Jun 8, 2015

Poetry Electric: Holding the Space

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Poets who embody activism within their practice and performance of poetry.

Holding the Space attempts to bring the public poets who are pushing the boundaries of politics, race, sexuality, and the environment in order to re-establish the grounds for how the public might deliberate these issues. This June’s topic will be “Corporeal Poetics: Re-Imagining the Body Thru Writing.” This evening will feature spoken word poetry, music and dance collaborations between poets/artists of all different ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Following the readings there will be a panel discussion concerning various strains of activist writing. This event is dedicated to the late radical poet, performer, and activist Akilah Oliver. Hosted by Karl C. Leone.

Tyler Burba is a songwriter and musician who lives and teaches in New York City. He collaborated for many years with Akilah Oliver, providing music for her poetry. His band, which plays existential hymns, is called Visit. www.existentialhymns.com

Nettie Chickering is lucky to call Greenwich Village home. She honed her craft of acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Most recently, Nettie has performed at Dixon Place, The NYC Poetry Festival on Governors Island, and The Rubin Museum. She has been a member of the Blue Hill Troupe for 4 years and this summer will perform with them at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in England. She is most excited to take on the role of Madame C. J Walker in Leone’s “Villa Lewaro: a House of Dreams.” In loving memory of Akilah Oliver.

Yoshiko Chuma a firebrand in the post-modern dance scene of New York City since the 1980s, has been consistently producing thought-provoking work that is neither dance nor theater nor film nor any other pre-determined category. She is an artist on her own journey. A path that has taken her to over 40 “out of the way” countries and collected over 2000 artists, thinkers and collaborators of every genre since establishing her company The School of Hard Knocks in New York City in 1982. She is a force to be reckoned with on stage and off, and for this event, in her signature way, she gathers an eclectic group of collaborators spanning the years of her career, from 1982-now. Photo credit: Faisal (2015)

Amy King Of I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press), John Ashbery describes King’s poems as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.” Safe was one of Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011. King teaches Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College and serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. King joins the ranks of Ann Patchett, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson and Pearl Buck as the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the WNBA Award (Women’s National Book Association).  She was also honored by The Feminist Press as one of the “40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism” awardees, and she received the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.

Karl C. Leone is an actor, poet, playwright and installation artist. He is a graduate of The New School: Eugene Lang College and attendee of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Summer Writing Program. Regarded for giving highly energetic, visceral performances of original theater and poetry at venues/sites such as La MaMa etc., The Rubin Museum of Art, Bathhouse Studios, The Secret Theater, Bowery Poetry Club, Governors Island and Art Basel Miami. Karl is said to resemble “a modern day Thespis! Donning his poems as he would his many masks… the stage is wherever Karl is” (FOURTHright People Press).

Trace Peterson is author of the poetry book Since I Moved In (Chax Press, 2007) and numerous chapbooks. She is editor/publisher ofEOAGH; coeditor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2013), which was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2014; and coeditor of the forthcoming Gil Ott: Collected Writings (Chax Press). From 2009 to 2012, she curated the TENDENCIES: Poetics & Practice series inspired by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick at CUNY Graduate Center, where she is currently a PhD candidate.

Camille Rankine’s first book of poetry, Incorrect Merciful Impulses, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. She is the author of the chapbook Slow Dance with Trip Wire, selected by Cornelius Eady for the Poetry Society of America’s 2010 New York Chapbook Fellowship, and a recipient of a 2010 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Atlas Review, American Poet, The Baffler, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Octopus Magazine, Paper Darts, Phantom Books, A Public Space, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is Assistant Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Manhattanville College and lives in New York City.

Taylor Steele is a triple threat writer as a spoken word artist, screenwriter, and playwright. She received her BA from The New School University, graduating with Departmental Honors in Cultural and Screen Studies. She has competed on both a national and local level, has been published by several online journals (Apogee Journal, HEArt Journal, Wicked Banshee Press and Blackberry Magazine), has written and recorded with M-1 of Dead Prez, and recently placed 6th in the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam. She is particularly called to write about politics of the body and believes in the power of art to change, shape, and heal.

Poetry Electric


The Poetry Electric fuses music, movement, sound, and dance with the spoken word and presents artists working in a wide range of styles including beatboxing, jazz and hip-hop theatre. This series has presented over 200 emerging poets from diverse cultural backgrounds.

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