Hats off to Rich Villar for a very special series he has in the South Bronx. As I mentioned to those in attendence, I was especially moved by the Open Mic and its very supportive atmosphere. It's one of the areas we're still working to improve at PALABRA PURA in Chicago. The performance space at the Buckner Bar & Grill couldn't be better---great sound system, great lighting.
One of the highlights of the evening was getting to meet, afterwards, Aracelis Girmay and John Murillo. Aracelis' first book, TEETH, is coming out with Curbstone in June and I'd like to get her to Chicago in 2008 for PALABRA PURA. John read a great poem at the Open Mic, and introduced me to his mother afterwards. John's a Cave Canem Fellow and I shared with him news of an initiative that's in the works between the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and the Cave Canem Prize--something I'll talk about more on this weblog at some point. It was also inspiring to meet Jaime El Maestro, a local poet and poetry supporter who comes to all the Acentos readings, and who has started a series of his own in Manhattan in El Barrio. And finally, it was great seeing fellow Macondista and poet Renato Rosaldo. Renato and I had a great visit while riding the subway back down to Union Square.
Aside from my reading, other highlights were breaking bread with poet Diana Marie Delgado on Monday for lunch up near 125th, dinner with Fence Editor and Momotombo Press designer Charles Valle on Monday night at a great Thai place in the Village, and lunch with Charles Bernstein on the Upper West Side on Tuesday. He's been out to Notre Dame a couple of times in the last few years and he's been very supportive of Letras Latinas. I arranged to meet him to seek his advice on things to do with the web and online publishing as I continue to lay the groundwork for Latino Poetry Review.
Finally, I was able to navigate my way up to 138th and 3rd Avenue and was sorry that Steven Cordova wasn't able to join me on this trek. But I think I'd be able to find my way up to Acentos on my own and will make it point to attend again when I can.