In the first person
If you’ve ever been to the Nuyorican Poets Café in lower Manhattan than you can understand why it would be such an honor for my first public performance outside of school to be at this historical Café.
It was a Sunday in the middle of the afternoon and I was seemingly relaxed. I was coming above ground from the 6 train, probably the most eager as I’ve ever been. My older sister Lisa and I strolled the streets of the L.E.S. searching for this landmark. My blood was boiling with excitement. I was headed to the Urban Word’s 11th Annual Teen Poetry Preliminary Round at the Nuyorican! Life couldn’t get better.
I spent countless hours practicing the poem, so I wasn’t nervous about my memorization of my piece. I remember the names were placed in a raffle envelope as everyone took a seat for a chance to spill their guts into the mic for the judges.
“This rug is a very famous one, one that Saul Williams and other famous poets have stood on; you should be honored to recite on this rug poets,” I remember one of the hosts telling us as part of his introduction. Poet after poet literally poured their hearts out for us to hear and for judges to judge in the hopes to make it to the next round. INTENSE. When I was called up, the level of comfort was amazing. It was as if I felt that this was where I belonged all these years. I was sick with pink eye in both eyes and just midway through my recovery, but that didn’t stop me. I was up on stage at the Nuyorican. AMAZING.
“You Are Nothing.” That was the first line of my poem. People gasp and laugh at the same time throughout the piece. I’m still shocked at such positive feedback I received. Being pulled to the side by a judge was probably the most stunning part of the night. “CARLOS! Besides our name being the same, I really liked that poem,” the judge told me.
I mean even the bathroom at the café is amazing. It’s decorated with autographed posters of famous performing artists that I’ve never even heard. As a poet, honestly, it was a dream to perform at the Nuyorican Poets Café, especially because I am a Puerto Rican from New York. I never, ever, ever, ever, EVER thought it would happen, and I never expected this to be the first place where I would have been given the opportunity to perform.
It’s truly amazing. As I write this article, I’m still in shock that I performed at the Nuyorican and impressed with the people, even though I couldn’t see their faces during the performance because of the spotlight. Honestly, if not the best, performing at the Nuyorican has been one of the best experiences of my life as a poet and even more so as a person trying to succeed. -- Carlos Burgos
Carlos Burgos, a contributing writer to Puerto Rico Sun, is a poet that goes by the name "Iro" because he says it means "Man" in Taino and the name Carlos also means "Man." To connect with Iro, go to his Facebook page at
(photo of Carlos Burgos)
(photo of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe by Clarisel Gonzalez)