Weekly in West Hollywood, you can expect a line wrapped around Fairfax for LA’s biggest poetry open mic, called Da Poetry Lounge. At only $5 dollars a head, diverse audiences come together as a community to share their words with one another and perform center stage. DPL has a welcoming, vibrant, and energetic ambiance that is instantly recognized as soon as you walk through the door.
Not only is DPL the largest open mic in LA, but in the nation. Starting 20 years ago, actor, dancer,and poet Dante Basco created a space for artists to come together and perform, just for themselves. Later on, Basco teamed up with current hosts and performers Shihan, DJ Brutha Gimel, and Poetri, who, together, are the Founders of what is now known as Da Poetry Lounge.
DPL has been the home of many writers and artists and has been a foundation for many successful careers, specifically Salvadoran angeleno, writer of the book “Corazón” and DPL star child, Yesika Salgado. Her work has been featured in Latina Magazine, Buzzfeed, Vibe Magazine, and Huffington post, and you may have seen her performances all over social media. I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with the writer after a DPL gathering.
Why do you think it’s important for Latinos to have a space in the Poetry community?
“I think it’s hella important because we grew up learning from other [non-latinx] people of color, which is beautiful, but there’s always that disconnect and so there’s something really important to be able to go to a space and to see someone like you speaking their truth and their vulnerabilities and I think it’s true for like, everybody across the board, especially for Latinos” Salgado dives into the importance of representation a little further as she says: “We’re the majority, and yet we’re still so unseen, so invisible- so i think any place we can take up space it’s important that we do that”
What do you see yourself doing with poetry in the end, what is end goal for you?
“My goal is to make slam poetry poppin” she smiles “I want poetry to be as respected, and as veterated...for people to be down to spend money on poetry like they're down to spend money on music and there’s many ways to do that, I don’t know what that looks like yet, but it is a goal I have with my career” Salgado is the first to support WOC representation in any media, but as a self-proclaimed fat fly poet, and being one myself, I had to ask her “What about the [representation] of fat women [of color]?
“I think as a fat woman of color you gotta-well women of color you gotta be better than everybody else right? You gotta rep harder and hustle. As a fat woman you got more shit stacked against you… were seen as lazy, as unintelligent, as sloppy, as all these things and you gotta [be better] in order to make people even listen...even consider liking you.” Salgado brings up her experiences growing up as a fat girl “I grew up having to have the best pen game be my consolation...and i had to push myself to become better and better because people were not rocking with me [because of my size]. I had to work harder to be more visible.”
Salgado then digs deeper and brings up what happens on the flip side, when fat women are actually visible. “Then you get tokenized, once you become the body positive fat girl, that’s the narrative people keep putting you in, so once I got there people wanted to have me for all their body positivity stuff, [I was like] ‘cool, but let’s talk about heartache, I want you to listen to the sad girl poems about her body and her sadness and how men disrespect her body, and how she has to navigate that’. But I had to get so far to make people want to listen to that. And I had to work so hard at being this boss bitch, where now I can actually be a human. Hopefully I see more woman like me doing shit and they feel like they can do it too”
What does Da poetry lounge mean to you?
“Ah it’s my home” The poet reminisces, “I started coming here as another person in the audience, about 9 and a half years ago and I didnt know what I was doing, I would just come. And sometimes I would come home [from the DPL] and just cry because i felt so unseen.” Salgado brings up the DPL community supporting her for the past decade and over that time, the poet continued to improve her craft and her performance, as she continued to network and learn from other DPL writers and poets. She credits the open mic: “I wouldn't have the career I have if I hadn't started here.”
Learn more about the poet at https://www.yesikasalgado.com and Pick up a copy of “Corazon” from notacult.media. Make sure to come on down to Da Poetry Lounge, happening every Tuesday in Los Angeles (544 N Fairfax) at 9pm.
Da Poetry Lounge IG/Twitter/Facebook @dapoetrylounge or facebook.com/dapoetrylounge Yesika Salgado Socials: https://www.facebook.com/yesikastarr Twitter/IG: Yesikastarr
Palmira Muniz is a CSUITEMUSIC.com Blogger.
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