“Jazz In Jail”A Celebration & Book Launch for Louis Reyes Rivera

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Congratulations Blind Beggar Press and Barbara Killens Rivera on a great book launch and celebration! January 8th brought together a standing room only audience of family, friends and colleagues, to celebrate Jazz In Jail, the visionary work of Louis Reyes Rivera. The event venue was Sistas’ Place. Sistas’ Place is a welcoming and comfortable space known for its educational and cultural events and gracious staff. A great place for artists and community residents to gather. The celebration started with opening remarks and a warm welcome by Blind Beggar Press, co-founder and publisher Gary Johnston who was the co-emcee with yours truly Lorraine Currelley, Executive Director for Poets Network & Exchange. Excerpts from Jazz In Jail  were read by prominent poets, all long time friends and colleagues of Louis Reyes Rivera. The first group of poets to read were Jose Angel Figueroa, Tongue of the Vile & Convention’s Call,  E.J. Antonio, The Womb of Night & Concerto for Sonny Carson,  Americo Casiano, When Word Got Out & A Sextet Wailing and Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin, Visiting Jail & Jazz Free Now.
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A musical interlude proceeded the second set featuring trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah, who was joined on stage by the Jazzoets. The Jazzoets were phenomenal and jammed with some of the poet readers, throughout the event. They were met with resounding applause, shouts of approval and some attendees arose from their seats to dance.It was an honor to emcee for the second set. The second set of readers were poets Jacqueline Johnson, Witness: Mother G Flat Blues & Sultry Blue, Layding Kaliba, Musicians on the Run & Rap Swing,  Jesus Papoleto Melendez, Beneath the Maze & En Viejo San Juan, Atiba Wilson, That Haunt of Freedom & Concert for the Yard, and Baba Ngoma Hill, The Voice of Jazz & Witness: The Expert.  Barbara Killens Rivera, came to the stage to give closing remarks. She shared her gratitude, reflections, and thoughts. She was later joined on stage by her family, poet readers, the Jazzoets, Gary Johnston and yours truly.

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What people are saying about Jazz In Jail.

Jazz in Jailis his gift, one of this century’s great works of art.  His poetry jabs and swings, cuts and caresses, moves and schools.  And he emerges the victor, liberating our music from the corporate chains and cages that have trapped our people, body and soul.  Jazz Libre!” – Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (2009)
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Books are available $19.95 plus $ 3.00 shipping from:
Blind Beggar Press
P.O. Box 437
Wiiliamsbridge Station
Bronx, NY 10467

Thanks, to poet readers, Jazzoets, family, friends and all those who came out to celebrate Louis Reyes Rivera, “Jazz In Jail. Thanks to Carolyn Butts, Editor African Voices Magazine for sharing the event with your readers and subscribers. Thanks, to everyone who purchased books, books were sold out. Thanks, Edward Currelley for covering the event for The Currelley Literary Journal and Blog.

Photo Credits Edward Currelley and Lorraine Currelley.

©Lorraine Currelley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 
 
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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.