Moab recently concluded it’s sixth annual Pride Festival, and this year’s guest of honor was noted slam poetry pioneer Regie Cabico, who conducted poetry readings, workshops and slams.
“This is an historic moment, this is the first queer slam ever up here in Moab," Cabico said. "The poets that are on this stage have come all the way from Washington, DC, from Colorado Springs, from Phoenix, from Salt Lake City. This is not an academic recitation at Yale, this is a Kumbaya moment, where poets are delivering their own original gospel truth.”
One poet read: “Poetry is dramatic. If you didn’t want drama, you shouldn’t have dated a poet. After all, I warned you.”
“I’ve been doing spoken word for 25 years now, one of the first pioneers of the poetry slam genre," Cabico said. "And I’ve never gotten to headline a pride festival, so it’s really been exciting. In addition to writing and performing poems, I love hosting open mics, and in Washington DC, I do a queer open mic called Sparkle. It’s a queer open mic for everyone.”
Another poet reads: “The majority of the world feels something that I do not have the capacity for. One day the idea of sex will no longer be the one-stop guarantee to a panic attack.”
“I need her to be gone. I need the GPS of my heart to un-map the route to her house. I need to drink enough whiskey that the blessed burn of it will erase her name from my tongue. I need to learn to take up the whole bed again.”
“Queer and trans poetry especially, it’s really about gender fluidity and trans identity among many things," Cabico said. "And I feel like, yes, that is the movement. I think that is the direction of where performance poetry is going.
"Then I do a Tina Turner impersonation," he says. "Maybe I’ll do it later, but I don’t know.
This poem is called Arctic Lover: 'After I removed my sox and underwear, he says, I’m not feeling so hot.' That poem took me six years to write."
"But you know," Cabico said, "when I started doing this 25 years ago, it was just extremely radical, in the aftermath of the AIDS epidemic, to see a young, I was young, a young gay Filipino being so vocal. And so now, the way that we look at gender, and the way that we separate gender expression, gender identity, being asexual, all that has really exploded.”
Another poet read: “I need a boatload of sage. I need to light the blood red candles and chant the exact right incantations that cast her out. I need an exorcism. I am tired of living with a ghost.”
“Us weirdos got it made in this up and coming world because normality is the tap water of mixed beverages. Normality is plain oatmeal and grits with nothing mixed in them. Normality is plain white bed sheets and pillow cases and blankets, so yeah/no. I will be loud. I will be queer and I will exist, no longer in silence.“
“There’s a strength in the younger generation supporting the open mic," Cabico said. "I’m lucky because I go into a school, and my job is to get students to write poems and to perform them. So when I go into a classroom the students and what they say, how they say it, and how I work with them, it’s a strong indicator of what the community is like. And so now I think it’s not just the queer poetry, it’s also Black Lives Matter and police brutality. Yes, it’s great that our poems are out there, that there are new topics and issues that need to shake up our towns and our cities. But I also feel that the poetry doesn’t work unless there’s also dialogue.”
And another poet read this: “It doesn’t stop you from looking at me in that way that makes me go, woah, baby, I think you like me. As much as I like you, which is cool, cuz I like you a lot, not like love like, but I like you so much I’m worried that the words I love you are just going to slip out, like any day now. Like, I’m going to be tying me shoes…”