I was late to Bodega, coming straight from helping friends move, but I was too tired to rush. When I got off the train and ran into Peter Storey and Lecco who I knew were reading that night, I didn’t feel so bad for being late, although I was the first one on.
I wasn’t entirely ecstatic about reading first and it wasn’t because I was nervous. (Although Elaheh joked it’s good because you get to “set the bar high and get it over with”.) More people arrive during the middle half of the show, so if you go first, less people see you read. Prospero who went on midway recognized this. He said he was late because he was finishing up his piece and apologized and even name dropped me as one of the people he missed out on.
I started out by reading my friend, Brummie Chris’, poem. It was short and clever and about writing so I figured the Bodega crowd would appreciate it. (And that he would appreciate having a poem he wrote hungover in his flat in East London being read in a cozy bar in Bushwick.) I was less sure about my story which took place in a nursing home and detailed the sex life of the protagonist as if he was living a college dorm. I wasn’t sure if Bodega, or any place for that matter, was the right place to debut a story about STIs in nursing homes.
But it was well received. Mike said it was funny because you could tell I wasn’t expecting certain parts to be funny. Once I thought I’d gotten the hang of it and knew when the next outburst would be I’d pause but then there’d be no laughter. I guess it’s hard to prepare for something as spontaneous as humour.
I talked to Xavier, Prospero’s brother, after the show and he called my piece a “literary ethnography” and asked me more about it. I feel like when people ask where you got the idea from, it must be a pretty good idea.
I also got chatting to Manny. I’ve appreciated his style of spoken word/rap for awhile now and never got the chance to express it to him until then. We talked about writing from the heart, whether it's rap or fiction, and how that connects you to more people rather than building a badass image of yourself. After all, it was my respect of Manny's honesty in pondering love and relationships that made me go up and chat to him.
I enjoyed this Bodega although there was an underlying feeling that I couldn’t shake. It all felt too easy. I felt like I was reading to a room full of friends, which is a great thing since 6 months ago I didn’t know any of these people, but it also means I may need to find a more challenging stage. Luckily the old host of Bodega, Kelly, is looking to put together a Wednesday night reading at a different bar in Brooklyn and it’s looking like that’s shaping up for the New Year.