Who I am

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Brooklyn, New York, United States
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I am a spoken word performer who strongly believes in the importance of deriving meaning from experience, knowledge of self, and understanding of others beliefs and cultures. My poetry is an honest pathway into my mind. I am always seeking to learn something new from someone, from somewhere and have an extremely open mind. So teach me something, perhaps I’ll write about.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nuyorican National Slam Team 09

August 3rd 2009, I boarded a delta airlines flight to West Palm Beach Florida. I was accompanied by 7 incredible individuals in their own right. Together we composed the Nuyorican Poetry Slam team 2009.

They are as follows:

Coach: Mahogany L Browne
Co-Coach: Adam Faulkner
Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion: Ion
Poet & Author: Eboni
Poet & Author: Falu
Poet & Author: Jive Poetic
Poet: Rich Story

I had recently acquainted myself with them over the course of approximately 7 Sundays in June and July. The impact that these people had been making on my life was subtle. It never became more apparent than at the culmination of the National Poetry Slam on the Final Stage. We will get to that soon.

I made the Nuyorican National Slam team.
A week later we met in the attic of the legendary Nuyorican Poets cafĂ©. Dust particles swirling the air. Mahogany Browne sat at the head of the circle. This woman looked like Fairy and Brooklyn. I knew she was some kind of magic that only bed stuy-stoops could explain. I just didn’t know the extent of it.

We sat in Chairs formed in a circle as if some ritual was about to be performed. Mahogany began. She explained to us the importance of upholding a name, a tradition, a legacy that we now had earned the right to carry. Expectations were discussed like privileges. Contracts signed. I was proud.

Sunday after Sunday we practiced. I doubted my abilities some days when my words stumbled on each other like bricks refusing to be layered. I’ve always been the shy and proud type. I never wanted to quit. I needed to prove to myself I was worth this slot on the team. That me winning the slam that night was not a fluke.

Anyone who knows me knows I am the most critical of myself on every level. I worry about everything 10 times over. Question my abilities as a poet, mother, friend, daughter, case manager. I’m still working on it. One of my biggest fears was failing, on this team. Being that girl, the one that sucked, the one who couldn’t memorize shit and couldn’t write worth a damn.

I went through phases. I hated my poems. My team made me love them. My Coach made me re-write them. She told me to stop being hydraulic. I moved too much. Co-coach told me “Have you heard yourself spit lately? Recommended I listened to my intonations. The way my words would rise and fall. Ensure that my audience didn’t check out. We snapped through each others poems even @ practice. You know it’s magical when you can hear your team mates work 100 times over and it will still makes you go “damn”. These were my team mates. They were the pixie dust in the attic. I attended practice with my mouth shut a lot of the time but my ears open wide. I wanted to learn everything, everyone had to offer.

Philidelphia: Our first scrimmage out of New York. Coach says: I like that you are the quiet one. I was still too shy to be anything else. Afraid of my own opinions. My team mates made me feel like I was learning how to walk again. They held my hand through every forgotten line, every un-choreographed slip up. We played Taboo like a family of orphans. Bonding through words and lack of words, laughed at the strategies people used to play the game. From Mahogany’s sudden epiphany whenever she pulled a new word card “Ohhhhhhhhhh!” to Ion confusing the game with Karaoke and Dance Dance revolution “_______ like my daaaaddy”. We also can’t forget Eboni’s drunken Spanish lessons “Casa de muebles” (House of Sofa’s?) and Falu’s superb buzzing skills whenever Rich used EVERY word on EVERY card he wasn’t supposed to say. Oh yeah, and as for my self. I passed on like 7 cards in one round, but who’s counting?

Boston: A night of firsts

It was my first time meeting the wonders that are the Lizard Lounge Team.
The first time we discovered Falu’s poem “10 things I want to say to a black man” was 3:36 seconds long. The first time I made a dramatic pause on the LAST line of my poem because I completely forgot how it ended.
The first time Falu was informed that she had magnets for toes. The first time the audience was mad @ the judges for scoring my poem a 9.2.
The first time my good friend Jaisyn came out to support my poetry.
The first time Mahogany fell asleep on my lap in the car because there was no where else to sleep.
The first time Ion drove us back to New York.
The first time I began to realize. This is really real. We are off to nationals in one week and I am part of the Nuyorican National Slam team 2009.

August 3rd 2009, I boarded a delta airlines flight to West Palm Beach Florida. I was accompanied by 7 incredible individuals in their own right. Together we composed the Nuyorican Poetry Slam team 2009.

Marriot Hotel.
Beautiful view.
2 very small rooms.
4 girls. 4 boys.
Time constraints.
Pigeon showers.
Poetry. Poetry. Poetry.
Sex in Jacuzzis.
Sex on balconys.
Mindless flirting.
Mindful flirting.
Meeting other phenomenal poets.
Too many to name. You know who you are.
Watching the teams bring out their best poems.
Un finished wine bottles.
1st prelim bout. Asshole Judge. We took 1st anyway.
2nd prelim bout. We took 1st again.
Semi-Finals- “You lie.” We took 1st again.
Final Stage- (Insert frantic ramble here) 10!
It was endearing and frustrating all the same Eboni.
End result: Nuyorican Takes 4th place in the nation.
After party: Watching Jon Sands sing “I’m on a boat motha fucka”!

I have grown so much as a result of this trip. Listening to bad poetry. Soaking in great poetry. PoetCD showcase the best showcase of the whole trip. Watching Eboni’s heart break when she found out it was indeed not Damien Marley performing in the park.
Listening to Rich Story say “whateva” 50 million times while simultaneously reminding me that we were in this together. Rookies Unite!
Not listening to Ion for the majority of the trip.
Learning that intensity does not mean yelling.
Making sure Eboni was not randomly fondled by anyone who was not already on our team.
Laughing uncontrollably @ 3 am in the morning in the hotel room at something only I find hilarious.
& so many other things I will need to write about in my next blog “Things I learned @ Nationals.”

I love my whole team. This was incredible for me. I can’t take it back. I wouldn’t.
On to the sappy dedications.

Mahogany L Browne:
What the fuck can I say? You are genius. Strong, beautiful possessing a will power and tenacity unmatched, you are an inspiration to strangers, friends, lovers, poets. I have learned so much about you, from you. I could name them all I’d be here all day. #1 lesson being, you don’t take any bullshit. Go hard or go home. We went hard. Thank you for believing in me. For making me do shit I didn’t want to because you knew it was for the better of the team. I hope I made you the tiniest bit proud. You are an incredible coach, and a new friend indeed.

Adam Faulkner:
Damn you for making me cry AGAIN at the after party. Your patience with the team is admirable. You worked so hard along with us and we did it. Final Stage 09. Thank you for being there @ every practice, for reassuring us every chance you had that we had this. There are not enough Thank You’s to place in your straw hat. You are a genuine spirit. Thank you for allowing me the chance to know you.

Jive “I cant have my back to the door” Poetic:
Always the voice of reason. Unbiased. Fair and balanced. In Mahogany’s words “The one to hold it down when shit goes down” This is you. Your Spanish is phenomenal…please practice. LOL. I still stand by the fact that the woman was not flirting with me; she simply had a thing for eyes. Thank You for encouraging me to come down to Wednesday nights, to slam. Look @ me now son! I’m on a national team! Lol. Thank you sooo much.

. After all the alcohol, and fondling, bi sexual dancing, suicide bed leaps and random 10 minute disappearances…you are fucking awesome. Here’s what is beautiful about you. You fuck up on final stage and people STILL come up to you and tell you it was adorable.( Well, besides MO) This is a testament to how dope you are. You were drunk once, and you told me “you are an amazing addition to the poetry world” I almost cried. Almost because you were drunk, and you also told Falu she was your heart during one of your stupors lol. Thank you…thank you…thank you. <3

I love everything about you. The fact that you don’t have a poker face. Your emotions are painted on your face like stained glass windows. You don’t have a poker tongue either. Brooklyn Jumps from your pores. We were Walmart girls, horrifying the local Floridians with our “hood” accents. For making me wear the mariachi skirt with the red nuyo tee shirt. For teaching me that internal beauty needs to be shown on the outside too. So, “Bitch change!” For teaching me how to spar with the best of them. You are beautiful. Thank You.

My favorite nerd mime. Even though you couldn’t speak half the time cause your ass was too busy cheering for another team… I still luv ya. Your random jokes. The endearing awkwardness. The way you have the ability to nerdify any poem. You always made me smile. This is an ability few people have Ted Kord. =) I look forward to always knowing you.

My favorite passive aggressive Harlem boy. We are rookies. Under dogs. We did it. See how crazy that is?
Do not stop writing. All of this would have been for nothing if you do. Throughout it all we made final stage. You always told me I had it in me. Your winning spirit is a beautiful thing, don’t let it over power you. We did it! You always cheered me on. Supported me. I appreciate you for that. Thank you a million times over.

John & Louis:
I love you guys so much. Thank you for every phone conversation. For every honest opinion. For all your support. For every open mic we shared. Every show you guys came out and supported. I could not have done this without either of you. Point Blank.

To all the new friends I have met. Thank you for being you. I know I will continue learning from each and every one of you.

Wendy, Odalis Alex, Geo, Jesus, Jay Boogz, Helen, Valerie,Lizz,Maya,Benny, Chris Styles, Devon (Sin city), Cynthia, Lety, UNpredictable, Lakeya, Ka'mone, Beanpie, Shay, Shaun, GSPoetry and anyone else who has ever inspired me, come to one of my shows or belived in me. You mean the world to me.If I forgot you please forgive me.

Juni, Anna
My best friends in the whole wide world. I Love you more than anything. More than words can ever express. You have your own blog coming.

To my daughter:

Mommy missed your birthday, but your mommy made it to final stage for you. Mommy did your poem in front of a lot of people and I know you don’t understand how much that means now, but I know some day you will. I love you sooooo much Kalie. You are my favorite poem.

Thank you to anyone who has ever read my work. You are loved.