Category: Commentary

Women of Passion and Purpose

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On behalf of Poets Network & Exchange thank you to everyone who came out for “Women of Passion and Purpose.” We were delighted to have you. Special thanks to our fabulous featured poets Jill Austen and Meredith Trede for your powerful words, we loved every poem shared. You were both amazing! Dear Meredith and Jill it was an honor. Thanks to everyone for joining me in honoring my friend Fay Chiang. For those not present we honored with words and lit candles which remained lit during the event in her memory. My sorrow is a little lighter today,

It was great seeing friends. Thanks to Maestro Marlon Daniel for photographing the event. You are appreciated beyond measure. Thanks, to our Open mic participants and everyone who purchased a book. Thanks to Brad our tech person and one of our greatest supporters, we appreciate you.

Enjoyed the after event community conversations, the sharing and living in the moment. This brings me immense joy. Everyone who took photos please tag me in them. We look forward to seeing everyone in the near future. More photos to come. (Photo Marlon Daniel)

©Lorraine Currelley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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Saving Our Lives: A Call to Self Care

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Are you taking the needed time to self care? Do you feel as though you’re on an unending escalator unable to get off? Are you experiencing feelings of burnout, exhaustion, trauma, stress, depression and anxiety? Overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness and frustration? Overwhelmed by the constant media overload of
articles and discussions centered on the state of this country’s affairs?
Are you eating properly and getting the needed sleep, your body requires? Have you joined thousands of  others traumatized by assaults on our humanity and well being by this administration? If the answer is yes, it’s time to step back and self care.

While, being vigilant we must take care to not allow these unrelenting poisonous assaults to inhabit our spirit  overwhelming us and affecting our health and well being. Whether our personal concerns or protesting social justice issues, we must take care to protect ourselves. Self care is not an option, it’s a necessity. Healthy bodies cannot survive without  proper care. We must do everything possible to protect our health. Self care demands that we step away from all activities to rest, re-energize, relax and return renewed. We cannot be of service to anyone, if we are not well ourselves.

Ways to Keep Healthy:

0. Get sleep.
1.  Honor your right  to private time, time for self. Make no apologies.
There is a difference between taking time for self and isolation.
2. Do not isolate yourself( remove yourself relationships, the world,
and your normal routines.

3. Remember, there is still beauty and love in the world. Embrace it!
4. Do those things that bring you joy.
5. Surround yourself with those you love, like and respect.
6. Laugh.
7. Dance.
8. Listen to music and sing along.
9. Pray and meditate. Keep your spirit and heart fed.
10 Take a break from social media and definitely threads (debates).
11.Check in on each other.
12. Share a meal. Organize a potluck.
13. If physically able, take a walk and enjoy nature. Sit by the water.
14. Be still. Clear your mind. Repeat a mantra of your choosing.
15. In a crisis? Speak with a professional and/or someone you trust.
16. Work on your art, create.
17. Take a well deserved break. Have a me day.
18. Eat properly. Cut out junk foods.

 

For information visit Mental Health, Resources & Advocacy
https://www.lcinformationandresourcecenter.com

©Lorraine Currelley 01/30 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Poets Network & Exchange Love & Revolution

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On Saturday September 24, 2016 Poets Network & Exchange presented Love & Revolution. Words cannot express the full power, love and joy experienced at Saturday’s event. Community gathered for Poets Network & Exchange’s Love & Revolution and transformation took place, individually and collectively.

Speaking of social injustice, equity and emotional emancipation. Meeting in a safe  supportive environment, becoming  a catalyst for  change, healing and hope.

Poets Network & Exchange understands the importance of community and that we must create a restorative narrative. We understand we must work to change the old paradigm. We  understand that our work must include the very necessary 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.

We partnered with 100 Thousand poets for change, a global community of poets, writers and artists presenting events. 100 Thousand Poets for Change is founded by Michael Rothenberg. While focused on the artistic, it addresses social injustice sustainability and other social issues. This was our fourth year.

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Special thanks to our featured poets Jerome G., Ngoma Hill, Gary Johnston and Peuo Tatyana Tuy and to poet Mercy Tullis-Bukhari, for facilitating a great open mic. Thanks to Meredith Trede for continued support and to Peuo Tatyana Tuy and Ngoma Hill for their technical support and the Morningside Heights Library. Thanks to open mic participants Romeo Del Valle, Meredith Trede, Bro. Max Black, Layding Kaliba, Fatima Seba, Monica Muniz and Talib. Thanks to everyone who attended and shared in this healing and joyous experience. Community we are because of you!

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.

Photo Credit Peuo Tatyana Tuy and Lorraine Curelley

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Charlie Vazquez Part III Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility

On Wednesday August 17th, 2016 Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. Scholar Lecture Series presented the last of its three part series Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility with featured guest Charlie Vazquez.
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Residents of the Bronx and attendees throughout the Tri-State area were treated to a spectacular reading and conversation at the Bronx Library Center. Charlie Vazquez read excerpts from his novels and participated in a conversation and interview facilitated by Lorraine Currelley, executive director of Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. The event was presented by Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. and co-sponsored by both Poets & Writers, Inc. and Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. The theme  Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility. How does Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility play  a role in the life of the artist? How is it reflected in the writer’s work? How does a writer/artist navigate creativity and social responsibility?   James Baldwin, “Artists are here to disturb the peace.” We ask are artists indeed here to disturb the peace?

The consensus based on the conversation and comments from attendees during the Q&A segment,  is it depends on the degree artists as individuals wish to or not engage issues of social justice and equity. The artist defines how and what that activism and one’s creativity is to look like. As a writer and individual Mr. Vazquez chooses to write his truth, from a voice which is authentically his. Addressing these issues is complicated and in some situations there are risks and factors for consideration.

Carlos Luis (Charlie) Vazquez is the author of three novels and short stories. His third novel, a paranormal detective thriller is set in Old San Juan, and an accompanying collection of short fiction. He’s the Director for the Bronx Writers Center, Editorial Trance CCO & NYC Coordinator for Festival de la Palabra de Puerto Rico. Like him on his Facebook Author Page! Follow him on Twitter Editorial Trance.

Thanks to everyone who attended Part III of Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility with featured guest Charlie Vazquez. Thanks to Charlie Vazquez for an evening of insightful conversation and a powerful reading. Thanks to Michael Alvarez for his stellar leadership and ongoing support of community artists and programming. Thanks to Jean Harripersaud and Elvira Parrales for welcoming attendees to the Bronx Library Center and sharing the importance of reading and its impact on lives. Thanks to our community. We are because of your participation and support. Special thanks to Poets & Writers, Inc. for sponsoring the Men’s Narratives Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility series. Your support of our artists and programming is appreciated beyond measure. Shout out to Mosaic Literary Journal Editor and The Literary Project Director Ron Kavanaugh. Featured guests for the Men’s Narrative series included Nkosi Nkululeko Part I and Bonafide Rojas Part II.

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.

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility Part II

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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.
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Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility Part I

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Men’s Narratives: Arts Activism, Creativity & Social Responsibility Part I got off to a great start with Nkosi Nkululeko. Nkosi is an amazing young poet, musician and visual artist. He started out as an actor, member of a swim team and played competitive chest. He studied jazz, classical music and piano. He was exposed to a community of poets, writers, and musicians at a very young age. He grew up in Harlem, New York born to artist parents, his mother a singer and his father a musician and poet.

Nkosi Nkululeko, is the 2016 NYC Youth Poet Laureate, is a Callaloo Fellow and The Watering Hole Fellow and has received nominations for the American Voices Award, Independent Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize. Nkosi was a member of the 2014 Urban Word NYC Slam Team and 2015 Urbana-NYC Slam Team. His work is currently published or forthcoming in No Token, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Rose Red Review, Hobart and elsewhere.

James Baldwin states, “Writers are here to disturb the peace.” Nkosi believes artists are not only here to disturb the peace but also to act as makers of peace. His poems are socially conscious and metaphorically rich. While, writing about issues centered on social justice, he also explores and writes about nature. He writes and speaks in his own voice, determined not to join a sea of the same voices. Early influences and mentors include Kim Moran Weston,  J.E. Franklin and Luis Reyes Rivera. He says, writing takes time and thought. Performing is difficult, the memorizing. Two years ago after joining  Urban Word NYC and becoming a member of the Slam Team he owned   the mantle poet. Nkosi Nkululeko resides in Harlem, New York where he listens to jazz. You can reach him at: musicmannkosi@gmail.com

Thanks to Jean Harripersaud, Michael Alvarez and the Bronx Library Center  Thanks Jean Harripersaud for sharing the importance of reading and for directing us to supporting books and exhibits throughout the evening. Thanks to everyone in attendance. Special shout out to Smoke author poet Mercy Tullis Bukhari for coming through. This program was sponsored by  Poets Network & Exchange, Inc.and Lorraine Currelley.

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Join us for Men’s Narratives Part II July 13, 2016 with Bonafide Rojas and Part III August 17 with Charlie Vazquez, Bronx Library Center 310 East Kingsbridge Road, Bronx NY. Series admission is free.

Copyright 2016 Lorraine Currelley. All Rights Reserved.