Walking down Market Street in Philadelphia, a bearded man hands me a paper. It’s one step away, a paper produced by people without homes for people with homes. He asks for a one dollar donation for the paper. As part of the program, he is able to keep seventy-five cents and gives a quarter back to the paper. This contributes to him getting off the street. My vendor told me how he had been also been helped by Back on my Feet to initiate change in his life.
This idea works well with the New York Writers’ Coalition premise that everyone has a voice. In this way, the man in front of me has altered his life. As many of us in this economy are one step away – a missed paycheck, a lost job, or an unexpected medical bill – from being homeless, it may serve well to support and listen to these voices.
I was in the fourth grade when I first found Waldo, during what was supposed to be Ms. Pittman’s reading class. It had been at least a year since my classmates and I “discovered” Waldo, and I was a little late to the game. So, there was a lot to prove.
During those weeks of looking and straining and crossing my eyes (I know qualify as legally blind), I was convinced that the Waldo book I’d acquired was part of a bad batch and that Waldo mistakenly wasn’t really in the pictures. It took me a month to find the bugger peeking out from behind some beach umbrella in what is now a classic Waldo beach scene.
I haven’t found Waldo since the fourth grade, but perhaps Summer 2012 is my year to find Waldo a little closer to home. (more…)
Last week at St. Mark’s Bookshop (one of the oldest, best, and few still-in-business independent booksellers in the five boroughs) I came across The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard. I’d never heard of Brainard before last week, but I’d recalled skimming a review of the recently-released title and, though I can’t remember what in the review had piqued my interest (perhaps the fact that Brainard was a painter/illustrator first, writer second), something had, and I lost myself in the book for the ensuing 45 minutes. What I discovered in TCWoJB is a unique, beautiful, honest voice, as well as a memoir entitled I Remember, which is included in its entirety in TCWoJB and is the basis for today’s prompt. (more…)
The 7th Annual NY Writers Coalition Write-A-Thon is this Sunday, June 24th! Don’t worry, it’s not too late to be part of the fun, and help to support NYWC’s free creative writing programs for people who traditionally have no voice in society, such as the homeless, at-risk youth, veterans, the incarcerated and many more. NYWC also operates this very blog, and it would be great to keep it going strong. Wanna help but feeling tired, listless? Here are the Top 5 ways to catch Write-A-Thon fever: (more…)
Panther Baby is an eloquent autobiography of Jamal Joseph, an original member of the famed Panther 21 group thrown into prison and later acquitted. Jamal was a youth in 1960’s Bronx, orphaned and living with his grandmother. He found strength, meaning and inspiration in the Black Panther movement.
Going behind the scenes into the daily routines of being a Panther is shared, including meetings, studying the ten points and learning about radical revolutionist theorists including Mao Tse-tung and Marx. Running soup kitchens and food pantries, breakfast programs for youth, keeping blocks free of the crack and drug epidemic and defending the community against racist police treatment were part of his experience.
Being accused of terrorist attacks, Jamal was rounded up in the middle of the night from his grandmother’s house to serve almost two years at Riker’s Island. Jamal used his time in prison to teach others about the oppression of the system, systemic racism, and the power to the people movement. He also taught martial arts and kept a strict code of conduct to keep spiritually grounded in prison.
Set free because of his youthful offender status, he worked tirelessly with greats such as Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Afeni Shakur. He spread the movement and worked for West and East coast alignment, which was difficult because of FBI infiltration and misinformation as part of COINTELPRO activities against the Black Panther Party. (more…)