Friday, May 7, 2010


After leaving Juilliard, where my first year students put up Pecong, set in the Caribbean. It is a beautiful monster of a play, one that left me with thoughts, heavy on my brain, as heavy as my desire for a strawberry margarita at CPK, where I went afterward, to unpack the tickles and disturbances that emerge from the witnessing. I mused on infanticide and the power dynamic between women and men--especially in the Caribbean.

But I didn't have too much time to muse. I myself was supposed to be performing at a center in the Bronx that support the drug addicted. My buddy Jon teaches a poetry workshop t here once a week and it was to be his first one. He asked me to come in as a guest poet. And when I arrive there, and enter the room, Jon is speaking Spanish to the participants and looks at me sheepishly. It turned out half of the group did not speak English!

Sorry for the curve ball, Jon said. I shrugged. I didn't mind. I was up for the challenge, an inevitable learning experience.

Performing my poems for a crowd not of my tongue was perhaps as vulnerable and as freeing as doing poems to an entire train car. To know straight off that I will not be understood by half my audience was freeing in a that's life kind of way. The circumstances forced me to ponder the idea of being not understood yet comprehended. I have to believe that something translates--every song does. My poems are songs. I know this now more than ever, especially after working long hours on my next CD.

I did three poems. I felt myself naturally working more with my hands, to let the poem speak through my body as well. Some listened with wide eyed appreciation. Others looked down in their laps. One woman shrugged afterwards, as if to say, I don't know what to say because I don't know what you said. While the man on the other side never let the smile leave his face. I appreciated the experience, and will take from it as much as I possibly can.

All I can do sometimes is thank the skies for the places its powers put me in.

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