Tag Archives: Carlos Manuel Rivera

I’m Giving a Free Reading Tonight at KGB Bar

2 Nov

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I’m reading at KGB Bar tonight! I’m super excited. I’ve been to a few readings here before, and it’s got a killer atmosphere. Not only that, but check out the impressive lineup:

With Professors:

Wang Ping

Miguel Algarin

Nancy Mercado

Carlos Manuel Rivera

Julie Patton

Everton Sylvester

At 6:30pm Professor Cornelius Eady reads and perform with his Rough Magic band’s guitarist Charlie Rauh and Concetta Abbate on the violin

And poets reading with or without acoustic musicians:
Carl Hancock Rux
Jeff Wright
Brian Omni Dillon
Ronnie Norpel
Susan Yung
Kate Levin
Sarah Sarai
Stephanie Nikolopoulos
R! on verse acoustic guitar & harmonicas

Und singing in German und mit monologue:
Leigh Martha Klinger

I’m listed as a poet, and I do in fact write poetry, but I was planning on reading an excerpt from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” Specifically, I plan on reading about Kerouac’s Greek connection, his Lowell friend Sebastian Sampas.

The event starts at 6 and is free and open to the general public.

KGB Bar is on 85 East 4th Street (near 2nd Avenue)
New York, New York 10003

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

Photos from the 2013 New York City Poetry Festival

31 Jul

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I feel incredibly honored to have been invited to read at the 2013 New York City Poetry Festival. I had such a blast hearing so many great poets read at last year’s festival, and it never occurred to me that just a year later I would be joining them on stage. I have poet RA Araya to thank for continually supporting my writing. He invited me to read Homer in the ancient Homeric Greek and from the literary biography I’m coauthoring with Paul Maher Jr. entitled Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” so I read two road trip pieces.

For my Homer selection, I chose the opening passage from The Odyssey. Growing up in the Peloponnesus, my father had to memorize part of the epic poem in school. To this day, he still can recite the lines! I studied Classical Greek at Pomona College (while a student at Scripps), which is different than Homeric Greek. We never really read aloud in class because it’s a “dead” language, one that is no longer spoken but read by scholars. There are debates about how ancient Greek dialects were spoken, as the pronunciation is, according to some scholars, different than modern Greek. I am therefore definitely not adept at reading in the ancient tongue, but if someone asks me to read something specific, I do my best. Fortunately, there are many great English translations of The Odyssey out there too!

It was a no brainer to choose one of the passages about poetry from Burning Furiously Beautiful. In telling the story of the making of the novel On the Road, it was important that the literary biography also explored Kerouac’s poetry and his friendship with other poets. Although he is mainly remembered as a novelist, Kerouac wrote poetry throughout his life, including the period when he was on the road. There’s a really strong section in the book about how Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg influenced each other’s writing, and I wanted to read that, but in the end I found a passage in Burning Furiously Beautiful that seemed to better encapsulate the mood of the Poetry Festival. In the passage, Kerouac has been walking along the highway, hitchhiking, and finds himself composing a poem about everything he sees around him. It reminded me of how out on Governors Island we were all a bunch of writers lofting in the grass and translating the world around us into poetic language.

I read directly after RA, who opened up the event with his famously short-but-sweet poem, and then came Hillary Keel, Sarah Sarai, Carmen Bardeguez-Brown, Kate Levin, Carlos Manuel Rivera, Sparrow, Bonafide Rojas, and Keith Roach. They were amazing! Seriously. Hilary read in German and a couple of the other poets read in Spanish, and I suspect our reading—under the name Miguel Algarin’s Brooklyn Poetry—was the most linguistically diverse at the Festival. I had traveled over the Governors Island with Kate, and I think this was her best reading yet. In addition to poetry about Manhattan and our value as people, she read from her punk novel, which I would’ve thought was a poem if she hadn’t said otherwise. I always enjoy hearing Sarah read, and in particular enjoyed her poem about meeting an angel at a bus stop. The poet who had me in stitches, though, was Sparrow. I’d heard him sing at RA’s birthday party last year, and I loved hearing his one-liner poems this time around.

Special thanks too to our stage manager Liz von Klemperer, who did an excellent job. There were a lot of volunteers who kept the entire event running smoothly. The New York City Poetry Festival is put on by The Poetry Society of New York and is organized by Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski. For the full lineup of the two-day event, check out NYCPF 2013.

I also want to thank my family and friends who trekked out to the island—some coming from as far as Jersey and Brooklyn—to support my reading. The photos here were taken by Leslie Marks, except the last one which is a self portrait. For more photos of me and all the other amazing poets, check out asterix611’s flickr.

Miguel Algarin’s Birthday Reading

4 Oct

Poet RA Araya invited me to read at poet Miguel Algarin‘s birthday bash last month at Mama’s Bar in the East Village.  It was such an honor to read for someone who has influenced so many lives.

Miguel has been a major force of influence in poetry, creating space and awareness for ethnic literature and community.  He is a Shakespeare scholar and Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  He also co-founded the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in the 1970s, which is one of those sacred New York City literary scenes.

Here’s a section of Algarin’s bio from his website:

Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Algarin moved with his family to New York City in the early 1950’s where his love for the written word intensified by the artistic energy radiating from the City streets. Obtaining advance degrees in literature from the University of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania State University, Algarin developed a successful career pursuing his passion for literature. He served as a Professor Emeritus for more than 30 years of service to Rutgers University where he taught Shakespeare, Creative Writing, and United States Ethnic Literature.

The life and work of Algarin spans the universities and the streets, so much so that combining the two resulted in the development of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a New York City cultural haven within the Lower East Side famed for being creatively drenched with great artistic intensity. Being the founder of such an organization, Algarin’s mission was to create a multi-cultural venue that both nurtures artists and exhibits a variety of artistic works to both enlighten and empower the underclass, it is a mission that has remained true to this day.

When I first moved back to northern New Jersey, after attending college in California, I became friends with a group of people that included many first- and second-generation Puerto Rican Americans and Colombian Americans.  It was through one of them that I first heard about the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.  Nuyorican is an amalgamation of the words “Nueva York” (Spanish for “New York”) and “Puerto Rican,” and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe championed Spanish-language poets and spoken word.  At the time, I had never been to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, but together my friends and I founded a coffeehouse in suburban New Jersey, where we invited bands, poets, and visual artists to perform.  Most of the people involved were immigrants or children of immigrants–including myself.  As the child of an immigrant father, I have always gravitated toward other immigrants and children of immigrants.  That’s why even though I myself am not Nuyorican, I in many ways relate to the issues of identity and language raised through Nuyorican poetry.

That being the case, one of the highlights of Miguel Algarin’s birthday bash reading was hearing poet Joe Pacheco, whom I had just heard read “The Night Charlie Parker Played Tenor at Montmartre Cafe in Greenwich Village” at David Amram‘s show the week prior, read his poem about the pronunciation of his name and other immigrant people’s names.  I couldn’t help but laugh when he included a Greek name!  With great humor, Pacheco pointed out how people with ethnic names are often perceived by others (“but you speak English so well!”).

Produced by Araya, the reading also included:

  • Brian Omni Dillon
  • Rome Neal
  • Charlie Vazquez
  • Ray DeJesús
  • Danny Shot
  • Jeff Wright
  • Puma Perl
  • Kymberly Brown
  • Carlos Manuel Rivera
  • Lydia Cortes
  • Noah Levin
  • Edwin Torres
  • Nancy Mercado
  • David Henderson
  • Lois Griffith
  • Adam Ash
  • Susan Yung
  • Nancy Mercado

It was really great meeting Edwin Torres, who was huge on the poetry scene when I first came back to the East Coast but has since moved out of the city, making it rarer to get to see him perform.  I enjoy his poetry so much, and he was really down to earth and easy to talk to.

Jeff Wright and I had connected through social media a while back, and it was fun to finally meeting him in person.  He even gave me a copy of Live Mag, which I was really excited about because I had gotten a chance to skim it at John Reed‘s reading at the Guerilla Lit Reading series back in July and really wanted my own copy because it contains poetry by some of my favorite living poets.

Well, I could obviously go on and on about how great everyone was, but really the night was about Miguel Algarin.  I had actually never heard him perform before, so it was awesome hearing him scat!

The last time I saw him, Miguel had told me about how he had known Jack Kerouac and was very interested in having me send a copy of Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the book I’m coauthoring with Paul Maher Jr., to him.  The photo above, taken by Ra, is of me reading from the book for Miguel’s birthday.