Raquel Salas Rivera reading at the Royal Room, Saturday, Aug. 25.
The Royal Room, a wine bar that has been open on the corner of Sixth Ave. and Sixth Street for about a year now, was full to the brim Saturday night for a collaboration with local literary art non-profit Casa Libre.
The audience squeezed into the warmly lit wine bar for three reasons, wine, Sophia Terazawa and Raquel Salas Rivera.
Terazawa opened the evening with a powerful and theatrical reading of soldier's testimonies from the Vietnam war, at points screaming while at other times holding a large knife to her throat. She captivated the audience, who didn't quite know what she was going to do next, and invited them to scream, cry or look into the eyes of her Hello Kitty stuffed animal for comfort.
After a brief intermission where attendees rushed, the best they could through the throngs of people, to the slate bar to refill their wine glasses, Salas Rivera took the podium.
Dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans, Salas Rivera joked and laughed with the crowd before diving into the deeply political poetry.
Salas Rivera's newest book of poetry, lo terciario/the tertiary
Salas Rivera read each poem first in Spanish, earning snaps and hollers from those in the audience who understood. Salas Rivera then read in English, the words expressing love for Puerto Rico and anger at how it, and it's people, have been treated.
The first half of the reading included poems from Salas Rivera's books, including the most recent book, lo terciario/the tertiary.
Salas Rivera is the author of four published books and six chapbooks. The poems from the newest book felt old, Salas Rivera joked, even though the book only came out in April.
Salas Rivera then read from new works, ever relevant as situation in Puerto Rico continues to evolve after the devastating hurricane that hit the island a little less than a year ago.
While some of the poetry left the audience speechless, a huge round of applause filled the Royal Room at the end of the performance.
Wine glasses clinked as friends, all somehow intertwined in Tucson's rich poetry community, mingled with the poets, Casa Libre hosts and friends after the reading.
Read Margaret Regan's full story that appeared in last week's issue of the Tucson Weekly
previewing the event here.