May 9, 2010

Listen to the Silence, April 25

This was an open mic in memory of Jorge Lopez Steven Mercado, a trans-gender person murdered in Puerto Rico last year. We were at the Social Justice Center, which was one of the co-sponsors, along with the Poetry Motel Foundation & In Our Own Voices (a student group at the University at Albany). Tiffany, a student at U Albany, & an intern at the SJC, was host & the key organizer. While no one here personally knew Jorge, Tiffany was inspired to hold the event to draw attention to the sometimes life-threatening issues confronting trans-gender folks as well as anyone struggling with their identity in societies that often dictate what "acceptable" identities are.

Victorio, the manager of the SJC, started us off with a poem in Spanish to & about his father. By then a number of people had gathered for the reading, but not many had signed up to read. I claimed to represent straight, old, white guys, said that "liberation movements" were liberation for all, & oppression of anyone is oppression of everyone; my poems were "Communion of Saints" & "The Wall." Bless followed with his wonderful, affirming poem talking about there is "more to life than this…"
  Tiffany's moving poem was a thoughtful meditation on "Silence," which can often be deadly.

Victorio suggested we go for a second round (as a few others had arrived) & urged me to step up next, so I read "My Sather Gate Illumination." Victorio's poem "Cocco Butter & Pancakes" was a tender mix of family images. Bless performed a poem on ignorance & hate, right on the topic. Jackie ended it with a political poem based on her experience in Ecuador (& reading John Perkins' book), "Ode to the Economic Hit Men."

Poetry & the Spoken Word have historically been used for raising consciousness & bringing oppression out of the shadows & into the light. I was glad to see young students stepping up to organize this event, to keep the fight going, & pleased to be asked to be a part of it.

1 comment:

Jeremy Ward said...

Dan - I was at the event and very much enjoyed your readings. I have a friend who is very interested in the Walt Whitman reading and I am having a heck of time finding informaiton on it. Can you send me info on it -

Thank you,
Jeremy Ward