Brooklyn Poetry Slam: Celebrating Lorraine Hansberry
In partnership with the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative
Location: The Uplands of Pier 5, across the boardwalk from the Marina
On the occasion of the new Lorraine Hansberry statue visiting Brooklyn on its tour around the country, join co-hosts and Brooklyn Poetry Slam founders Mahogany L. Browne and Jive Poetic as well as poets Cito Blanko, Alesha Smith, and Felicia Cade to honor the incredible legacy of one of our nation’s greatest artists. Hansberry was a playwright, journalist, and activist. Her play A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by a Black woman produced on Broadway and has been revived on Broadway in 2004 and 2014. Generations of Black theater, television, film, and literary artists were inspired by and cut their artistic teeth on her masterpiece.
“Not only would she distinguish herself among artists of her generation, she would also think her way into the vanguard of issues that would come to the fore of American and global thought in the years after her death; feminism, post colonialism, LGBTQ rights and lives, Black nationalism and liberation. She was before her time, and fair to say she died before her time.”
– Imani Perry
ABOUT THE LORRAINE HANSBERRY INITIATIVE
The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative, created by The Lillys, aims to keep the current national conversation about race, justice, and economic equality going by honoring Lorraine Hansberry with a statue, as well as a scholarship fund that will alleviate the financial inequality that discourages women and non-binary playwrights of color from pursing graduate degrees in playwrighting
.Alison Saar’s work, entitled To Sit Awhile, will feature the figure of Hansberry surrounded by five bronze chairs, each representing a different aspect of her life and work. The life-size chairs are an invitation to the public to do just that: to sit with her and think.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS
Mahogany L. Browne, selected as Kennedy Center’s Next 50, is the Executive Director of JustMedia, a media literacy initiative supporting the groundwork of criminal justice leaders and community members. This position is informed by her career as a writer, organizer, & educator. Browne has received fellowships from Art for Justice, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of recent works: Vinyl Moon, Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, & Black Girl Magic. As the founder of the diverse lit initiative, Woke Baby Book Fair. Browne’s latest project is a poetry collection responding to the impact of mass incarceration on women and children: I Remember Death By Its Proximity to What I Love (Haymarket Books). She is the first-ever poet-in-residence at the Lincoln Center and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Jive Poetic is a writer, organizer, and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. He received his BA in Media Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his MFA in Writing and Activism from Pratt Institute. In 2017 Jive was the first recipient of the John Morning Award for Art and Service. He is the founder of Insurgent Poets Society, Carnival Slam: Cultural Exchange, and co-founder of the Brooklyn Poetry Slam. His work has been showcased on season four of TVONE’s Lexus Verses and Flow, PBS NewsHour, and BET. International recognition and support for his work has come from the British Arts Council; US Embassies in Australia, Brazil, and Poland; and the Minister Of Culture in Antigua and Barbuda. He has received fellowships from Air Serenbe and Rhode Island Writers Colony, and when he is not on tour or hosting, he teaches poetry and hip hop workshops to at-risk youth in New York City and the surrounding area.
Donnie “Cito Blanko” Appleton is a poet, spoken word artist, and author of the novel 98 Sense. Cito was born and raised in the Bronx by his Jamaican-born parents Patricia and Donald Appleton. His first poem was a goodbye message to his friend that passed away in 2016. His poems have been featured in The Source magazine. He has also been cast to perform his poetry in indie films including April Again. His first self- published book 98 Sense is a roadmap on how he discovered his purpose and his reflection on the process of enlightenment.
Felicia Cade International Poet, Author, and World Activist. Born and raised in Long Beach, CA, Felicia has been named one of LA County’s most prominent poets and has grown a city wide reputation as “The Voice Of A Rising Generation.” Felicia’s work is true to her handle “@risefelicia_speak”. It raises humanity to a new and inclusive space of thought, Unity, and Love. She has a powerful yet graceful stage presence that captivates her audience along with a unique and immersive style. Felicia’s words are both powerful and needed to instigate the kind of love and thought that will change the world for the better. She is an experience and an ever unfolding Poem. Along with teaching and performing internationally Felicia has two published books “Collected Pieces & Shed Skin” and “Hallway Confessions”, and is currently working on her third book that is set to gain major publication in the near future.
Alesha Smith is a proud HBCU alum (Xavier University Of Louisiana), spoken word artist, forever athlete, and activist that lives at the intersection of sport and social justice. She centers Black people, more specifically Black women in her work and is dedicated to honoring those that came before her.
ABOUT BROOKLYN POETRY SLAM
Brooklyn Poetry Slam, founded by Mahogany L Browne and Jive Poetic, both internationally renowned poets and organizers based in Brooklyn, is a literary performance hub serving as a community touchstone for gathering, learning, and liberation. Hosted at BRIC House since its inception, BPS provides free workshops, performances, and online experiences. In 2016, BRIC TV received an Emmy for its documentary following the Brooklyn Slam Team on the road to Decatur, GA. After several years of sending groups of poets to a nationwide poetry conference Jive Poetic created a cultural exchange program for the slam team members and landed support from Antigua & Barbuda’s Minister of Culture. Brooklyn Poetry Slam has featured poet laureates, Hip-Hop luminaries, literary icons, and New York Times bestsellers in front of sold out audiences since 2014.