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Critics Page

Guest Critic

Editor's Note

At the Anyway Cafe afterparty for the screening celebrating Raymond Foye’s Critics Page in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of the Rail, I asked him how he managed to put the whole section together in three weeks.

How Kora Was Born

This story begins long long long long ago / So long ago that it was a place not a time / There was a man / He was so alone / The only person he could talk to was Africa

Ode to Gentrification

A singular voice for a new generation of poets, Trinidadian Samantha Thornhill has traveled globally and works locally to get the word of poetry into the daily dialogue. She has an M.F.A. from Virginia, teaches poetry to actors at Julliard, and is a poetry producer for Russell Simmons’s YouTube channel, All Def Poetry. She co-founded PUP.

Ode to Seagull

With a rasp rap style and deep political engagement, Adam Falkner embodies the poet as performer, educator, and scholar. He founded Dialogue Arts Project, which uses creative writing and performing to spark students into deep dialogue, while teaching at Columbia Teachers College and Vassar. He was the featured performer at President Obama’s Inaugural Grassroots Ball.

If You Were On That Train

Jon Sands, Brooklyn-based poet known for electrifying readings, is the author of The New Clean (2011, Write Bloody Publishing), and star of the award-winning web-series Verse: A Murder Mystery. He is Director of Poetry Education at the Positive Health Project (syringe exchange in Midtown), an adjunct at CUNY, and a Youth Mentor at Urban Word-NYC.

Elegy for Nina Simone

Elana Bell’s performances are poem as song, matching her work of poet as teacher in generosity of spirit unbounded. She leads creative writing workshops for women in prison, for educators, for high school students in Israel-Palestine via Seeds of Peace, and at CUNY Staten Island. Her first collection of poetry, Eyes, Stones (LSU Press 2012), was selected by Fanny Howe for the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Untitled For Charles

Syreeta McFadden’s recent piece for NPR’s Code Switch on Claudia Rankine’s CITIZEN is the best we’ve seen about this extraordinary book. Syreet is poet/photographer (she took the shots accompanying this article), whose writing has appeared in the Guardian, New York Times, BuzzFeed, Feministing, NPR, and Huffington Post. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station and the Moral Center of the Universe.

Endangered Language Portraits

“If scripture is lost then you lose your tradition. If tradition is lost then you lose your culture. If culture is lost then you lose your identity.”

Endangered Language Alliance

The Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) was founded in 2010 by linguists Daniel Kaufman and Juliette Blevins and poet Bob Holman to work with immigrant and refugee populations in New York and other cities to document and maintain their languages.


Judith Santopietro (Mexico, 1983). Poet and editor. National Poetry Award “Lázara Meldiú”: Mexico, 2014. Published in Yearbook of Mexican Poetry, Ed. Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico; Anthology of the Latin American Festival of Poetry New York City, USA, 2014; World Oral Literature Project, University of Cambridge, UK, 2009; and the book of poetry Palabras de Agua, Conaculta, Ivec and Praxis, Mexico, 2010. Santopietro recently spent two months in New York developing the cardboard publishing house Iguanazul, a project to revitalize indigenous languages among immigrant communities from Mexico.

In Conversation


I started off in poetry, and the painting started about the time I met you, Bob, which was at Naropa University, like 10 years ago. And it started evolving into: How can poetry change? How can it move outside of just a poetry reading? How can you really bring it into different environments?

The State of Our Union

On February 1, 2015, the first-ever People’s State of the Union culminated in a Poetic Address to the Nation, performed and live-streamed from the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. U.S. Department of Arts and Culture Deputy Secretary, Norman Beckett, gave the following introductory remarks.

People’s State of the Union Sonnets

Mahogany Browne, David Acevedo, Judith Santoprieto, Nikhil Melnechuk, and Bob Holman perform the 2015 Poetic Address to the Nation, on Feb. 1 at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Q&A with Adam Horowitz

The USDAC is the nation’s newest people-powered department, harnessing the power of art and culture to cultivate empathy, equity, and social imagination.

In Conversation


The pen, writing stories, and the camera, taking pictures. Stories turned to poems, pictures turned to videos. Now I’m putting them together.

Sono Kuwayama

Through her work, Sono Kuwayama is interested in exploring the relationship of the tangible and intangible; natural forms and manmade forms; the point between tension and harmony; movement and stasis. She lives and works in New York City.

Joan Grubin

Serious and fun, playful and scientific, Joan Grubin’s dimensional installations have been exhibited around the New York area and beyond, in galleries, universities, non-profit spaces, and museums, including the New York Public Library, the Parrish Art Museum, the Weatherspoon Museum, the University of Maine, and the Kentler International Drawing Space. She was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship In 2008, and was a MacDowell Colony Fellow in 2012.

PHONG BUI with Bob Holman

We first met when Phong and Robert Storr paid a visit to our loft on Duane Street for a lengthy interview with my late wife, the painter Elizabeth Murray, on the occasion of her retrospective at MoMA, sometime in late September 2006. When Phong invited me to guest edit these Critics Pages, I wanted to turn the tables, so I invited Phong to my pad over the shop, above the Bowery Poetry Club, for a brief conversation about his love for poetry and spoken word.

The Hammer of Justice

Awake & listen! Now hear this! / I was born in Texas, grew up in Kentucky, / High school in Hawaii, never graduated / In Utah, moved to New York, never left


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2015

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