This past weekend, I went to pay a visit to our friends at Capicu Poetry & Cultural Showcase. They describe the group as “a grassroots house of poetry and performing arts.” I’ve been a fan of the page for over a year and decided to take a trip to Brooklyn, NY and see what our fellow Latinos are doing.
This month’s event wasn’t just an open mic performance, this was a benefit for Head Start students. It’s a yearly event and the group consistently reaches their goal of purchasing and donating presents for all the children at the school. Capicu is the brainchild of George “Urban Jibaro” Torres and Papo “Swiggity” Santiago; together they’ve brought some of NYC’s best spoken word artists to the stage as well as allow amateurs a shot at the microphone.
Spoken word poetry performances have a rich history especially in NYC, where the movement began in the 1990’s and shows no sign of ebbing. In the words of Don Miguel Algarin, of the Nuyorican Poets Café, “The philosophy and purpose… has always been to reveal poetry as a living art… Poetry is not finding its way, it has found its way, back into everyday life. It is not only meaningful, it is also fun… It’s not a floating head above a lectern. It’s about getting people excited, about what you say and how you say it. The word is so good, it reminds you that no matter how bizarre life gets, you need poetry.”
I’ve been to spoken word performances before, but this one was more like a party. As I greeted old friends and met others for the first time, I felt like I was laughing and hugging from the minute I entered the door. While the DJ filled the room with music, I filled my belly with arroz con gandules and pernil. My friend and I scored some seats and settled in for an entertaining night.
This was no “coffee shop” performance with people snapping their fingers and listening to acoustic guitars. Here people were mouthing comments, like “Asi es.” First time performers were greeted as warmly as those who have shared their poetry before. There were no egos in evidence, only a willingness to listen and encourage each other. Some performers were touching, some humorous and others made us gasp. There were two life long friends, sharing how they felt about each other. One young lady spoke about her cousin’s chaotic youth. Each person had their three minutes at the microphone
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