Monday, June 20, 2016

JD Estrada Presents Shadow of a Human at Libros AC

With this event, that makes 3 book activities in 3 places I’ve done so far and all I can say for sure is that every experience is immensely revealing for several reasons. Libros AC is a beautiful bookstore located on Ponce De Leon Avenue in Puerto Rico’s Santurce neighborhood, a random an eclectic area that is as mixed as it is fascinating.

Santurce has an expressway separating it from the Condado Area and it’s had several wonderful restaurants and locales opened. Libros AC definitely fits in by not fitting in because that’s how Santurce is, equal parts hipster, Dominican, posh, and low income. You can go to the Fine Arts movie theater as easy as you can go to several strip clubs located nearby.

The particular block where Libros AC is located has Ciudadela in front, a housing complex, with a fitness center, some interesting establishments and all you need to survive within a block. The store itself is gorgeous, with a lovely selection, proudly and beautifully displayed, while they also sell beer and delicious food. It’s such a nice place to just visit, that it must be said. And that’s where I had my 3rd book event.

Friends whom I didn’t expect came and I took the mic at around 7:30 at night. I then proceeded to talk about the Human Cycle and how it is my exploration of humanity through fiction. I shared how a tetralogy became a trilogy as it makes more sense that way. I spoke how Only Human focused a lot on the physical aspect of humanity and what differentiates us or more so, how the physical aspect of Nathaniel is the center stage. I spoke how one of the main influences of Shadow of a Human is Carl Jung especially the aspects of his work that focus on the shadow self.

I then proceeded to read chapter 2 in its entirety. It’s funny because I clearly remembered that chapter being shorter than it really is. 7 minutes afterwards, I finish reading that chapter and I honestly felt people were mainly there for support, which means the world to me.

Then I began to read from my Spanish poetry collection and they paid more attention. Pensando in Metáforas is a very personal work, as are most of my works. But honestly, about a third of the poems within I penned while mom was under the knife for surgery. The poems are short, but honest, intensely truthful slices of who I am and how I feel, how I live, and how I process what I go through. People paid a lot of attention in regards to the poem Ladrón, basically my confession to my mom that I would do anything to steal her pain, her worries and woes, and give her peace, but that life does not allow me to due to the nature of experience and that even in that scenario she taught me it's better to give than receive.

Afterwards, I read excerpts from my first bilingual collection, Twenty Veinte. Again, people paid a lot more attention to my selections here. I read a poem called Rant for me where I talk about the experience of being Hispanic, i.e. being stuck in a limbo in a black and white world I choose to not side with. I also read the eponymous poem that splits the English from the Spanish, or more so transitions from one language into the other. It is written in Spanglish and talks about how it feels like to live a bilingual life. The last piece I shared was Puerto Rico Salsa, Puerto Rico Reggatón, a Spanish essay of my point of view in regards to comparing Puerto Rico in the 80’s and present day PR. It shares a very honest view of the state of the Island, which I love with all its pros and cons.

By the end of that, people were really paying attention and actually emotionally involved.

A brief Q&A followed where I talked about future projects, what I would do if I had the option of an undo key for my life, writing in English and Spanish and some of the hardest things in life, like finishing a project. After my presentation I was able to share some ideas with good friends whom I have from life, from work, from family, and from the Puerto Rico Comic Con. It was a special night because I was able to learn a valuable lesson in gauging an audience for a reading. People went there for Shadow of a Human but were more interested in my other work, and that is quite the blessing. It means that I have the good fortune of having enough variety to find something for the particular audience and that I was able to go from an Ok event, to something much better, just by switching the focus. I learned how insecure I am reading in Spanish which is almost a comedy in and of itself and that I will do much better as I continue on my writer's journey.

Most importantly, I learned that my love of variety is as much my salvation to my path as a writer as is my love to write a salvation in my life and that my desire to write with enough variety to please a wide variety of people can be beneficial to me, because it means that I can make it worthwhile for most people who are kind enough to invest time in me and my writing and listen to me ramble for an hour and change. 

I left two copies of all my works at Libros AC (that’s 16 books lol) and I do hope to be lucky enough to get a call asking for more books to be delivered, although only time will tell. What has become evident though is that I’m not half bad at this writing business and that people do seem to enjoy me live and direct lol. That’s pretty cool and so are you for reading a 1,000+ word post on this experience. :D

Let’s see what other adventures we get up to. Thanks for sticking around and spending some of your wonderful time with me.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

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