By Victoria Cepeda
We are at the Red Star located in the famous Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. As we wait for the night to kick off, we take in our surroundings that are reminiscent of several movies filmed in the area. The second floor lounge of the Red Star is very inviting. Interspersed among the tables are comfy couches ready to welcome the crowd. Atop each table, candles glow softly making us feel at home. Familiar faces pop up every now and then, nods here and there remind us that we are in the company of fellow writers, poets and spoken word aspiring artists that understand the importance of supporting each other and networking. “Hoy por ti y mañana por mi” decia mi abuela. Therefore today it is all about “respaldar” our colleagues as well as our host and hostess of the Poets Corner, Mark Anthony Vigo and Tamara Grysel Saliva, also known as the masterminds of the event.
Their warm welcome led us to an inspirational opening piece titled “Fate & Serendipity”. Also blazing the stage were Vanessa “La Loba” Martir, Dean “El Negro” Deida, Marcus John from Speaker of the House, Liz Marotti, Millie Rios, Ralphy “Tatuxman” Perez and Pa’lante’s own Efrain Nieves, among others.
How did Tamara and Mark achieve such a smooth debut and managed to attract people to their open Mic? Let us find out how a dream became reality for these two humble, affable and talented individuals.
1. What motivated you to create this series?
Tamara: It may have been written in the stars for Mark and I to become Partners in Rhyme, he offered me an opportunity to co-host an open mic with him at this venue and I instantly jumped to it. The Poets Corner is the name of a poetry magazine I briefly created in college because there wasn’t a venue at the school for poets.
Mark: I had been performing at various “open mic” shows throughout the city yet the thought of creating my own event never crossed my mind. It was while I was attending a dance party that my wife’s cousin and his wife approached me with the idea of hosting my own “Open Mic” event. I knew I could not pull it off by myself, so I set out to find a partner. Tamara and I got to know each other, by way of her cousin, who lives in my building. How serendipitous is that? I approached her with the idea and she enthusiastically signed on. My wife’s cousin was familiar with the folks at Red Star Bar in Brooklyn and set up a meeting with the General Manager. We went in with the hopes of getting one date, for one show, and we left the meeting with the offer to stage an ongoing monthly event and that is how “The Poet’ Corner” was born.
2. What would you say is different about The Poet’s Corner from other Open Mic events?
Tamara: The Poets Corner is different from the other opens mics because between Mark and I, we are merging two different styles of writing therefore bringing together two types of expression poetry and hip-hop, prose and rhyme, on one stage in one night. Therefore we are calling to the stage the equivalence of those open micer’s.
Mark: What I think will set us apart from other “open mic” events is the fact that we each have unique styles & backgrounds. Tamara’s forte is prose, I am a child of Hip-Hop and a former M.C. Together we form a distinct, poetic, juxtaposition and I hope our series will reflect that.
3. What is your ultimate goal, if any?
Tamara: To merge with our community and find a home here.
Mark: To learn more about our community and the issues that affect it, to create awareness, and inspire others to take a more active role in lifting the community. We would love to establish ourselves here and find a permanent home.
4. How often will the series be held?
Tamara: That is still to be announced but we are looking to start a once a month event. The kinks are still being worked out.
Mark: We are looking to hold our event on the first Saturday of each month. With the holidays upon us, our next show will be in January. We are hoping to maintain our current venue. To that effect, we are working out the details. In any case, you will be hearing from us again real soon!
Award-winning journalist and best-selling author T.J. English pleasantly surprised us by appearing briefly on stage to promote “The Irish Mexican Alliance” event that he will be hosting on December 8th at Connelly’s Pub in Midtown Manhattan. The aim of this event is to bring awareness of the plight of journalists who are being killed, intimidated and forced to seek asylum in the U.S. while reporting on the Narco War across the U.S. border in Mexico. This component of community action and call for involvement , along with the talented voices heard, made this event a success because those in attendance displayed a level of camaraderie that ensures continuity and the return of avid supporters/followers as well as the chance to see new faces. Simply put, there were no egos, no one better than others just pure love for this art and fellow writers/poets.
I leave you with excerpts from one Tamara’s and Mark’s favorite stanzas from one of the several pieces they delighted us with that night.
“Let’s not talk about anything tomorrow and forget yesterday! Let’s get lost in today and appear to be ok. See, the problem here is that this is life, a real life. A reality based on life so there is no reset button, just a constant reminder to forget.” -Tamara G. Saliva
“My voice, at times, barely rises above a whisper, but not for lack of something to say, listen closely when I speak, and you can hear what I am feeling, through my words, I will take you there…” - Mark A. Vigo
T.J. English’s website
The Irish Mexican Alliance
The Red Start Sports Bar
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