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Poets Network & Exchange Shines the Spotlight on Jean Harripersaud

Jean
Jean Harripersaud is currently the Managing Librarian of New York Public Library’s Bronx Library Center.  She has been with the New York Public Library for the past 15 years, starting as a Librarian in the Bronx.  She has a Master’s in Library Science from Queens College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. Jean has a passion to spread the joy of reading to the Bronx and firmly believes that “reading does indeed take you places.”(Dr. Seuss) and a book is
a great companion.

Brief History of the Bronx Book Fair
Launched in 2013, the Bronx Book Fair is dedicated to engaging and growing the community of poets and writers in the Bronx and to connecting those literary artists to readers and book lovers of all ages. Through readings, workshops, and presentations. Our goal is to engage the community with a variety of literature and programs that will broaden access to Bronx literary artists, increase library usage, and encourage a love of books and reading. I had the joy to speak with Jean HarriPersaud in a Q&A about her work as a Bronx Book Fair Planning Committee member. 

What brought you to the Bronx Book Fair?
A love of reading and a desire to spread the joy of reading to my fellow
Bronxites.

What are you most looking forward to at the Bronx Book Fair?
Meeting Bronx Literary figures and of course, the wonderful people from the Bronx and beyond who will be in attendance.

What would you like attendees to take away from the BronPoets Networkx Book Fair and the Bronx Library Center?
That the Bronx is a haven for all literary types, level, genres and ages.  Let’s get together and talk books – my favorite thing.

Does the Bronx play a role in your work/educational/cultural life?
If so, please explain.
I live and work in the Bronx.  I am very proud of the rich history of the Bronx, feel privileged to serve the peoples of the Bronx and am very enthused about the progress being made in the Bronx – especially having our own book fair and being a part of the team helping to make it happen.

Please tell us about any current or upcoming projects you are working on that we can look forward to.
At the Bronx Library Center we are working on getting more people to read more in order to raise reading levels across every age group in our lovely borough.  We have already seen some successes in the past 6 months with the increase of literary type programs – more folks are checking out more books to read.

Please share any additional information that might be of interest. Example, past Bronx Book Fair experience.

The Bronx Book Fair is the place to meet and connect with awesome literary talent from the Bronx.

“Thank you, Jean Harripersaud for a wonderful and informative interview!”
“Thank you, Lorraine Currelley!”

The Bronx Book Fair is free and takes place May 5, 2018 at the Bronx Library Center from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM! https://www.bronxbookfair.com.

©Lorraine Currelley Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Poets Network & Exchange Shines the Spotlight on Michael Alvarez

Associate Directors

In January, 2018 I had a welcomed opportunity to interview  Bronx Book Fair Planning Committee member Michael Alvarez.

Michael​ ​Alvarez​ works in the Bronx, where he is currently the Associate Director for the Central Bronx Community Branches of The New York Public Library. A supporter and facilitator of literacy, lifelong learning and community engagement. He is a founding member of the Bronx Book Fair Committee. With more than 30 years of experience in public service with The New York Public Library, Michael has served the public, primarily in the Bronx and Manhattan in a variety of professional roles from Librarian, Library Manager, and Chief Librarian to Associate Director. He is a leader who is passionate about working with his colleagues in promoting the vast collections, educational programs and services that are expertly and freely offered by the staff at each of the branches of The New York Public Library.

What​ ​brought​ ​you​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair?
As​ ​the​ ​then,​ ​Chief​ ​Librarian​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Library​ ​Center,​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair​ ​
in its​ ​infancy​ ​came​ ​to​ ​us,​ ​that is (the brain parents Americo Casiano and Ron
Kavanaugh) looking​ ​for​ ​a​ ​venue​ ​and​ ​the​ ​rest,​ ​as​ ​they​ ​say​ ​is​ ​history.​ ​ ​I​ ​am happy
each​ ​year​ ​not​ ​only​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​host​ ​venue​ ​but​ ​to​ ​participate​ ​in​ ​the​ ​year​ ​long
planning​ ​of​ ​the​ ​book​ ​fair.​ ​

What​ ​are​ ​you​ ​most​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair?
I​ ​am​ ​very​ ​excited​ ​about​ ​the​ ​upcoming​ ​7​th​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair,​ ​as​ ​we​ ​are​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process of​ ​arranging​ ​several​ ​panel​ ​discussions​ ​and​ ​programs​ ​for​ ​people​ ​of​ ​all​ ​
ages.​ ​A​ ​few​ ​of these​ ​include:​ ​how​ ​to​ ​get​ ​published​ ​and​ ​reading​ ​recommendations​ ​for​ ​different​ ​age groups.

What​ ​would​ ​you​ ​like​ ​attendees​ ​to​ ​take​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair​ ​
and​ ​the 
Bronx​ ​Library​ ​Center?
Attendance​ ​to​ ​these​ ​fairs​ ​has​ ​steadily​ ​grown​ ​over​ ​the​ ​years.​ ​ ​The​ ​expectation​ ​is​ ​that attendees​ ​will​ ​get​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​connect​ ​with​ ​others​ ​while​ ​they​ ​actively​ ​participate​ ​in the​ ​programs.​ ​ ​The​ ​culture​ ​of​ ​reading​ ​is​ ​heavily​ ​promoted​ ​at​ ​this​ ​event.​ ​ ​My​ ​desire is​ ​for​ ​everyone​ ​that​ ​is​ ​visiting​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Library​ ​Center​ ​for​ ​the​ ​very​ ​first​ ​time​ ​to feel​ ​welcomed​ ​and​ ​have​ ​access​ ​to​ ​the​ ​rich​ ​resources​ ​on​ ​each​ ​of​ ​the​ ​six​ ​floors​ ​of​ ​the Center!

Does​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​play​ ​a​ ​role​ ​in​ ​your​ ​work/educational/cultural​ ​life?​
​If​ ​yes,​ ​please 
explain.
In​ ​my​ ​current​ ​professional​ ​role,​ ​I​ ​oversee​ ​12​ ​of​ ​the​ ​vibrant​ ​Libraries​ ​of​ ​the​ ​
Central Bronx.​ ​ ​As​ ​such,​ ​I​ ​have​ ​the​ ​pleasure​ ​of​ ​spending​ ​a​ ​great​ ​of​ ​time​ ​in​ ​this​ ​borough​ ​and seeing​ ​first-hand​ ​how​ ​the​ ​New​ ​York​ ​Public​ ​Library​ ​is​ ​impacting​ ​
lives:​ ​Early​ ​literacy instruction,​ ​Coding​ ​for​ ​teens,​ ​Adult​ ​Basic​ ​Education,​ ​Career​ ​Assistance,​ ​English​ ​for speakers​ ​of​ ​other​ ​languages​ ​and​ ​much,​ ​much​ ​more.

Please​ ​tell​ ​us​ ​about​ ​any​ ​current​ ​or​ ​upcoming​ ​projects​ ​you​ ​are​ ​working​ ​on​
​that​ ​we 
can​ ​look​ ​forward​ ​to.
Mentoring​ ​ at the ​ ​Library​ ​is​ ​currently​ ​being​ ​offered​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Mott​ ​Haven​ ​Library
​in the​ ​South​ ​Bronx.​ ​ ​This​ ​free​ ​program​ ​is​ ​provided​ ​for​ ​high​school ​ ​students​ ​with​
​a focus​ ​on​ ​College​ ​Readiness​ ​and​ ​Career​ ​Preparedness.

Launched in 2013, the Bronx Book Fair is dedicated to engaging and growing the community of poets and writers in the Bronx and to connecting those literary artists to readers and book lovers of all ages. Through readings, workshops, and presentations. Our goal is to engage the community with a variety of literature and programs that will broaden access to Bronx literary artists, increase library usage, and encourage a love of books and reading.

The Bronx Book Fair takes place May 5, 2018 at the Bronx Library Center from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM and is free and open to the public. Visit the BBF website
for updates at https://www.bronxbookfair.com.

©Lorraine Currelley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Arts Activism, Creativity and Social Responsibility

Mental Health & Healthy Aging

As creatives do we have a responsibility to address social justice? If so, what does it mean to be both artist and activist? What does this work look like and how does it impact our work, lives and communities? How does it impact our cultural and educational institutions? These are just some of the questions being asked, pondered and answered by artists. Clearly with our institutions under threat by the new administration we have much to ponder as we move forward.

Creating art under the new administration will  surely test our resolve and demand commitment to addressing social justice. It will demand artists have the courage to address these attacks on our art and lives. Attacks threatening to silence our messages. Social justice art demands we not cower in the face of

these attacks and stand firmly in our support for the who are marginalized and disenfranchised. Understanding that we are in…

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In Appreciation

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We thank and acknowledge the phenomenal poets and writers who graced our Poets Network & Exchange’s stage and pages in 2016. We also give honor to a loving and supportive community, for attending and supporting our programming. We give honor to the organizations Poets Network & Exchange collaborated with and invited us to feature in their programming. We thank and appreciate  Poets & Writers, Inc. for funding. Our honorees are Irene Mtk, Gary Johnston, Meredith Trede, Patricia Spears Jones, Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari,Elizabeth Lara, Ngoma Hill, Edward Currelley, Nkosi Nkululeko, Tyehimba Jess, E.j. Antonio, Peuo Tatyana Tuy, Bonafide Rojas, Charlie Vázquez, Philip Ammonds, Jerome G. and Jacqueline Johnson.

In 2016 Poets Network and Exchange nominated six incredible poets and writers for the Pushcart Prize. Our Pushcart nominees are E.J. Antonio, Fay Chiang, Edward Currelley, Gary Johnston, Christopha Moreland and Kate Rushin.

Creatively I’ve realized a number of goals, both personally and via my organization Poets Network & Exchange. I’m truly humbled and grateful for the recognition, kindnesses and support. I’m quick to acknowledge while honors are appreciated and welcomed, it is my relationships with those I’ve met in 2016 and my long and lasting relationships that fortify and propel me forward. Relationships built mutually on loyalty, trust, love and respect. The lifting up and being lifted up. I’m grateful far beyond measure.

It has also been a year of great pain and loss. Poet and artist Monica Hand and actor, teacher and poet Laurie Carlos both made their transitions. They were both dynamic women and artists and left a phenomenal body of work.

We are because of your continued support. On behalf of Poets Network & Exchange we wish you and yours abundant blessings for 2017!

©Lorraine Currelley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Laurie Carlos 1949-2016

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My heart is broken, my head is aching and my eyes are filled with tears. The world has loss a magnificent human being/presence. My friend and teacher Laurie Carlos has died. My friend lived and loved well.

I met a vibrant, authentic, caring, brilliant, down to earth woman, many years ago as a young woman. She wore short cropped hair and would adorn it with colorful hair wraps. I admired the long flowing colorful skirts and dresses she wore. She was everything I hoped to be. I have fond memories of our chance meetings on the streets of Harlem. Whether rushing to a meeting, event or running errands, she always stopped to talk before rushing off. We both valued these moments. After shared salutations came discussions that always left me encouraged, inspired, smiling and in deep reflection. Her presence in my life grew me. When she hugged me and said, she loved me I knew it to be true.

Laurie Carlos didn’t just walk down a city street or into a room, she appeared to float. She was beautifully confident and richly human. She filled any space she entered with her presence, bringing light and joy with her. Her smile was real and her laughter came from a deep and sincere place. She was a faithful friend. She didn’t waste words, time and actions. She exercised wisdom and did everything with purpose.

Laurie’s Gift.

It was an honor and joy to be invited to her home. Once before leaving she presented me with a very important and special gift. She said, I was to pass it on to another worthy young woman of my choosing. I have not passed it on. The person receiving it is left with a major responsibility, the keeper of a legacy. One which cannot be taken lightly.

Becoming my teacher.

A few years later she was an invited guest performance instructor for a writing workshop and performance group I belonged to. I remember Ntosake Shange stopping by. They were fabulously outrageously fierce. I believe Jessica Hagedorn stopped by as well. I’m blessed to have had this experience/opportunity. She had a gift for making us, her students better. She taught and challenged us to go deep within ourselves and encouraged and instilled in us the will to give everything to our performances. She always said, our audiences were deserving of our very best. Her accomplishments were many. Among them, an original cast member of FOR COLORED GIRLS.

How can I share a lifetime of friendship in a post? I can’t! I will end by saying, I will continue to follow your example dear friend and teacher. I will continue to live with purpose. To value each day and those I call friend and family. Death is ever present. I pray we celebrate each other, never taking each other for granted! Do not leave what’s important for another day! Love and live well now!

Laurie Carlos is survived by her daughter Amber. We uplift and love you Amber. You are not alone in your grief. You have our love, support and condolences. You are embraced by love and prayers for comfort and peace. May your beloved mother rest in peace,
love and power, all that she lived, gave and more.

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.