Voces Showcase: Poetry Slam at La Tertulia

Thumbnail image credit: Fernando Correa.

Last Friday, February 24, La Tertulia’s activity room filled with a crowd of spectators that eagerly waited for the start of Voces Showcase Poetry Slam. The environment was vibrant with energy. Ana Portnoy Brimmer and Jessica Muñoz, co-creators of the event, walked through the crowd, filling their notebook with names for a turn to recite their poetry onstage. Before the slam, there was a space for an Open Mic where anyone could participate. Muñoz, the creator and founder of Voces and host of the event, also walked through the crowd collecting names and inviting people to participate in the showcase.

Event co-host Ana Portnoy Brimmer. Image credit: Ana Portnoy Brimmer.

Ana started the activity with a short speech: “The purpose of these slams is to congregate the community. We want poetry to be a weapon in the hands of those who want to raise their voice.”

The open mic was opened by Jan Rivera with a poem about friendship. Next up, Daren Dolfoy took the stage to fill the air with verses that criticized social media, sexual love, and celebrated life.

Ana Portnoy recited her “Poetry is Protest”, which was followed by Gabrielle Armstrong, who appealed to our emotions in her poem about the meaning of life. Other participants of the Open Mic included Nelson Andrés, Nora Cordelio, and Laura Gordian. Their pieces ranged in topics, like mental illness, depression, heartbreak, alcoholism, and social commentaries.

Gabrielle Armstrong recites a poem from her book Partida en dos.

Student members from the literary magazine Sábanas welcomed the public to be a part of their third issue. They are celebrating their first year anniversary and will be accepting submissions of literary work to be published until this Friday, March 3rd.

One thing was clear: this was a space for free expression. Poets were free to share their art without fear of censorship as Ana Portnoy explained, “this is street poetry, everyone is free to talk about whatever they want.”

The slam began. There were fifteen participants signed up for the three round competition. All poems had to be original and each poet was required to have three pieces prepared. During the first two rounds, all poets recited. The scores were then added up and three finalist were chosen for the final round. The winner took the pot of everyone’s $5 entry fees. Scores were added and decided by a panel of judges that was chosen at random from the audience, to perpetuate the idea that the poet’s main challenge is to move the general public.

“You got me writing verses, what can I complain about.” Slam competitor Fiorella del Mar. Image credit: Fernando Correa.

First up on the mic, Alexandra Muñiz, co-owner of Galerías Betances, took the stage presenting her incredible verses on feminism: “Mujer ceiba, guayacán, flamboyán.”

Ian Rolón followed up with his poem titled “Why I Don't Like Chocolate,” reciting his verses on racism, “I’ve been taught since birth to hate the skin I am wearing.” Ralph Rolón presented his piece on begin lost, “One, two, three, millions...  she saw light, she saw beauty, and what I saw was no different.”

Pedro Moreu amazed the crowd with his poem about love, “Nuestra coincidencia para mi fue un placer.” Lilian Delgado, Fernando Correa, Gabrielle Armstrong, Héctor Huyke, Fiorela del Mar, Angel Omar, Elisaura Vázquez, Kelsey Jack, Paola Manrique, Fernando Rodríguez, and Camil Valentín also took their moments on stage. The range of topics was diverse, from liberty to poems dedicated to my little brother, the artist recited their stories and emotions on stage.

“You can violate human rights and piss on the constitution just as long as you don’t burn an American flag.” Fernando Rodríguez takes the mic. Image credit: Fernando Correa

It was time for the final round. The judges chose their finalists. Alexandra, Pedro, and Elisaura would go on to recite their third poem on stage.

After a moment of great tension, the scores were added up, and Elisaura Vázquez was chosen as champion of the night’s slam competition!

“¿Dónde están las mujeres que gritan rebeldía, resistencia?” Slam winner Elisaura Vázquez. Image credit: Fernando Correa.

You can follow the Voces Showcase Poetry Slam events here.