Poetry, NYC Style



Mollie Reilly

Last Friday, the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) sponsored a performance by El Grito de Poetas, in conjunction with Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS), African, Latin, Asian, & Native American Cultural Center (ALANA), the Center for Outreach and Volunteer Education (COVE) and the Sociology and Anthropology, Women’s Studies and Education Departments. This spoken word performance group from New York City gave a 90-minute long act in Brehmer Theater, the telling stories of love, culture and hardships of urban New York City life.

Three of El Grito’s poets came to Colgate last year. Their performance went over so well that LASO asked them to return as a part of Latin American Heritage month. This time, the group brought all of their members: Advocate of Wordz, Majestik, Chilo, True, Chance, Royalty and Simply Rob. Coming from Dominican, Puerto Rican, Salvadorian, Colombian, Ecuadorian and Guatemalan backgrounds, the performers represent a diverse range of perspectives and have dozens of stories to tell.

El Grito is constantly traveling around the New York area, performing at schools, churches, medical centers and theaters. Their delivery of poetry is unconventional, yet incredibly dynamic. Instead of simply reciting their poems, the artists perform their words, using rhythm and body language to further express their words’ meanings. The fast-paced nature of El Grito’s performance, as well as the intriguing and relatable subject matter of their poems, made Friday’s performance engaging, entertaining and thought provoking.

Two of the poets, known as Advocates of Wordz and Majestik, kicked off the night with a rap-like poem entitled “My Woman Bleeds for Me,” which spoke of the dedication and support these two men receive from their significant others.

Next, Advocate of Wordz introduced El Grito’s members one by one, who each performed an individual poem. Simply Rob, a youth counselor for at-risk children, performed a piece about what it means to be Puerto Rican. True, the group’s sole female poet, told of a young female prostitute she met one night in Queens. Chilo, known in the group as “the historian,” recited a poem that connected his culture to North American history.

Other poems talked about sex, relationships, Latin American culture and even a young female student who wanted to be a stripper when she grew up so that her father would notice her.

The group then performed a piece collectively, gave individual performances once again and finally came together for one last collective poem.

The performance was very well received by Colgate’s audience.

“I think they were really engaging and that they captured a less glamorous part of New York City than people are used to hearing about really accurately,” sophomore Julia Quintanilla said. “It made me nostalgic.”

For more information on the group, including how to purchase their album or book, visit www.myspace.com/elgritodepoetas.