Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Last night's show at Bar 13 was in a mild understatement a good one. The upperCASE feature is supposed to showcase the work of a few of the folks who have distinguished themselves in the open mic over the past months. They're selected and offered the opportunity to work with other poets in the Project to help hone their work if they want and get a chance at a coming out party as it were. For many of the past upperCASE features, this feature is their first feature and so it is a time of much teeth-gnashing; but with a freshness that is beautiful to be a part of, whether you know the artists personally or you just wondered into the audience on a Monday night. Last night, Eliel Lucero and Vandana were just that.

Eliel worked assiduously to edit his poems and polish his performance in the weeks leading up to his feature and the effort showed. His work continues to grow and grow and perhaps even more than that growth is the energy his enthusiasm for the work gives to others (or at least to me).

Vandana did for me what one always hopes an artists can do; defy and exceed your expectations. I thought i knew what Vandana's work would sound like; until she opened with a first chapter from a novel she is working on and proceeded to follow that up with a series of pieces; only one of which i think i've ever heard before (maybe 2). Not just good work, but bold work; unafraid to take risks and look inside the raw, sensitive places.

The third feature was a not so fresh faced upperCASE, Abena Koomson. Abena had already had features in other locales by the time she got to us and she was a member of this year's LouderARTS National Slam Team so she was getting an upperCASE feature that wasn't so newbie in its theming (does that even work as a sentence construction?). Abena though, mixed the old work with the new, the performance staples with the stuff she keeps hidden deep in the chapbook, and together with showing off and dropping on us her incredible vocalist talents (and this is no off the cuff hyperbole - i mean incredible), including a reggae, a cappella rendition of a hymn that was stellar to my mind, Abena rounded off the night superbly. A large crowd began the night and though an incredibly long open-mic, meant that it dwindled somewhat, at least 50 were left to witness Abena's gorgeous set.


I'm still working on memorizing stuff for my show on the 11th. I'm really excited about the show and nervous as all hell. Much of this work is untested in the performance realm, so i don't have the comfort of an evolution of performances of the work upon which to build (except for one or two of the pieces). Still, i'm confident of the writing in it and that's what's holding it together for me. As long as i can be completely absorbed in getting a lot of the work committed to memory this week and getting comfortable with it, i'll be alright but i'll have to be a little bit of an asshole and have a little tunnel vision to get it right - so be it.

i suspect i won't have reviews of any brand new poetry books for about a week or so. bear with me. there's much to do. i'll get back to that real soon.


Post a Comment

<< Home