What a night!
Last night the Molotov Mouths gave me the honor of reading with them at their event at Carlito's Cafe which is right across the street from the Chica Luna office in El Barrio. The Molotov Mouths are touring to promote their collectively drawn "poetic map of life in Las Americas during so-called New World Order." It was great to reconnect with James Tracy again (he also edited The Civil Disobedience Handbook: A Brief History and Practical Guide For The Politically Disenchanted for all you rebels out there) who I first met when the Republican National Convention invaded New York City and to hear his kick-ass poetry. I also finally got to meet Leroy Moore, "crip hop" extraordinaire, founder of Disability Advocates of Minorities Organizations and New Voices: Disabled Poets and Artists of Color, and self-professed "Black Disabled Man with A Big Mouth & A High IQ." Also blessing the space with not only her moving poetry but also her lovely singing was Ananda Esteva and local spoken word artist and educator DeWayne Dickerson whose work made us laugh as much as it made us think.
The experience me yearn for a trip to the Bay Area, CA so I have to make a trip out there before ending my Picture Me Rollin' Tour. I always wanted to head to Frisco, Oakland and Berkeley, but I prioritized (mistakenly it now seems) Los Angeles because I wanted so much to build with the Latino-owned bookstores out there. With the exception of the dope folks at Imix - the first bookstore to show me love even before I dropped Explicit Content last year, there were no takers. So to the Bay I go, hopefully in November.
My high didn't end after I left Carlito's. I was on the 6 train head back home when two girls -- I'd say about fifteen, sixteen years old -- get on. One of them is carrying Harlem Girl Lost, and the other is holding a similar urban trade paperback with a bluish cover (I can't catch the title.) So I pull a copy of Picture Me Rollin' out of my bag, hand it to the one standing closest to me and say, "Excuse me, if you like those books, you might like mine."
Their eyes widen. "You wrote this?" I nod, and they flip the book to the back and study my photo. "Is this your first book?"
"No, that's my latest one. My first one was Explicit Content."
"I have that at home! My mother's reading it right now. That's about the one about the girls who live near Longfellow. That's where I live. Are you from around here?"
"Yeah, I do." I check for the signs as the train pulls into a station. "In fact, I'm getting off in about two stops."
On a whim I say, "I'll give you this copy for free if you promise me you'll tell all your friends."
Without hesitation, she says, "I promise." I believe her (and I still do.) Can you sign it?"
"Of course! Do I make it to the both of you? You'll share it?" They agree and tell me their names are Elba and Eva. So I personalize the book, sign it and give it to them. This happens in the nick of time because the next stop is theirs, and they had to rush off the train before the doors closed. They run off the train, giggling with excitement the way teenager girls are supposed to, and I feel so good I almost start to cry.
I think I'm going to do that more often.