The New York Public Library’s free performance and conversation series For The Public came to the Bronx for an afternoon of poetry and discussion with activist writers Jose Olivarez, Peggy Robles-Alvarado, the Peace Poets, emceed by poet Miles Hodges.
What does it mean to be an artist in post-election America? What will the work of artists look like? How will it impact our communities and cultural and educational institutions? Clearly writing under this administration will demand commitment to addressing social justice. It will demand artists have the courage to speak on behalf of the marginalized and disenfranchised. Speaking on behalf of those labelled the other. Understanding that there is the real possibility of being vilified, ostracized, and financially boycotted by opposing voices. Those with generational beliefs rooted in unfounded fear, privilege and entitlement. Programming focused on social justice. Poems were centered on pride of ethnic and cultural heritage. Peggy Robles Alvarado encouraged women to embrace their cultural loudness, by stating, this is where their power lies. Women are to speak, sing and dance fully.
I’ll tell you what this movement does not need, that is stage warriors. Warriors
fighting on stage, yet silent when off stage. Needed are people on the ground in our communities doing the work, when the cameras are not flashing. Program artists delivered and are walking their talk. As a collective event and as individuals the messages were clear and powerful. Encouraging and inspiring community residents to be catalysts for change. To support the health of and to build healthy communities. Performers received an enthusiastic response. See biographies of all participating artists are as follows.
Miles Hodges is a writer, performer, and founding member of The Strivers Row. He serves as ambassador to emerging adults at The New York Public Library. Miles lives in Harlem. Peggy Robles Alvarado is a New York City educator and poet, and author of Conversations With My Skin and Homenaje A Las Guerreras/ Homage to the Warrior Women. Her latest book The Abuela Stories Project, an anthology of women writers, debuted on December 8, 2016 at The Bronx Museum of the Arts. Jose Olivarez is the co-author of the book of poems Home Court (2014). He serves as Program Director at Urban Word NYC, and received a Bronx Recognizes Its Own award from the Bronx Council on the Arts in 2015. His work has been published in The BreakBeat Poets, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, Specter Magazine, and Union Station Magazine, among other journals. The Peace Poets are a collective of artists that celebrate, examine and advocate for life through music and poetry. Our art can take you on a journey from the Boogie Down to Berlin, from the border to the bodega. Our style emphasizes lyricism, rhythm and authenticity. We hail from the Bronx and have been rocking the mic since 2005. They are Emmanuel Candelario, Jerome Frantz (Ram 3), Frank Antonio Lopez (Frankie 4), Luke Nephew (Despierto) and Abraham Velazquez (A-B-E).
Congratulations Bronx Library Center, under the direction of Michael Alvarez for your commitment to the Bronx community. Thank you, for innovative and inspiring, educational and cultural programming , representing the diverse communities within the Bronx community. Thanks, to Jean Harripersaud, Adult Librarian for supporting the director’s vision for the Bronx Library Center.
©Lorraine Currelley 2017. All Rights Reserved.