Tag Archives: Ram Devineni

My Year in Review: 2012

4 Jan

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

aj_originalcov

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

logored

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

creatingspace

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

p1015624

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.

reading

on_the_road

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!

2305th_flyer

Image via The Human Tower / Rattapallax

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

paris-review-issue-201-cover

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.

570_Road

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.

amramstef1

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.

miguel

Photo via RA Araya

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

p1016108

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.

p1015207

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

p10157001

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.

p1016239-e1355694672538

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.)

logo

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.

billykoumantzelis

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.)

corso2

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.

YouCantGoHomeAgain

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

the-visitation

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.

Larry-Closs_Beatitude_Anthony-Freda-194x300

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.

museum-sign

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.

Sea

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.

Your Invite to the Record-Setting Human Towers Being Built Tonight at 230 FIFTH

20 Jun

 

Filmmaker Ram Devineni is proving to the world the beautiful complexity of human language.  In On the Road with Bob Holman, he traveled the world, documenting the plight of languages headed toward extinction.  In The Human Towers he picked up his suitcase again, this time to film the art-sport-poem that is castells, human towers.  Castells have been recognized as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Tonight, 150 people from the Catalan’s finest castell group will attempt to build the first-ever eight-story human tower on a rooftop at 150 FIFTH  (@27th Street, NYC), and YOU can witness the incredible spectacle for free.  It starts at 8pm.

The Wall Street Journal has already created some buzz.

Here’s the press release:

One of the world’s most unusual and spectacular team endeavors – the Spanish region of Catalonia’s three hundred year old tradition of building multi-storey human towers called castells – will make its New York City debut on June 20 at 230 FIFTH, when the 150 member Castellers de Vilafranca will attempt a new world record by building the first eight-level castell ever assembled on a rooftop. The performance, which will also include the building of several other towers in different configurations on 230 FIFTH’s palm punctuated roof deck, will inaugurate a series of free public castell buildings throughout New York City from June 20 to 24 in honor of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex. Each tower will be an exercise in intense concentration, strength and balance as the bare footed participants form successively smaller tiers – resembling a human wedding cake – by climbing up the bodies of each layer to mount the shoulders of the previous tier until the tower is topped by a single 9 years old child. An almost balletic, decidedly athletic and heart-stopping feat orchestrated to the inspiring melodies of a quartet playing Catalonian music.

The series of performances will be the first by any castell team in New York City; the Castellers de Vilafranca, considered Spain’s best, have been planning for years to build in the Big Apple as a means of introducing to the United States the activity which UNESCO has recognized as being amongst the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Their trip coincides with an official visit by President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas.

The Castellers de Vilfranca will perform in Central Park and Battery Park for the Make Music NY Festival on June 21st. They will also build a human tower at the United Nations on June 22nd and are scheduling other venues throughout the city including Times Square and Brooklyn Bridge. In addition, the team will participate in the presentation of the global documentary about their passion as practiced in Catalonia, Chile and India on June 22nd at Goldcrest Studios Theater, West Village. The Human Tower is directed by Ram Devineni and Cano Rojas and distributed by Goldcrest.

The record breaking roof building of a human tower by the Castellars Vilfranca at 230 FIFTH will take place at 8:15 p.m. again at 9:30 on June 20, with several different towers created by the team between 8:20 and 10. Like all of the team’s performances in New York City, the event will be free and open. 230 FIFTH is located at 230 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 27th Street, (212) 724-4300, www.230-fifth.com. The rooftop event is supported by Barcelona’s Estrella Damm Beer.

See you there!

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

24 Jan

As promised, here’s some more on the endangered languages documentary, called On the Road with Bob Holman:

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.

BOB HOLMAN is the founder of The Endangered Languages Poetry Project and the host of this documentary series.  He has been called a member of the “Poetry Pantheon” by the New York Times Magazine, and “Ringmaster of the Spoken Word” by New York Daily News and is the founder of the Bowery Poetry Club. He won three Emmys for WNYC-TV’s Poetry Spots, received a Bessie Performance Award, and an International Public Television Awards for the PBS series The United States of Poetry. He teaches at NYU and Columbia, including “Poets Census,” where students locate poets from non-English speaking communities, and “Translating Endangered Languages.” He is currently working on “Listen UP! Endangered languages with Bob Holman,” a PBS documentary with Holman as host and David Grubin (The Buddha, The Brain, Bill Moyers) as Producer. In 2010, with linguists Daniel Kaufman and Juliette Blevins, he founded the Endangered Language Alliance in New York.

CREDITS:
Producers: Ram Devineni & Beatriz Seigner. Avi Dabach (Israel)
Editor: Ram Devineni
Camera: Beatriz Seigner, Lamont B. Steptoe & Avi Dabach
Host: Bob Holman
Produced by Rattapallax in association with Bowery Arts and Science
Executive Producer: Steven Lawrence
Re-recording Mixer: Tom Paul
Audio Post Production: Gigantic Post
Sound Editor: Michael Feuser
Assistant Sound Editor: Perry Levy
Africa Episodes Music: Papa & Karamo Susso
Title Sequence: Cathy Cook
Title Music: Peter Gordon
Additional Editing: Renta Maria
Color Grading: David Barkan
Mahmoud Darwish’s poem translated by Samuel J. Liebhaber
Nepal episode was produced in association with the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. The video and the tour was made possible by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Special thanks to Stephanie Nikolopoulos, Alison Heller, Avi Dabach, Ariane Lopez-Huici, Alexander Batkin, Jackie Sheeler, Alain Kirili, David Wojciechowski, Papa Susso Compound, Toumani Diabati, Sandra Paugam, Sekou Dolo, MC Paul Barman, Breyten Breytenbach, Dagui Dolo, Laura Corsiglia, Banning Eyre, Oumou Sangare, Jayne Cortez, Sana Sibily, Balike Sissoko Compund, Natasa Durovicova, Christopher Merrill, American Embassy in Kathmandu, Kelly Bedeian, David Broza, Itay Meirson, Nadav, Hana Amichai, Claire Montgomery & Bill Goldston.

Launch Party and LINK TV Support Drive, Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery (Between Houston and Bleecker), New York City. February 29, 2012 at 7pm. Featuring Bob Holman and Papa Susso. Donate to LINK TV and get a DVD of the series.

Text via Rattapallax.

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!