From teaching English in China to becoming a poetic performer in Hollywood, David Anthony Romero has come a long way. Having grown up in a suburban city and drifted through the ranks of the public education system, he now emerges as a poetic performer still in action and very much the creative architect in his field.
TC: How did you get your start?
DR: I started performing spoken word poetry at Da Poetry Lounge in Hollywood. Eventually, I discovered that there were plenty of venues in the Inland Empire and I became associated with that scene. It wasn’t until I had gotten in the habit of performing at A Mic and Dim Lights in Pomona that I really came into my own as a performer. That’s when I started to get features at venues.
TC: Is there a stage name you go by? How/why did you choose it?
DR: I used to go by “Hypostatic” back when I first started. It’s a term lifted from religious philosophy. As I became less religious, the less sense it made to keep that alias. I also tried “Mr. Romero” for a while, but in the end, using my own full name just seemed to be the right choice. I like to think of it as a way to honor my father, Richard Anthony Romero (1942 – 2008).
TC: What was your first show like? How did you prepare for it? How do you feel it went? How has it affected your future performances?
DR: My first big performance was nerve-racking. I opened for Latin Grammy award winners Ozomatli in a show at Cal Poly Pomona. They were, and still are, one of my top five favorite bands. One of my mentors, Besskepp, introduced me to the crowd and I walked onto the biggest stage I’ve ever performed on. I had prepared myself by practicing in front of the mirror, reciting my poems on long walks, whispering my poems to and from work, and performing at venues, but this was a different monster entirely. I came onto that stage with a whole lot of energy and I believe that I made a big splash with my brash confidence and bright orange Cal-Trans shirt. I came out with an attitude and poise somewhat between that of a protest organizer and stand-up comedian. The audience loved me instantly. That single evening has changed my life. It has opened a lot of doors for me as a performer. After that, I could never really go back to the idea of performing “just for fun.” I became dedicated to the idea of becoming a professional poet.
TC: What did you want to be when you were small? How has it changed as time went by?
DR: My dream as a child was to be a writer of short stories and novels. I was a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe. I always laugh at Tim Burton’s short film “Vincent” because that was very much me at that age; very glum and melodramatic! Before that, I had wanted to become a comic book writer and/or artist. Who knows, maybe I’ll still write a run of X-Men someday!
TC: How do you parents and family feel about your career choice? Do they support it? How?
DR: My father was supportive of some of my poetry. Hahaha. He thought that I was good at writing about things that were humorous and that dealt with culture. Therefore, his two favorite poems of mine were “Diamond Bars” and “Cheese Enchiladas.” He was much less impressed by some of my other poems. My mother, on the other hand, thinks that the vast majority of what I do is crude and vulgar. She has yet to come to see me perform, but she does seem genuinely happy to hear that I’m doing shows and getting my three books ready for publishing.
TC: What is your work about? What is your main message?
DR: I strive to be a complete poet. I write about everything, or at least try to. I think some people are shocked by the juxtapositions I present in regards to life and death, the political and the personal, the fantastic and the mundane, the serious and the comical, etc., but, that’s the whole package my work delivers. What I’m probably best at, and most known for, is being a sort of cultural warrior. I fight institutional racism and local prejudices through humor and humanism. “Who here likes FOOD?”
TC: From where do you draw your inspiration? How do you compile your materials and who is your target audience?
DR: I think that Talib Kweli said it best, “I draw on anything for inspiration, a fond memory, a piece of paper, walls in a train station.” Sometimes I write with the intent of writing a spoken word piece, other times I write just to get the thoughts and feelings out of my system and worry about what I’ll do with the poem (whether it will ever be performed or not, will be published or unpublished, etc.) later. I write and perform mostly for the hip hop generation, but I do things with my words, intonations, and performance techniques to try and reach out to other audiences as well.
TC: What are your hobbies and enjoyments during your time off?
DR: Well, I broke my arm playing soccer about two months ago, so any physical activity has been out of the question for a while now. It’s a pity, because I was really starting to improve my basketball game before it happened. I watch far too much TV these days. I’m a huge fan of Food Network and any of the shows that feature Chef Gordon Ramsay. I’ve read three Kurt Vonnegut novels in a row now, and I’m pondering whether or not to pick up another one, or finally get to the Michael Parenti and Noam Chomsky books I’ve been meaning to read.
TC: What are your future plans for yourself? Marriage? Kids? Traveling?
DR: I hope to establish enough of a name for myself to be able to travel the globe as a poet and author. I feel deeply sorry, in advance, for the foolish woman who would marry me, but yes, I would love to get married and have two or three kids. I am somewhat surprised by this relatively new revelation of mine in regards to wanting to get married. I had always thought that I would be a bachelor.
TC: What are your upcoming plans? Any shows and/or websites with your info on it?
DR: I have a paid feature at El Camino College that I am very excited about on the nineteenth of this month (October). I just got added to the list of performers for the Los Angeles International Film Festival. I’ll be starting up a blog very soon for Projekt Newspeak (an Asian Pacific American media organization) called “The Mexi-Asian Perspective: A Mexican’s Guide to All Things Latin, Asian, or Both.” It’s going to be glorious. Most importantly, I am preparing to release three separate books of poetry within a month of each other. The books are being reviewed by some heavy hitters in the poetry community, so watch out! A website is in the works, but the best way to follow all of these developments, and to book me, is by “friending” me on my Facebook.
TC: Shout out to your fans?
DR: A big thanks to the artists and activists who have always formed the backbone of my support network. You’re the bestest. Fight on!
Look him up and attend a show. For now, David Romero continues writing, performing, and befriending the world as he chases his passions and pursues his dreams.