Interview: Rudy Francisco, The Artist Room

April 15, 2016

The Artist Room is a new interactive happening from Washington Square Hotel and CMYK. Inspired by the hotel’s storied past, this event brings audiences unparalleled access to artists and gives them an up-close look into their creative worlds. For each installment, we convert a hotel room into a unique performance space, tailored to the artist and genre. Small groups enter the room for intimate performances. Format and style will change depending on the performer – and the group – but audiences will leave transformed.

For our first installment of The Artist Room, we worked with acclaimed performance poet Rudy Francisco. Rudy brought his blend of social critique, introspection, honesty and humor to create a special poetry event. Couples and small groups entered a transformed hotel room where Rudy created intimate, personal performance which explored the theme of “Love” and were in response to the audiences and their energy.

We recently followed up with Rudy to find out more about how he experienced The Artist Room, his process and what’s next.

1. What is your poetry origin story?

I wrote my first poem when I was 17. It was a homework assignment in my senior English class. My teacher read the poem and told me that it was good so I continued writing. The following year, I began hosting an open mic at my university, poets from around the city heard about it and started coming out to perform. They told me about the various open mics around town, I started going to all of them, eventually a few of my friends convinced me to perform and after my first performance I knew that poetry and the stage would be an integral part of my life.

2. How does an audience affect your performance of a poem?

The audience has a tremendous affect on my performance. While performing, I’m feeding off of the energy in the room. Often a poem will sound very different depending on the vibe in a given space.

3. Poems that are performed seem more alive and more mutable than those on the page. Do your poems change over time as you get feedback from performances?

My performance of a particular poem will change depending on how I feel about the subject. Sometimes, poems are written in a very emotional moment and our emotions are subject to change. A poem that was written in an angry state, about being broken hearted may turn into sarcasm, depending on how my feelings have evolved in regards to the situation.

4. You often perform longer sets for large audiences. The Artist Room was a shorter and more intimate experience. How was your experience participating in the Artist Room different than your usual performances?

It was an amazing experience for me. Breaking the routine of how I normally perform and switching the environment helped me get reacquainted with my work. There were times when I remembered exactly why I wrote certain poems, what I was going through when I wrote them and what they mean to me. I was a very different experience for me, much more personal and intimate. I enjoyed every minute of it.

5. What are you working on now and where can we see you next?

I’m still traveling a lot and performing at universities across the country. I’m currently in a conversation with a publishing company and we’re discussing the idea of releasing a collection of my poems.