Nuyorican poets bring their ‘beat’ to the Rathskeller

The Rathskeller came alive with Latin culture last week as Uni?n Latina presented “The Beat of Nuyorican Poets.”

It was not your average poetry reading, as the event featured three well-known Nuyorican poets and an open-mic to give others an opportunity to share their work.

The featured guest poets each took turns performing their poems, appearing on stage several different times throughout the night.

“They each brought their own different styles to promote different messages about everything from politics, race, careers, to urban lifestyles,” Uni?n Latina’s vice president Danielle Romero said. “Their messages were definitely an eye-opener to all, especially those that do not know much about these topics.”

The first poet, Karen Jaime, expressed her frustration with women’s stereotypical roles in society.

“They say that behind every good man is a woman, but I’m tired of being left behind,” she read.

The poet is a former hostess of Friday Night Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Caf? in New York City. Between poems, Jaime joked around with the audience, but the majority of her works took a more serious tone.

She summed up her view on women today as she read, “A wedding does not have to equal a shackle, love does not have to equal pain and alone does not have to equal lonely.”

The next poet to perform was 2002 Nuyorican Grand Slam champion Kahlil Almustafa.

“I use poetry to understand my reality,” Almustafa said.

He presented his reality in the form of intense poems dealing with race, violence and stereotypes portrayed by today’s media.

Before reading one of his poems, he discussed the case last year in which an unarmed man was shot 50 times by police outside a strip club in his hometown of Queens, N.Y.

When referring to it in his poem “How to Speak American,” Almustafa recited, “the newspapers will tell you on page 16 that another violent black man got killed tonight.”

The show’s mood was lightened by the final poet of the night, Big Mike, who constantly referred to himself as a “brother without color” and “a cracker who cares.” He has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Season Six and currently has his own DVD in stores.

The majority of his poems were actually in the form of letters and hate mail he had written to different celebrities, including Wesley Snipes and Tom Cruise.

“What happened? You used to be ‘Top Gun,’ Tommy,” Mike read. “Now jumping on couches is ‘Risky Business.'”

The biggest laughs of the night came from his poem titled “Letter to the boy who tries to date my 15-year-old niece Jasmine.” The letter was littered with funny, but protectively violent imagery indicating what Mike would do if the boy tried to touch his niece.

“I’ll make Jigsaw from ‘Saw’ look like Ward fucking Cleaver,” he read.

The night wrapped up with several students reading selections from their own original poetry.

“The open-mic at the end was also an amazing experience not just for those who spoke but also for the ones who listened,” Romero said. “It gave everyone the chance to experience poetry at its greatest.”

The night was organized by Gabriella Martinez and Josette Marrero as part of Latin Celebration Awareness month.