PHOTOS | Barrio BX open mic kicks off partnership with Nuyorican Poets Cafe

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Mariposa Fernandez, an educator and writer, performs poems about gentrification and her identity as a Bronx-born Puerto Rican on March 15, 2023. Fernandez was featured in “Poetry & Potions,” a monthly open mic hosted by Barrio BX restaurant on East Tremont Avenue that aims to celebrate Puerto Rican diasporic culture through the arts. Fernandez was recently awarded the Letras Boricuas Fellow, a grant supporting Puerto Rican writers across the United States. “Poetry has given me wings,” Fernandez told the Bronx Times.
Photo Paige Perez
Host Nicco Diaz embraces a performer. Diaz created Poetry & Potions last September to tap into and organize the raw talent and facilitate opportunities for creatives in the borough. “There’s a literacy crisis here in the Bronx,” Diaz told the Bronx Times. He wrote his first poem in the third grade but didn’t continue for many years. After Diaz lost his job during the pandemic, journaling for mental wellness led him to revisit writing poetry. “Poetry really saved my life,” Diaz said. “Writing heals you but performing heals other people.” Photo Paige Perez
Audience members applaud for performers. About 10 poets each volunteered to share a piece they wrote. Anyone can sign up and the two feature poets shared additional pieces of their work. The poems touched on topics about love, self-exploration, mental health, womanhood and writing left-handed. Photo Paige Perez
Claudia “Cap” Alvarez-Plaud is a poet born and raised in Co-op City. Alvarez-Plaud has been supporting “Poetry & Potions” since the beginning and was the featured poet at the event, which also highlighted female poets for Women’s History Month. “The Bronx is shifting. The creative space is shifting. And it’s exciting to see women of color, people of color in general being given the time to shine,” Alvarez-Plaud told the Bronx Times. Photo Paige Perez
Caridad de la Luz, also known as La Bruja, surprised the crowd with a performance that closed out the event. La Bruja is the executive director of Nuyorican Poets Cafe. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the cafe, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The open mic was the first merger of the Cafe and Barrio BX communities. La Bruja told the Bronx Times that the cafe will be closed for renovations, but their programming will continue in spaces like Barrio BX and others across the city in the meantime. Photo Paige Perez
Audience members, including friends, family members, poetry lovers and locals, applaud. Diaz told the Bronx Times that the merger of Barrio BX and Nuyorican Poets Cafe is significant in its mission to celebrate the Puerto Rican diaspora and people. “Wherever there are Nuyoricans ethnically or folks who are into poetry and our aesthetic, where are they and how can we bring slam poetry and poetry to them in general,” he said. The next show is scheduled for April 12 at 7 p.m. Photo Paige Perez

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