Bibliophiles Unite! Bronx Book Fair May 7 & 8

The Bronx Book Fair is back and better than ever (and I’m not just saying that because I’m on the planning committee this year!) Now a two-day event, the Bronx Library Center will serve as host to a diverse array of authors, poets, publishers, and discussions on the literary landscape of the Bronx.  Best of all, it’s free and open to all ages.

Front Post card-2

Q & A with Poet Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari

Next in the series of interviews with participants in this year’s Bronx Book Fair is poet, fiction writer, essayist, and teacher Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari.

MercyBookfair

Are you from the Bronx? If yes, which neighborhood? 

I am from The Bronx. I grew up on the Grand Concourse, but later moved to Co-Op City. I just moved to New Rochelle (which is right outside of The Bronx!) four years ago with my family.

 

Does the Bronx play a role in your writing? If so, please explain. 

 

The Bronx is a character in my life, in my existence, and everything I am and do. So, yes, it plays a role in my writing. My kids go to their suburban elementary school in Tims, and I keep my door-knocker earrings nearby. My feet touch Bronx concrete at least three times a week, to keep me grounded and keep me aware of my beginnings. I know and accept fully that to call myself a “Bronx Poet” means that I still need to be Bronx, regardless of where I am. We are Bronx, and my children are reminded regularly of where they were born, and where their mother is from. Part of my reminding them is to write about my experiences. Who I am, today, I would not be if I did not have The Bronx as my setting for all the stories and poems I tell.

 

What are you most looking forward to at the Bronx Book Fair? 

 

I am most looking forward to doing my thing on a Bronx stage. I am so, so grateful for all of the opportunities that have come my way, but there is nothing like repin’ your borough and getting love from your borough, right in your backyard.

 

What would you like attendees to take away from your reading/talk? 

 

I want them to be open with what I share. Whatever they get from what I give, I want that take-away to be my gift to them.

 

Please tell us about any current or upcoming projects you are working on that we can look forward to. 

 

Over the summer, I will be attending a Callalloo writing workshop at Oxford in the UK. I will be attending The College of New Rochelle in the Fall to receive my second Masters. There, I will be getting my MFA in Creative Writing. I am currently organizing my poems for my second collection of poetry. I can be found on FB, IG as mercy_lapoeta, and mercytullisbukhari.com. Until my next collection comes out, I am going to continue to promote my first collection of poetry, SMOKE.

 

Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari will be on the panel A Conversation: Women, Arts Activism, Creativity and Social Responsibility on May 7, 2016 at 3:40 pm.
 

Q & A with Bronx Book Fair Participant Edward Currelley

Next in the Bronx Book Fair Q&A series is Edward D. Currelley, an author and artist. He was awarded honorable status by Writer’s Digest for Stage Playwriting in 2008. His children’s book “I’m not lost, I’m with you” and young adult novel “That Krasbaum Kid” will be published this year. He is the president of Pen To Mind Books & Child Development Concepts, Inc.

edwardcurrelley

What brought you to the Bronx?

Originally I’m from Manhattan, Harlem.Thirty or so years ago my sister Lorraine Currelley planted roots in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. There was so much development in the literary arts that she encouraged me to move there, I did, with her.

Does the Bronx play a role in your writing? If so, please explain.

Yes, the Bronx is one of the few remaining untapped sources of raw talent. I’ve witnessed and participated in programs sponsored by various Bronx organizations and facilitated by Lorraine, writers that had no voice, now publishing, poeting, doing open mic performances. I find it very inspiring. The Bronx is so large with so many voices you don’t have to go far to be heard in a significant way.

What are you most looking forward to at the Bronx Book Fair?

I’m looking forward to connecting with other artists, to expand my scope, to understand what the community needs and want to read, what kinds of literature will make a difference. Positive impact, that’s what I hope to have and find.

What would you like attendees to take away from your reading?

Joy, fun, a little excitement to get involved with reading more and/or writing. Sharing their inner voice.

Please tell us about any current or upcoming projects you are working on that we can look forward to.

Besides being a co-feature at The Bronx Book Fair on May 7th, 2016 at 4:50pm I’ll also be co-featuring at Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. at the Countee Cullen NYPL, 104 West 136th Street NYC on April 23rd, 2016. My short story “Fractured Soul”will be published in Writing For Peace’s 2016 anthology edition of Dove Tales, Metaphor Magazine’s 5th issue due April 2016 will feature three of my poems from an up coming collection.

Edward Currelley will be participating in A Weaving of Voices: An Intergenerational Poetry Reading on May 7th at 4:50 pm.

***Full disclosure: I am a part of the planning committee for this year’s Bronx Book Fair. ***

 

Bronx Book Fair Q & A with Charlie Vázquez

This month, I will be doing a series a interviews with participants in this year’s Bronx Book Fair.  I am currently on the planning committee and am so excited to introduce you to some of the amazing writers that will be a part of this amazing literary event.

First up is Charlie Vázquez, the Director of the Bronx Writers’ Center as well as Editorial Trance CCO and NYC Coordinator for Festival de la Palabra de Puerto Rico.
 
CharlieBridge

Are you from the Bronx? If so, which neighborhood?

 

I was born in Fordham Hospital in 1971 and grew up near Crotona/West Farms in my earliest years. We moved to Fordham in the mid-1970s and then to the Olinville neighborhood where my mother still lives. I live in the Pelham Parkway area currently.

 

Does the Bronx play a role in your writing? If so, please explain.

 

The Bronx plays a very major role in everything about me. The stigma that being a Bronxite carried (and still carries) has given me the propulsion and fearlessness for writing whatever I feel like expressing, whether that be about my Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage, growing up poor, or identifying as a queer man later in life. Writing from marginalized perspectives takes a lot of courage and armor in the face of judgement and criticism–a radical act if you think about it. That energy has found its way into everything I’ve ever written, whether poetry or erotic fiction. If people would like to know more they can follow my Facebook author page.

 

 What are you most looking forward to at the Bronx Book Fair? 

 

This will be my third year at the Bronx Book Fair. What I love most about it is that it creates the opportunity for local readers to learn about local authors. Disengagement with literature is a serious issue that we need to address. One way of doing this is by supporting local authors who are publishing books with diverse protagonists and children-of-color.

 

What would you like attendees to take away from your talk? 

 

As relates to publishing, that there are options. Not to fall too quickly into the self-publishing platform out of temptation for instant gratification. Writing can be a solitary act, but writers benefit from finding peer groups and writing circles where they can share their work, to get the feedback necessary for making it the best it can be before publishing it. All books, regardless of style and voice, should be looked over by someone with a critical eye to make sure grammar and formatting are professional enough. Your book’s quality is a direct reflection of how professional you are.

 

Please tell us about any current or upcoming projects you are working on that we can look forward to. 

 

We’re collaborating with PEN World Voices for our Bronx:Africa exhibit in late April and we’ll be hosting three Poetry Town Halls (a new program I created) from April through June. We also have a fiction writers group that meets once a month at the Poe Park Visitor Center. That info can be found on our website and folks can write to me directly to request being added to the Bronx Writers Center newsletter.  My email is charlie@bronxarts.org.

 

Charlie Vázquez will be participating in the  Getting Published: How to Get Your Work in Readers’ Hands panel.