Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
|Brook Stephenson, Jason Reynolds|
|john & mary's garden|
Well, I'm all done with the Rhode Island Writers' Colony, or should I say I've just started? I had an amazing and productive two weeks there. I met some pretty intelligent and creative souls. There was Brook Stephenson, co-founder of the Colony and his constant, unwavering optimism and encouragement. Jason Reynolds who is an old soul-definitely doing his work to heal the world through the power of STORY and discovering his book When I was the Greatest, which I read and can't wait to pass on to my son. There was Charles Vincent Burwell whose quiet strength and enthusiasm for life (not to mention multi-talent) was inspiring to be around. Then there was John, Brook's gregarious and witty big brother (Pirate Buddha Master Storyteller anyone?) and also co-founder of the Rhode Island Writers' Colony, who also bemoaned the fact that the Humanities as a subject has been attacked, and astutely recognizing that it is related to the general degradation of "education". Interesting indeed, given that Denmark has recently chosen to do the same. Then there is his fiancé Mary, who is definitely the dot to John's "i" and their two cats, Six and Seven, who were by all stretches of the word Humungous! There was the community of Warren, Rhode Island where some warm smiles and hellos let us know that we were welcome. The artists' dinner where we met Allison Newsome and her dynamic kids, Owen and Arden Morris, two incredibly talented kids. There was the run-in with the guy in the pick-up truck who , as he was explaining what he had just done (helping move a friend's son) inadvertently came to use the word "segregate", and how he looked at us a beet red, and was like, no, that's not the word I meant, and how that kept us laughing for days, a knee-slapping kind of laugh. There was meeting Todd Hunter, whose professional feedback was invaluable to my rewrite. There was Angelo, who upon reading Jason's book, decided on the spot that he was going to name his two turkeys (lol) after two of the characters from When I Was the Greatest, Needles and Noodles. There was the local knitting shop where I bought yarn to knit a baby blanket for a dear friend who has just given birth . There's the conversation I overheard at this local knitting store Bella Yarns from retired Rhode Islanders who spoke about quahogs and the best places to get them, and the fact that you had to watch out on the bike lanes, "because of all the kids doing pot!" There was the car drive from Upstate New York with Rene, to Rhode Island, and the stop we made at the mall, somewhere in the great old U.S. of A. and realizing yet again, how racially segregated the States is, after all these years and history. It was being able to have conversations that ran from Grenache wine to childhood, to books and writers. It was about being able to talk about dreams and how we are realizing them. I'll be home back in Copenhagen soon, and I must say, this adventure was certainly worth ever millisecond spent there.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
|allison newsome's lion @ her studio|
|by allison newsome|
|allison newsome's work|
|another allison new some piece|
|can you keep a secret? work by allison new some|
|an artist's space|
|nature meets nurture in the work of allison new some|
|another allison new some piece in john's garden|
|love this pic of brook, john & jason|
|ms. rene gearing up for the drive from upstate to rhode island |
photo courtesy rene
|me & angelo with the feather from "noodles" |
photo courtesy of brook stephenson
|a window at john's|
|lots a trees to check out..|
|brook's cooking is what's up! photo courtesy brook stephenson|
|reading & knitting! Jason Reynolds & lab photo courtesy of brook stephenson|
|the rhode island writers' colony abode|
|the clever agency w molaundo jones, charles vincent burwell and |
brook stephenson, founder of rhode island writers colony
|the welcome table|
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
|two of the coolest brothers this sister had the opportunity to work, talk and geek with.|
|and from the heavens? a bird's nest came tumbling down from the tree...|
|right down the street there is 160 year old tree. the small ones are her babies...|
|every one needs support. bless the human who so lovingly propped up this limb with this|
|from mars to home & 3 very cool, inspiring, progressive brothers...|
|geeking out on cars, books and dr. who|
|special thanks to alison & kids for a true new england evening|
|brook's bistro is not only nurturing for the stomach, but for the soul!|
|preparing an artist's dinner|
|tomatoes from the garden.|
Sunday, September 07, 2014
|in rene's garden...|
First of all, I'm on my way to Rhode Island to write at the very first Rhode Island Writer's Colony, spearheaded by Brook Stephens of Clever Agency. Together with the fabulous Jason Reynolds, this will the kick-off event of this writing colony.
Okay, maybe I'll cover more than 2 days.
|kai back in the day.|
|Mom & Reggie holding it down together in Brooklyn |
for 17 years!
Mom has actually been in New York 44 years now!
We take the train back to Brooklyn. The movement of the train lulls me into a state of time-travel : it is as though I'd never left.
In the taxi from Jay Street Borough hall, we begin to talk to the taxi driver. We exchange backgrounds. His family hails from Pakistan, but like me, he was born in Brooklyn.
Lately, I've been thinking about the concept of immigrant vs. expat. My parents were immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago. I am an expat living in Copenhagen from Brooklyn/Trinidad. Human journeys can be complex.
|ed bradly, marie & cronchite|
I have always loved the decor of Marie's house. It is chock-full of reminders in LOVE - whether it be the pictures of friends, colleagues and family that are proudly displayed around the walls and bookcases, hundreds, maybe thousands of books that include classics, first prints, and all the books Marie has had a hand in birthing into this world, the African art, knick-knacks from world travel and adventures. This house is a universe of culture, love for who we are, who we have been and who we will be as a people, of really exercising what Marie always reminds all of us is the secret to our continuation: Reciprocity.
|muki, marie's daughter, |
having her own party with the official party's starters
before the event. i love this photo.
Marie and I catch up a bit before I head to Port Authority to take the bus to Kingston, NY. I'm to meet my friend Rene - business woman extraordinaire-now-turned-bush-woman. Rene has escaped to the woods - okay, not quite, yet. But she's found herself a home in Upstate New York, with the woods right behind her, creaks going through her backyard and guniea hens hanging out on her property.
We were supposed to take off on our road trip to Rhode Island yesterday, but alas! Car trouble! But, I'm taking it all in stride...I'll get there and history will happen. I am so looking forward to sharing this space for creatives such as myself - and to have a stretch of uninterrupted time to do the touches on my work that must be done.
|the river right down the road from rene's|
A special thanks to my mother, Beryl Brown Balbirsingh, brother, Gerard Balbirsingh, Rayner Ramirez, Brook Stephenson, Rene Hendricks & Marie D. Brown.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
|the rhode island writer's colony is the brainchild of writer brook stephenson|
I'm happy to report that I've been awarded a residency at Rhode Island Writers Colony - 10 days to work on my book in an environment with other writers. The other writers include Brook Stephenson, whom you should have met by now and Jason Reynolds
Here's a little about Brook:
Jason Reynolds is the author of several collections of poetry, including, Self, and the co-authored, My Name is Jason. Mine Too. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Reynolds has traveled the country, sharing stages with legends like Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and the late Amiri Baraka. Recently, Reynolds celebrated the release of his debut novel, When I Was the Greatest (Simon & Schuster) garnering rave reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal,Book Page, and Hornbook. His upcoming novel, The Boy in the Black Suit, hits stores January 2015. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. He will be at work on My Mothers House, the story of James, a young man growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, who finds out that his mother isn’t actually his mother and goes to meet her for the first time at her house for dinner. Find out more about him at www.jasonwritesbooks.com and
Monday, August 25, 2014
|garon and i talked all things spiritual & cultural.|
Garon is one of my guardian angels. I met him years, years ago when I used to work with Danny Simmons, the visual artist, on OneWorld magazine. Garon's an artist, among many other talents, and I knew our friendship was sealed when on my first trip to Amsterdam, who do I bump into there, all the way from Brooklyn? Yup, Mr. Garon. And it only gets better - he goes on to give me and my friend free passes to that year's Cannibus Cup. I'll never forget having the opportunity to hear & see Rita Marley in the flesh, and that year's winner's speech, "I would like to thank all of you who smoke pot and work!"
Anyway, that was ages and lifetimes ago, but when I was heading to New York on this last trip, I knew without an iota of a doubt that I wanted to see Garon- he's good people and always inspires the best from me.
Luckily for me, I got to spend some quality time with Garon, where we were able to talk African history, ideas and spirituality. I had the opportunity to stay in Bedstuy at his place, and hey, sleeping in Brooklyn is always, always, always a welcome treat.
Shout out to Garon - thanks for making my trip to New York so special. You were an amazing teacher/mentor/friend!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
|little house on the hill|
One of the many highlights I experienced while in New York was being able to visit my old friend Rene' - who now owns the Juicy Lucy Juice bar, of which the Village Voice blog on May 20, 2013, had this to say:
Besides being an entrepreneur, Rene' made a move out to the countryside, not too far from the city but far enough- where she has guinea hens, the forest right outside her door and trickling creaks in the backyard. I spent time in this oasis - & last night, we were able to catch up since my return to DK.
|entrepreneur & free woman extraordinaire Rene' along with the fugitive|
artist Preach R Sun during our creative winter excursion,
not too far from woodstock.
I first met Rene' back when I was in college, when she first moved to NYC. She and I had mutual friends, and one of the things I remember really liking about her was her free spirit and courage to do what it seems she wants to do. Of Cuban ancestry and raised in Alaska, Rene' has traveled the world and her tenacity and fierce sense of justice are certainly two traits I have always appreciated about her.
The other day I spoke to an old friend of mine whose book is about to be published by a major publisher in January. We both freelanced in NYC at around the same time, and it was always as writers we looked upon each other -thus the strength of our alliance. Two writers are usually synonymous with two readers, so when we do talk it is usually about all things literature.
"Why don't you have a book deal, Lesley? You've been writing novels since back in the day. And you're one of the best." He reminds me, because let me tell you, I do need reminding. We discuss my strategy and move on to other, more interesting things, such as being an expat. "Man", he says, "I checked out this hotel room Baldwin stayed in London, and it was small."
"Yeah", I reply, "he really did it. He really followed his art. If it was about money, Baldwin wouldn't have written."
"Being an expat sucks." He concedes. He's a Harvard graduate, from Brooklyn with Haitian roots.
"Being an expat is overrated." I concur.
"It's like you can come to Europe, but just don't ask for a job." Again, he is a Harvard graduate.
I bring these moments up because it reminds me, lest I forget of the sacrifice that is involved in pursuing your art. In a world where success is measured by many by the amount of your pay check, and where being a starving artist is at best scoffed at, I take this moment to salute my friends and family who understand and support, even if it's an email, a text message, a comment letting me know that they are there - thank you.
|Laika the cat, 2014|
Since I've been back from New York, I've been hanging out at Belle du Jour - my friend Stine's shop in the colorful neighborhood of Nørrebro. Stine has this incredible ability of collecting amazing people at her shop & it's been a wonderful way for me to transition back into life in Copenhagen. Her shop is a collection of second clothes, items from India, jewelry and shoes. Some of the proceeds go to A School for Life - an organization dedicated to educating disabled children who belong to the caste below the untouchables (I didn't know there was such a thing! I also learned recently that it was the British who corrupted this system, although I have yet to look into this claim). When there, I often get to see Vivi - who is half-Trinidadian, and Floppy - the rabbit that runs around the shop, pavement and backyard free. Everyone falls in love with Floppy and the feeling he inspires in everyone from just hopping around calmly is truly transformative. A big thanks to Stine and all the work she accomplishes in her shop - namely that of not only bringing folks together, but of making people feel valued.
Speaking of making people feel valued, I really must send a special thanks to my mentor Marie D. Brown whose presence in my life is greatly valued. In the confusion of life it's really important to have people you trust and that you believe have your back. It's important to know that there are people who value your work, and in my case, my writing. Marie has been supporting my work since the very first day I met her, back in 1994. I stayed on and worked with her for 4 years and through this experience was privy to some incredible life stories, people and experiences, all of which contribute to the person I am today. So this is a special thanks to you! Your insistence on the continuation of the tradition of reciprocity is a necessary strategy in addressing the issues that confront so many of us everyday. Thank you.
There are many out there in the world right now who I know are feeling the dis-ease of the realities that surround us. We must foster and demand lives where integrity is involved. We are not perfect, but this is why it is of paramount importance that we surround ourselves with people who first and foremost love unconditionally and secondly, challenge us to become better people, not abandon us out of disinterest or false ideas of normality. We have to come together, and resist petty differences and suspicions that have been planted to keep us apart. The world is hurting, we are hurting. The first step is understanding that it's not about our intellects (brains) and it's not all about our emotions (heart/stomach) but about that ongoing cycle of breath that starts shortly after birth and ends when we transition. That is the one thing we all have in common and that is in actuality, eternal. This is the breath of life and it is what our ancestors insisted we master.
Enjoy your sunday,