Poetry as a form of creative political intervention is now more necessary then ever. Raised so powerfully at last year’s Protest March, women’s diverse voices are united in resistance and are an important antidote to current American demagoguery. Celebrate tonight’s call to action — the future is female.
Ashley August, Kearah-Armonie (Kearmonie), Susan Kirschbaum, Raven Necole, Stephanie Blanch Byer,
Tamra Plotnick, Caits Meissner, Jane Le Croy, Shahrzad Kamel, Ilka Scobie, Pat Cleveland
Ashley August is black and alive. An afro-latina, actress, author, playwright, activist, teaching artist, touring spoken word artist, 3rd ranked woman poet in the world, hip-hop junkie, professional shower krumper, Moesha Enthusiast, ASTEP at Juilliard fellow, NYC’s 2013 Youth Poet Laureate and recently named one of The New York Times 30 Under 30 Most Influential people. Along with multiple television/film appearances and country wide theatrical and poetic performances, her credits include SundanceTV, Cannes Film Festival, Netflix, Aljazaera America, The GAP, BET, and TVOne. In January of 2016, she began strutting her newest title as Slam Master of the Legendary Bowery Poetry Club. With Belize and Brooklyn embedded into her (he)art, August is motivated to speak the unsaid truth and push the boundaries of spoken word and performance to realms they’ve yet to live in.
Kearah-Armonie (Kearmonie) is a Queens born-Brooklyn raises Poet, Spoken word artist, MC, Filmmaker, Blogger, and Writer. She recently completed her B.A. in Documentary Film Production at Brooklyn College, where she hosted and facilitated events as part of the school’s poetry slam team. Having been performing spoken word since 2011 she is now a mentor and teaching artist, continuing to perform all over NYC. Kearmonie’s latest venture is art film as she is gearing up to create short poetic films and music videos, and offering this as a service to her fellow poets and spoken word artists. Her most recent documentary short, “BLK GRL POET” a spoken word driven chronicle of the Black Lives Matter protests in NYC, has been featured in the Women of African Descent Film Festival and The 34th Annual Brooklyn College Film Festival.
Stephanie Blanch-Byer, born and raised on the westside of Chicago, relocated to New York City in the summer 2008. Her multimedia poetry and prose can be found at the exhibition, Blacktivism: The New Generation in Washington, DC. Her most recent works have been shared at: Poets on the Verge, Womyn & Words at the Lesbian HerStory Archives, NYC Black Pride 2016, Latinos NYC: Nuyorican Cafe, CAMP and Women of the African Diaspora. She teaches high school in New York City and lives in New Jersey with her wife.
Model Pat Cleveland was born in New York City on June 23, 1950. Pat graduated from New York’s School of Art and Design in 1969. Her career as a fashion model began in 1965, when an assistant of editor Carrie Donovan at Vogue magazine first spotted her on a New York City subway. She was photographed as a model by Irving Penn for Vogue magazine. Cleveland relocated to Paris, France in 1971 where she worked with illustrator Antonio Lopez and became a house model for Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe. She also modeled for designers such as Dior, Halston Oscar de la Renta, Thierry Mugler, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, and many others. Pat also established a modeling agency in Milan, Italy, Lanzotti and Cleveland and resided in Italy for 20 years. In 2003, she published a poetry book entitled, In The Spirit Of Grace. Cleveland has appeared in countless fashion spreads and on the covers of such magazines as, Vanity Fair, Essence, Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, L’Officiel, and GQ. Pat has been photographed over 60 years by photographers like Horst, Andy Warhol to Steven Meisel. She also appeared as a guest judge on the reality television shows America’s Next Top Model and the The Face. Vogue graced her and her family on the 2016 June cover of Italian Vogue with an inside editorial about love by Mario Sorrenti. Pat appeared in the new Spanish Vogue and the Neiman Marcus fall campaign 2016 photographed by Ruven Afando, fashion celebrity and portrait photographer. Her memoir entitled “Walking with the Muses” has just been published by Simon& Schuster’s Inc 37. covering her early life and her career in the fashion industry. Her song “Tonight Joshephine” is the music score for the documentary about Bill Cunningham titled “The Times of Bill” and currently played in 450 Apple stores world wide.
Shahrzad Kamel (born 1979, San Francisco, California) is a visual artist living in New York City. Shahrzad also has an independent publishing project titled Rhombus Press and will be publishing an English translation and Farsi facsimile of Forough Farrokhzad’s first collection of Poetry Captive (1955) in the Fall of 2017.
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. 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.
Jane LeCroy poet fronts the avant-pop band, The Icebergs (Tom Abbs- cello/ David Rogers-Berry- drums) hear CD Eldorado. Also, the experimental music project Ω▽(Ohmslice) with Bradford Reed’s modular synth: hear Conduit on vinyl. Both available from Imaginator Records & digitally everywhere. She toured with the SF based all women’s poetry troupe, Sister Spit. Jane is a poet-in-the-schools through Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Her chapbook, Names, published by the art-book house Booklyn in the award winning ABC chapbook series, purchased by the Library of Congress along with her braid & Three Rooms Press published, Signature Play, a multimedia book of lyrical poems, nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Join her list, you’ll get poems.
Caits Meissner is the author of the hybrid poetry book Let It Die Hungry (The Operating System, 2016), and The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You (Well&Often, 2012), co-written with poet Tishon Woolcock. Caits holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, where she currently teaches. Learn more at caitsmeissner.com
Raven Necole is a Brooklyn native self taught photographer, Dj and Filmmaker. Her goal in life is to obtain meaning, growth and live life to her highest potential. Raven writes as a way to release her stress and record time. Majority of her writing is free form.
Tamra Plotnick’s poetry and prose works have been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including: Serving House Journal; The Waiting Room Reader, Vol II: Words to Keep You Company, edited by Rachel Hadas; and Global City Review: International Edition. Look for her memoir excerpt “Barbie and Gandhi Sitting in a Tree” in this December’s Coachella Review. She teaches high school at the James Baldwin School in Chelsea, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and daughter, belly dancing whenever possible.
Ilka Scobie is a native New York poet who also writes about contemporary art for London Artlyst and Brooklyn Rail. She has taught poetry in the public school system for many years. Recent work has appeared in Urban Graffiti, here/there, and the anthology Resist Much/Obey Little. She is a co-editor of Live Mag.
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.