One thing I love about looking at this age range is watching people experiment. Some of us have already had great success in finding an iconic voice that fits what we have to say right now, which is fantastic, but it's immensely exciting to me to see other writers taking wild, bold risks with their work to test the limits of what their art can sustain.
The poems Rico Frederick sent me for consideration cover a lot of stylistic territory, from erasure to persona to dialogue: I can only conclude that he's a bit of a mad scientist. The piece below is a great example of this. Frederick experiments with pacing, tension, structure, texture, and voice, adding a pinch here, a dash there, willing to risk it all in the hopes of having that eureka! moment. I love and respect that quality in an artist, and I can't wait to see where these explorations go.
Four Hours At The Hospital
Aug. 18th 2010
Hour 1: It’s cold.
These emergency rooms –frozen
to remind our organs / There is a
morgue beneath every waiting room.
Hour 2: The heart monitor tells unsaid secrets.
If the green line goes flat, “What kind of dress do
I pick out for my mother at her going-away party?”
On days like this, my head signals the panic attack
but my legs are paralyzed.
Hour 3: The funeral home wakes
its grey-haired head from off my shoulder.
The unforgiving truth is – fragile is… & we, are.
While the blood is being drawn,
Tears prove six decades of armor can rust.
Hour 4: She says: Dis bed doe care if I wake up
in de morning, but if you think God put me on dis green earth
to dead in hospital ya mus-see crazy or sumthing.
Dey not going to bury my Black Ass
up in dis sick people place, ya hear meh.
Heard the news ran up a flagpole.
Got all the way to Trinidad.
All the family called, one by one.
My Dad didn’t.
Rico is a Trinidadian transplant & the first poet ever to represent all FOUR New York City poetry venues at the National Poetry Slam. He is the author of an upcoming book of poetry & slammaster of the louderARTS Project. A distinguished graphic designer/novelist and full-time art director, Rico is also a lover of gummy bears who now calls Harlem home.