POETRY MONTH 30/30/30: Inspiration, Community, Tradition: DAY 28 :: Roxanne Hoffman on Urayoán Noel
As an active participant of the New York poetry scene since about 2004, as a writer, performer, frequenter of open mics, writing workshop participant, reading series host and small press publisher, I like to think of myself and the other familiar faces on the local poetry circuit as a movement, a not so quiet conspiratorial insurgency, the proverbial flea buzzing in the ear of the silent sleepy majority.
We are the defenders of free speech, free expression, freedom of the press, the right of the individual, and the power of minority opinion. Influence is what we do. We aim to move not only hearts and provoke minds with our little rants but to wake the sleepers to action. While we may make these wake-up calls with charm and style and great humor we never forget for one second it’s all about conveying that subliminal message. What’s the message? Maybe it’s just that we count simply because all human beings can create something of value and interest with a little observation, a little introspection , a little craft, the gift of vocal chords, a pen and a notebook and not much else (though many of us now write on laptops and iPads, even reading off them on the circuit.)One of my favorite co-conspirators is Nuyorican poet Urayoán Noel. Author of three poetry collections -- Hi-Density Politics(BlazeVOX, 2010), Boringkén (Ediciones Callejón/La Tertulia, 2008), and Kool Logic/La lógica kool (Bilingual Press, 2005); Assistant Professor of English at SUNY; a Bronx Council on the Arts fellow in poetry, as well as a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, he has firmly established his foothold in the mainstream, and continues to facilitate the message. His latest project is a book-length study of Nuyorican poetry and its performance from the 1960s to the present. Not only is he making the wake-up call, he is documenting it, never forgetting he is part of a movement.