Afro-Writing on the Margins, A Necessary Discussion

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The Bronx Council for the Arts and BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance presented Afro -Writing on the Margins, with yours truly, Lorraine Currelley, Executive Dir., Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. and Ron Kavanaugh, Editor Mosaic Magazine. The theme was Afro- Writing on the Margins. The program started with a poetry reading  featuring me. Following the reading I was joined on stage by Ron Kavanaugh and moderator  Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Co-founder of BAAD! the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, for a panel discussion. Both panelists and moderator examined feminism, ageism, sexism, racism and LGBTQ rights through the lens of afro-diasporic perspectives and how they inform contemporary literary production in the age of #BlackLivesMatter. It culminated with a Q&A and public discourse.
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As artists we work as activists and cultural workers, seeking to provide spaces and opportunities where these needed discussions can take place. Safe and supportive non-judgemental spaces. Saturday’s panelists and moderator did not skirt around issues. Speaking unapologetically and authentically, we spoke of the threats, brutality and murders of Black and Brown people of color.  Both panelists and attendees spoke passionately and emotionally about trauma experienced witnessing repeated video and audio recordings of the murders of innocent citizens. Needed are more spaces for expression, healing and free agency over our minds and bodies, an agency this society does not afford people of color, the poor and marginalized.

According to BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance The series delves into the work of acclaimed writer and public intellectual James Baldwin who spoke about the tense relationship between America’s democratic ideals and our fraught racial history. Each week we will explore how Baldwin’s readings impacts contemporary issues and movements such as Black Lives Matter!, Queerness, gentrification, and police brutality. In addition to the herstory of revolutionary possibilities between Audre Lorde and Baldwin.

The consensus from attendees during the Q&A segment,  activism depends on the degree individuals as artists and citizens wish to or not engage issues of social injustice and equity. The individual as citizen and artist defines how and what that activism is to look like. (Paraphrasing) Ron Kavanaugh shared we can each do what we can. My activism might not look like your activism. I do know that I can write an excellent lesson plan. One that addresses societal concerns via Mosaic and programming. We left inspired and strengthened, with a sense of hope by the exchange. Thanks to Charlie Vazquez, Bronx Writers Center Director at Bronx Council on the Arts, Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, the BAAD! staff, Ron Kavanaugh, Mosaic Magazine, and attendees.

BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance is a Bronx-based arts organization that creates, produces, presents and supports the development of contemporary dance and all creative disciplines with a unique focus on women, People Of Color and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual & Queer communities.

Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA) is a private, non-profit membership organization that has been the official cultural agency of Bronx County since 1962. Recognized nationally as a leading arts service organization in providing cultural services and arts programs, BCA serves a multicultural constituency of almost 1.4 million residents. BCA provides an array of services to 5,000 artists and more than 250 arts and community-based organizations.

The Currelley Literary Journal is an online blog founded by African American poet, writer, educator,  mental health counselor and advocate Lorraine Currelley. The Currelley Literary Journal features commentaries, articles, interviews and reviews. We write about the African diaspora through a historical, herstorical, educational, cultural, socio-political, context, nuance and lens.

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Bronx Book Fair 2016

 

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The Currelley Literary Journal congratulates the Bronx Book Fair for a successful weekend of literary programming. This was the fourth year for the annual Bronx Book Fair. This year’s book fair  took place on May 7th -8th, 2016 at the Bronx Library Center. The Bronx Book Fair is dedicated to engaging and growing the community of poets and writers in the Bronx and to connecting to readers and book lovers of all ages. Annually a coalition of committed literary, educational and cultural organizations and individuals come together to plan this annual event, now in its fourth year.The past three years have met with a great response from  Bronx residents and the larger New York City community, representing all five boroughs.

On Saturday May 7, the kickoff to the fair featured workshops, performances and readings from prominent writers throughout the New York City area. Local vendors will feature book-related items. And engaging family activities took place throughout the day. On Sunday May 8, Small presses gathered from around the city to create a pop-up bookstore. Publishers and editors from NYC area presses and journals were on hand to give talks and workshops. Local vendors, small presses and publishers tabled. Both days hosted children’s activities.

This year’s features included Carmen D. Lucca, LaTanya DeVaughn, Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Bronx Librarians, lively Latin Jazz by Papo Pepin, Rebecca Brooks, Purvi Shah, Alison Roh Park, Mercy Tullis-Bukhari, Jonterri Gadson, Edward Currelley, Daphne Carter McKnight, Nkosi Nkululeko, Women in Comics, Ray Felix, Carolyn Butts, Carlos Aguasaco, Ulises Gonzales, Rachel Ansong, Jose Olivarez, Erik Maldonado, Yesenia Montilla, Kevin Sabio, Charlie Vazquez, Word Up Community Book Shop, Sisters Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center, Astoria Bookshop, Giovanni Ortiz, Ashley N. Ortiz, Jean Carlos Soto, Stephanie Trinidad, Ariana DiLorenzo, Yolanda Rodriguez, BxArts ‪Factory, and Natalie N. Caro.

13087668_470875996453671_7593162115298684518_n (1)Some of this year’s highlights and huge successes were A Conversation: Women, Arts Activism, Creativity and Social Responsibility moderated by Lorraine Currelley. Thanks to panel members Rebecca Brooks, Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari, Jonterri Gadson, Alison Parks and Purvi Shah for your powerful, inspiring and thought provoking words.

Bravo Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari, Edward Currelley, Daphne Carter McKnight and Nkosi Nkululeko. A Weaving of Voices: An Intergenerational Poetry Reading was spectacular!
Clap Snap: A Youth Poetry Reading, facilitated by Bronx Book Fair committee member Peggy Robles-Alvarado was inspiring and powerful!

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved

Ryan Lochte, Entitled & Privileged

I set in front of my television outraged by the prejudicial spins on the Ryan Lochte robbery fabrication. Listening as journalists tried their best to justify his behaviors and worse his lies. Behaviors and an arrogance deeply rooted in an American history of White entitlement and privilege. Journalists looked into cameras urging us to excuse Lochte and his buds behaviors. We were asked to give them a break. Afterall, they’re kids and kids make mistakes. Life goes on. This was followed by praising Lochte’s athletic abilities. Give me a fukking break! What does his athletic abilities have to do with anything? This is not about some young folk getting drunk at a party. This is about entitled and privileged White men drunkards pissing on gas station floors, destroying property, trying to escape and making false accusations of being robbed, robbed by an armed person of color. No innocent children in this scenario, no boys will be boys. Lochte is thirty two years of age.

What makes Lochte’s behavior extremely frightening is his belief that he would be believed. A belief based on the color of his skin. It’s the accusing Black men of kidnapping White babies, only to discover their mother strapped them in car seats and pushed the car into the river. It’s the belief his whiteness would exempt him from laws the rest of us follow. The racism embedded in his psyche. He believed the same American rules would play themselves out in Brazil. Black sons and daughters don’t get the same understanding, compassion, love, empathy and forgiveness. Yet Blacks are demonized for speaking truthfully about systems of oppression. We’re said to be privileged and entitled for having the audacity to do so. We’re called out for not placing our hands over our heart during the American national anthem.

His lies nearly caused an international incident. Brazilians have every right to protest the audacity of Lochte, to come to their country and behave badly. The Brazilian government could have initiated a manhunt for Lochte’s fabricated perps. I’m horrified by what could have resulted. Innocent lives could have died because of his lies. The facts are Brazil has a history of being racist and abusive to her Black people. His actions could have fed this monster. I have no doubt Blacks in the poor favas of Brazil and worldwide understood the unspoken realities entrenched in his lies. For me, I saw America.

Blacks and people of color live daily with these historical and present day realities. Whether in America or Brazil. We have a history of paying the price for America’s sons entitlement, privilege, ignorance, intention and stupidity. Innocent Black bodies swinging from trees, beaten to death, imprisoned, crosses burning on the lawns of Black people, threats, dragged from their homes, communities bombed, set on fire and men falsely accused of rape by America’s daughters. America continues to coddle her White sons, while she justifies the murders of Black mothers sons and daughters. Lochte? Lochte is not deserving of anyone’s forgiveness, nor a second chance. I give less than a damn about his future and endorsements, and believe all corporations that employ him should be boycotted.

No America, your sons will not be held nor suckle at the breast of my compassion. Your poisoned womb gave birth to this liar. My arms and heart remain heavy with the blood of my murdered Black sons and daughters.

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

PEN Celebrates Authors

Harlem Fine Arts Show Honors Congressman Charles Rangel and Author and Entrepreneur B.Smith

The Annual Harlem Fine Arts Show celebrates its seventh year at New York City’s Riverside Church. The opening reception honored Congressman Charles Rangel and Author and Entrepreneur B. Smith. The annual exhibition features a group nationally and internationally acclaimed black artists. Among the many guests on hand to celebrate the honorees were Hosts Journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Poet Nella Larsen, Journalist Ann Tripp, Assemblyman Keith Wright, Playwright Vy Higginson, Visual Artist Shimoda Donna Emanuel, Poet Patricia Arthur and Aleathia Brown/ Unveiled Unlocked.

Some highlights of Harlem Fine Arts Show were dynamic female Pastor Wright. She delivered the opening prayer and welcome. Lovingly referring to those present as beloved. Journalist & radio personality Ann Tripp introduced B. Smith and Dan Gasby co-authors of ‘Before I Forget’. Dan Gasby utilized this as an opportunity to educate about the devastating disease Alzheimers. He said,”It’s also about understanding that Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects 5.2 million people. Almost two-thirds of Americans with the disease are women, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and older African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to have the disease than older whites are.”

There was an unveiling of a portrait of the Congressman Charles B. Rangel. He thanked everyone for attending and delivered a powerful message about the importance of community involvement. His lovely wife thanked those in attendance as well for honoring her husband. Congressman Rangel shared even though this would be his last year in congress, he would continue to be actively engaged in the life of the Harlem community.

Thanks to the gracious and welcoming LaZette McCants and volunteer Divas and Divos for a job well done!

Harlem Fine Arts Show, Riverside Church New York City until Sunday
February 8, 2016.

Harlem Fine Arts Show Gallery

 

 

 

(Photos Lorraine Currelley unless noted otherwise.)

 

Lorraine Currelley Curates Mom Egg VOX January 2016 Issue

Poets Network & Exchange, Inc.

Honored to curate  the VOX Gallery January 2016 Issue. Featured Poets and Writers E.J. Antonio, Jill Austen, Fay Chiang, Edward Currelley, Lorraine Currelley, Jacqueline Johnson, Nella Larsen, Carmel Mawle, Christopha Moreland, Kate Rushin, Alicia Anabel Santos , Margie Shaheed and Julia Stein.. Thanks to Marjorie A. Tesser, Founder & Editor in Chief, Mom Egg Review and featured contributors. Please visit and share widely.

http://www.themomegg.com/themomegg/VOX_MOM/Entries/2015/12/30_VOX_MOM__Guest_Curator_Lorraine_Currelley.html

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Ngoma’s Not Your Average String Thing

12654304_124513931265131_8021431466017120202_nOn Thursday August 6, 2015 Barrio Poetic featured poet Ngoma Hill is a dynamic wordsmith and musicologist. His performance was passionate, his words explosions of truth. Words and music tearing through and breaking down strangling societal isms and ills. Turning our collective anger,  and outrage into haunting passionate poems and songs of protest. All responding eloquently to the cries of the people for justice, equality, peace, and life. His musicology is  superb. “Ngoma’s Not Your Average String Thing -Vocals, Bamboo Flute, Electrik Violin, Acoustic Guitar, Yidaki (Didgeridoo) & Garage Band Tracks. Ngoma Hill performed works from his CD Lessons from the Book of Osayemi and his latest CD release Ngoma Lessons from the Book of Osayemi (Chapter ll) Spirit/Blues/Prophecy. Ngoma Hill’s performance ended with a standing ovation from audience members.

Ngoma,  a former member of the SPIRIT HOUSE MOVERS AND PLAYERS with Amiri Baraka and the Contemporary Freedom Song Duo, SERIOUS BIZNESS, Ngoma weaves poetry and song that raises contradictions and searches for a solution for a just and peaceful world. Ngoma was the Prop Slam winner of the 1997 National Poetry Slam Competition in Middletown, CT and was published in AFRICAN VOICES MAGAZINE, LONG SHOT ANTHOLOGY, THE UNDERWOOD REVIEW, SIGNIFYIN’ HARLEM REVIEW,BUM RUSH THE PAGE/DEF POETRY JAM ANTHOLOGY and POEMS ON THE ROAD TO PEACE (Volumes 1,2 & 3)-Yale Press. LET LOOSE ON THE WORLD”(CELEBRATING AMIRI BARAKA at 75) He was most recently published in the 35th Anniversary Issue of Blind Beggar Press and The Understanding Between Foxes and Light. He was also featured in the PBS Spoken Word Documentary, “The Apro-Poets” with Allen Ginsberg. Ngoma has hosted the slam at the Dr. Martin Luther King Festival of Social and Environmental Justice Festival (Yale University-New Haven, CT) for the past 18 years. Ngoma was selected as a participant at the Badilisha Poetry Xchange in Capetown, South Africa in fall of 2009.In December of 2011 he was initiated as a Priest of  Ngoma has hosted the slam at the Dr. Martin Luther King Festival of Social and Environmental Justice Festival (Yale University-New Haven, CT) for the past 18 years. Ngoma was selected as a participant at the Badilisha Poetry Xchange in Capetown, South Africa in fall of 2009.In December of 2011 he was initiated as a Priest of Obatala in Ibadan, Nigeria. More recently he returned to Ibadan to be initiated as a Priest of Ifa. – http://www.Ngomazworld.com

Hill’s latest release Lessons from the Book of Osayemi (Chapter ll) Spirit/Blues/Prophecy continues his legacy of producing great music and poetry. Music for My Soldiers, Love Song, Where I Come From and Up South are four of the outstanding poems on Ngoma Hill’s  latest release. The authenticity of his poems content resonate with his audiences. There are no lies here, only truth telling. His poems and music is earth and soul grown. His words are love notes to listeners, those seeking truth. There is the presence of unrelenting hunger, thirst and raw passion. His poems had audience members moving and clapping in their seats, leading to a call and response. We became a chorus united in the refrain music for my soldiers, when he performed Music for My Soldiers. Where I Come From, another of Ngoma Hill’s poems is one man’s declaration of his rich heritage and that of a people. All poems are life explosions unabashedly unapologetic and uncompromising.

You can purchase both Lessons from the Book of Osayemi and Lessons from the Book of Osayemi (Chapter ll) Spirit/Blues/Prophecy @

iTunes,Amazon and Bandcamp

©Lorraine Currelley 2015. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author is strictly prohibited.