Saturday, December 01, 2007

Staceyann Chin- The One Who Started the Fire

This miraculous woman, was the first model I had that exemplified the powerful ability of queer, women of color to move audiences. She was a guest in my English class in high school back in '99 (I think) and I walked in late not knowing that day I was going to finally learn something about myself, something relative.

She was uncensored, raw, full of fire, and redefined sexy... seriously- at least for me as a high school student in those days. I followed her to the final slam at the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, and even though she had lost to Kirk Nugent, she captivated my spirit. For those of you who had been to the Nuyorican, you know how small the space is- the place was packed and spilling over with bodies squatting on floors, filling up stair cases, after having paid their 10 bucks with no complaints- they were there for the holy ghost subsumed in these poets' words. This was the first day of the rest of my life.

Afterwards, my writing become charged and took on a more sophisticated character, knowing then I wanted to write for others to be validated by my words, and in turn validating my own humanity. I joined a spoken word workshop with Youth Speaks, and this helped me begin the process of developing my voice, not just in poetry but everywhere else in my life as well.

But when the spirit came down... damn. It was my first performance at the Nuyorican. I was furious that day. That day I had deeply upset my mother on her birthday- and I was raging, fumin'! I was conflicted as to whether to allow her to come witness this side of me she hadn't known. I was scared, either I'd fuck up and she'd think "oh how cute" or I'd do a great job and she'd judge or misunderstand me and the whole performance aspect. So I left her, and that fed the fire. I only brought my little sister with me. Throughout the whole train ride from Harlem down to the Lower East Side, my thoughts kept kindling the fire. When I got up on stage I was a dragon with fire blowing out of me, and everyone I looked at was connected, people were nodding their heads, yelling out "Yes!", shouting- they were right here with me, almost inside me, burning in the flames. It was my first standing ovation. I had finally come to myself.

1 comment:

BossMack said...

I wish I got to experience that.