We all have a story to tell…
Thus begins the narration of Angela “Angy” Abreu’s dramatic rendition of her self-published book of poems, I Have No Room for the Broken. I had the pleasure of attending the official book release at Sweet Water Dance & Yoga in the Bronx where tickets had already sold out and seats were filled to capacity. Through the beautifully haunting fluidity of a lone dancer (Mercy Baez) drowning in bouts of unrequited love and the poetic monologues of 5 powerhouse performance poets (Elisabet Velasquez, Cindy Peralta, Paula Ramirez, Mariela Regalado & Vanessa Chica) on a quest for self-amnesty and preservation, No Room for the Broken serves as the balm before the healing.
Who is Angy Abreu?
You are well known for curating events for the NYC arts community, when did the idea behind No Room for the Broken come about?
Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to write a book. I kept diaries since I could remember. A couple of years ago I was helping an ex-boyfriend put his book together and he knew I had this collection of poetry. The idea came about via a conversation we had. We discussed my book a lot. He was the push for my actually going ahead and publishing because I was still very hesitant. I doubted my writing and felt vulnerable because it was my love life and very few knew about it. It took me about two years to decide to go ahead with it.
How did you go about selecting the title for your book and its image?
Originally this was not the title of the book. There is an earlier version which sold about 30 copies under the title I Am Not A Place For Cowards, but I had a copyright issue. Apparently, someone had trademarked the name, and I found myself having to change the title within a few weeks of having it published. It was very hard for me because I was very much in love with the title and felt it fit my book perfectly. The content of my book is regarding all the cowardly and broken men in my life, those who weren’t man enough to be honest, loving and caring with me and how I enabled their behavior but eventually broke free from them. Since I needed a new title I searched for something similar that would also fit the content of my book and that’s how I have no room for the broken came about.
You’ve mentioned how apprehensive you were about the transparency behind No Room for the Broken. What enabled you to move forward with publishing?
Transparency. Yes, this I am known for. Having no filter, outspoken, I tell things like they are and I wasn’t about to write a book using metaphors and cute allegory to tell my story. My love life was anything but that. I spoke the truth, how I felt it, how I lived it. I knew because of the content it was very important for me to be honest, especially since I was sure that my experiences weren’t mines alone. They are shared by many, many women. Speaking with my ex, he convinced me that this was the right way to go about it, to be transparent so that the message would not be lost.
What is your favorite poem in the book? Why?
I actually don’t have a favorite. each piece has its special meaning to me.
The unpacking of traumatic experiences forces us to dig through the wreckage to find our salvation. It can also be very triggering. What were some of your coping mechanisms?
I don’t want to give way parts of my book to those who have yet to read it, but I used denial a lot and denial is very harmful. Not confronting your pain, or what has occurred can cripple you. I was crippled for a long time. I felt lost. My last bad relationship, which was 7 years long, was the one that really messed me over, it was the straw that broke the camels back. Initially, I was in denial with that one, but very angry as well. I was so angry it affected my health. I had panic attacks, for a few weeks and wasn’t able to care for my 1-year-old son. I even tried to mend the relationship because it was all I knew. And because it was all I knew, it didn’t matter if it was bad for me. As time passed and I spent more time by myself and in therapy. I came to the realization that ending it was the right thing to do. I was lost in that relationship and I needed to relearn to be my own person. I learned to be by myself. Prior to that, I was a serial dater. I didn’t feel complete without a relationship. My biggest fear was being alone. To me, that was the equivalent of not being deserving of love. I learned to make friends with people with whom I shared common interests. I found my way, reconnected with my passion and ran with it. Regarding relationships, I re-evaluated what I wanted in a relationship. What I was willing to compromise, until I was content with the person I was becoming. These were my coping mechanisms.
In preparing for your book release, you decided to forego the traditional reading & signing for a more theatrical, monologue-heavy performance. What was that process like and why did you choose that route?
I’ve attended too many book readings and they were all the same. Someone who read excerpts from their book or had a friend join in and that was it. I didn’t want that. First of all, I abhor being the center of attention so I already knew I wasn’t the one going up to read my book. Given that I was dating a theater actor during the time I was writing my book, I discussed with him my book reading and we came with the idea to have women perform my pieces in a theatrical performance. I felt that my pieces would be best conveyed if I went that route. The women I chose were all for it and the process wasn’t an easy one. During rehearsals, I often found myself crying because listening to my words come to life was very emotional for me. I felt bad for the person I used to be.
5 amazingly talented performers brought your struggle of heartbreak and healing to life in front a sold out room. You were part narrator/spectator. How did it feel to relinquish your agency and allow these women to speak your art into existence?
The women I chose are part of my sisterhood and all very strong and empowering in their own way. I love them for their craft and who they are as women. I also knew that they were my best choice because they could relate to my experiences and I felt no one better than they could bring my book to life. I gave them the creative power to edit the manuscript. They each had great ideas and I trusted them completely. This was very much a group effort
I noticed a very diverse audience at the book signing. Both men and women, young and old, artists and noncreative’s. What was the underlying message you hope they all walked away with?
I was very surprised by this since I curate events all the time. My followers are very familiar to me, but during the book release, I noticed that the majority of the audience were people I didn’t know. It was very humbling to know that people who follow me on social media and who I never met attended. The message I wanted people to walk away with is that love can be ugly and beautiful. It’s important to love ourselves, to set standards and boundaries. When we do not confront the ugly, it can very easily destroy us as it almost did me. I wanted men, in particular, to understand how their actions affect us as well. I mean I ended up in the ER unable to care for my son. My relationship with that one had me contemplate taking my own life. Often times people do things and have no idea how it will affect others’. Also, a bad relationship is not the end of the world. We need to learn the lesson from it and move on. We’re not meant to be loved by everyone and everyone is not deserving of our love. It’s okay to love someone from afar.
What’s next for Angy Abreu?
A lot of things are next. I’m happy to announce that a colleague has come on board to direct the play. We will tweak it, expand it and show it again. It has also been requested by Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center, (a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist families in reaching their potential in their communities) for March. This was great news because I’m huge on community activism and it’s very important for me to be able to share my story with women who feel they have no way out. The play will also be part of the Queens Lit Crawl in April.
Where can folks connect with you?
Folks can connect with me via Instagram @noroomforthebroken, Facebook Angy Abreu and same for Twitter.