Summerstage, one of the events we look forward to most each summer, like many other of our faves, has had to adapt due to Covid-19. This summer, they’re bringing the stage to us via SummerStage Anywhere.
Today, Thursday, July 23rd, fans will be able to tune in for an exclusive Culture Talk with Salsa star and Latin Grammy winner La India and multifaceted performer La Bruja. The two will be taking over SummerStage’s Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, and Twitch starting at 8pm ET.
Over the course of their conversation, they will be going back to their Bronx roots to discuss how their home has always supported and developed culture and music, their mutual experiences performing at SummerStage over the years, how La India has stayed focused and maintained her career, how she has been staying connected to her fans through recent months, and more.
Additional information on the event can be found here.
All summer long SummerStage will be highlighting different genres that were born in or deeply represent New York culture – Mondays: Contemporary Dance, Tuesdays: Global, Wednesdays: Indie Rock, Thursdays: Latin, Fridays: Hip Hop and Saturdays: Jazz. The SummerStage team has spent months finding ways to make the most of this summer and remains committed to bringing free, accessible, and diverse arts programming to New York City (and now the world!) Recent Latin programming includes a Salsa dance class with Ernesto & Denisse and a Weekly Beat DJ Session with DJ Lobo.
Hey! I know it’s been a while – just going through the ups and downs of quarantine life. But, I’m glad to be back with an interview with Lorraine Currelley, who I first met a few years back at a writing workshop and got to know during my time on the Bronx Book Fair planning committee. Lorraine was recently named the National Beat Poetry Foundation Bronx Beat Poet Laureate New York State.
What are some of the responsibilities of the National Beat Poetry Foundation Bronx Beat Poet Laureate New York State?
I’m still trying to navigate this new role and what it means for me. I believe it’s up to the individual laureate to define what that role is. My role is an extension of who I am and what I continue to do as a writer, artist and individual.
It’s advocating for poetry, reading, literacy and the arts. It means representing my Bronx borough, shining a spotlight on the wonderful things happening in my community as well as it’s residents, my neighbors.
I’m excited to be working with my community to advocate for needed opportunity and services. It’s the joy of collaborating with individuals as well as cultural, educational and social organizations via the Bronx Book Fair and Poets Network & Exchange. Two of the most innovative organizations in the Bronx and New York City.
For those who may be unfamiliar with your writing, how would you describe it?
I’m a multi-genre writer. I write and enjoy exploring different writing topics and styles. They include fiction, non-fiction, and of course poetry. I’m especially fond of narrative poetry. My writing topics include but are not limited to mental health, children literature, African and African American history, culture and family life, ageism, racism and gerontology. I inherited a love of learning, writing and literature from my mother Annie Daniels Currelley.
Who are some of your favorite writers?
Some of the writers named entered my life at specific periods and unexpectedly. Their work resonated spiritually, philosophically, or emotionally. There was a connection. It’s not necessarily their entire body of work. It could have been a poem, a story, or a specific book. They are Jesmyn Ward, Sonia Sanchez, Carmen D. Lucca, Nikki Giovanni, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ibram X Kende, J. California Cooper, Roxanne Gay, Rita Dove, Isabel Allende, Edward Currelley, Gary Johnston, Claudia Rankine, Paula Giddings and Tracey K. Smith. There are also so many unsung writers.
Tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on.
I’m happily completing my manuscripts for publication. I’m also participating in Climbing The Walls Multi Media Exhibit.
Climbing the Walls is a collaborative project between Studio Theater in Exile and Hudson Valley MOCA that asked for artists across genres to contribute, visual art, music, monologues, and poetry, that explore the ways we are experiencing life now and how we imagine the future. Climbing the Walls was conceived from a desire to create in a time of disorientation and disconnection. We conceived of the project as a way to connect and explore a shift in the moment, ultimately looking both at COVID-19 and the protests. As more and more people decided to participate, across all genres, we realized how lucky we were to be in an artistic community that came together to communicate, to teach, to learn, and to create.
I had the great joy to contribute to COVID-19 and to conceive and guest curate a Junteenth exhibit “Freedom A Failed Promise.” at the invitation of Artistic Director/Dramaturge Studio Theater in Exile, Mara Mills. I am very pleased with the result. It’s an important exhibit. Climbing The Walls is innovative and wonderfully creative and exciting ( online.) Participating artists are phenonmenal. It opened on June 13th, 2020 and viewers will have an opportunity to experience it until September 13th, 2020.
I hope you’re all safe and well at home. I’ve been sharing some resources and local businesses that are still open for takeout and delivery over on Instagram, but I received some information from Hunter College’s New York City Food Policy Center about emergency food resources throughout the city, so I thought I’d pass along the info for anyone who could use it. The guide is updated every 3-5 days, but as everything in the wake of this pandemic changes from day to day, make sure you double check before heading out. It’s broken down by neighborhood, so check it out to see what’s available near you.
Like many of you (I hope),I’m staying home & I’ve been cooking a lot more than usual. We’ve got nothing but time, so why not try making something new? Some of the restaurants in Little Italy have shared some recipes you can try at home. Not much of a chef or simply tired of cooking? Here’s a link to restaurants offering take out. Many Little Italy products are also available online via Amazon.
Recipes from the Belmont Business Improvement District:
Now more than ever, it’s important to support our local businesses. Check in on your faves’ social media accounts or go on Uber Eats to see who’s delivering or doing take out to help these businesses survive.
It was a full house at Beatstro last night as Windows of Hip Hop in conjunction with the Borough President’s Office honored hip hop legends and pioneers Londell McMillian, Sal Abbatiello, Ralph McDaniels, and Slick Rick. It was amazing to see all these legends in one room and hear them tell their stories. DJ Red Alert and 2019 Elements of Hip Hop honoree, Fat Joe, stopped by to pay homage to Ralph McDaniels. It truly is amazing how this genre that was started right here in the Bronx had gone global and has evolved in so many different ways. When Sal Abbatiello did a call and response to a few different hip hop faves, the crowd did not hesitate in chiming in (myself included!)
Martell Cognac sponsored an open bar and kept the specialty cocktails flowing all night. To be totally transparent, I never ever drink cognac and the Martell Punch, I think is easily one of my new favorite drinks. Going to have to find out the recipe! And! the food! The wings, rice balls, and shrimp were all sooo good. Everything was so flavorful, I think my favorite was definitely the rice balls. Oh god, I will have to make a separate trip to Beatstro so I can do a whole post dedicated to the food.
I was so excited to be invited back to The Bronx Buzz to discuss my novella, Cooties & Other Kindergarten Quandaries. (Grab your copy here.) The Bronx Buzz does excellent work and I was glad to be on again to talk about my fiction work!
A couple months back, I hinted at some cool news I’d announce soon and now is that time! My novella, Cooties & Other Kindergarten Quandaries is now available in Running Wild Press’ Novella Anthology, Vol. 3, Book 3.
Despite the title and the fact that the four protagonists are in kindergarten, this is not a children’s book. Unless your kid likes satire and and political humor thrown in every so often.
It’s an episodic novella, consisting of 11 chapters, each tackling another obstacle – the boogeyman, an evil substitute teacher, tattletales, etc.
This novella was about five years in the making. I wrote the very first chapter back in 2010 when I was a senior at Baruch for one of my assignments. I didn’t do much with it afterward, maybe sent it out to a few lit mags, but it wasn’t until 2014 when I picked it back up and continued the characters’ misadventures trying to navigate kindergarten as these super geniuses. It was just a lot of fun to write, to be honest.
Novellas are kind of a weird in between genre, so I was really glad it found a home at Running Wild Press, an independent press based in California. Cooties… shares the pages with about eight other talented authors, and I’m excited to be able to share this news with you finally.
This month’s Taste of the Bronx pop-up market will be held at the Bronx Museum of Art this Saturday from 1-6 pm. Over 25 Bronx-based vendors will be their selling apparel, jewelry, food, and more. They’ll also be launching the fall edition of Taste of the Bronx quarterly subscription box which features specially selected items from Bronx businesses.
Visitors will also get a chance to check out two new exhibits at the museum, Henry
Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987 and The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop.
Remember that admission to both the museum and market is free!
As you may know, some of First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray’s projects have been her mental health awareness campaign and the creation of the city-wide Gracie Book Club in conjunction with the Gracie Mansion Conservancy. Reading to Thrive—Great Books Exploring Mental Health melds the two together. This month’s pick is I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez. A discussion will be held at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Wednesday, October 23. Doors open at 5:30 pm and the event is from 6pm – 7pm. Tickets are free, you can reserve them here.