Luya Poetry feels like coming home. My mother always makes me arroz caldo when I’m sick and I always ask for extra luya - I like the punch it packs. Despite having been to only two Luya open mics - those being the very first of their kind, mind you - the energy in the air packs the same punch. I have never been in a room of entirely Filipinx people devoted to listening and supporting each other’s art. I actually have never been to a physical open mic before, though I’ve always wanted to attend. I held my breath the entire commute there, nervous about signing up and performing. But, when I got to the door, I let out a sigh of relief. The community was incredibly welcoming and became an immediate support for me - by the end of the night, strangers became like new family to me.
The magic of Luya goes beyond whatever four walls it happens to be housed in on a particular night, too. I asked a friend to film my poem so that my friends across the country and my cousins in the Philippines could see it, and I’ve honestly never received such quick and excited responses to one of my works before. Every person who saw it tells me they wish they were in the room - that they could perform or even be in the audience. Anyone who attends a Luya open mic is incredibly lucky.
Luya is a place that /needs/ to exist for Filipinx people, whether they have been a poet for 10 years or 10 minutes. It is a safe haven for people like me, wandering around with little to no idea of what kind of artist they are or what path they will take in the future. Frankly, I still have no idea about those things. But now, with these open mics, at least I have a place to wonder about these things openly.
Photo courtesy of Mikayla Delson.