The Nuyorican Revolution
For half a century, spoken-word savants have seized their roots and given a voice to the Puerto Ricans of New York.
At the Mi Gente lounge/bar in the Castle Hill neighborhood of the Bronx, one Friday every month is poetry night, and July 27, 2012 was a special occasion: “Babble in the Bronx” is celebrating its second anniversary. A moodily lit basement beneath the main room is buzzing with high spirits; dinner was served before the performances began. A soulful duo warmed up the crowd. Then the evening’s hostess steps on stage to a boisterous welcome: A slight figure with a powerful, effervescent presence, La Bruja is in her element.
“Oh, my goodness! It’s hot and poppin’ in the boogie-down Bronx!”
She feels out the atmosphere, talking to the audience, before kicking off her set with “Lola,” a poem about “an unwanted daughter” who “gets high to forget the time and the place / Where she works the busy path of drugs and disgrace.” It’s a modern parable of poverty, just six verses long, packing a thoughtful punch with every word:
It was love at first pipe So she made it her l…