Tag Archives: Bob Holman

Recap: RA Araya’s Music Jam at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

12 Mar

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Stephanie Nikolopoulos reading at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, accompanied by flash-back-puppy and Elinor Speirs. Photo by David Lee.

 

On February 16, 2019, RA Araya’s Music Jam rocked the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 E 3rd Street, NYC).

The initial advertised lineup included Good Leaf, acoustic “Piedmont style” guitar picking vocals original compositions; Chris Barrera, guitar vocals original compositions; Cherylina, harmonium vocals yoga chanting; Professor Nancy Mercado, poetry; Alvaro Kitsa-to Andrade reads John Trudell’s poetry; Jeff Wright, poetry guitar vocals; FOAMOLA!! Sparrow, Violet Snow, Sylvia Mae Gorelick, Lawrence Fishberg, Gabriel Quigley; Michael Robinson, vocals guitar; Willie Martinez, drums and timbales, vocals; Gabriel Castellar, lead guitar; Angelo Segarra and his salsa merengue cumbia band, congas timbales piano sax bongos vocals; Antoine Alvear, piano; Joi Sanchez, poetry vocals; Paul Skiff, poetry drumming; Lorena Mnemosyne Cabrera, belly-dance; Alexie F., comedy; Ronnie Norpel, novelist actress comediane, Tract 187: Culture-Clatch hostess; Sasha Smith, poetry; Ahda Hann, performance art; Stephanie Nikolopoulos, poetry; Rachel Printy, poetry; Sebastian Gil, trumpet; Lydia Cortés, poetry; James Peach, free-style hip-hop; RÁ Araya, poetry vocals congas tabla harmonica….; Lighting Design by Julia McCabe; Photography, documenting this event by Katie Grammes.

Some weren’t able to make it, but there were a few surprise guests, including Bowery Poetry Club founder Bob Holman, and the open mic readers.

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Poet Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

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Poet Bob Holman

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writer Rae Printy

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poet Ahda Hann

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Paul Skiff read his ode to Loisaida (the Lower East Side of Manhattan, as Puerto Ricans renamed neighborhood after our friend poet and educator Bimbo Rivas wrote his poem “Loisaida” in the 1970’s. Avenue C in Manhattan was renamed Loisaida Street after Bimbo Rivas passing. It was a very deep emotional moment to all of us that know and knew all the Nuyorican and bohemian poets Paul Skiff mentioned, deep history.” ~RA Araya

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Ronnie Norpel, author of Baseball Karma and the Constitution Blues

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It was a sold-out show, full of energy!

It was such an honor to read my poetry with these legends! RA has been a huge supporter of my writing over the years, and I’m so thankful for all the opportunities he’s given me. As I always say, he is my Allen Ginsberg.

A heartfelt thanks for  Elinor Speirs for playing classical jazz violin while I read my poetry. She will be the musical guest for this upcoming jazz-poetry event I’m producing.

Special thanks to artist David Lee for capturing photographs of me reading at the Nuyorican and to writer Rae Printy for video some of you might’ve seen on social media.

Also thanks to all the friends who supported the event, including author Norma Jaeger Hopcraft.

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Photo by David Lee.

 

 

Find about my other upcoming events, in the Appearances section.

If you’re interested in booking me for a reading, book club, or writing workshop, you can contact me at snikolop {@} alumna.scrippscollege.edu.

Friday Links: …Punctuation!

27 Sep

In honor of it being National Punctuation Day earlier this week (the 24th, to be exact), here are some punctuation-related links:::

Mary Norris’ delightful piece on National Punctuation Day in The New Yorker

Literary agent Sterling Lord talks about how deeply Jack Kerouac thought about punctuation in his recent memoir Lord of Publishing

“Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition,” said Kerouac in his “30 Beliefs and Techniques for Prose and Life

Alexis C. Madrigal gets to the bottom of William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac duking it out over the Oxford comma in The Atlantic

I suggest The Atlantic is creating their own fauxlore in their beatnik punctuation story

Thoughts on punctuation in haiku, with references to Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, Jack Kerouac, R. H. Blyth, Sora, Yaha, Richard Wright, James Hackett, Choshu, Hashin, L. A. Davison, David Coomler, and e. e. cummings

e. e. cumming’s liked to play with punctuation in poems like r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r

Roi Tartakovsky considers this topic in E. E. Cumming’s Parentheses: Punctuation as Poetic Device

“There are some punctuations that are interesting and there are some punctuations that are not,” says Gertrude Stein in Poetry and Grammar

Poet Bob Holman explains how to read a crossed out word out loud in The Brooklyn Rail

David Foster Wallace used endnotes to capture fractured reality

Check out “the greatest literary project of all time“: The punctuation-named lit journal The Ampersand Review

Punctuation impacts how readers perceive a work, I argue in this Writing Wednesday post

Which punctuation tattoo would you get?

Grammar Girl is the best go-to guide for “quick and dirty tips” on punctuation

Want exclamations in bed?! Check out the punctuation pillows from PB Teen

My Year in Review: 2012

4 Jan

What a full year 2012 was! Here’s a quick little recap:::

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In January I announced that the rumors were true. But it took the full year for it to finally look like this.

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In February I joined Pinterest to discover how it may help me as a writer and have been happily pinning ever since.

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In March my personal essay was included in the book Creating Space.

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In April I was one of the editors representing the Burnside Writers Collective at the Festival of Faith & Writing. It was so special to get to catch up with the other editors and writers, whom I just adore. I also had the opportunity to teach a writing workshop while I was there.

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Image via On the Road with Bob Holman / Rattapallax

In April I also worked to create awareness about what we lose when we lose a language. My interview with poet Bob Holman appeared in BOMBlog.

In May I received my MFA in creative nonfiction from The New School. I had a fantastic thesis advisor and a beloved peer group, who challenged me to dig deeper in my memoir about growing up Greek American. After I read a snippet at our thesis reading, an instructor I’d never even had came up to tell me how much he liked my work!

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Image via The Human Tower / Rattapallax

In June I witnessed the world record being broken for the tallest castell on a rooftop.

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In July I heard Amber Tamblyn read for The Paris Review at the Strand. Afterwards we somehow ended up on the elevator together, and I didn’t say anything to her. I never know in those situations if it’s polite to say something like “nice reading” or if the person just wants her privacy. I know she’s involved in the Beat literature community, though, so I should’ve probably talked to her about that.

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Image via The Millions

In August an article I wrote about a funny incident I had related to Jack Kerouac sparked a fiery debate and went viral, getting mentioned everywhere from The New Yorker to The Paris Review.

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Photo via RA Araya

In September I had one of the most surreal moments of my life–reading with David Amram. I got to hear him perform again, this time as an enthralled audience member, in December.

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Photo via RA Araya

That month I also read for poet Miguel Algarin‘s birthday bash.

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I also road tripped through northern and central California, visiting Cannery Row, City Lights Bookshop, The Beat Museum, and attending my college friend’s wedding.

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In October Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and I spent a lot of time in bed.

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In November I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo, but I had a lot of fun creating this ever-evolving Pinterest board for the book I never wrote.

I also gave a reading that got upstaged by a wedding proposal.

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In December there was a flurry of Jack Kerouac-related activities to promote the film adaptation of On the Road, and I got to see author Ann Charters and film director Walter Salles in person at IFC. I also got to take a writing class with screenwriter Jose Rivera at 3rd Ward.

I also went out to Lowell and got to meet Jack Kerouac’s friend and pallbearer Billy Koumantzelis.

 

What were the highlights of 2012 for you?

Gift Guide for the Beat Reader

14 Dec

The writers associated with the Beat Generation were anti-Consumerism, and I have a hard time believing they’d want anyone to buy beatnik merch. They would want you to buy and read their literature instead. However, if you have friends who love Beat literature, you may be hesitant to buy them On the Road because chances are they probably already have dog-eared paperbacks of both the standard novel and the scroll version. Here are a couple of alternative Beat-inspired gifts.

Amram

Musician and author David Amram did jazz-poetry performances with Kerouac and other poets. He also wrote the scores to films such as Splendor in the Grass and The Manchurian Candidate and has jammed with a wide variety of musicians. David Amram: The First 80 Years chronicles his genius talent. (You can watch a video of me reading with Amram here.)

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Another gift-worthy film is Ginsberg’s Karma, a “documentary about the legendary poet Allen Ginsberg and his mythical journey to India in the early 1960s that transformed his perspective on life and his work.” The film was edited, produced, and directed by Ram Devineni, and features poet Bob Holman. I saw this film at the PEN World Voice Literary Film Feast a few years ago and was inspired to get involved in some of their subsequent projects.

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Billy Koumantzelis was a friend of Kerouac’s back in their hometown of Lowell and served as a pallbearer at his funeral. I picked up this CD when I was at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac in 2011. It’s full of stories about Kerouac hanging out at bars, getting into fights, and appearing on The William Buckley Show and makes a great gift for someone who wants to hear stories from someone who knew Kerouac. (I got to meet Koumantzelis last week, and he is a true gentleman. I’ll be sharing stories from that soon.)

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Allen Ginsberg had a portrait of poet Walt Whitman hanging in his apartment. This framed portrait of Gregory Corso is a great tribute to a poet who loved the Classics.

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Jack Kerouac was inspired by author Thomas Wolfe. Bundle up Look Homeward, Angel and You Can‘t Go Home Again for the Kerouac fan.

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Kerouac wrote about the Grotto in Lowell, which is a beautiful and peaceful space to visit. Artist Jonathan Collins, whom I met at one of my readings, did a series based on the Grotto, which would make a lovely gift.

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Another person I met at a reading was Larry Closs, author of the book Beatitude.
 I stayed up late one night reading this heartbreaking-but-hopeful book of love, friendship, and the power of literature. You can read the synopsis here.

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I haven’t finished my California road trip posts yet (so many posts, so little time!), but it will include my visit to The Beat Museum in San Francisco. I was greeted by none other than proprietor Jerry Cimino himself, whose stellar work in preserving Beat history I’ve been following for many years. He took some time out to chat with me and show me the plethora of rare and first-edition Beat books. Even if your budget isn’t big enough for a first edition, you can still get archival lit mags, which make a really cool gift.

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Another place soon to be featured on my California road trip is City Lights Bookstore. In addition to rare and signed copies of books, you can also get some exclusive works here. At Sea is an “Exquisite handmade letterpress edition of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s new poem” for poet Pablo Neruda.

Of course there are tons of biographies, walking tour books, graphic novels, films, and so forth that would also make great gifts, but if you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten path (heh), these might be the gifts you’re looking for.

Happy 86th Birthday, Allen Ginsberg!

3 Jun


 

“Poetry is not an expression of the party line.

It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.”

~Allen Ginsberg

 

Today would’ve been Allen Ginsberg’s 86th birthday.  In celebration, here are a couple of links:::

2012 Howl Festival

Howl (the film starring James Franco); clip of the section on how to write poetry

Allen Ginsberg reading part 1 of Howl

The flowering dogwood at St. Mark’s is blooming for Ginsberg’s birthday

“when did you forget you were a flower?” ~ Sunflower Sutra (one of my favorite poems — It’s beautiful. It’s true. It makes me tear up.)

Ginsberg’s Karma (documentary on Ginsberg’s time in India; produced by Ram Devineni and hosted by Bob Holman)

Ginsberg’s photography

Vomit Express (Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan)

Howl on the list of banned books

Ginsberg’s hometown of Paterson, NJ

On the Road with Bob Holman Airing Again This May

14 May

(photo via Bob Holman)

Just wanted to let you know that On the Road with Bob Holman is airing again!

The documentary series will be airing on LinkTV, found on local cable channels, online, and on DirectTV channel 375 and Dish Network channel 9410.

Monday, May 14th at 09:30 am
Saturday, May 19th at 10:00 pm
Monday, May 21st at 10:30 am
Tuesday, May 22nd at 07:00 pm

Here’s the teaser:::

What happens when a downtown New York poet of the hip hop and slam persuasion discovers that the roots of spoken word go back thousands of years and span the globe? If he’s Bob Holman, he goes On the Road to track them down! He trades stories, fun, recipes, insights, jokes, songs, and poems. Along the way, he gets passionately immersed in the Endangered Language crisis — over half the world’s 6500 languages will disappear before the end of this century. Holman guides us to the bottom-line question of survival of these systems of consciousness with respect, joy, and dedication to diversity. He throws himself into the life – shares the meals, participates in the ceremonies, dances and parties. His enthusiasm infects the series’ fast-paced style – Hip, but not hipper than thou. Serious fun! Ok everybody, get ready — let’s take the road not taken, with Bob Holman.

It is produced by Rattapallax in association with the Bowery Arts and Science.

I wrote the curriculum for it.  You can also read my interview with Bob Holman at BOMB and my article “You Can’t Put a Language in a Zoo” at Brooklyn Rail.

Clip: You Can’t Put a Language in a Zoo

30 Jan

One of the first languages spoken in Brooklyn is already extinct. Yours could be next.

Conservation efforts in Brooklyn are saving the land humans explore and the landmarks we create, while our very system of consciousness is in jeopardy.

Read the rest of my article “You Can’t Put a Language in a Zoo” in The Brooklyn Rail.

The First TV Series to Focus on Endangered Languages

18 Jan

So excited to finally share with you the press release for the documentary on endangered languages I’ve been involved with:

The First TV Series to Focus on Endangered Languages

New York City: “Of the 6500 languages spoken in the world today, only half will make it to the next century,” says poet Bob Holman, one of the founders of the Endangered Language Alliance and host of a new travel series spotlighting the cultures of endangered languages, premiering February 1, 2012, on LINK TV.  “While endangered plants and animals are protected by law, who is looking out for the cultures and ways of life held in these words?  That is the heart and mission of this series.”  Encounter the distinct cultures and peoples of West Africa, Asia and the Middle East in the three-part documentary On the Road with Bob Holman and discover ancient languages on the brink of extinction.  Each of the half-hour shows, produced by Rattapallax in association with Bowery Arts and Science, will air on Link TV, which is available on local cable channels, DVD, online, and on DirectTV channel 375 and Dish Network channel 9410.

“The way Anthony Bourdain goes after the edible delights of far-flung cultures,” comments Bob Holman, “that is the way I reveal the extraordinary richness of languages that encircles the globe—the personalities who embody ways of life so different from, yet achingly familiar to, our own.”  Holman, who won three Emmys producing poetry shorts for WNYC-TV and founded the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City, discovers that the roots of spoken word go back thousands of years and span the globe.  He goes On the Road to track them down!  He throws himself into the life—sharing meals and participating in ceremonies, dances, and parties, as he trades stories, fun, recipes, insights, jokes, songs, and poems.  Along the way, he gets passionately immersed in the Endangered Language crisis and guides us to the bottom-line question of survival of these systems of consciousness with respect, joy, and dedication to diversity. In 2010, with linguists Daniel Kaufman and Juliette Blevins, he founded the Endangered Language Alliance in New York.

In the first two episodes, Holman visits West Africa to focus on the griots, keepers of the West African oral tradition and tribal genealogy through poetic songs. He travels up the Niger River and continues on to Timbuktu, where Beat poet Ted Joans lived in the 1960s.  He discovers the roots of hip-hop, rap, and blues that originated in Africa and witnesses a kora–guitar jam session between griot Karamo Susso and Ali Farka Toure’s son, Vieux.  Holman then visits the Timbuktu Library, which houses volumes from the 16th century when the city was the center of African learning.  We learn how to ride a camel before venturing into the Sahara, where we spend an afternoon listening to the hypnotic music of the Tuaregs, the nomadic “blue people,” so named because their indigo-dyed clothing rubs off on their skin.  Then it’s on to Dogon country, where we witness a breathtaking mask ceremony.  These two episodes air February 1 and February 8, 2012. The third episode focuses on the resurrection of Hebrew in Israel and the decline of Yiddish, Ladino, and other tongues.  When poet Ronny Someck, a “true Israeli poet from Iraq,” gives Bob a tour of Jaffa and suggests he visit the West Bank to hear Arabic, Holman takes the grueling journey through the endless checkpoints and the Separation Wall to reach Ramallah. Once across the Wall, he meets with some young Palestinian hip-hop poets who explain the complexities of living near the Separation Wall that dominates the landscape.  The experience leaves Holman pondering how a national language creates barriers between the many different voices and languages of the region and affects political thinking. This episode airs February 15, 2012.

Travel the road not taken, with Bob Holman, in On the Road with Bob Holman, beginning February 1, 2012, on LINK TV.

More to come soon!

The Buzz on Flash-mob Bees, Bowery Bees, and Greek Bee Myths

1 Jun

Oh my goodness, did you guys hear about the bees that took over Little Italy yesterday??  Apparently, thousands of bees decided to meet up at lunchtime in front of the Italian American Museum on the corner of Mulberry and Grand.  They swarmed a mailbox, completely covering its side.  This leads me to ponder two questions:

1.  Are these flash-mob bees the insect contingent of Improv Everywhere?

2.  What sort of sweet notes would a bee mail to his honey?

It also reminds me that I still haven’t told you about Bowery Bees.  On Sunday, May 8, my photojournalist friend Annie Ling and I went to the Festival of New Ideas for the New City, an incredibly thought-provoking art initiative that brought artists and thinkers together to explore ideas that could shape a new New York.  One of the collaborations was between Anarchy Apiaries, a Hudson Valley apiary run by beekeeper-artist Sam Comfort, and the Bowery Poetry Club, a performing-arts venue founded and run by poet Bob Holman.

After a brief talk on bees, we climbed up to the rooftop of the Bowery Poetry Club for the unveiling of the apiary.  Sam had brought the bees down from Germantown that morning and set up hives so that Bob could start the rooftop apiary Bowery Bees.  Standing amidst the skyscrapers of Manhattan’s East Village, we witnessed the queen bee do her dance.

Even though I was afraid of getting stung, I have to admit it was rather spectacular.  My parents have a large garden in Greece, where they gather olives to make their own olive oil, and I tried to convince my dad he should set up some beehives.  Bee myths play heavily into Greek mythology and Greek literature.  Bee emblems appear in ancient ruins on the Greek islands of Crete and Rhodes.

Bowery Bees honey can be bought at the Bowery Poetry Club, located at 308 Bowery, between Houston and Bleecker.

How do you like the antenna?

Mapping Out Houses of Worship in NYC

24 Mar

Remember the other day when I mentioned that cute little restaurant Penelope?  Well, last Friday Penelope happened to be the opening setting of a New York Times article by Mark Oppenheimer, entitled “Mapping Religious Life in the Five Boroughs, With Shoe Leather and a Web Site.”  The article is about a Texas native named Tony Carnes, who moved to New York to go to The New School, where incidentally I’m enrolled in the MFA program, and who is, according to his website, “exploring the postsecular city.”

He’s mapping out every house of worship in the five boroughs of New York.  My immediate thought was: there are so many churches that make use of school auditoriums, bars, and ballrooms — how will he find those churches, if he’s driving around looking for church signs?  Well, apparently Carnes hears about those by word of mouth.

But he isn’t just mapping the city out.  He and his colleagues are telling stories.  Stories such as:

“The youth of Bethany Baptist Church put together a modestware fashion show in Jamaica, Queens called ‘A World of Difference.’ They follow a long tradition of fashion shows in African American churches.” —Fashion in Church, Jamaica, Queens

“Under the searing sun and stench of roadside garbage, a teenage Hispanic girl carrying a baby boy comes out of a door next to a church. Her tousled hair looked like she’d been up all night. The baby’s unwashed face was smeared with dirt; a diaper was the only thing covering his bare skin.” — Girl Power in Flatbush

“What church would get rid of its pews to make more room for feeding the poor? Surely, wouldn’t the pastor resign, the elders stomp out in exasperation, and the members hastily decamp for a properly pewed church? All that didn’t happen at a Lower East Side church ten years ago when it did just that…” —East Village church threw out its pews to make room for the poor

If you want to know about Greek Orthodox churches and Greek Pentecostal, there’s also an article posted on the census the nonprofit took in Astoria.

I love the way Carnes and his nonprofit organization are uniting houses of worship.  In a way, it’s kind of a blend of the way Burnside Writers Collective gives community and voice to people of varied Christian background (head’s up: check out my church hopping column tomorrow!) and Asphalt Eden illustrates various New York church’s unique personalities by listing events.

In another way, it reminds me of the exciting and noble work the Endangered Language Alliance, headed up by Dan Kaufman, Bob Holman, and Juliette Blevins, is doing, mapping out endangered languages in New York and working to preserve them.

For more on Carnes’ “Journey thru NYC religions” visit http://www.nycreligion.info.