Words Create Worlds
There’s a small building with a black awning on 3rd Street in the Lower East Side. You’d think nothing of it if it wasn’t for the elaborate paintings that cover the front wall, making a stark divide from the brick facades surrounding it.
If you happened to wander inside this building on a Friday night, you’d find yourself in a small crowded brick room. The lights would be dimmed, the bar packed, and people of every age and background pushing their way towards a small platform that sits against the side wall. Large portraits hang askew across the brick wall. An energy pulsates through the room. They say there is no other place in the world where people line the streets outside on a Friday night to watch poetry. But at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, this is a normal Friday.
My experience at the Nuyorican was with my friend Elijah and his friend Frances. We packed in next to the bar, peering over and through heads as the platform lit up. The next three hours we listened to poets from across the country share their lives with us. There were poems about death, about being abused, about rape, about being a nerd, about falling in love, about slavery, about Michael Jackson. I laughed. I smiled. I got chills. I got choked up. A poet can deliver a line with such force and conviction and brutal honestly that the life gets sucked out of the room. Suddenly, all of us packed together in that small brick room shares in the pains and joys of the poet.
These poets deliver a line as if it’s God speaking life into existence, creating something where there was nothing. The room falls silent but an energy is vibrating through the room, like the big bang speeding through space, creating galaxies and planets and stars and worlds and life.
Words create worlds.
I’ve never been a slave. I’ve never been abused or raped or addicted to drugs, but through these poet’s words, I could feel their pain, their joys, their sorrows and celebrations and humor. Through their poems, I experienced worlds I had never seen before. Words create worlds.
By creating, we invite others to see things in a different way, from a new perspective. The words we write, the art we paint, the things we make have the power to destroy, to divide, to tear down but they also have the power to build, to connect, to help us live better. We create worlds. We can build a better world, a new tomorrow.
“You cannot be a cynic or a skeptic when you build a building. You cannot be a pessimist, the architect,” Daniel Libeskind said, “because architecture require foundations, because it requires construction and it is a communal activity, it always is an assertion of a future that is true, that is good.” We create because we believe a better world is possible. We believe there can be a tomorrow that’s better than today. We’re optimistic for what the future holds and want to have a hand in building it.
We left the cafe around 1:00 in the morning, but we were not tired. We were shaking with the energy of the room because we felt like tomorrow would be different from today. We were shown a new world; a world that is true and beautiful, a world that presents us with a different perspective and binds us together.