Like the rhythm of a beautiful poem, April, which is National Poetry Month, marks the 20th anniversary since Caridad De La Luz first touched down on stage. The poet and spoken word artist, known as La Bruja, celebrated her official anniversary on April 3 when she first walked into the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1996.
“That was the first time I ever performed my poetry. I had no idea there was a place to perform and it was packed all the time,” she says. “That day I got a standing ovation and I was hooked and thought, ‘This is my world! This is my life!”
After that one performance and the lunar eclipse that coincidentally occurred on the same day, she was asked to do a monthly show and the rest is history.
“No one ever tells you you’re going to be a writer or you’re going to be a poet,” she recalls, adding how she discovered how dope her writing skills were by the reactions of her classmates she often wrote school papers for. “They’d be like, ‘Yo! You hooked it up!” she says laughing.
La Bruja went on to perform in the national college circuit, New York City cabarets, museums, nightclubs, main stages, and Russell Simmons’ HBO Def Poetry Jam, creating what is today considered one of the leading spoken word poets around. In addition to her poetry and spoken word performances, the multi-talented Boricua is also an emcee, who has performed with the likes of Fat Joe and B-Real of Cypress Hill, an actress having appeared in plays including I Like It Like That, and author of the highly successful indie-musical "Boogie Rican Blvd", just to give a brief preview of her extensive resume.
The award-winning artist-activist has also traveled the world, bringing her progressive works to a global audience.
“My work is a balance between poetry and activism,” she says. Proving the power behind her words, La Bruja gives back by advocating for the end of domestic violence and pays it forward by teaching poetry and writing workshops across the country.
On the date of her anniversary, she celebrated by welcoming guests to the De La Luz Estate in the Bronx, where she converted a huge garage once used by her father into a performance space.
Looking back at her illustrious career, we wonder if she’d do anything differently.
“Considering where I am right now, no.” she says. "It helped me become who I am now. And right now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”
La Bruja added in quite the poetic way, “the struggle of the journey is how often you’re asked to compromise who you are. I realized I didn’t have to be commercial to be successful. I did it on my own terms. Now I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.” (snap, snap, snap, snap)
La Bruja will perform Saturday in New York City at the 10th Avenue Square and Overlook at the High Line at the free showcase going down from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.