I learned of spoken word group El Grito des Poetas after watching two of the seven members perform on three separate occasions. Talented poets spin words into journeys. Good actors suspend disbelief. Chance and Simply Rob lean back into memories, rock forward into personas, and speak with a momentum only a life lived, staggered, survived, and conquered can carry. They carried the audience with them every time. I had to see where the rest of the group would take me.
I attended the group's 5th Anniversary performance at Nuyorican Cafe, where El Grito and a number of the guest artists that accompanied them that night had made their first public appearances. La Bruja, the MC who also began her career there, introduced the collection of "wordsmiths, teachers, activists, and artists" with a haiku that seemed to sum up the collective feeling of unanticipated arrival with room to grow still: "I have written a letter to the man my son will one day become," she said. The poetry, live music, art, and skits were too much too much to consume, retain, and regurgitate into one blog post. All I can say is you need to see the group in person to appreciate what they have to offer. 12 year-old spoken word artist Nene Ali is also a site to see.
I did, however, recall a few quotes from some of the guest performers. The greater context of the entire pieces/songs are missing, but work with it:
Isrealite: "Can I... make my... dreams... your reality."
The Marxman: "So laid back that I lie down."
James Kennedy: "I'd put my money on cancer, but there's more money in hiding the answer."
Emmanuel Xavier: "Where were you when my oldest cousin was fucking me up the ass when I was three?... Real men never cry and Mommy says fagots deserve to die."
Nene Ali: "If words are instruments then I am the female version of John Philip Sousa... I want to take you to a place in the middle of my brain." "Racism's first cousin is class structure... We were duped into believing that race isn't about class. A class that most blacks can't pass."