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.

Poets Network & Exchange Stoop Narratives

Stoop Narratives was a wonderful success, thanks to the support of family, friends and community. Special thanks to our featured readers Phillip J. Ammonds, Edward Currelley, Baba Ngoma Hill, Marilyn Thomas King, Elizabeth Lara, and Gia Shakur. Thanks to Blind Beggar Press sponsor of our Literary Raffle and to Gary Johnston, Meredith Trede, and Harriet White readers for our open reading segment. Thanks to the Countee Cullen Branch, NYPL for an ongoing legacy of supporting social,  cultural and educational enrichment programming.

Copyright 2016 Lorraine Currelley. All Rights Reserved.

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Lorraine Currelley Curates Mom Egg VOX January 2016 Issue

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Honored to curate  the Mom Egg Review VOX Gallery January 2016 Issue. Featured Poets and Writers E.J. Antonio, Jill Austen, Fay Chiang, Edward Currelley, Lorraine Currelley, Jacqueline Johnson, Nella Larsen, Carmel Mawle, Christopha Moreland, Kate Rushin, Alicia Anabel Santos , Margie Shaheed and Julia Stein.. Thanks to Marjorie A. Tesser, Founder & Editor in Chief, Mom Egg Review and featured contributors. Please visit and share widely.

http://www.themomegg.com/themomegg/VOX_MOM/Entries/2015/12/30_VOX_MOM__Guest_Curator_Lorraine_Currelley.html

When Poets Speak: Conjuring Magic

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What happens When Poets Speak? On Saturday November 14, 2015 Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. presented When Poets Speak, our last program for our 2015 season. Featured were poets EJ Antonio, Tyehimba Jess, Jacqueline Johnson and Patricia Spears Jones. We were treated to a wonderful afternoon of words and music. Summoning a call and response between audience and poets. Poetry church was in session. Some attendees sat silently in awe, while others shouted their approval. Each poet inviting ancestors into this poetic sacred space. This magic was conjured at the legendary Countee Cullen Branch, of the New York Public Library. A historical site where ancestor wordsmiths gathered. A premiere venue for artists of all genres during the Harlem Renaissance.

Tyehimba “Blues Man” Jess’s harmonica riffs and words left no emotion still. He invited in every blues man and woman that ever lived and now lives. He played life, carving from heart, his harmonica a living vessel. Tyehimba Jess is a
brilliant poet and musicologist. He welcomes audiences into each experience. He reminds me of home, down south geechee land. E.J. Antonio, Jacqueline Johnson and Patricia Spears Jones spung word quilts, adding to the magic.

In attendance, friend and supporter of Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. the legendary bassist Mr. Henry Grimes and his wife Margaret.

Thanks EJ Antonio, Tyehimba Jess, Jacqueline Johnson and Patricia Spears Jones. Thank you, Gary Johnston, co-publisher of Blind Beggar Press for donating and facilitating our first Literary Raffle. Thank you, to my co-host poet and author Edward Currelley, Thank you, Cro Dadi who travelled from Orlando, Florida to exhibit his work. This was our first art exhibit. Thank you to our sponsors, Poets & Writers, Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. and Blind Beggar Press. Last but never least thanks beyond measure to our attendees and supporters of Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. 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.

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©Lorraine Currelley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. Welcomes Mom Egg Review Issue 13

The Countee Cullen Branch, NYPl was the place to be Saturday October 10, 2015. The contributors to Mom Egg Review Issue 13 featured. The reading co-hosted by Mom Egg Review founder Marjorie Tesser and Lorraine Currelley, founder and executive director Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. Thank you, Marjorie Tesser for co-hosting. Thank you, featured Mom Egg Review Issue 13 contributors Fay Chiang, Marion Cohen, Edward Currelley, Lorraine Currelley, Heather Haldeman, Lori Lamothe, Kristin Campbell Mathis, Margie Shaheed and Marjorie Tesser for an incredible reading and lovely afternoon.Your words were powerful, inspiring and joyous. Thanks to everyone for your conversations and laughter. Thanks everyone who attended and purchased books.
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Mom Egg Review Issue 13 Contributors.                                   Mom Egg Review Issue 13 Contributing Members.

(photo credit Lorraine Currelley, group photo Jill Austen.)

 ©Lorraine Currelley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

El Grito de Lares, The Cry of Lares

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Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. presented “El Grito de Lares, The Cry of Lares on Saturday 26, 2015. We honored the fight for Puerto Rican Independence. We gathered to celebrate with words and music the fight against colonial oppression and liberation. Special thanks to our featured poets and writers Americo Casiano, Sandra Maria Esteves, Gloria Fontanez and Charlie Vazquez for sharing your powerful words. Read Carlito Rovira’s article “The Birth of Puerto Rico’s Fight for Independence – El Grito De Lares.” The article  provides an extensive history  of Puerto Rico’s fight for independence.

https://carlitoboricua.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/the-birth-of-puerto-ricos-fight-for-independence-el-grito-de-lares/

Thanks to Edward Currelley, for his impeccable moderating. Thanks  to Omo Aya Gene Golden (percussionist) for leading the way. Thanks to everyone in attendance who came out in support. Jaime “The Maestro” Emeric photographed and filmed the event.

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 2015. All Rights Reserved.