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Reading List for World Refugee Day; Click Map to Read On!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Support Artist James Dupree in His Fight With City to Seize His Art Studio for a Parking Lot

Artist James Dupree fights city's seizure of his Mantua art studio for parking lot; View video and sign petition.  


Here is a link to petition:  http://www.change.org/petitions/jannie-blackwell-michael-nutter-return-the-deed-to-property-owners-of-3617-haverford-ave-philadelphia


Artist James Dupree

One of the Art Studios


Thursday, November 21, 2013

David Adjaye Receives the WSJ’s 2013 Innovator Award for Architecture

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture
When I see the innovative talent of the likes of Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, I simply include him in my fold of third culture kids and beam at his success.   My own experience of having taught for 10 years at an international school had afforded me the amazing opportunity to work with young people who were multilingual, typically had 
Architect David Adjaye
lived in 4 or 5 countries and fluidly moved throughout the world as if boundaries were false impediments, absorbing the ideas, the aesthetics and the many ways of being from their host countries.  Adjaye was one of these global nomads as a child and continues to be one today.   The experiences he has collected along the way account for the singular and spectacular energy his architectural designs convey.  I had the honor to hear him speak and share his design vision on several occasions when he was a visiting lecturer at the University of Penn.
    Selected as the chief architect for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which is due to open in 2015, as well as the designer of the Nobel Peace Center in Norway and the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management in Russia, Adjaye is leaving his mark throughout the world.  The Wall Street Journal just named him its 2013 Architecture Innovator for an affordable housing complex he has designed in Harlem’s Sugar Hill neighborhood in New York City.  It is a combination of apartments, a children’s museum and preschool.

 “In outline, the high-rise, which will also provide housing for the homeless, is a big, chunky block with a serrated upper story; its bulk, along with its ridged panels of graphite-cast concrete, give it more than its share of grit and brawn. Yet look closer at those panels: Visible from the right angle and in the right light, the cladding bears the traces of a floral pattern, enormous roses etched into the rough surface,” said Ivan Volner of the Wall Street Journal( Click here for the entire article: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303376904579137492664041948
The Sugar Hill Apartments

According to Broadway Housing Communities, applications are now being accepted for the Sugar Hill Apartments and the Sugar Hill Pre-School. “Residential occupancy is estimated within the second quarter of 2014, and will include 124 affordable rental apartments, with 25 units set aside for homeless households and 1 for a superintendent.  The remaining 98 affordable apartments will serve individuals and families at 30%, 50% 60% and 80% of AMI (area median income).  Income eligible residents of Manhattan Community District 9 will receive a preference for 50% of the apartments within the lottery or 49 units.  Persons with disabilities and NYC Municipal employees also receive preferences.”
For more detailed information about the Sugar Hill Housing Lottery and the application process go to bhc.org/lottery or call the Sugar Hill rent-up hotline, 347-379-4112.


Here is a link to a recent feature the New Yorker did on Adjaye: http://www.broadwayhousing.org/2013/09/a-sense-of-place/

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Support the Literary Journal Winter Tangerine Review



Current Issue of Winter Tangerine Review




Sojourner has a new poem in the current issue of Winter Tangerine Review. The artwork in this journal is absolutely stunning and arresting. https://wintertangerine.squarespace.com/current-volume/

Monday, November 11, 2013

First Person Art Festival Continues- Great Upcoming Events

Ruth Naomi Floyd, Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez and Rita Dove




Last Wednesday, Drexel University hosted an amazing event, in partnership with the First Person Arts Festival,  where Toni Morrison and Rita Dove came to town to celebrate Sonia Sanchez and her year of service as Philadelphia's poet laureate.  It was an evening of conversation and song.  Singer, composer and photographer Ruth Naomi Floyd graced the event with her incredible voice.  
 
Ruth Naomi Floyd

The First Person Arts Festival continues. Here is a link to upcoming events:  http://firstpersonarts.org/  Photos are by Johanna Austin 

Celebrating Ghanaian Writers- Meri Nana-Ama Danquah



Kinna Reads, one of my all-time favorite literary blogs, is celebrating Ghanaian literature this week.  I wanted to add to this digital fête by highlighting Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, a Ghanaian-American writer.  As a mother of an Ivoirian-American daughter, I am particularly interested in the voices of first-generation immigrant African women to the United States.  
Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Danquah, 46, immigrated to the United States from Ghana when she was six-years-old.  She offers a unique and compelling perspective.  She is the editor of several anthologies including Becoming American: Personal Essays by First Generation Immigrant Women and Shaking the Tree; A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women. Perhaps her most seminal work is Willow Weep for Me; A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression which chronicles her clinical depression within the context of  being a woman of color with a health challenge historically not associated with Black women.


 Here is link to learn more about Danquah and her work http://aalbc.com/authors/meri_danquah.html and here is link to a presentation she gave in 2003 about her journey with depression:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AelCishP3PI

And here, of course, is a link to Kinna Reads:  http://kinnareads.wordpress.com/



Discover Ghana through its great writers !

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Literary Journeys; Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison - Getty Images
Toni Morrison- Photofest

When my husband and I were deciding on names for our daughter-to-be, we had narrowed the list to Sojourner, Zora and Baldwin; people who knew how to wield words in ways that transformed people’s thoughts and actions.  I have been on a wonderful trip since being introduced, as a child, to writers and their work and the audacious idea that I could have access to these literary folk and journey with them for a lifetime.

I first met Toni Morrison 33 years ago, when I was 18 and a freshman at Williams College.  She came to campus to speak to the larger community as well as to my English class of 14 students who had recently read her book Song of Solomon. You can imagine the impression this experience had on a young girl, from West Philly, entertaining the idea that she, too, might want to be a writer. Since that momentous occasion, I have claimed Ms. Morrison and her ideas and truth-telling as something as necessary as love and water and as something I should proactively pursue.  I have seen her and heard her many times. I carried her books with me on my 10-year sojourn to Cote d’Ivoire.  It was while reading Beloved, pregnant and unsure of my capabilities to be a mother in an unfamiliar country, carrying my own history with me, that I decided that my daughter shall be Sojourner.

 Last night, I saw Ms. Morrison, again, at an event, CONVERSATION AND SONG WITH TONI MORRISON, SONIA SANCHEZ AND RITA DOVEhosted at Drexel University, where she and Dove honored Sonia Sanchez and her year of service as Philadelphia’s poet laureate.  Morrison at 82 is still very much the lioness, the raconteur, and the master of deconstructing untruths disguised as the gospel.  She still helps me, at 51, to see through things; to reconsider a point of view.  

Sojourner, now 17 and a high school senior, was excited to share with me last week that she met up again and spoke with one of her favorite poets, Nikki Giovanni, who she first met when she was in fourth grade and  whose poem “ Ego Tripping”  was one of the first poems she committed to heart.  Now a poet herself, Sojourner is on her own literary journey and I hope it is just as nurturing and thrilling a ride for her as it continues to be for me.    
Sojourner and poet Nikki Giovanni


Here is an audio link to Toni Morrison’s 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech.  Enjoy:  http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1502

* This event was also part of the amazing  2013 First Person Arts Festival . Here is a link to other festival events:  http://firstpersonarts.org/

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Brothers Size Presented by Simpatico Theatre Project


Tarell Alvin McCraney-Photo courtesy of the Vineyard Theatre


*Click link to a video of Mr. McCraney  speaking about his work:

Friday I was prepared for another evening of lackluster Philadelphia theatre. But the Simpatico Theatre Project production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play The Brothers Size immediately engaged me.  Playwright McCraney, a recipient of one of this year’s MacArthur “Genius” Awards, expertly and seamlessly intertwined Yoruba mythology into an African-American social landscape and towed the audience into the world of Ogun and Oshoosi Size; two brothers seemingly different but bonded by their love for one another and a third character, Elegba, who shares a relationship, on several levels, with one of the brothers.  

Akeem Davis as Oshoosi Size in THE BROTHERS SIZE. Photo credit: Daniel Kontz.

Ogun, the older of the brothers, who is hardworking and reliable, owns his mechanics garage and, of course, the symbolism of cars and freedom is heavy in this play.  Oshoosi, the younger brother, has recently been released from prison, where he served time with Elegba as well, and has returned to his brother’s home to start life again, on the outside.  In McCraney’s expert hands and in Simpatico’s equally skilled execution of this play, they jointly pull back these macho scabs, these layers of deferred dreams, and from a pit of denial, neglect and injustice, they excise and bring to the surface the raw, recognizable humanity of these three men.

Despite the starkness of the stage design, which was brilliant, McCraney clearly sees these characters and their struggles in epic terms, worthy of being presented on a world stage, eclipsed by nothing.  Who heralds the tale of working class African-American men, of Black men who love men, of struggling folks who want to revel in the touch of freedom?   What also reels in the audience is the language of The Brothers Size.  There is a rhythm to a lot of the dialogue, but the effect of the actors speaking their inner thoughts and the stage directions brings the audience inside of the characters; you are swimming inside of them and it is not a smooth ride as theatre should be. 


Akeem Davis (left) and Carlo Campbell in "The Brothers Size" at Simpatico Theatre Project. (DANIEL KONTZ)


Bravo to all those involved in this production.

The last performance of The Brothers Size is tomorrow, November 3, 2013.  Sunday is a 2:00 p.m. performance at the Walnut Street Theatre’s Studio Five.   Click here for more info.  http://simpaticotheatre.org/landing/season/the-brothers-size/