The Spotlight: Lorraine Currelley

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.

CLIMBING THE WALLS MULTI MEDIA EXHIBIT JUNE 13-SEPTEMBER 13
On www.studiotheaterinexile.com/climbing-the-walls
and www.HudsonValleyMOCA.org

Sixth Annual Bronx Book Fair – May 5, 11 am-7 pm

Mark your calendars – the sixth annual Bronx Book Fair is this Saturday, May 5 from 11AM- 7PM. Keep reading for more info:

This year’s fair will be keynoted by Noelle Santos, founder of The Lit Bar, the only bookstore in the Bronx.

The Bronx Book Fair is the borough’s premiere literary event and features a variety of diverse literary voices. This year the fair will welcome special guests poets Willie Perdomo and Sokunthary Svay, children’s book author Tiffany Papageorge, Dawn Aldrich, MD, author Annette Libeskind Berkovits, romance novelists Rebecca Brooks and Eartha Hicks Watts, storyteller, Thelma Ruffin Thomas, poet Carmen D. Lucca, author and poet Edward Currelley, readings, workshops, and panels. There will be special programs for children and families. National Writers Union and Book vendors will also be available.

All Bronx Book Fair activities are free of charge and open to the public. The full fair schedule can be found at bronxbookfair.com.

“We are excited to once again bring the Bronx Book Fair to our literary community,” said Michael Alvarez, Associate Director for the Central Bronx Neighborhood Libraries at The New York Public Library. “And this year, having Noelle Santos keynote, highlights the importance of turning a passion for literature into entrepreneurial opportunities to serve your community. Noelle is the perfect speaker to inspire participants in this year’s fair.”

“This year Bronx Book Fair activities will not only address the cultural and educational interests of the Bronx, but health issues as well,”  said Lorraine Currelley, Bronx Book Fair Executive Director. “We have a panel of health professionals, who will address issues such as mental health, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and asthma. We must avail ourselves of all opportunities to share information that can potentially save lives. The Bronx Book Fair will continue to work to create and implement programming, to enhance the literary and artistic experiences for community residents, toprovide opportunities for the Bronx literary community of poets and writers and advocate for reading and literacy.”

The Bronx Book Fair is sponsored by the New York Public Library, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Citizens Committee of New York City, the Poets Network & Exchange, Inc., Lehman College, Bronx Community College, Literary Freedom Project and Malcolm Entertainment, and through public funds from the New York State Department of Cultural Affairs.

AUDITORIUM

11:15 – 11:25 AM
Welcome – Jean Harripersaud, Bronx Library Center & Lorraine Currelley,
Bronx Book Fair

11:25 – 12:10 PM
Bilingual Reading & Book Launch
of My Yellow Balloon by Tiffany Papageorge.

12:20 – 1:00 PM
How to Get  Your Work Published
Carolyn Butts, Editor/Publisher, African Voices Magazine, Steve Bloom, writer. and Jennifer Bakercreator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor for Electric Literature. Moderator: Gary Johnston, Publisher, Blind Beggar Press and poet

1:10 – 1:50 PM
Our Health: A Community Forum
Medical professionals and writers discuss health and self-care issues in underserved communities of color, the causes and how can we save our lives?
Dawn Aldrich, MD (Authority on cancer, obesity, diabetes & sickle cell anemia) Radhiyah Ayobami, MFA writes and workshops with pregnant teens and
Lorraine Currelley, MS MHC, Executive Director, Mental Health & Healthy Aging.

2:00 – 2:30 PM
Keynote Speaker –  Noëlle Santos, owner The Lit Bar: the only bookstore (and wine bar) in her native Bronx, New York. Member of the American Booksellers Association Advisory Council.
Introduction: Lorraine Currelley, Executive Director Bronx Book Fair.

NoelleSantos

2:40 – 3:10 PM
Librarian Panel – What to Read Next
Bronx Library Center Librarians: Elvira Ramos Paralles – Adult Librarian,
Elisa Garcia – Teen Librarian, Deborah Allman – Children’s Librarian
Moderator: Jean Harripersaud, Managing Librarian

3:20 PM
Featured Poet: Sokunthary Svay
author of Apsara in New York and the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association, Board President

3:45 – 4:25 PM
Silver: The Next Chapter-Sustaining a Career
Author/Poet/Multimedia Artist, Edward D. Currelley, Poet Carmen D. Lucca
and Thelma R. Thomas, Storyteller and Artistic Director Pearls of Wisdom Storytellers. Moderator: Poet Americo Casiano

4:35 – 5:15 PM
Women in Leadership: Arts, Activism & Social Responsibility
This panel will discuss stereotypical narratives of women in leadership & our responsibility as women to redefine and create empowering new paradigms.
Yolanda Rodriguez, Co-founder and Executive Director, BxArts Factory; Dairanys Grullon-Virgil, Co-founder, Mi Gente Latinx and Sister Circle Collective; and Poet
and Author Mercy Tullis-Bukhari. Moderator: Lorraine Currelley, Executive Director Poets Network & Exchange and Bronx Book Fair

5:15 – 5:45 PM
Protecting Your Literary Work
National Writers’ Union members Zigi Lowenberg, Stephanie Rogers, and Raymond Nat Turner.

5:45 PM
Featured Poet Willie Perdomo,
author of The Essential History of Shorty Bon BonSmoking Lovely, and Where
a Nickel Costs a Dime.

willie perdomo2

6:15 – 6:45 PM
Project X Performers (Youth Slam Poets)
Noel Quinones, Rebecca Rivera, Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe, and Gabriele Guajardo (Gigi Bella) & Alejandro Heredia. Facilitator: Peggy Robles-Alvarado

Rebecca Rivera


CONFERENCE ROOM

1:10 – 1:50 PM
From Start to Finish: Picking and Finishing the Writing Project You Want to Submit this Year
An interactive writing workshop meant to help writers decide how to narrow down their choices so they can finish and submit something in 2018! Will include in class writing prompts, planning guides, samples of projects and their path to publication, and handouts on viable new markets for starting writers.
Facilitator: Melissa Coss Aquino

2:30 – 3:10 PM
The Use of Photography in Writing
Facilitator:  John Maney

3:15 – 3:45 PM
Talking Romance: A Conversation with Rebecca Brooks and Eartha Watts Hicks
Romance writers Rebecca Brooks and Eartha Watts Hicks explore and discuss the multi-layered genre of romance writing.

4:00 – 4:40 PM
Thousand Worlds: Multidisciplinary Approach to Creative Writing
It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words but when you want to effectively create a multidimensional world with words in print, you need to develop a multidisciplinary skill set to challenge the notion of literature as a two-dimensional medium because art should always aspire to be larger than life. Facilitator: Orlando Ferrand

4:50 -5:30 PM
Fiction Presentation
Alcy Leya, author of “And Then There Were Crows” (published by Black Spot books) will be released on July 3rd and is the first in the Shades of Hell series.

Children’s Story Hour Room
Children’s Storytelling/Craft
Led by Bronx Library Center librarians


MAIN FLOOR CONFERENCE ROOM

12:40 – 2:00 PM
Literary Speed Coaching
Poets and writers: need assistance with writing or performance? Perhaps you have some ideas you need assistance with? Consult with one of our literary speed coaches: Radhiyah Ayobami, Mercy Tullis-Bukhari, Edward Currelley, and Aisha Sidibe.  Time Manager: Oscar Sanders

REGISTRATION OPEN NOW & ENDS MAY 4th, 2018!Click on link for details.
https://bronxbookfair.com/speed-coaching-sessions/

 

Photos courtesy of the Bronx Book Fair 🙂