Lorraine Currelley, The African proverb “I See You” and the name Writing for Peace resonate with me. I’ve come to think of them as kindred spirits. Both embody the spirit of community and collaboration. An inter-generational worldwide community, working to create a world where peace is a reality. A community where each member sees each other through our connected humanity. In doing so, holding the key to connecting with all ecosystems.
Joining Writing for Peace is an opportunity to join with community to work for world peace via writing. Our words are powerful tools. Tools having an extraordinary ability to act as a catalyst for positive change. A catalyst to promote understanding and connection between people. An opportunity to learn from each other and experience shared humanity. An opportunity to exercise our creative energies, talents and gifts; to unite our world community. Our words nurture, heal and empower. There are no inferiors nor superiors, we all bring something to the table equally important.
On Wednesday August 14th, 2013 Poets Network & Exchange’s Words Be Our Voice triumphed at Modern Restaurant & Lounge! The evenings featured poets were Mercy L. Tullis Bukhari, Lorraine Currelley, Charlie Giardino, Kevin Jenkins, Elizabeth Lara and Garito resident poet Peter Velotti. The evening started with guest being greeted by Poets Network & Exchange members. Mary A. Miller a long time Poets Network & Exchange supporter greeted guest and facilitated a surprise raffle. Five guest won poetry and literary anthologies.
Mercy L. Tullis Bukhari spoke of her experiences as a mother, relationships and lost. Mercy L. Tullis Bukhari is a new and exciting voice on the literary stage! We can look forward to hearing great things from this talented young poet and writer. Charlie Giardino shared thoughts of his beloved deceased wife Maryann and an older man meeting and being infatuated by a young woman. Kevin Jenkins opened with a joke, leaving the room in an explosion of laughter. Kevin Jenkin’s poems were inspirational and left us with lots of food for thought. Elizabeth Lara’s poems were historical and addressed life and societal issues. Some of her selections were infused with humor. Peter Velotti dedicated a love poem to his fiancee Mary A. Miller. Lorraine Currelley’s poem Una cancion para una Afro Latina encouraged Afro Latina to embrace her African ancestry with pride.
Open Mic guest were Francesca Barilla, Virginia Gilley and Kevin Stewart. Kevin Stewart a dynamic speaker spoke of his deceased son in a powerful and gripping poem. Francesca Barilla, petite power house spoke of sexism and the strength of a woman. Virginia Gilley paid tribute to the environment.
Thank you, to all guest in attendance. Special thank you to poet Cyd Charisse Fulton and poets/publishers Gary Johnston and CD Grant, Blind Beggar Press for their attendance and support of this event. Thank you, Mary A. Miller for your support and hosting the raffle! Thank you, Modern Restaurant & Lounge, you’re being commended on the service, professionalism and hospitality of your staff!
Poets Network & Exchange congratulates and thanks everyone who contributed to the success of Words Be Our Voice! Success does not happen in isolation, it indeed takes a village! Firstly, it takes a vision, commitment and work. As a result Poets Network & Exchange guest and members experienced a wonderful evening of spectacular poetry, exquisite fine dining, community and hospitality!
On Saturday July 20th, 2013 Poets Network & Exchange in association with Garito Manor presented and hosted Painting Words, A Collage of Voices with featured poets/wordsmiths Heather Archibald, Jill Austen, Gary Johnston and Barbara Newsome. There was much buzz about the event on social media, online and in hardcopy publications. Painting Words, A Collage of Voices delivered stellar performances, and the finest of poetry from a group of amazing featured and open mic poets.
Guests entered the event wearing expressions of excitment and expectation on their faces. It was clear they came eager and expectant to share in a rewarding experience. Guests came with friends and engaged in conversation with other attending guests. Once guest were signed in they received a free raffle ticket. Raffle ticket? Yes, raffle ticket. In keeping with the spirit of the event Poets Network & Exchange raffled off five anthologies of poetry from College of New Rochelle students. Guests were invited to help themselves to refreshments and information from our literature table.
The program began with a welcome and sharing a brief historical background on Poets Network & Exchange and its programs. This was followed by an introduction of one of two open mics. The first open mic brought three talented poets Dale Walkonin, Carmen Bardeguez-Brown and Virginia Gilley to the mic. Carmen Bardeguez-Brown read a phenomenal poem with the resounding chorus I pray. She spoke passionately of Trayvon Martin, historical figures and the fight against oppression and injustices.
First poet/wordsmith to arrive was Gary Johnston. Gary Johnston, co-founder of Blind Beggar Press arrived with books and CD’s to sell, to the delight of those present. Gary utilized this time to meet and exchange with attending guests. Next poet/wordsmith to arrive was Jill Austen who swept into the room wearing bursts of hot deep tangerine orange. Barbara Newsome arrived with a huge smile and open arms. Heather Archibald arrived draped in a lovely colorful African gown and head wrap.
Heather Archibald, Jill Austen, Gary Johnston and Barbara Newsome gave phenomenal presentations, bringing audience members to tears, laughter, smiles and voices raised in acknowledgement. Each poet/wordsmith’s words were powerfully shared with their audience. Gary Johnston’s singing leading into recollections of family history. Sharing humanity’s family of pain, suffering, Judas’ betrayal and God’s ever present love. Barbara Newsome’s emotional and heart rendering stories and poems of Black servants and caring for White children. Their tradition of loving and nurturing those they were hired to care for. I continue to hear courageous servant women crying out from the past. Jill Austen’s poems were humorous, largely with food as their subject and filled with colors and surprise. Heather Archibald shared the magic, colors and splendor of Saint Kitts.
The raffle took place to the delight of attendees and was co-facilitated with poets Nicholas Howard Jennings and yours truly.
The second open mic took place with poet Nicholas Howard Jennings reading three poems about his family and the environment, followed by his mom poet Juliet P. Howard reading two heart wretching poems one a tribute to Trayvon Martin and one about a young girl growing up in Harlem. Our last poet to read was Peter Velotti reading his poem about Trayvon Martin.
Thank you to Poets & Writers, NYSCA, our featured poets, the attending audience, JoAnn Trifono and Garito Manor staff.
This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
I awoke this morning again hoping that this time, maybe this time justice would reign victorious. I have been flooded with much emotion and feeling stemming from the murder of Trayvon Martin, this beloved son of a Black mother’s womb. I have literally felt moments when I could not breath. This morning I have learned a repeated truth, Black sons are not safe, there is no justice for a Black male child nor Black males! Are White children the only children seen as human and worth protecting? Historically, White babies have suckled at the breasts of enslaved African women. Black women have always protected the massas children, nurtured them and loved them even when massa and missus didn’t. Our reward, rape, our children sold off, murdered, lynched and justice once again denied.
What happened in that juror room? Did five White woman see the murderer as their savior, someone protecting White womanhood and their way of life? Did these women only see the stereotypical mugger and rapist the media projects? Did they vote their fears? Did they vote in favor of hatred? Could they not see Trayvon the human being trying to return home with his soda and skittles, obviously not. There was no rainbow for Trayvon buried in the colors of his skittles.
Latina Mujer juror, did you fight for Trayvon? Did you try? Latina Mujer juror did you feel trapped? Latina Mujer juror was this your opportunity to disassociate from the African in your blood? Did you force your Black skin to denie itself? Latina Mujer juror did you go along to get along? Did you feel you had to prove to White society you could be fair, their fair? I am sickened and beyond disgusted! I cannot look at a package of skittles without seeing Trayvon running from the monster who stalked him and stole his life. Now, revealing your identity free of the deliberating room, you cry speaking of true belief begging our compassion and understanding. Your words and tears
are of no value. They will not imprison the monster your soul recognized. If the time should come, who will march and scream tears
for your son?
This morning when my brother, my nephews and friends call or visit I will hug them planting a kiss and my parting words will be said with my heart beating rapidly, memories and knowing of burning bodies, swinging from poplar trees and blood stained streets. “Be safe and cautious.”
On June 5th, 2013 Poets Network & Exchange in association with Modern Restaurant & Lounge presented Poetry & Pasta. The event took place
at the elegant and popular Modern Restaurant & Lounge in New Rochelle, NY. Modern Restaurant & Lounge is one of New Rochelle’s leading Italian restaurants according to Zagat, the review and rating magazine. Modern Restaurant & Lounge is known for its exquisite cuisine, friendly environment and welcoming and professional staff. It’s a great place to bring family and friends for a casual or elegant evening of dining. “Poetry & Pasta” guests dined on delicious pizza, salad and chicken scarparelli, chicken with potatoes, garlic, mushrooms and vegetables sauteed in a brown gravy, to rave reviews.
Guests entered an elegantly decored room, plush leather sofa and chairs in one section of the room and formally set dining tables. Guests mixed and mingled before the start of the evening’s program, while dining on appetizers and assorted beverages.
“Poetry & Pasta’s festivities started with a warm and enthusiastic welcome from Lorraine Currelley, founder of Poets Network & Exchange, followed by the introduction of each poets. A very innovative approach to introductions was initiated. Poets introduced the next poet in the program after completing their presentation. This added a unique and personal touch.
Featured artists for the evening’s program were pastelist and poet Jill Austen, poets Lorraine Currelley, Charlie Giardino, spoken word performer Golda Solomon, poets Ed Toney and Peter Velotti. Each poet delivered a diverse style of work. Jill Austen and Golda Solomon wowed young guests by each dedicating one of their children’s poems to our younger audience members. The youngsters were totally delighted and their beaming faces spoke volumes. Charlie Giardino read from his book “The Next Breath” and moved family and friends to tears as he read poems dedicated to his beloved deceased wife Maryann Giardino. Peter Velotti dedicated a poem to his long time friend in the audience about baseball. Wordsmith Ed Toney transported us back to our respective childhoods with his vivid image. Ed Toney’s powerful and passionate words and down home sweet familiar references caressed our hearts and memories. Yours truly sung praises to African Classical music icon and innovator Betty Carter. Memories of my mother and community growing up as a child were also shared. Loving memories of caring teachers and dignified men and women.
Present in the audience were poets Elizabeth Lara, Cyd Charisse Fulton, Kevin Jenkins, Vanessa Evers, E.J. Antonio and Kevin Stewart. Thank you, everyone for helping to make “Poetry & Pasta” a huge success!
On Saturday May 11, 2013 I had the pleasure of attending Blind Beggar Press’ 35th year Anniversary celebration as a publisher. The location was Bronx Community College Rosco E. Brown Hall. Blind Beggar Press celebrated with the publication of a 35th Anniversary Journal, New Rain, Volume 11, the Collector’s Edition. New Rain, Volume 11 is a phenomenal collection of poems by forty poets. Poets who have graced the pages of Blind Beggar Press publications and performance venues. I am certain, I am not the first to say New Rain Volume 11 is one of their crowning achievements. Persons in attendance were blessed with an afternoon of programming which enriched our spirits. We greeted old friends and made new ones. All persons missing this major event, missed an historical opportunity.
Poet and co-founder Gary Johnston opened with a historical overview of Blind Beggar Press. Blind Beggar Press was founded by a group of creative and courageous young men. It was founded for the purpose of providing a publication where the voices of poets, writers and the community could have an opportunity to be heard and share their words. Voices desiring to share pertinent and work which reflected their lives with its many nuances. They desired to publish works relevant to those missing in America’s cultural texts and psyches. Three of the original Unity Brothers Circa 1975 are Gary Johnston, C.D. Grant and Reggie Mclaurin. Blind Beggar Press has been the recipient of many certificates and awards over the years, they remain humble, goal, work focused and continue to have the same committment.
In tribute to the late poets and supporters of Blind Beggar Press Louis Reyes Rivera, Brenda Conner Bey and Tom Mitchelson, poets Angela Kinamore, Jose Angel Figueroa and Tony Mitchelson each read a poem written by the late poets.
Pianist and musicologist Valerie Capers was honored for her outstanding body of work, mentorship and work efforts on behalf of Blind Beggar Press with an award which was accepted on her behalf.
A wonderful dance selection dedicated to the life of Frida Kahlo, and performed by Jessica Isa Burns was one of the event’s highlights. Ms. Burns was accomapnied on guitar by Guitarist Katsuya Michiyo. The tribute to Frida Kahlo was choreographed by choreographer Michiyo Tanaka founder and director of Mad About Dance. A standing ovation followed the performance.
Laughter flowed throughout the room with the signing of journals by poets in attendance. Someone suggested that each poet sign their page in everyones journal. It started as a great idea ending up with persons doing the intended, signing their personal copy, and journals not landing in the hands of their original owners. This resulted in jokes, and laughter. It was at this point someone suggested we each write our names in our journals. This poet and journalist is still laughing.
Poets in attendance for Blind Beggar Press’35th Anniversary were Ron Kavanaugh, publisher of Mosiac Magazine; poets Kamernebti Mer Amon, Mercy L.Tullis-Bukhari, Lorraine Currelley, founder of Poets Network & Exchange, Jose Angel Figueroa, C.D. Grant, Gary Johnston, Angela Kinamore, Layding Lumumba Kaliba, Esther Louise, Tony Mitchelson and Atiba Kwabena-Wilson.
Riding the Red Line
listening to the clickety-clack,
as the train meanders
through changing scenery –
farmland melding into small towns,
and the emergence into a city scape –
into that bastion of colonial America –
that piece of history of the revolution –
that city on the Charles River,
where college students scull in perfect symmetry –
the Red Sox and fabled Fenway Park –
that place known as Beantown –
I know this city –
its Museum of Fine Arts and
Boston Aquarium, where my sons viewed ocean life
up close and personal –
the No Name Restaurant
on the waterfront –
Tucci’s in the North End,
where we’d always order “Steak Mafia”
just to hear the waitress shout it out
to the entire restaurant –
Southie and the Bunker Hill memorial –
and good old Faneuil Hall, with its art shows,
street musicians, shops and throngs of people.
Boston, the home of the beloved
Marathon, now forever swathed
in the blood of the innocent.
And this day of bloodshed
is just another reminder of those who show
such disregard for life.
What could possibly prompt someone
to cause such pain, such anguish for so many –
to kill a small child,
cut down a woman in the prime of her life,
and snuff out the promise of a young foreign student,
far away from her grieving family?
Someone, please give me the answer,
because all I see now
are horrific images of carnage
in a city so dear to my heart.