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An Evening at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe


By Allison Yeh


Last Friday at 10 o’clock in the evening, I joined my Spanish class in line outside the Nuyorican Poet’s Café on East 3rd between Avenue B and Avenue C. We huddled outside in the cold speaking a mix of English and elementary Spanish. Our teacher, in a black fur coat and boots, whipped a takeout box of French fries from her purse. “No tuvo tiempo para comer, queraís, alguién?” She said as she circled the box under our noses to entice us. I took one since I didn’t have time to eat either.

Inside the café, we were squished into a small box-like space, every inch taken up by a person in a puffy winter coat. It was uncomfortable, yet strangely comforting, knowing so many people had come together to watch the power of words be delivered. Our class split up, weaving our way through bodies towards the tiny stage. I stood on my tip toes, ready for the performance to begin.

The event we were attending was a poetry slam. However, to start the evening, a more well-known poet, Carlos Andrés Gómez, author of Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood  came on stage to warm up the crowd with two poems. Gomez’s stage presence and delivery gave me the same chills I get when I hear a singer on the the Voice belting their lungs out (in all the best ways). His second poem, “What’s Genocide” hushed the audience like a graveyard. Once he finished, the crowd hollered, applauded and rushed to get in line for an autographed book.


The poetry slam itself was also inspiring. Three contestants each spoke from their own diverse backgrounds. One spoke of her experience as a black woman in a small town in North Carolina. One young man spoke of his Jewish heritage and his abhorrence of Hebrew school. The last participant (and ultimate winner of the slam) was of Dominican descent and spoke about his working as a public school teacher in Manhattan. The three performers each shared three poems that even though ranged in content, could be connected through the potency of their verbal communication. The poems were not only lyrical, but also advocated for something beyond the brick walls of the space.

To close the night, Whitney Greenaway (an award winning slam poet) recited a poem about how to be a lady, inspired by Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl. Earlier in the night she also performed this.

While the event ended at 2am, probably the longest and latest Spanish class I have ever attended, I left with a new sense of community, a sense of power of words, and a want to look up more slam poetry on Youtube.


Allison is a Sophomore at Barnard and Lead Features Editor of Barnard Bite.



Porch Moment

By Jessica Gregory

This poem was written in my sophomore year, and while I would love to do more work on it, I actually really love it as is! Hope you enjoy!


If there’s one moment

I’d like to go back to, back to

The feeling of

It would be my fourth

First kiss.

We were standing on

My front porch

Bathed in

Image courtesy of keithdotson

An uneven spotlight

From two bulbs on either

Side of the door.

One was fluorescent yellow

one was golden,

So half of you looked a

Tad pasty while

The other half looked

like summer,

and that warmed me

Just enough so

That I could

Drape my arms over

Your shoulders.

You reached up and

Slowly, finger by finger, then

Palm, rested your hand

You kept looking

Up, then down

Then back up

At my face as I looked

Forward, then right,

Then forward.

If I could visibly blush

I promise you my entire

Face would have been

A tomato,

Because then you took a



And those white

puffs of air coming out of

Your mouth

Intermingled with mine.

You were

That close

Your eyes

Were right there

Your lips were

Right there.

Your other hand slid onto

My hip, and I wasn’t

Sure which of us was


Or what we were

Shivering for.

It wasn’t cold like this,

Like this while my

Eyes quit trying to feign

Distraction and locked

Onto your pinkish


Then my eyes closed

And my let my head

Tilt sideways, moving

Forward slow so I

Wouldn’t crash.

But I moved so slow

I almost missed your

Lips slowly pressing

Against me

They were so soft

You were so soft,

Careful as if you

Were handling

Something precious

And breakable.


We pulled back

So fast I wasn’t sure it

Actually happened.

So I had to do it again,

Placing my palm on

Your cheek and

Letting my closing


Pull you toward me again.

This, this was my first kiss.

The others no

longer counted.


Jessica Gregory is a senior at Barnard and Editor in Chief of Barnard Bite