Legendary-The Spoken Word Poetry of Emanuel Xavier
"Emanuel's poetic tones inform the listener of the struggles one takes when attempting to create beauty out of decades of decay. It is obvious he has studied past voices and thus been able to craft a unique sense of phrasing which is a synthesis of masterful wordplay and a deep sense of musicality." -REG E. GAINES, BRING IN DA NOISE, BRING IN DA FUNK This is simply one of the many things said about Emanuel Xavier since he turned his life around to establish himself as a spoken word poet in 1997. Yet, he always managed to remain an integral part of the New York City underground arts scene. Except for a PAPER magazine photo shoot as one of their annual '50 Most Beautiful People', he has never drawn the attention of the national media despite his presentations throughout the country. More people know about his background history and work as an artist than his actual poetry. † The political, sexual, and religious themes throughout his work have often kept him from reaching a wider audience. That and the cultural, often obscene, tone of his words have both inspired and limited his place in American literature. Listened to with music as a compilation, his poems reveal the growth of an artist and a voice filled with genuine passion. † His quest to transition himself from a petty street hustler to a recognized bard started in 1996, when he first took the stage to compete in a poetry slam at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Though he was often compared to one of the original founders of the venue, Miguel Piñero, he had never even heard of the tragic wordsmith. Almost a year later, Emanuel Xavier created a path of his own by self-publishing the raw and sexually explicit collection, Pier Queen. Saul Williams and Sarah Jones were quickly becoming famous, Miguel Algarin and Bob Holman were already pioneers of the spoken word movement, and hip-hop had not quite yet influenced the slam community. Emanuel Xavier found a comfortable niche for himself alongside seasoned performers such as Willie Perdomo and Caridad de la Luz. His "Bushwick Bohemia" and signature poems that followed- the vibrant, Spanglish "Nueva York" and "Tradiciones" and 2002's political "Americano"- established him as a genuine contemporary spoken word poet. Like him, his poems were fiery, daring, and unapologetic. His cultural influence and queer identity forced his audience to welcome one of the first openly gay Nuyorican voices. † His debut prose novel, published in 1999, heralded the arrival of a new author in the literary scene. Christ like excited some and caught the attention of others, once again shifting his place in the world, from criminal to slam poet to published writer. † Christ like's improbable follow up- the underestimated poetry collection, Americano- revealed the birth of a political activist. "Wars & Rumors of Wars" and "Children of Magdalene" are undeniably some of his most poignant poems. The maturity and scope of his verse defies the boundaries of his earlier work. † Several years later, he takes on another unlikely title- editor. Somewhere between Bullets & Butterflies: queer spoken word poetry and Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry, he begins work on new poems featured on this compilation. Often confessional, his religious imagery brings it all together for this aptly titled collection. † "The Death of Art" mocks his own ambition. † Emanuel Xavier continues to write with uncompromising devotion to prove him worthy of recognition within the literary arts scene. If anything, he has demonstrated that, regardless of background history, all of us are able to express ourselves creatively in some form or another. He openly shares himself with great audacity and passion- the signs of a true artist.