Latinos Doing Their Thing…
Spoken word poetry, like Salsa music, is a New York City creation. From the sancocho pot that is NYC came the trailblazers; artists like Gil Scott-Heron and Felipe Luciano opened the imaginations of kids sitting at home with a pencil and a piece of paper.
One of those kids that heeded the call to words, so to speak, is Advocate of Wordz. Wordz, as he is affectionately known, is a multi-talented man. He is a founding member of El Grito de Poetas, a featured artist at Nuyorican Poets Café, and the star of several of Being Latino’s videos.
Being Latino proudly presents Advocate of Wordz, in his own words.
How did you get your start as a spoken word artist?
I attended a Friday night SLAM at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I thought they were awesome and while being in the audience (and never having written a decent poem at that time) I thought, “I can do this!” My everyday language was filled with metaphors and imagery. I had always gravitated towards those whose speech was eloquent. I was in love with language and spoken word became a hobby that transformed into more.
What inspires your poetry? Do you have a muse?
I’ve always taken to finding out what goes on behind the curtain. I don’t believe in magic, so I fervently needed to know how the trick worked. That is what inspires me most. Getting to the root and truth of things. Going down the “rabbit hole”. I learned to question everything. I am so driven by it that saving it for personal conversations or online discussions isn’t enough. I HAVE TO write about it. Fortunately for my own sanity, I am also afforded opportunities to speak about it on stage to hundreds and thousands of people.
Do you have a favorite venue for your performances?
Obviously the Nuyorican Poets Cafe has a special place in my heart. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say performing at Lincoln Center has been a great thrill. Over 2 dozen times I have performed there and when my one man show is done I hope to have it become a running series there.
Do you choreograph your own performances?
An enormous majority of the time. A few times I have been fortunate to have an awesome director assist me (like Andres “Chulisi” Rodriguez). But even when I do, choreograph a piece by myself, I always take into account the lessons I’ve learned from directors. I’m also like a professional football player in the sense that I review my performances that are filmed. I take notes of what worked and what didn’t work. Just because it felt good on stage, it doesn’t always mean it actually was good.
How do you pay it forward?
Well, I’m a thousandaire so I don’t have much money to give back (even though at times I have). I give back with a lot of my time. I’ve hosted workshops for free, I’ve performed at fundraisers, I’ve used my network to spread the word about some philanthropist movements, I’ve done many of the “Walks” for a cause, etc. For the sake of not turning this into a novela I will give you a few examples. I’ve donated my time and performed at homeless shelters, nursing homes, and recovery centers. I’ve written up and/or edited grants that specific organizations I support were sending out. I try to use my skills to help those who are active and more knowledgeable in other fields. Many times, the skills I have fill a niche that their money cannot afford, at the time.
What do you like most about being Latino?
The diversity. Although we do not live in a Post-Racial world (even though this beautiful country of ours likes to believe we do) I personally have a post-racial perspective. If we research our history, Latinos have EVERYONE’s blood in them. Even mongoloid (present day Asia). Obviously, I love the food and music from our culture, but it is the diversity of our people that I adore the most. We’re as pale as British Colonist and as dark as Wesley Snipes. Our eyes and hair come in all shapes, sizes and textures. Our creed and political spectrum is so vast. To me, Being Latino is being HUMAN. We’ve got everyone in us.