It was the Fall/Winter of 2010 when I first walked into what was then known as Notice Lounge in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My friend Maria “Mescribidora” Rodriguez invited me to attend an open mic and as a writer her invitation piqued my interest. I stepped into the venue not really knowing what to expect and definitely not prepared to sign up for the open mic. I sat back, my attention at 100%, and listened to the poets spit their words. What I loved about the vibe of Capicu was the encouragement and support that they gave all poets who took the stage. Whether you were a newbie or a seasoned performer everyone got the same respect. I dug that and that was what made me go back the following month. This time I was prepared with a poem. I wasn’t sure if I would sign up for the open mic, but I had the poem just in case.
The always charismatic and funny host, Papo Swiggity Santiago, made his way around the room with the list. When he got to Maria and I she put her name on the list without reservation. Unlike Maria, I wasn’t as confident. I had never shared my work publicly before and to be honest I was terrified and nervous. A part of me was really self-conscious. “What if they don’t like me?”, I thought. “What if I’m so nervous that I won’t be able to get the words out properly?” So many thoughts of not being good enough raced through my head. Another part of me however, was thinking “What’s the worst that can happen? What do I have to lose?” Ultimately I ended up putting my name on the list and read a piece about the death of my cousin.
Fast forward 3 years. It is now the 2013/2014 Winter season and I have been asked to be the January 2014 feature at Capicu. I was beyond stoked. I was elated and honored. To be asked to feature anywhere is an honor, but to be asked to feature at the very same place where my spoken word journey began had me feeling overjoyed.
Capicu, for me, has always felt like home. The Capicu community is family. They embrace every and anybody. Poet Jani Rose summed it up best when she said,
“We enjoy new energy and brilliant stories. It’s a close knit group, that always makes room for one more.”
A more welcoming poetry open mic series you won’t find and last night as I stepped onto that stage to perform the pieces from my book I felt like I was in my abuela’s living room with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
The energy was amazing. The crowd was so full of love and so supportive and usually I’m a basket of nerves before a performance, but last night I felt an overwhelming peace come over me as I stepped to the mic. I really could not have asked for a better turn out. To everyone who came and left pieces of themselves on the stage thank you for sharing your words. You all rocked! To all who purchased books, thank you from the bottom of heart. Your support means EVERYTHING to me. To those who shared kind words with me and took pics, and congratulated me, thank you. Last, but definitely not least to George “Urban Jibaro” Torres, Papo Swiggity Santiago, La Boricua Goddess, Jason Tennant and the EvilOlive staff I extend my sincerest thanks. You all made last night truly memorable for me. I will be forever grateful for this experience.
I will end this with the same quote that I ended my performance last night.
The first step – especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, – to controlling your world, is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art. -Chuck Palahniuk