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

My Novella is Now Available!

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.

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You can purchase Book 3 from Powells, Mysterious Galaxy, Indiebound, or Amazon. (Please support independent bookstores!)

If you’d like to keep up with my writing life and endeavors, check out my author site here.

 

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 🙂

Reading Juliet Takes a Breath

At this year’s Bronx Book Fair, I had the pleasure of meeting the awesome people of Riverdale Avenue Books, based in Riverdale (duh!) They were gracious enough to let me pick one of their books to read, and Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera was the one that stood out to me.

I recently wrote about The Education of Margot Sanchez and how amazing the cover is, and Juliet Takes a Breath is a book with another eye-catching cover and after reading the blurb on the back, I knew it was the one.

Following Bronxite Juliet, an undergrad who, after reading fictional hippie feminist Harlowe Brisbane’s Raging Flower” Empowering Your Pussy by Empowering Your Mind, decides  to move across the country to Portland to intern for her new hero. But not before coming out to her family and leaving them to deal with the news.

What I enjoyed most about this novel is Juliet’s transformation. We see her with a tough exterior that I’m sure many of us who have grown up here will recognize, but she is incredibly vulnerable and unsure of herself, trying to figure out who she is. I also enjoyed Rivera’s use of language. Juliet does not mince words and her personality comes through in the way she mixes her growing knowledge of feminism and intersectionality with the slang she has learned growing up here in the Bronx.

Definitely something to take along with you as you head to Orchard this summer!

 

JulietTakesABreath_1400

 

The Education of Margot Sanchez is the Book I wish I Had Growing Up

The March read for the book club I joined this year, Readers & Shakers, was The Education of Margot Sanchez by Bronx-raised Lilliam Rivera.

The young adult novel follows Bronx teen Margot Sanchez and her quest find herself set against the backdrop of the battle over the gentrification of the South Bronx. When I was a teen, I loved reading romance comedies, but was also (and still am) an absolute nerd for politics and news. There never seemed anything that was somewhere in the middle. I think The Education of Margot Sanchez is a step in the right direction.

The novel takes place over the course of a summer. Margot, whose family lives in Riverdale, but owns two supermarkets in the South Bronx, not far from St. Mary’s, is desperately trying to fit in with the “popular” girls at her affluent prep school. Forced to work in her family’s supermarket for the summer, she spends her time trying to avoid creepers and drama with the cashieristas. One day, she meets Moises, a young community activist trying to prevent developers from coming into the neighborhood to build luxury buildings that are obviously not for any of the locals *swoon.* On top of all of this, she’s also trying to figure out her friendship with her best friend from elementary school, who instead of attending the elite prep school, has gone to an art high school and made a bunch of new friends, causing Margot to feel insecure.

I’m so glad I’m not a teenager anymore.

With all of the Bronx references and the complexity and endless drama that comes with adolescence, I know that 16 year old Lisa would have really enjoyed this novel. Then again, so did 27 year old Lisa.

I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed and I couldn’t believe it was over so quickly! But, I think the desire to want more from a book in this way isn’t a deal breaker. At the book club, we talked about keeping the audience in mind, which is also important. For a teen, it may not be a big deal or they may not even notice.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot and definitely recommend checking it out and supporting a writer from the Bronx.

Also, the cover is gorgeous!

margot sanchez

 

 

Celebrate the Literary Culture of the Bronx at the 2017 Bronx Book Fair

Saturday, May 6, the Bronx Book Fair returns for an annual celebration of literature. This year’s line up is even better than ever (and I’m not just saying that because I’m facilitating a workshop and am on the planning committee!) Check out the schedule below:

11:00-12:00

Focus on Vendors
Kick off your day by browsing (and buying!) books from over 30 vendors in the Bronx Library Center’s spacious lower level. Vendors will be present throughout the event through 7:00 p.m.

AUDITORIUM

12:00-12:10

Welcome/Opening Remarks

Michael Alvarez, Associate Director for the Central Bronx Neighborhood Libraries at The New York Public Library
12:10-12:55

“The Business of Writing” : Literary Organizations discuss needed elements for a successful writing career.

Panelists: Kevin Larimer, Editor-in Chief of Poets & Writers Magazine and Michael Mejias, literary agent at Writer’s House. Moderated by Americo Casiano Jr
1:00-1:45

The Bronx “Book Desert”: Fighting Back through Public Libraries and New Bookstores
Panelists Noëlle Santos (Lit Bar), Oren Teicher (American Booksellers Association), Melissa Coss Aquino (Bronx Community College) and Gesille Dixon (Director of Bronx Libraries for the New York Public Library) will discuss the lack of bookstores in the Bronx and what the borough is doing about it. Moderator: Robert Farrell.
2:00-2:30

Keynote Speaker

Kevin Young, poet, essayist, Director of the Schomburg Center for

Research in Black Culture and incoming Poetry Editor of the New Yorker Magazine.

Introduction: Michael Alvarez, Associate Director for the Central Bronx Neighborhood Libraries at The New York Public Library
2:40-3:25

The Next Chapter

Our panel of writers and poets will discuss their writing and publishing careers, sharing their personal experiences as young writers to present.Topics to include ageism, genderism, racism, their thoughts on the key to longevity and what’s the next chapter to a long and distinguished career? Writers and poets at all levels as well as those interested in literary pursues will appreciate their insights.

Panelists: Edward D. Currelley, Ed Friedman, Kate Rushin, and Carmen D. Lucca. Moderator: Lorraine Currelley
3:30-4:00

Get to Know Your Library

Bronx Library Center staff discuss the roles of librarians and the importance of reading and literacy in the Bronx.  Facilitators:  Jean Harripersaud, Managing Librarian of the Bronx Library Center and Michael Alvarez, Associate Director for the Central Bronx Neighborhood Libraries at The New York Public Library.
4:05-4:50

We’re Here!

LGBTQ writers of color discuss opportunities, support, writing, and social justice issues under the new presidency. Panelists: Imani Rashid, Meriam Rodriguez, and Orlando Ferrand. Moderator: Charles Rice-González
5:00-5:45

A Weaving of Voices

A poetry and spoken word presentation featuring Cyd Charisse Fulton, Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin, Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez and Noel Quinones. Facilitator: Oscar Sanders
6:00-6:45

Musical Performance

Jackie Flowers Quartet performs

6:45-7:00

A Gathering of Community

CONFERENCE ROOM (Upper Level)

12:40-2:00

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 Speed Coaches: Mercy Tullis-Bukhari,  Edward D. Currelley, Peggy Robles Alvarado & (Coordinator), Lorraine Currelley. Ramatu Mohammad (Time Manager). ALL SESSIONS ARE FREE, but are limited and early registration is required.  Click on link for details.

CONFERENCE ROOM (Lower Level-C1)

12:10-12:55

Women’s Literary Workshop

The Abuela Stories Project will be at The Bronx Book Fair. Award winning performance poet Peggy Robles- Alvarado and Bronx blogger Lisa Gomez will facilitate a workshop using The Abuela Stories Project Book as a tool to generate original writing. Writers of all ages, identifiers, genres and levels are welcome. To end our workshop, participants will share their work to cheers, claps and finger snaps in our open mic! The Abuela Stories Project Book will be available for purchase but will not be required for the workshop. Join us for an afternoon of Abuela Stories at The Bronx Book Fair! For more information on The Abuela Stories Project Please visit abuelastories.com
1:00-1:50

“How to Publish” Getting Your Work Out.

Facilitator Gary Johnston will talk to attendees about how to get your work published.
2:45-3:30

Zine Publishing and Beyond

Learn different ways of self-publishing, and walk away with ideas on how to create, print, and distribute your own publication.  Facilitators: Margot Terc, Ana Maria Hoffman, and Tammy Lopez.
3:45-4:30

Funding Literary Artists and Literary Institutions (Nonprofits).

Facilitated by Americo Casiano, this workshop will focus on basic funding available to both the writer of creative literature (fiction and poetry) and nonprofit organizations whose focus is the Literary Arts and/or whose mission is the promotion of the fine arts in which creative literature (fiction and poetry) serves as one of its programming focuses. It will begin with a short summary of the funding landscape in general and then focus on the central theme of the workshop.
4:35-5:20

Youth on the Mic

A youth poetry and spoken word presentation, featuring Oyindamola Shoola (Bronx Community College), Rebecca  Perez (Bronx Community College), Gabrielle O’Connor (Lehman College), Dimitrios Lefas (Lehman College), and Sasha Smith, BCC alum and Poetry Project 2016-2017 Emerge-Surface-Be Fellow. Facilitated by Melissa Coss-Aquino.
CHILDREN’S STORY HOUR ROOM (2ND FLOOR)
11:00-11:45

Children’s Programming: Bilingual Storytime

Stories, music and movement!
1:00-1:45

Family Time

A program for the family (Parents with children are invited to participate in reading aloud and craft.  Each child that attends will be given 1 free book.

2:00-2:45

Mother’s Day Card Making

Each child will make a card for Mother’s Day

As always, the fair is FREE! It’ll be held at the Bronx Library Center, 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd.

 

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.