Qye! Lorain/Cleveland Latinos invited to coffee house drum/poetry event
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa
Lorain’s/Cleveland’s Latino communities and the general public have a unique way to express themselves at least once each month with a coffee house event featuring poets, spoken word artists, and musicians.
“Oye Mi Voz/Hear My Voice” is a collective of such artists and musicians who meet every third Saturday of the month at the Charleston Coffee House in downtown Lorain. Anyone 13 years of age and older is encouraged to attend and/or perform. All “Oye Mi Voz” events are free and open to the public.
Roberta Rosa, 33, has been DJing events in Lorain for the past 14 years and decided to form the group to give teens and others an outlet to express themselves. The first such event last month drew more than 50 people to the coffeehouse.
“I’m using my DJ power to bring the community great, free events,” she said. “Most people see us as someone who plays music, but I see it as someone who has the power and ability to take the community forward and do awesome events.”
There’s even an “Oye Mi Voz” Pre-Jam Drum Circle party from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Dec. 15, 2012 event for anyone who has bongos or congas at home and wants to jam with other drum players. Ms. Rosa likened the atmosphere to coffee shops of the “beatnik” era of the 1950’s youth culture, where teens hung out and recited poetry or spoken word commentary, some of them wearing berets and turtlenecks.
“I see my role as sort of a community activist, community organizer,” said Ms. Rosa, who is a spoken-word poet herself.
Spoken word poetry has taken off as a cultural phenomenon over the past decade, often as an outlet for young people to release their views of the world they’ve experienced. Sometimes referred to as ‘slam’ poetry, the spoken word has evolved into a present-day soapbox for people to express emotions and life experiences through frank commentary on religion, politics, sex and gender, often taboo subjects in school or on campus.
“I don’t want it to be an open-mike night, because that suggests more of a talent show,” explained Ms. Rosa. “There are so many issues and things that teenagers go through and things here in our community. I fail to believe that somebody is not writing about this, that they don’t have an outlet. So I’m trying to open up a stage, a platform for up-and-coming poets or someone who wants to vent something they wrote to make them feel better. So I’m just signing up artists. You don’t have to be a professional. We just want to encourage expression.”
The long-time DJ also pointed to the event as a way to reignite the arts in downtown Lorain. Oye Mi Voz/Hear My Voice is being held Dec. 15, 2012 in conjunction with two other arts-related events that same day.
“Let’s face it: the steel mills aren’t coming back, the Ford plant’s not coming back,” she said. “We need to stop waiting for these industries to come back. We need to think of something more affordable and something that can revitalize the downtown structure. I really think downtown Lorain could be renamed the downtown Lorain Arts District.”
The Ohio Hispanic Heritage Coalition is hosting what it calls a Salsa Social that same day, 6-8 p.m. at the Faithfully Fit Group Fitness Center, 610 Broadway, across from the Palace Theater. The alcohol-free/smoke-free event is being billed as 90 percent salsa music, ten percent Bachata. There even will be “taxi dancers”—hosts who make it a point to dance with first-time visitors and those who are still new to salsa dancing. While the dress code is casual attire, organizers are asking dancers to wear at least some pink because it serves as a fundraiser for the Mercy’s Amigas breast cancer awareness group.
The Lorain Arts Council also is hosting a Religious Art Show that same day in the downtown area.
“We want to make this a consistent event in downtown Lorain,” said Ms. Rosa. “We want it to be the spark that starts a movement in downtown Lorain to bring different arts and draw people downtown and cause businesses to pop up. I want to start that spark and cause that fire to keep it going.”
Anyone who would like to sign up for microphone time at a future show is encouraged to contact the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oyemivozlorain or contact organizer Roberta Rosa by email: [email protected] or by phone: 440.258.2929. The events are co-sponsored by the coffee house and the Ohio Hispanic Heritage Coalition.
Editor’s Note: Contact Info on the Internet:
Roberta Rosa, [email protected]
Ohio Hispanic Heritage Coalition - Salsa Social - Contact Diana Marrero-Pinto
Lorain Arts Council - Religious Art Show - Contact Antonio Barrios