The Schmooze

For the Hebrew Mamita, Poets Are Rock Stars Still

What if I knew more Hebrew than Spanish? What if I only hung out with white girls? What if Orthodox Jews reject me because I have a busted hymen and a head full of human rights? What if I’m not really Jewish?

Those were some of the questions Vanessa Hidary, aka the Hebrew Mamita, asked in a poem she performed on August 16 at New York’s Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Hidary’s candor, humor, and willingness to shock fit the tone and mood of “Throwback,” a showcase of spoken word poetry about sex, race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, social maladies, and the meta-subject of poetry. With a dozen poets and a capacity crowd of super-fans who recited key lines, the event was a throwback to an era when poets were rock stars.

If you remember when mix tapes were made on cassettes and New York’s 1 train was called the 1/9, then this was your scene. The poets were in their 30s and older, many with long poetry and performance resumes. Some of them may even recall first-hand the original Nuyorican Café founded 35 years ago in an East Village apartment. Per the throwback theme, each poet performed one new and one old poem, all filled with references to historical figures, literary legends and old school urban culture.

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For the Hebrew Mamita, Poets Are Rock Stars Still

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