A community of gratitude

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to curate and host an event that brought together some of the most talented artists and organizers in the Queens literary community. The QUEENS LITERARY TOWN HALL is a night I will never forget, and now there are lots of photos and a video of highlights featuring ALL the performers and presenters:

First Tuesdays Reading Series & Open Mic
Enigma Bookstore
Newtown Literary Journal
Oh, Bernice! Reading Series
REZ Reading Series / Richmond Hill Library Readings
Boundless Tales Reading Series
Five Boro Story Project / Art, Food & Soul
Astoria Bookshop
Canvas of Words
Heightening Stories
Poetry Teachers NYC
Mindful Writing with Emily Herzlin
Mission to dit(Mars)
Nature of the Muse reading & live writing

All of these individuals and organizers are from all over Queens – Kew Gardens, Jackson Heights, Astoria, Jamaica, and more – and if you’d like to see what’s in store for the Queens lit community in the coming months and who is working hard to promote and support it, please check these people out! I am lucky to know all of them, and every single person who helped promote the event and joined us to celebrate that night.

Watch the video below and please GO HERE for many more photos and info on the presenters and performers.

Forward, always –

XO

a.

Pause.

Just a moment to say…

Hello, everyone. New friends, old friends. My loves and cherished family. My Nana coming to me in dreams at night. Every stranger changed by a smile, with hand outstretched and face lit by enthusiasm. Hello, Queens crusaders like me fighting the good fight, and hello to all creators creating at every moment. All lovers of words and art and life, taking step by step. Everyone who has to be brave. Everyone who has to leave their comfort zone. Everyone who is standing on the ledge waiting to take the leap into exhilarating uncertainty.

This swirling soul in my chest, kinetic and wide-awake. It’s the rest of me that can’t keep up..

I feel blessed for it all. For this chance.

The Queens Literary Town Hall is one of my proudest moments – I could not be more ecstatic about and grateful for the participants, attendees, presentations, and performances.. I will never forget the energy in the room, the sheer joy watching people being able to connect with each other for the first time – to further their projects, their businesses, their passions. There is so much more to come, from all of us..! My good friend and journalist/videographer Cesar put together a great multimedia piece with some photos and videos, and It’s Queens Magazine is featuring my photos and article about the event this month! My brother and I are also editing a video piece, to come soon.

Tonight was ever-lovely artist Priscilla Stadler‘s opening reception for FAVORS at SPACE Gallery in Dutch Kills. I was one of two readers (so great to finally meet Elisa from El Paper!), and I was so happy to stand onstage amidst the springy green FAVORS spirals, each carrying a message of handwritten good deeds. FAVORS is meant to “challenge the people of Queens, NYC and beyond to smash the stereotype that New Yorkers are cutthroat, competitive egoists by doing favors for friends, family and strangers”! I’ve always loved the concept, and so to commemorate I read some poems included in the next iteration of my guerrilla poetry sticker project, the Compass Project – which I will hopefully be expanding (and printing from something other than my home printer..!) SOON. Suggestions are welcome!

There is much to be thankful for in this season of giving but I maintain that gratitude is for everyday. New paths are opening up and I am doing my best to walk them with grace. Feel your sadness, but let it slip through your fingers. The sorrow will leave, the memories will remain.. I remember.

See you out there – I feel so blessed to have done a reading, event, or performance every month in 2013! Not counting my birthday month of August.. I guess we all need a break sometimes ;) Wrap the year up with an exciting collaboration between myself, some amazing poets, and Queens-based new music ensemble thingNY at Aurora Gallery in Astoria – poets and music! Mash-up! Improv! The return of my “Nature of the Muse” reading/on-the-spot creation series in a new guise (..it’s a shifty one ;))! Can’t wait – more deets to come.

And I will leave you with some words, from me.

Thank you for reading, seeing, being, doing, creating, living, loving – you.

Infinite –

XO

a.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Trajectories: words and music / collab with thingNY – 12/12/13 [Facebook]

INSPIRATION:

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.
– Mary Oliver, excerpt from “The Journey”

OUT OF MY HEAD & HEART:

here i am. and i can see the light catching the near-invisible threads between all these things that i do. you just have to move with the current. embrace instead of resist. no, it’s not perfect. yes, i am still looking. but that’s okay. this is my life. i want to be endlessly challenged, always moving, constantly creating. that is what we are meant for.. step back and you’ll see it. you don’t have to fixate as hard as you do. let the things that move you to tears, to grand sweeping emotions – be the things that actually matter. love. beauty. awe. ache. i am thankful to be here.. because finally i am walking in my own shoes. finally i am seeing the signs. finally i know it is a process. everything has a purpose. i am meant to take risks and make mistakes. and it’s okay. it IS okay and it will BE okay. i went from a few months ago feeling nothing in a way i hadn’t in a very, very long time – now i am here. i am not afraid anymore, i am not afraid. because life goes on and on and on and it is beautiful and terrible and shocking and perfect and harmonious and discordant and magical and a downright, absolute mess. but that’s what we’re here for. that’s the purpose. that’s it. if we did everything right, we wouldn’t LEARN. we wouldn’t have any richness or DEPTH of experience. it’s what we’re here for. that’s it. that’s it. and so i will be – the mischievous little goat breaking fences. peter in neverland. the restless sailor always voyaging. the little girl in fairy tales. and on and on and on. i believe, i wish, i hope, i love. and i will go harder, brighter, bolder, louder. because this is who i am. and there is no other way for me to be.

It’s all happening.

Banksy in Woodside, QUEENS! Incredible.. More info

It’s remarkable where these strange and wonderful oscillations of life will take you..

I truly want to thank everyone who has supported me, reached out, heard my call, or gave me a chance to speak about what I am most passionate about.

The first ever Queens Literary Town Hall is this Friday!

DNAinfo New York interviewed me and did a great story, Brownstoner Queens sounded the alarm, BORO Magazine ran an interview with me in its latest print edition, the Town Hall was shouted out in a NY Daily News article about the growing Queens literary scene, the LIC/Astoria Journal did a preview, and of course..

I got the amazing opportunity to speak with Rocco Vertuccio on NY1!

It’s really been amazing and I plan to do so much more from here.. These things are just a part of me – crusading for Queens, spreading cultural awareness, and connecting people – I can’t imagine it any other way.

Can’t stop, won’t stop..

I also feel very lucky to have one of my poems, “exceptions,” published in issue 14 of the absolutely stunning literary magazine, Words Dance. Please check them out and read the gorgeous and powerful work they’re sharing with the world!

Speaking of publishing – I was able to share my piece “requiem (soon to be)” that was published in the Spring/Summer ’13 Issue #2 of Queens’ own Newtown Literary Journal at their reading at Astoria Bookshop last week. If the crowd was any indication – word is getting out there. People are coming to these new spaces, connecting, and recognizing (hopefully more and more) that there are so many opportunities to enjoy this expanding literary world in Queens.

Please check out the list of QUEENS LIT RESOURCES I put together and share it with your contacts! It’s the only way we can keep going forward – by supporting and promoting each other.

See you out there this week! I’ll be hosting this month’s edition of Boundless Tales Reading Series at Waltz-Astoria, which also got a write-up in the Queens Chronicle! The theme is “departures” which couldn’t be any more appropriate.

“Verily the lust for comforts murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral. But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.”

Kahlil Gibran’s words always resonating in my head. Comfort in the unknown. Bliss in the adventure.

Let go, take a deep breath – and enjoy.

XO

a.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Hosting at Boundless Tales Reading Series – 10/17/13 [Facebook]

Hosting Queens Literary Town Hall as part of QCA’s 3rd Space series – 10/18/13 [QCA]

Reading at artist Priscilla Stadler’s ‘Favors’ opening in LIC – 11/8/13 [Favors]

INSPIRATION:

Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.
But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.
Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.
It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.
You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down.
You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing.
For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.
– Kahlil Gibran, excerpt from “The Prophet”

Queens Literary Town Hall!

The 1st ever Queens Literary Town Hall is coming up on October 18th!

The RSVP link is now live on Queens Council on the Arts’ site – please spread the word and join us if you can!

RSVP HERE!

More info about the event and QCA’s 3rd Space series:

3rd Space – Queens Literary Town Hall

Where do artists gather to be with other creative minds and spirits?

Artists in Queens now have a unique independent creative space where the artistic and cultural communities in the borough can come together to talk shop, attend workshops, network and share their works in progress in the 3rd Space at the Queens Council on the Arts.

3rd Space is a series of monthly events that invites local artists to host events to build strong and vibrant artist networks and to creatively lead the continuing transformation of the borough’s cultural economy.

The inaugural 3rd Space event features “The Queens Literary Town Hall”, curated by Queens based artist Audrey Dimola. The evening will be part performance, part soapbox, and part networking opportunity, and will serve as a platform for local writers/literature lovers to connect to each other and to the literary organizations and reading series in Queens.

3rd Space – Queens Literary Town Hall
Friday, October 18th from 6:30-8:30pm

Queens Council on the Arts
37-11 35th Ave, Entrance on 37th Street
Astoria, NY 11101

Admission is $5: RSVP HERE!

Please pay at the front desk upon arrival.

Scheduled to appear: Boundless Tales Reading Series, First Tuesdays Reading Series & Open Mic, REZ Reading Series, Oh Bernice! Reading Series, Newtown Literary Journal, Astoria Bookshop, Enigma Bookstore, and more.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon!

XO

a.

Journeys

I feel very grateful right now to be able to connect with people through my own work as well as through my cultural efforts in Queens. I am forever indebted to the art and words of people from present day to centuries past – the inspiration that has pulled me through some of my darkest days.

To be able to pay that forward – to connect with the universe in such a way that it allows me to deliver a message to someone at the particular moment they need it – be it a piece of my work, direct spoken encouragement, sharpie-scrawled words on a wall outside, my book, a poem sticker, or just a smile or an outstretched hand.. There’s just nothing better. Because I know how important those moments have been for me – and to be that for someone else is just unbelievably precious.

I had an absolutely WONDERFUL time at my first solo featured reading at First Tuesdays in Jackson Heights. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Richard for the opportunity and to everyone who shared the evening with me!

Among many other reasons to be overjoyed, I was also so happy to hear that the following poem delivered its message – something I feel very strongly about. WHEN will we take ownership of who and what we are? WHEN we will give ourselves permission to be exactly what we ARE? No gatekeeping, no being held back, no waiting for someone ELSE to say yes. What validates you as an artist? Is it within yourself? Or is it when someone else acknowledges you – publishes your work, accepts you into a festival or a gallery? It’s something I know we’ve all struggled with. Here is my take – or at least what I try to remind myself as much as possible – it’s a poem from my book, “Decisions We Make While We Dream.”

“validation”

it seems to me
validation
is the muse’s silent killer..
you write and stand on a street corner
holding a sign,
or shouting from a mountaintop,
or thrashing in the sea,
waiting for someone to notice.
we writers have to ask ourselves
over and over –
does it matter?
in so many ways
the greats, and others like them,
have said – write not for an
audience.
the purest writing comes from you,
unadulterated.
praise or criticism may come
afterwards –
or alternately, you may
have only silence.
but whatever you are faced with,
i tell you –
picking up the pen is your
validation.
you have realized
the grand illusion –
created something
out of nothing.
and do you know what else?
have you considered
how much of your audience
is invisible –
simply part of the pen and ink,
the walls of your heart,
the fragments of memory..
spirits of the past,
circumstances of the present,
possibilities of the future –
star-trails and planets
and the universe all one
it all moves to an
infinite,
luminous bloom
when you take that breath,
that step – to create.

how much more validation
do you need?

In other semi-related news! I’m very, very excited to be hosting the first QUEENS LITERARY TOWN HALL on October 18th from 6:30-8:30pm as part of Queens Council on the Arts‘ 3rd Space Series, which offers artist-led performance and exhibition opportunities the third Friday of the month. Part performance, part soapbox, and part networking opportunity, the Town Hall event will serve as a platform for local literary organizations and reading series to connect with each other and to writers/lit lovers in the borough. Please join me for this sampling of literary Queens – all in one place, all in one night!

On that note – this week I put together a list of all the Queens literary resources I know of (including reading series, literary organizations, workshops, bookstores, etc), posted on the new Boundless Tales website. Please check it out here and share it with your contacts!

We’re all fighting this good fight together – closer than we may seem. Keep walking your path, sharing your stories, and making your art. It’s the only way to live authentically – and to connect with others authentically, too.

Looking forward to this season of transformation..

XO

a.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Celebrating the return of Boundless Tales Reading Series! – 9/19/13 [Facebook]

Hosting Queens Literary Town Hall as part of QCA’s 3rd Space series – 10/18/13, 6:30-8:30pm [More to come!]

INSPIRATION:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
– ‘Wild Geese’ by Mary Oliver