progress is not a trick

“We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, that racial division is inherent to America.  If you think nothing’s changed in the past 50 years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or Los Angeles of the 1950s.  Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed.  Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago.  To deny this progress, this hard-won progress -– our progress –- would be to rob us of our own agency, our own capacity, our responsibility to do what we can to make America better”.  President Barack Obama

Progress is not a trick, but assessing it can be tricky.  I am of an age where I see clearly how much this nation has changed since 1965 and yes there is much un-finished business.  Racism and hatred and violence are those societal elements that we must constantly struggle with.  Justice is often denied, but sometimes justice is made.  Ferguson as our President pointed out is not “unique”–the worst corruption there is is small town corruption.  I know because I grew up in a small town.  But as the President, the Representatives and the still living foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement constantly point out, we have destiny in our hands.  To not vote, the pretend that your vote doesn’t matter means to me at least that you give up any right to complain about anything because you have ceded your power and most likely to the very people who will do you the greatest harm.  Black people, progressive people sat out the 2014 elections and see what kind of Congress we got now.

I am tired of people saying well these people are racists and therefore more honest.  I know he’s a thief, so I will vote for him and not complain when he dips his hand in the collective till.  Racists are no more honest than anyone else.  But greed, stupidity, meanness, misogyny and misanthropy reign supreme in the halls of Congress.  But there has been greed, stupidity, violence, et al in the past.  And when it got too bad-the VOTERS through the rascals out.  I have voted in every election but one since I registered to vote right out of college–that means Presidential elections. primaries, school board elections, State and local contests.  All of them in three cities: Atlanta, New York and Boston.  Sometimes my candidates win, sometimes they lose.  But I can complain and praise and put my two cents in with pride.  People died.  Black people died so that I could participate in this democracy, a very far from perfect experiment.

There are terrible things going on in every state in this Union-men and women hell bent on destroying public education; on destroying collective bargaining and unionization not only in the public sector, but the private sector as well–a good way to KEEP WAGES DOWN; on making health care unaffordable and almost inaccessible for poor and working class people;  and policing women’s bodies esp. during childbearing years.  These people hate art and culture and think that anybody or maybe robots should teach.  Of course their children go to expensive private schools.  They will sell of park lands.  Gut the budgets of child welfare offices.  They are there because less than 50% of people show up and vote.  And as long as “progressives” sit on their hands and occupy their grievances these people will do even more harm.  Plenty people talk about revolution and societal transformation, but few are willing to DO THE WORK to make laws; to set policies; to administer them.  And so the right takes more and more control.  The people who were beaten and brutalized by the STATE OF ALABAMA 50 years ago wanted to vote in order to gain power and  make change.  The mayor of Selma is Black.  The mayor of Selma is Black.

many poets at Wilson Hall/Furious Flower PC, Virginia

many poets at Wilson Hall/Furious Flower PC, Virginia

Belle du Jour

The housewife birds

To another house-black lace stockings

Here sex is transactional

I.E.

She gives a little.  He pays a lot

 

She birds back-sofa purchased

Suits cleaned.  Walk here and there

The shops @) and (@) and (@)

Chanel, Dior, Hermes

Silks and leather –Leather and silk

She memorizes the number of tassels

On her brand new whip.

 

Silk and leather and diamond shaped bird

Her earnings consumed in pretty things

Husband finds –mis understanding Where

He beats her after sex

She gives a little. He takes a lot.

 

She considers the whip.  She considers the blood

Down his back.  She considers the sofa.  She

Puts the bird on her chest.  She refuses to

Flutter.

 

Husband washes his hands and considers

The necessity of marriage.  What is wife but

Bird. But if bird, what is husband.  Hunter or

Just another bird.  Blood runs down his back.

 

Home is après ski and minor gossip

Home is husband

Home is where the cat’s claws

Remain untrimmed.

 

Poem posted in The Ashbery Home School–thanks to Emily Skillings.

La vida de la poet

One of the things about writing poems is to take risk or to use unlikely sources.  On my birthday I share this poem selected by The AshberyHomeSchool organized by Adam Fitzgerald and Emily Skillings.  Many years ago, I took Thulani Davis to see Belle Du Jour for her birthday.  We felt oh so sophisticated.  That seems like a century ago and indeed it was in the last century of the last millennium. Years later I thought about the film, but also more about what is marriage since it has been on everyone’s mind-gay marriage; divorce rates; why get married; why men are happier married, etc. etc. etc.     I am not married, but probably would have made an interesting wife had I been married.  But who knows.  I do not.  But the film gave a look at how marriage represses women.  And the ways in which she “liberates”  or does not “liberate” herself is at the heart of the film.  Of course it’s a film by the great Spanish director Bunel and given his misogyny, the liberation focuses on her use of sex.  Of course women liberate ourselves in a range of ways and that is a good thing.   We need more liberty.  We need to think about what marriage or not marriage is.  We need to find language that allows our full selves to be claimed by our full selves.  As a poet who is living her life as best she can, I know that it is not easy to live one’s full life.  But I urged each of us to do so as best we can.

At MOMA, with Jacob Lawrence catalog, January 2015

At MOMA, with Jacob Lawrence catalog, January 2015

http://ashberyhomeschool.org/gallery/patricia-spears-jones/

the thrill of departure

I taught a poetry workshop for Poets House using “departure” as a way to allow writers to take a different direction; try new things. Everyone has certain ways of seeing, feeling–I know that I do.  And any time I am asked to try something different, called to create from another vantage, I embrace the process.  But I know it may not work.  There is always risk in not making good or hopefully great work. Of having your writing in the company of others who have been deemed valuable.  I know that my work is well-regarded and for some deeply admirable.  But I am not a prize receiving poet.  The New York Times does not know my name.  My last book, Painkiller, of which I very proud received like 3 reviews.  And yet, I am completing A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems for White Pine Press.  I would love to get prizes and the monies attached.  I would love to get the praise.  But my work as a poet has been to keep going despite neglect or rejection–it is not about giving up hope. It is about thinking that maybe in the language I choose to work with, I bring something new, different, engaged to the discourse.  I am not glib.  I cannot reduce my work to a sound bite–that does not interest me.  What does is that thrill of departure-the step towards something possibility familiar, but often completely unknown.

When Elizabeth Alexander asked me to write a poem in response to Jacob Lawrence Migrations series, I was deeply touched.  This was not expected and I was not sure of what I’d do; how I’d do it.  I had written a poem in response to Lawrence’s “Builders” series-a gorgeous, hopeful group of paintings.  That poem was published in Black Renaissance Noire, thanks Quincy Troupe.  But this was different and when I was at VCCA this past August, I was able to pull together the strands of thinking about Lawrence’s work and a panel in that celebrated series and make a poem.  I will always be grateful to my fellow VCCA residents who heard the poem read aloud for the first time and my good friend Deborah Wood Holton for her insightful first reading.  I will read the final version, May 1 at MOMA with Elizabeth, Yusef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove, Tyehimba Jess, Crystal Williams, Nathasa Tretheway,  Terrence Hayes, and Kevin Young.

A few days ago I stood in the recording studio at MOMA holding the catalog and marveling at the hard work done to bring Lawrence’s work to a new generation; a large audience.  From what I have heard from everyone who worked with him, he was a deeply kind, generous and hard working man.  An artist whose gifts are giving with love and great honor to the ancestors.  I am grateful to him for showing what vision and work whether quickly seen or gained over a lifetime means.  It means that the thrills keep coming year after year after year.  The show opens April 3.  I hope you go see it and see the work of artists living and gone–depart from your own vision. See where the colors, lines, figures take you–the journey may be long or short, but it will be different.

At MOMA, with Jacob Lawrence catalog, January 2015

At MOMA, with Jacob Lawrence catalog, January 2015

 

Patricia Spears Jones Events Schedule 2017-2015

Moes Books, Berkeley CA

Moes Books, Berkeley CA

JANUARY 2017

January 1 The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church

Annual New Year’s Day Benefit

131 E. Tenth Street or 2nd Ave & 10th Street

3 p.m. to midnight, plus

$25.00 donation

Manhattan

 

January 14  Arts for Art

Evolving Festival, Justice is Compassion/Not a Police State

curated by Patricia Nicholson, co-founder

6:30 pm.

131 Suffolk Street Abrazo at The Clemente

Manhattan

info at  www.artsforart.org

 

January 20 Day One: A Poetry Reading and Open Mic

Organized by Ted Degnan and Jen Fitzgerald

Poets House

10 River Terrace

5 – 7 p.m.

Manhattan

 

February, 2017

February 2  Women Poets at Barnard

w/ Lynn Emanuel

Barnard College

Sulzberger Parlor, 3rd floor, Barnard Hall

7 p.m.

Manhattan

February 11, AWP Conference, Washington DC

Panelist: Writing Capitalism: Chicken Shack to Cloud Corporation; Barmaid to Bureaucrat

Organized by Julie Sheehan

w/ J.  Sheehan, Timothy Donelley, Sarah Vap and Sarah Briante

Marquis Salon 7& 8 Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two

10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Washington, DC

 

March 2017

March 11  Second Saturdays @CYRUS

organized by Terri Muss & Matt Pasca

w/ Terri Muss

1 Railroad Plz

7-9:30 p.m.

Bayshore, LI,  NY

 

March 21, School of Visual Arts

Voices of Resistance org. by David Pemberton

w/ Lydia Cortes, Sheila Maldonado & Bakar Wilson

SVA Library

380 Second Ave.

Manhattan

7 p.m.

FREE

 

March 26, Bowery Poetry Club

The Golden Shovel Book Launch

Organized by Peter Kahn & Ravi Shankar,

w/ Latasha N. Diggs, Greg Pardlo, Jean Valentine, Elizabeth Macklin, Patricia Smith. et al

308 Bowery

Manhattan

3-5 p.m.

Free

Anthology of poems for Gwendolyn Brooks

Anthology honoring Gwendolyn Brooks-so glad to be in this.

April 2017

April 1  Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College

Paterson Poetry Prize Winner & Finalists Reading

Organized by Maria M. Gillan

w/ Mark Doty, et al

Hamilton Club Building

Paterson, New Jersey

1 p.m.

FREE

 

April 1, Howl Happening

WORD: An Anthology from A Gathering of Tribes

Emceed by Bob Holman

w/ Sheila Maldonado, Eileen Myles and Edwin Torres

6 E. First Street

Manhattan

7-9 p.m

FREE

 

April 7  Walking with Whitman Poetry in Performance

The Walt Whitman Birthplace Association

Curated by Cynthia Shor

6:00-9:30 p.m.

246 Old Walt Whitman Road

Huntington Station, LI, NY

 

April 20  Brooklyn Poets Anthology Reading

Organized by Jason Koo

w/ Timothy Donnelly, D. Nurske, Candace Williams, et al

Smack Mellon

92 Plymouth Street

7 p.m.

$20-$35 at the door

Brooklyn

 

May 2017

May 12, Pete’s Candy Store

w/Sharon Mesmer and Elaine Sexton

curated by Michael Broder

709 Lorimer Street

7 p.m.

Brooklyn NY

http://www.petescandystore.com/


Paterson Poetry Prize Event, April 1, 2017

June, 2017
June 27,  Stanley Kunitz Common Room
w/ Joan Wickersham
Organized by Kelle Groom
Fine Arts Work Center
24 Pearl Street
6:30 p.m.
Provincetown, MA
(508) 487-9960/FAWC.ORG

 

JULY, 2017

July 22, GEMINI Ink

Writers Conference, July 21-23

Reading with Octavio Quintinanilla, Helana Maria Viramontes, Brian Turner

Curated by Alexandra Vanderkamp

1111 Navarro Street

7 p.m.

San Antonio, TX

Information: www.geminiink.org

 

July 26, Cambridge Public Library

The Golden Shovel Book Launch/Mass Poetry

Organized by Maura Snell and Ravi Shankar

6:30-8:30 p.m.

Cambridge, MA

 

AUGUST, 2017

August 5, Lincoln Center

La Casita Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Organized by Claudia Norman. LaTasha N. Diggs, C. Daniel Dawson, et al

Hearst Plaza

Noon-3 p.m.

Manhattan

FREE

August 6, Lincoln Center Out-Doors

La Casita at Teatro Pregones

571 Walton Avenue

2 p.m.

Bronx NY

FREE

 

SEPTEMBER , 2017

September 13,  KGB

Inkwell Readings

w/ Richard Hoffman

85 E. 4th Street

7 p.m.

Manhattan

medallion Walt Whitman Birthplace, Long Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

October, 2017

October 21,  Poetry Center

University of Arizona

Thinking in Presence Conference

8 p.m.

https://www.thinkingitspresenceconference.com/

 

October 30, KGB (again)

curated by Jason Schneiderman

85 E. 4th Street

7 p.m.

Manhattan

 

JANUARY 2016

January 12  Poets Settlement

Organized/hosted by Terence Degnan, et al

Breucklyn Colony

274 4th Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11215

8 p.m.

 

 

FEBRUARY

February 12, Brooklyn Poets Reading Series

Organized by Jason Koo

w/ Rosebud Ben-Oni & Lonely Christopher

BRIC MEDIA ARTS

674 Fulton Street

7 p.m.

Brooklyn

F

 

February 17, Book Launch at BookCourt

Organized by the Poetry Society of America

w/ Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

163 Court Street

Free

Brooklyn

 

February 23, NYU Book Center

Organized by Scott R. Hightower

w/ Barbara Fischer, Terese Svoboda & Jonathan Wells

6 p.m.

726 Broadway

Free

Manhattan

 

February 25, University of Pacific

Organized by Zhou Xiaojing, Ph.D.

English Department

Free

6:30 p.m.

Stockton, CA

 

February 29 University of California, Berkeley

Anniversary Celebration of Robert Hass’ Lunch Poems

w/ Cecil Giscombe, Brenda Hillman, Maxine Hong Kingston, Lynn Hejinian, et al

Morrison Library inside the Doe Library north entrance

5:30 to 7:30 PM

Wine reception

Berkeley, CA

 

MARCH

March 2, Moe’s Books

w/ Dennis Maloney

2476 Telegraph Avenue

7:30 p.m.

Berkeley, CA

 

March 3, The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University

Organized by Steve Dickinson

w/ Clarence Major

1600 Holloway Avenue

4:30 p.m.

San Francisco, CA

http://poetry.sfsu.edu/

 

March 30-April 2 AWP : readings, signings, panel

March 31  Black Earth Institute Fellows’ Reading

AWP Off site Reading: Stories Books and Cafe

T. Broby, M. Durand, A. Hedge Coke, L. Camp, A. Finch

& A. Fisher-Wirth

1716 W. Sunset Blvd

6-8 p.m.

Free

APRIL

 

April 1, Book Signing

Organized by Pam Ushuk

Best of Cutthroat

1 p.m.

April 1  Book Signing  A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems

Organized by Dennis Maloney, Publisher

White Pine Press, Table 743

2-3 p.m.

BOOKFAIR: LA Convention Center/JW Marriott

w/ Matthew Dickman, AWP Los Angeles, 2016

w/ Matthew Dickman, AWP Los Angeles, 2016

April 2,  Out of LA: A Tribute to Jayne Cortez (1936-2012)

Organized by Laura Hinton.  Panelists: Aldon Lynn Nielson,

Jennifer Ryan and Pam Ward

Room 410 LA Convention Center, Meeting Floor Level

3-4:15 p.m.

Los Angeles

https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/schedule_overview

 

April 21, The Kelly Writers House

University of Pennsylvania

broadside Kelly Writers House

broadside Kelly Writers House

Organized by Charles Bernstein, Al Fireis & Jessica Lowenthal

7 p.m.

3805 Locust Walk

7 p.m.

Philadelphia, PA

MAY 2016

photo by John Casquerelli

Reading at Berl’s Poetry Shop

 

May 26, EARSHOT

Organized by Emily Skillings

w/Larry Kaplun, Nicole Sealy and Christian Smith

8 p.m.

Over the Eight, Union & Richardson

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

*******

JUNE

 

June 17,  Benefit  Reading for Community of Writers

Dedicated to C. D. Wright, organized by Alison DeLauer

W/ Kazim Ali, Bob Hass, Brenda Hillman, Cathy Park Hong

Sharon Olds & Kevin Simmonds

7 p.m.

First Congregational Church (Berkeley)

2345 Channing Way

Berkeley, CA

 

June 23, Staff Reading for Community of Writers

w/ Kazim Ali, Bob Hass, Cathy Park Hong and Sharon Olds

7 p.m.

Poets, Squaw Valley, 2016

Cathy Park Hong & Nikia Chaey at Squaw Valley, June 2016

Olympic Valley, CA

 

 

JULY

July 14, 24th Annual Poetry Showcase Reading

Organized by Stephen Motika

w/ Alicia Jo Rabins, Camille Rankine, Stacy Szymaszek

7 p.m.

Poets House

10 River Terrace

Manhattan

 

AUGUST

August 8,  Local 61 Brooklyn YAWP

organized by Jason Koo

7 p.m.

61 Bergen Street

Brooklyn NY

www.brooklynpoets.org

 

SEPTEMBER

September 11  Group Reading

Jefferson Market Library

organized by Scott Hightower. Sally Davidowff, et al

2-4 p.m.

10th Street & Sixth Avenue

Manhattan

 

September 16, The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church

Ted Greenwald Memorial–Group reading

organized by Poetry Project

8 p.m.

131 E. 10th Street

Manhattan

Ted Greenwald Memorial Reading at St. Mark's Poetry Project

Ted Greenwald Memorial Reading at St. Mark’s Poetry Project

September 25  Arts for Art/In the Garden Series

organized by Steve Dalanchinsky

w/ Yuko Otomo,

3-5 p.m.

6 BC Garden-E. 6th Street between B&C

Manhattan

 

OCTOBER

October 11,  Reading/PSU, Altoona

Organized by Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Noon

Free

Titelman Study of the Misciangna Family Center for the Performing Arts

Altoona, PA

 

October 17, BOOKCOURT/Reading from RESISTING ARREST Anthology

w/ Tony Medina, Marilyn Nelson, Quincy Scott Miller, et al

7 p.m.

163 Court Street

Free

Brooklyn, NY

 

NOVEMBER

November 1, Dia/Chelsea Contemporary Poetry Series

organized by Vincent Katz

w/ Christopher Stackhouse

535 W. 22nd Street, 5th Floor

$10.00 gen admission/$6.00 seniors & students

6:30 p.m.

212-989-5566

Manhattan

 

November 2,  An Openings Roundtable

organized by Sabra Moore

w/ Janet Goldner, Marina Gutierrez,  Cecilia Vicuna, Mimi Smith & K. Miyamota

Rizzoli

6:30 p.m.

 

November 18 The Writers Studio presents

2017 PUSHCART PRIZE ANTHOLOGY Reading

with Charles Baxter, et al & Bill Henderson, Publisher

The Strand Book Store (Rare Books Room)

12th and Broadway

7 p.m.

$15.00 ticket at the desk

Manhattan

 

post reading at The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church, Dec. 2015 w/ Lydia Cortes

post reading at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, Dec. 2015 w/ Lydia Cortes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

88888888888888888888888888888888

8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888

DECEMBER 2015

December 9, The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church

Organized by Simone White

w/ Susie Timmons

8 p.m.

Belladonna reading, March 2015

Kimberly Lyons, Laynie Brown, et al,March 2015

131 E. 10th Street

Manhattan

Donation

Home

 

NOVEMBER

November 22,  The Poetry Brothel

Organized by Stephanie Berger, et al

w/ Nick Flynn

New York City

 

November 14, Poets Network & Exchange

Organized by Lorraine Currelley

w/E.J. Antonio, Jacqueline Johnson, Tyehimba Jess

Countee Cullen Branch, NYPL

1 p.m.

Free

http://poetsnetworkandexchange.wordpress.com/

 

OCTOBER

October 19, Tribute to the Poet Ai

Organized by The Poetry Society of America, Academy of American Poets, Cave Canem, et al

w/ Yusef Komunyakaa, Joy Harjo, Sapphire, Timothy Lieu, Susan Wheeler, et al

Prohansky Auditorium, CUNY Graduate Center

Fifth Avenue & 34th Street

7 p.m.

Manhattan

 

SEPTEMBER

September 25, Glitter Pomegranate Series

Bedford Avenue YMCA

Curated by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

w/ Gregory Pardlo, Eugenia Lee and Lynne Procope

1121 Bedford Avenue

6:30 p.m.

Brooklyn, NY

 

 September 20, Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon

Organized by Juliet P. Howard

Invitation Only: Reading/Workshop

TBA

https://www.facebook.com/WomenWritersinBloom.PoetrySalon

 

September 2, The Brooklyn Commons

Music Now! At  Poetry/Jazz
w/Spiritchild XspiritMental, Ras Moshe Burnett, et al  & open mic
The Brooklyn Commons
388 Atlantic Ave. btwn Hoyt St. & Bond St.
Brooklyn.
A,C to Hoyt-Schemerhorn/Any train to Atlantic Ave.

6 p.m. -9 p.m.

$11 contribution

 

AUGUST

 August 9, Boog City Festival

David Kirschbaum, et al

Unnameable Bookstore

Vanderbilt Avenue

1:45 p.m.

Brooklyn, NY

 

JULY, 2015

July 25

Merryall Center

Voices of Poetry organized by Neil Silberblatt

w/ Patrick Donnelly, Michael Klein, and musicians

8 p.m.

New Milford, Connecticut

For directions, call (860) 354-7264 or visit www.merryallcenter.org.

 

JULY 26

Fifth Annual The New York Poetry Festival

Organized by Stephanie Berger

w/ Nick Flynn David Matlin and Fran Quinn

3 p.m.

Algonquin Stage, Colonels Row Park

Governors Island

Free

About

 

MAY, 2015

Center for Women Writers

with Metta Sama and Meera Nair at Salem College, North Carolina

May 1, Museum of Modern Art

Debut Reading: Poetry Suite for Migration Series, One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence

Migrations Series and Other Works organized/curated Elizabeth Alexander

w/ Rita Dove, Nikky Finney, Terence Hayes, Tyehimba Jess,

Crystal Williams, et al

6:30 p.m.

The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1

Manhattan

http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/events/23538

 

May 10, hosting WORDS SUNDAY

Janet Kaplan and Jacqueline Jones LaMon

Calabar Imports

4 p.m.

351 Tompkins Avenue

Brooklyn

 

May 15, Center for Book Arts

The Broadside Series hosted by Sharon Dolin

w/ Ada Limon, Jen Bervin and Genine Lentine

7 p.m.

28 W. 27

Manhattan

 

APRIL 2015

April 2, Hell Yes, Readings from The Inferno by Dante Alghieri

Cathedral of St. John Divine

Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street

9 p.m.

Manhattan

Open to the Public

April 12, hosting WORDS SUNDAY

w/ LaToya Jordan and Ras Moshe Burnett

Calabar Imports Bed-Stuy

351 Tompkins

Brooklyn

info@calabar-imports.com

 

MARCH 2015

March 3, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Women’s Herstory Conference

w/ Lee Briccetti, Elaine Sexton, Nita Noveno, et al

7-9 p.m.

Manhattan

Free

 

March 8 McNally Jackson Books

Curated by Belladonna Collaborative

w/ Laynie Browne and Kimberly Lyons

7 p.m.

52 Prince Street

Manhattan

Free

 

March 18 The Center for Women Writers

Curated by Metta Sama, Director

w/ Meera Nair

Salem College

7 p.m.

601 S Church Street

photo by John Casquerelli

Reading at Berl’s Poetry Shop

Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27101

http://www.salem.edu/community/cww/

 

 

FEBRUARY  2015

February 5 RESPOND at Smack Mellon
DUMBO FIRST THURSDAY
“Don’t shoot” curated by Samuel Jablom
w/ Anomalous who, Steve Dalachinsky, Joyce LeeAnn Joseph,
Yuko Otomo, and Peter Rugh
7:30 p.m.
SMACK MELLON
92 Plymouth Street @ Washington
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Free

JANUARY  2015

January 1, The Poetry Project New Year’s Day Benefit
Organized by The Poetry Project
w/ a cast of hundreds
2 p.m. to midnight
St. Mark’s Church on the Bouwerie
131 E. 10th Street
Manhattan
Donation: $20

January 3, First Saturday at Brooklyn Museum
Poetry Popup in Crossing Brooklyn
Organized by Alan Felsenthal
w/ Corinna Copp, Ricky Laurentis, and Charles North
Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn
Free w/ Museum Admission

DECEMBER

December 1, KGB Monday Night Poetry Series
Organized by John Deming
w/ Shanna Compton
7:30 p.m.
E. 4th Street
Manhattan

NOVEMBER POETRY EVENTS

November 11, Poets@Pace
w/ Monica de la Torre
Organized by Charles North
Pace University
Once Pace Plaza
Manhattan
6-7:30 p.m.
FREE

OCTOBER POETRY EVENTS

October 12, AiPO POETRY SCULPTURE
w/Christine Malvasi, Sophie Malleret,Najee Omar, &Nikhil Melnechuk
Organized by Samuel Jablon
1-2 p.m. UNION SQUARE
Manhattan
FREE

SEPTEMBER  POETRY EVENTS

September 13, Greenpoint Branch
Brooklyn Public Library
Organized by Melanie Nielsen
w/ Kristen Gallagher
107 Norman Ave @Leonard Street
Brooklyn, NY
718-349-8504

September 24-27, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future
Of African-American Poetry
James Madison University
Furious Flower Poetry Center
Organized by Dr. Joanne V. Gabbin
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
www.jmu.edu/furiousflower

JUNE POETRY EVENTS

June 19, Lunch Poems, Word for Word Series
Organized by Paul Romero
w/ Lydica Cortes,  Jessica Greenbay,  Jocelyn Lieu & Sharan Strange
12:30 p.m.
Free
BRYANT PARK Reading Room
Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street
Manhattan

June 29, Voices of Poetry
Organized by Neil Silberblatt
w/ Chivas Sandage, Vivian Shipley, Mark Statman & Bianca Stone
4 p.m.
$15/$10 students
26 Bedford Road
Katonah, NY.

Life Lessons from Living in the Love Economy

Life Lessons

There are many lessons learned in life

But few come from tragedy—I know, I know

 

What makes you stronger and all that.  Rot

I say

 

You learn more from what makes you laugh

How much pleasure the tongue can bring and where it was placed

 

The sweet look on your lover’s face.  Or how loud P FUNK

Could be on stage and off   NOT JUST KNEEDEEP

 

The towers falling; a man shot in the back

All terrible, but: What can you do about that?

 

What can you make of a world so wedded to injustice?

How dare you name the oppressor and demand his head,

 

His badge, his ranch or those secret accounts in the Maldives?

It is not as if the struggle is useless, it is that it continues.

 

But joy, where is it?  What does it look like, smell like—bergamot

Lemons, honey, roses, musk?

 

To find it, is to explore a path where the stumbles are many

The curses frequent, but the rewards

 

forthcoming in A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press)

2014 LIVING IN THE LOVE ECONOMY/THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS

This is a year when airplanes dropped out the sky and just disappeared.  Where Russian troops in Crimea pretended to not be Russian troops in Crimea.  Where ACA almost died under the weight of lousy internet interface.  It is a year with news of horrific rape, murder and abduction and it ends with rape allegations against an aging comedian.  It  is a year when

a generation of poets, activists and actors in their 70s, 80s and 90s left us and where younger ones died by their own hand or via drugs.  It was a year that seem to to be like a over heated dressage-many obstacles to leap over; many traps to gallop through.  This is the year I learned to be used to be an orphan, a position I so do not like being.

All of those awful, terrible, scary things were backdrop to what may be one of my most productive and accomplished year:
I have a new chapbook, Living in the Love Economy from Overpass Books, young people who are graduates of Long Island University–they studied with Lewis Warsh, who was on of my first poetry instructors when I came to NYC in 1974!  The book launch at Berl’s was well attended and I was able to get Anselm Berrigan and Erica Hunt to share the spotlight.  I thank them all.

Chapbook from Overpass Books.

Chapbook from Overpass Books.

Poems were published in The Cataramaran Literary Reader, The Recluse from The Poetry Project and The Mas Tequila Review.

Serious literary interviews were made with me by  Lewis Warsh for The Otter and Rochelle Spencer for Mosaic and The Brooklyn Poets interviewed and featured me for the Brooklyn Poet of the Week (that was fun).  The most interesting interview was actually a dialogue with Afaa Michael Weaver for the Furious Flower Poetry Center’s archive. And after harrassing, well gently needling Metta Sama, she pulled together this extraordinary convo that Monica Hand, Tracy Chiles McGhee, Raquel Goodison and Ruth Ellen Kocher on women’s creativity, artistic production and well read it at http://theconversant.org/staging/?cat=782.

Rich Blint of Columbia University asked me to participate in a panel for the The Year of Baldwin portion of The Harlem Bookfair. Aimee Meredith Cox moderated the panel and I have to say again that she may have been the best panel moderator I have ever encountered.  It was a lively and fresh conversation between me, Christopher Winks and Kiese Laymon.  And earlier in the year I participated in the National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College–that was fascinating esp. seeing Derek Walcott up close.

I blogged for the “Harriet” blog for the National Poetry Foundation in September.  What did I know that in September the #Ferguson protests would start up; that I would have some impact on supporting the work of activists or that I’d write up Maya Angelou’s Riverside Church Memorial or that I’d talk about Sonia Sanchez’ 80th birthday or have the chance to report on the Furious Flower Poetry Conference with a focus on what happened after the public events took place! Reading and participating at Furious Flower was important for me as a poet, esp. as a Black poet.  I also wrote literary reviews for books by Tony Medina and Yuko Otomo and arts reviews on Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems.

In August I had the great gift of 10 days at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts where I put together a next to final draft of my New and Selected Poems with the great help of the VCCA staff–thank you again.  I got to know Kelle Groom, Nichole Parcher, Joelle Wallach and other poets/composers, visual artists.  And in October, I was able to fulfil my duties as a Senior Fellow for the Black Earth Institute and share in the wonderful hospitality of Michael McDermott and Charlotte Taymor in Wisconsin. The BEI gave its first ever award to Joy Harjo who was skyped in for the event–ah technology.

And also at VCCA I completed a commission–a new poem for a literary supplement to the forthcoming re-installment of The Migrations Series, Jacob Lawrence’s groundbreaking work that will be shown at the Museum of Modern Art.  I thank Elizabeth Alexander for placing me in this august group.  I had written about Lawrence’s work in an earlier poem which Quincy Troupe published in Black Renaissance Noir.  It was a great opportunity and pretty scary-like will I pull this off?  I did.

And I also worked with Atim Oton who is bringing her CALABAR brand to my hood, Bed-Stuy and so for the popup I developed a reading series, WORDS SUNDAY and it was really successful,  But special shoutout to Janice Lowe who was in the first one, I want you back for a larger audience come Spring 2015.

And finally, I did readings for Paul Romero’s Bryant Park Series, most notably a “Lunch Poem” one with Jocelyn Lieu, Lydia Cortes, Jessica Greenbaum and Sharan Strange. And with Mark Statman for Neil Silbrerblatt’s Voices in Poetry series in Katonah.  Rowan Ricardo Phillips brought me to SUNY Stony Brook, where June Jordan and Cornelius Eady  advanced contemporary poetry.  Getting to know Rowan and his work has been a boon.  Also read “The Day Lady Died” for the Frank O’Hara Lunch Poem Publication Anniversary event at the Poetry Project.  And at the end of the year I read at KBG with Shanna Compton–it was a night rich with verbal fireworks and deep emotions.  There was more, but it’s cold.  It’s December 31. It’s time to sum stuff up.

I know that much of this year has been about violence, danger, death and protest.  I am sad about the danger, death and violence, but I am so pleased that protests are underway and not just here from Mumbai to Santiago Chile to Hong Kong to St. Louis, Missouri young people are awake and demanding their future–not one of fewer economic prospects, more debt; tyrannical police, environmental degradation; expensive consumerism and shoddy services–but one that may be more equitable, caring and creative.  The world has always been violent and dangerous, but cynicism simply keeps whoever is in power in power.  I thank young people for starting to say nada mas, no more.  Yes  #blacklivesmatter,  Yes #afutureisinourhands.  2015 HERE WE COME.

Year’s ending-horses still galloping

I know that the Year of the Horse will go into late January, so the galloping is not over.  We have been on a very wild ride.  The news of day has often been mysterious, horrific, terrifying or utterly silly.  Sometimes the same item can be described with all those words.  I know that it has been a wild ride for me and one that I treasure because I am breathing and too many people I love no longer breathe.

Florence Tate whom I only met in “real life” recently passed.  I knew her son Greg Tate for what seems like forever.  But his famous Mama I met via social media–she was a great presence on Facebook and intensely encouraging to me and many other writers, artists, singers, organizers, activisits and bon vivants.  The last time I saw her breathing was at the Funeral for Amiri Baraka–the kind of affair that brought his friends, enemies, former lovers, their children and just about anyone who was a who in the downtown/Black Arts Movement/literary scene to Symphony Hall in Newark.  I will also miss Galway Kinnell whose readings at Brooklyn’s Ferry Landings at the end of the Poets House Bridge Walks were so very very special.  His passion for life, for poetry for oatmeal LOL never left him. Like Baraka, Kinnell was a fighter for justice; a great teacher–they were poets who created communities and they both lived long enough to modify earlier excesses and mend some fences.

I can’t breathe #Ican’tbreathe has become a chant; an indictment; a statement of anguish and demand.  Eric Garner’s utterly unnecessary death at the hands of the NYPD and others who are here to serve people galvanized and continues to galvanize young people on top of those marching/organizing/agitating in Ferguson MO.  The parade of dead Black, Brown and occasionally White bodies at the hands of Law Enforcement (LE) has made a significant number of people who had otherwised kept their heads in the sand. look up and see that the police are more soldiers than peace officers and that much of policing has become occupation–the lastest military incursions by the Israel into Gaza serves as a kind of template, it seems to me.  These are ugly times.  Ugly times.

And yet I am writing on a chilly rainy day in Brooklyn, a piano solo-some minor league European composer’s work makes perfect background noise.  Today I went to the Museum of Modern Art to read “Lave” a poem commissioned for the catalog for One Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence Migrations Series which will open in early April at MOMA.  Elizabeth Alexander has done a great job of bringing Black poets with very different poetics together to honor and respond to Lawrence’s seminal work.  I know that this was a great opportunity; a great challenge.  I hope people will respond to our response.  I also saw the Robert Gober Retrospective.  Gober is White.  He’s Gay and he’s Young and very definitely breathing and I am glad.  His sculptures defy standards of beauty; his bodies are never complete; his anguish not extinguished; his fears what should be feared–bullies, killers of the mind as well as body–the title of the exhibition is The Heart Is Not  a Metaphor and you know what it is not  Pulsating, pumping, a muscle whose only job is to keep the body upright and moving, the heart is beyond compare.  And yet even Gober allows the heart, the hearth to become symbols for the ways we attempt to stunt pulsation; to destroy intimacy, charity, erotic impulse.

At the end of this Year of Baldwin; this Year of Losses, public and private; this year of Protests and Counter Protests.  The fighting t-shirts: I can’t breathe/I can breathe  the year when too many White People found themselves in a racial quagmire of their own making with no understanding of how to get out–I for one listen to the young people who started #blacklivesmatter; who demanded to be heard in at unneeded Al Sharpton organized march; who march and chant and tweet and demand to be able to BREATHE and to have a future.  Saludos to you.  May we all get off that horse when the Year of the Horse ends, saddle sore, yes, but ready to walk on this altered/altared earth. May we find a way to breathe together in justice, in peace.

Crech, Bed-Stuy, photo by Patricia Spears Jones

Crech, Bed-Stuy, photo by Patricia Spears Jones

 

Holiday poem 2014

Feast

 

(in the back ground Otis Redding sings “Merry Christmas Baby”)

 

Oh the twinkling

Oh the twinkling lights

Each a color of delight

Morsels of sparkle, tasty fire

Feast.

Bed-Stuy Lights, Dec. 2014

Bed-Stuy Lights, Dec. 2014

Scorpion to Horse–November

November was an amazing month.  I organized and curated a literary program at Calabar Imports  in Bed-Stuy on Tompkins Avenue, which received some local press. http://www.bkmag.com/2014/11/04/crossing-border-in-the-brooklyn-literary-scene-with-poet-patricia-spears-jones/

Q&A w/ poets

Q&A w/ poets

What was great to me was that each Sunday different voices brightened an already very colorful space.  Janice Lowe and her actor friends performed a variety of pieces that she has written words or music or both for.  Uche Nduka showcased how cosmopolitan African writers often are. Michael Broder and Rachel Levitsky called their event the “queer Jewish poets” reading.  Cheryl Boyce Taylor and Jason Schneiderman opened up about grief and writing doing the Q&A and on November 30 was simply sublime.  Alexis De Veaux and Gregory Pardlo read from their new works which are brilliant and the Q&A gave great insight into their process.  I was so pleased to do this. And so grateful for their words.

 

I also read with Monica De La Torre at Pace University and Charles North’s introductions for both of us was beautifully crafted.  and I really loved being a Brooklyn Poet of the Week. http://brooklynpoets.org/poet/patricia-spears-jones/. Thanks to Jason Koo, et al.  And I led a great workshop at Poets House–one of my students is a budding rapper.

All of these great things are back drop to the the awful events in the past two weeks of November–Thanksgiving was difficult for people across the U.S.  While I did not think Darren Wilson would be indicted since it was clear that the apparatus for organized to get a non-indictment. But the lack of indictment of NYPD officers for the death of Eric Garner was even more enraging.  So with that I am so thankful for the PROTESTS that started in Ferguson and have been led by young people.  And that close to 200 protests took place after the non-indictment in Missouri and the hundreds of protests around the globe after the Staten Island decision is so powerful  #BLACKLIVESMATTER as a hashtag reminds everyone that all lives matter, but when Black lives are so easily destroyed believe you mean everyone’s life is in jeopardy.  The militarized police; the corporate character of political leadership; the refusal to legislate immigration reform; the continuing destruction of public education and the recent election of the White Privilege Party aka the Republicans will make the next two years extremely challenging.  But poets have been up to the challenge. On Facebook, Artists Against Police Brutality/Cultures of Violence have been really useful stitching together many different policies, programs, events and reportage.  In the twittersphere,much is being done.

As a Black Poet, I’ve written about the live of ordinary people for years and every once in a while an ordinary person is killed in ways that should never have happened.  Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and countless other boys, men, girls and women should be breathing.  Albert Murray would have something pithy about all of this, but one thing he would most likely agree with me:  We have much to do in this nation and “trusting” the police is not one of those things.

Albert Murray projected  photo by Patricia S. Jones

Albert Murray projected photo by Patricia S. Jones