On Wednesday July 13, 2016 community gathered at the Bronx Library Center for Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility Part II. A conversation and reading with featured guest poet, teacher and musician Bonafide Rojas and moderated by Lorraine Currelley, Executive Director at Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. This three part series was created to explore the relationship between arts activism, creativity and social responsibility. We ask, How does one’s creativity intersect social justice?
James Baldwin stated, “Artist are here to disturb the peace.” Bonafide Rojas is no stranger to cultural and political activism. He spent his youth as an activist on the frontlines advocating and fighting for human rights and social justice. Today, he continues to address social justice through his writing, music, teaching as well as speaking and performing at various forums and venues. He believes the degree of one’s activism and responsibility is individual. It is often complicated and dependant on many factors.
Bonafide Rojas is quick to smile and laugh. He’s insightful, ponders questions before responding and is well read. Algarin, Baraka, Lorca, Neruda, Perdomo, Pietri, Pinero and Sanchez among many others are some of the authors he has read or studied. He attributes early developmental influences to his strong and adventurous mother and brilliant sister. His son shares the name Pablo with the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and is charting his own musical path. Growing up in the Bronx, environment, varied multiple cultural as well as educational opportunities contributed to Bonafide Rojas’ knowledge thus expanding his worldview.
Bonafide Rojas is the author of Renovatio (Grand Concourse Press, 2014) When The City Sleeps (Grand Concourse Press, 2012) & Pelo Bueno: A Day In The Life of a Nuyorican Poet (Dark Souls Press, 2004). He appeared on Def Poetry Jam (Season 4), in the documentary Spitting Ink and has been published in numerous anthologies & journals. They include Manteca, Saul Williams’ Chorus, Bum Rush The Page, Role Call, Learn Then Burn (Pts. I & II), Me No Habla Con Acento, The Centro Academic Journal, The Hostos Review, The Acentos Review, Letras, The Calabash Journal & Palabras. He is the bandleader of the music project The Mona Passage & is the founder of Grand Concourse Press. He loves The Beatles, Bob Dylan & Jimi Hendrix.
We’re here because we understand the importance of community and that we must create a restorative narrative. We understand we must work to change the old paradigm that seeks to destroy us as a community. We must continue our work for justice. This requires remaining focused and alert. Understanding our lives and those of future generations depend on our clarity. A clarity which sends us forth on a constructive path steadfast in our purpose.
A special thanks to our featured guest Bonafide Rojas for a phenomenal conversation and reading. Thanks to Michael Alvarez, Jean Harripersaud and the Bronx Library Center for your ongoing support of community programming. Thanks Jean Harripersaud for sharing the importance of reading and for directing us to supporting books and exhibits throughout the evening. Thanks to Edward Currelley , Latanya DeVaughn, Carmen de Luca, Yolanda Rodriguez, Simone Nichole Perry and to everyone who came out to support Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility Part II. Join us for Part III August 17, Special Guest Charlie Vazquez.
This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Copyright 2016 Lorraine Currelley. All Rights Reserved.