“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
Writers, educators, feminists and New Yorkers, we celebrate the life and work of Toni Morrison (1931-2019). The first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize, Toni Morrison’s writing inspires compassion and ignites the imagination. We dedicate this evening to her well lived life.
Penny Arcade, Helixx C. Armageddon, Stephanie Blanch, Jennifer Juneau,
Susan Kirschbaum, Tamra Plotnick, Ilka Scobie, Victoria Simmons
Penny Arcade aka Susana Ventura occupies a rare position in America’s avant-garde, contributing to the creation of new art forms every decade of her 50-year career. She is an internationally-respected poet, essayist, performance artist, actress, and experimental theater maker. With her longtime collaborator of 26 years, Steve Zehentner, she co-helms The Lower East Side Biography Project: Stemming the Tide of Cultural Amnesia, an oral history video documentary project that has broadcast and cybercast weekly since 1999 every Monday at 11 PM via Facebook at @LowerEastSideBiographyProject
Helixx C. Armageddon is a performance artist, lyricist, poet, and music producer. She is a founding member of The Anomolies, a gender justice hip-hop collective, formed in 1995. Helixx has performed in notable venues around New York City including Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Bowery Poetry Club, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, Hammerstein Ballroom, Gene Frankel Theatre, Howl! Happening and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. Currently, she is working on an experimental spoken word album and is based in the East Village.
Stephanie Blanch is honored to read in this tribute to Toni Morrison. She is a special education teacher in her 15th year of teaching. Poetry has been her way of “sorting out her stuff” since about 3rd grade so she’s happy to be here sorting it out with you.
Jennifer Juneau is the author of the novel ÜberChef USA, by Spork Press, and the poetry collection More Than Moon (Is A Rose Press.) Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Million Writers Award and the Best of the Net, and has appeared in A Gathering of the Tribes, Cincinnati Review, Columbia Journal, Evergreen Review, Gargoyle, Live Mag!, Pank, Seattle Review and elsewhere. She lives and writes in Brooklyn.
Susan Kirschbaum is the author of a satirical fiction novel called Who Town, the story of a group of twenty-something aspiring artists in downtown NYC in the early Aughts that she is now developing for television. Before diving into fiction, Kirschbaum wrote and edited, as a journalist for various publications including the New York Times and the (pre Jared Kushner) NY Observer. Imagination and the human psyche continue to be her springboard. Having started in performing arts and ballet, the stage has always served as a second home. Kirschbaum has hosted poetry and literary shows in downtown NYC. And she’s happy to be reading at La MaMa in this tribute to Toni Morrison, an honest voice, “the author’s author;” a trailblazer for every writer; poet; human.
Tamra Plotnick is honored to read in this tribute to Toni Morrison. She teaches high school English and is transforming from a teacher who writes into a writer who teaches.
Native New Yorker Ilka Scobie is a poet and art writer who teaches poetry in the public school system. Recent work has appeared in Marie Claire Italia, London Artlyst, American Book Review and small press publications. Book publications include the anthology Resist Much/Obey Little, Flower Power Man, and Jews: A History of the Lower East Side. She is a deputy editor of Live Mag! a journal of poetry and art.
Victoria Simmons self published her first book of poems titled (D)ecomposition in the summer of 2018. Acclimating to her new home of Brooklyn after leaving New Orleans, Victoria has been quietly accumulating the inspiration for her most recent written and spoken word and is working towards a second publication. Every time a great poet graduates from this plain of existence, we are challenged to look deeper into the paths their lives have paved. Victoria is privileged to perform at the historic La Mama Theater honoring the life of Toni Morrison.
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.