Surreal. That’s what it felt like last night as I featured for the first time at the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe. The iconic venue which was originally founded in 1973 in the living room of Miguel Algarin, found it’s permanent home at 236 East 3rd street in 1980. There, is where I was given the opportunity to put my words on display. To stand on the stage that has been the home of some of my favorite Nuyorican poets like Miguel Algarin, Miguel Piñero, Pedro Pietre, Piri Tómas, and Maria Esteves was a dream come true for me.
As I stepped on that stage, and felt the heat of the stage lights on my skin, I knew that I had to give it my all. There was no room for mistakes although, had I made any, I know the crowd would have been forgiving and supportive (as they always are). When I first arrived at the Nuyo I was extremely nervous. More nervous than when I featured at El Museo del Barrio. This night was so important to me and I didn’t want to fail. I had a glass of wine to calm my nerves and when I got in front of the mic the nervouseness seemed to fade away. “I got this”, I said to myself and once I started there was nothing that could hold me back.
I felt the spirit of all the great poets enter my body. I felt the spirits of my ancestors surrounding me, supporting me, encouraging me. I saw the faces of my sister, my parents, my brother in law, and my aunt all cheering me on even though they were miles away on a cruise. I saw the looks of pride and admiration in the eyes of my family and friends that were physically there to experience this special moment with me.
As I began my first poem I felt unstoppable. Every line and word was delivered with the same love and passion that was present when I first wrote them. To be able to share my gift and receive praise and appreciation for it is a really humbling feeling. It is a reminder that I have been blessed by God and the Universe. It is acknowledgment that people enjoy hearing what I have to say. It is confirmation that my words have a home in this artform that I love.
Last night, for me, in a word, was amazing. I am humbled. I am grateful. Thank you Raul K. Rios and LatinosNYC for the platform, thank you my creative sister Maria Rodriguez for the opportunity, thank you to the beautiful women I shared the night with, and thank you to all who came out and showed their support to this word warrior♥ . ~Nancy