!Que tal mi gente!
If you love poetry and want to listen to amazing spoken word artists perform then I’ve got the place where you should be at January 23rd! It is at Wordat4F 2nd year anniversary show!Wordat4F is a traveling open mic mainly based in Washington Heights, their goal is to cultivate poetry and bring awareness through activism. Wordat4F is definitely growing and expanding and they want you to be a part of the experience. I asked one of the co-founders of Wordat4F , Angy Abreu, a few questions that will give us more information on how Wordat4f got started, what can we expect at this years anniversary poetry event and what the future holds for them.
Beauty, Brains, and Blogging: Can you tell us how the idea of Wordat4F came about?
Angy Abreu: Wordat4F was born when the Word Up Bookstore lost its space in 2012 (they’ve since relocated in an awesome space on 165th street and Amsterdam). Word Up was a pop up bookstore running out of an empty lot that once was the home to a Pharmacy on 176th street and Broadway. The bookstore was run by volunteers, the community chipped in donated furniture, painted the walls, offered repairs, donated books and their time to run it. It was a laid back space where everyone was welcomed to share their art. They held workshops and book readings; it was the place where I met Junot Diaz, pulitzer prize winning author. Rammer hosted a few open mics there, and introduced me to the bookstore. I quickly became a regular. Word up was the ONLY bookstore of its kind in the neighborhood. It was a much needed space.
Yet it was time to change the location, and Rammer and I found ourselves lost. We felt we lost something very special and unique in our neighborhood. One day we sat down and spoke about what we could do to keep the momentum of spoken word and open mics going in our neighborhood. So we thought why not host an open mic in my apartment in the Bronx with a bunch of our poet friends. And so we held our first B.Y.O.B open mic in December 2012, we had poets like Bonafide Rojas, Ibrahim Saadiq and a few others come into my apartment and share their work, amid great conversation and company, people sat on the floor, couches, invaded my kitchen, it was amazing. We had about 15 people come thru, it was an incredible night for us. We decided to continue hosting them, the first 4 were in my apartment and next thing we knew some of our guests began to request that we host an open mic in their apartments. It was unexpected, unplanned and definitely humbling to have them open up their doors to a bunch of strangers. We spent the entire 2013 hosting in different apartments, organizing and putting the word out to our friends, they embraced it and it still remains one of the most organic aspects of our movement.
When our one year anniversary approached I knew I wanted to celebrate it by doing something special. I had a list of poets who had come thru our events that I wanted to invite back to celebrate with us. In addition, a few months back I had met Lemon Andersen at the Capicu Open Mic in Brooklyn, I went up to him after his performance and asked him if he could come up to Washington Heights. Lemon was all for it, and even called me a few times to confirm and offer assistance in preparation for that day. I reached out to Apt78 my all time favorite venue in Washington Heights. The venue went great with our vision because when you walk in you feel like you are walking into someone’s apartment; it offers an intimate and homely setting. I was so nervous putting this together, I had never planned an event of such magnitude, but we pulled it off, the one year anniversary was a FREE event, hosted by John “Chance” Acevedo. It included the main features Lemon Andersen and Frankie Reese from Washington Heights MTV reality TV show, along with a sleuth of local performers. The community came thru, the event quickly overcrowded, and we had to stop allowing people in.
After we celebrated our one-year anniversary, I realized that many people were talking about Wordat4F, inquired about our events. I knew that we had to continue with our grassroots open mics in apartments. I had to think hard about what I wanted our brand to be, to represent, the concept slowly came about during months of seeing our followers embrace and share our events with their friends. Wordat4F became a platform to showcase local artists and invite others from uptown and beyond to share their craft in Washington Heights. Jose Morales offered his venue to us and we began to hold monthly showcases including a variety of features, our events have been hosted by Joseph ‘Sun Hernandez who has been a blessing to our team, and DJ’ed by DJ EQ. In addition to our open mics in secret locations, we do a lot of activism work, its important for us, more so for me because I grew up in Washington Heights; to make an impact in the community. We have been passionate about cultivating the love for literature and the arts, about empowering the youth. In early 2013 our friend Chakira Haddock proposed the Wordat4F Teen Spoken word workshop where we have veteran poets facilitate a workshop and teach kids about spoken word and creative writing. Our teen performers have been invited to book fairs and youth events such as anti bullying awareness, we co-hosted a street harassment event with Women Worldwide Initiative, and a fundraiser for domestic violence with a young lady who asked us for assistance in organizing it with an open mic, we were invited to be part of the 26 mics in 26 weeks documentary where we held and open mic at our friends Dichters Pharmacy (yes you heard right, a pharmacy), held a summer BBQ with our friends Sneakers & Ale, hosted an open mic protest in the 191st street MTA tunnel for #Blacklivesmatter; this past Fall we held the first Poetry Slam in Washington Heights, and so much more.
Looking back, we’ve had an exceptional two years.
BBB: What can we expect of this years anniversary?
A.A.: This year’s anniversary is a lot bigger than our prior year; I got a bigger venue to accommodate more guests, vendors and a DJ. I’ve gather a collection of awesome poets one of them being Aja Monet. I want folks to come out and experience Wordat4F, especially those who have never made it to any of our events in the past. I want people to be moved and inspired. If we have just a handful of people fee this way then my job is done. Our events have never been about making money or exclusivity, we embrace everyone and share who we are.
BBB: What are your future goals for Wordat4F ?
A.A.: Currently we’re so busy planning the 2nd year anniversary that we’ve barely had time to think about 2015. We definitely want to continue our grass root open mics, we want to include more art in our events, continue fostering the love for spoken word in Washington Heights, create more partnerships and awesome collaborations. We hope sometime in the future to join forces with other local creative arts programs in creating a bigger platform where everyone can share their art. Who knows maybe we’ll have our first performance arts center. I’m just putting it out their to the Gods.
Thank you Angy for sharing with us the beginnings of Wordat4F and where it is headed. So get your tickets for Wordat4F 2nd year anniversary here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wordat4f-2nd-year-anniversary-tickets-14706606857?aff=eac2
The line up is incredible! You don’t want to miss this event!!
Please make sure you follow them on instagram: @word4f @rammerrammer and facebook: word at 4F, for the latest info on upcoming events.
*Wendy Angulo Productions is a proud sponsor of Wordat4F 2nd year anniversary.
This has been Beauty, Brains, and Blogging Approved! 😉