amazing but my favorite was this guy who just put his soul in his poems. I felt like he was speaking directly to me and loved him! He spoke about the difficulties in love, falling out of love with someone, and then his final poem was for his mother who had cancer. With the last poem I was almost on the verge of tears and every single person held on to each word that escaped his mouth. Another poem that stood out was a poem directed to this poets grandfather for molesting her mother; it was just so spellbinding. This young poet was amazing; her tone, the way the words branched from one another, her body movements, and the way she captured the audience was amazing. In addition, I love the ambiance pertaining to giving all poets praise and that the scores are just a material concept. Their voice reigns above everything.
I keep returning to Nuyorican because I know I will hear that something that will make me think, make me question, make my mouth drop, make me appreciate, and so much more. A connection is established with everyone in the cafe and it is just such a unique experience. To top everything off; there’s music, the usual battle of the boroughs (where Brooklyn somehow always wins), and dancing. It was a return to Nuyorican and will not be my last.