Open Mic Night

by Elizabeth Acevedo

The legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe is not close to Harlem. It takes us two trains and a walk in the brick-ass cold to get there, and when we do, the line to get in is halfway down the block. Not even nightclubs around the way look half as packed as this. The cafe is dimly lit, with paintings on the wall. The host is a statuesque black woman with a bright red flower in her hair. When she calls out the names on her list, I'm surprised to hear my own.


Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Dominican performer and author of THE POET X, from which these six sentences are excerpted.