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Not a Quiet Monday, Talento Bilingue


The passion of poets. Mondays are always quieter, we sit back in the lush theatre seats of Talento Bilingue (one of my favorite east end gems) and let the dark swirl of music and 800 atmospheric speakers kind of teleport us somewhere else. But the eager poets of the tour know any stage is a stage for them to own, and any day they are able to perform is a good day. So, this Monday wasn’t as quiet as I thought.


Lupe sacrificed the night with a poem about his name and namesakes, “a fighter, a black volcanic rock burning against the steam on the ground.” Lupe and Stallina have a close connection to TBH, community activists and artists and long time members. This theatre has a long history itself. It tells you in the lobby. You can’t help but read the plaques and walk around the memorial they’ve placed for a local artist recently passed. And it hits me, these slower days, these Mondays are about the fighters.


Nine -- always smiling, sloganeering tee-shirt, bantering with the audience -- reads a profound poem about the techno-racists online, mentions The Shout (a local monthly series helping to bring class consciousness and race to the fore of Houston’s conversation through art) and laughs it all off afterward with a rimshaw crash in the air and a joke. He asks that we hug his mother who's in attendance tonight at some point in the evening.



Corinna, her poem is about fighting too, about finally (finally) being single. It reminds of Auden’s “The More Loving One.” (“Looking up at the stars, I know quite well / That, for all they care, I can go to hell”) She’s reverting that old cliche about the necessary beauty of the stars and their strange work on love, independence, and all that. A fighter. Her second poem hits hard, too, about her father, disease, the nurse work, the saintliness children must take up with age.


Jordan, our youth poet laureate, who loves the span of the stage and embraces the freedom the crowd allows him, spoke about how years earlier he begged to be on the tour, shouted out his mentors, Deep and Nine, then spit a poem about the perfection of art and art identity. Young man’s been fighting for chance to get a stage, to voice his mind. And he took it. “We are handcrafted masterpieces,” he tells us, “that took time to build.” The crowd loves him.


Deep, too, performs a piece about motherhood (the ultimate struggle!) and the worry abut being a mother and teaching her daughter how to be a woman, “how to load her voice with buckshot!”

Roses ends the night with a rarity, the most worthwhile fight I’d say, a love poem.

We’re all fighters, all voices looking for a microphone. Fighting to be heard. These doldrum Mondays when Houston is more convoluted than usual with lane closures, highway closures, construction and detours -- as one comedian put it, “Houston: I can’t wait until they’re finished building that city” -- with all the weeklong responsibilities and makeshift plans we have to route and remember, its these days when the art is needed most and you have to fight to make it important. To those poets that came out, to the audience, and the venue that housed us, RESPECT.

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