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Poetry &

Poetry &: Worker Writers School

Saturday, November 20, 2021, 2 pm, Offsite

Saturday, November 20, 2 pm, Fish & Chikzz, New Windsor, New York

Free. Register here.

Building on nearly thirty-five years of poetry programs at Dia Art Foundation and curated by José Olivarez, Poetry & is a new series that invites poets to reimagine their work and its public presentation. In conversation with other artists and art forms, each event offers new encounters with poetry at and beyond Dia. 

For Poetry &’s inaugural event, members of the Worker Writers School, an organization that promotes poetry by working-class, unionized writers, intervened in Dia Beacon’s galleries. From November 12 to 15, a poem in neon by Christina Yvette Lewis from the recent collection Coronavirus Haiku was displayed in the museum. On Saturday, November 13, at 2 pm, poets Lorraine Garnett and Christine Yvette Lewis read and joined a conversation with the school’s founder Mark Nowak.

After the Dia engagement, Hudson Valley residents can continue to experience the neon as it will be installed in local storefronts. This includes the site of the reading on Saturday, November 20, at 2 pm at Fish & Chikzz in New Windsor, New York, where poets Alando McIntyre and Kelebohile Nkhereanye will read their work. The installation will then go on long-term view at the Worker Justice Center in Kingston, New York. 

About the curator and artists

Lorraine Garnett is a nanny in Brooklyn. She has previously worked as a preschool teacher, after-school supervisor, and summer camp activities director. Her poems are published in forthcoming anthologies including Good Cop/Bad Cop (Flowersong Press) and I Can’t Breathe: Poetic Anthology of Fresh Air (Kistrech Poetry). She has read her poems at, among others, the Workers Unite Film Festival, Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop, and the Crush Reading Series at Woodbine collective. Born and raised in Jamaica, Garnett lives in Brooklyn. 

Alando McIntyre joined the Worker Writers School while working as a cashier at Golden Krust Bakery. After earning his BA in accounting from CUNY Baruch College, New York, he now works as a humanities teacher at Success Academy, New York. McIntyre has read his poems at, among others, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and PEN World Voices Festival. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, he resides in Brooklyn.

Kelebohile “Kele” Nkhereanye is a food street vendor, food justice activist, community chef, and community leader in East New York. She is an immigrant from Lesotho in southern Africa, where she learned the value of street vending as an opportunity for economic empowerment. Nkhereanye is a retired station agent for the New York City Transit Authority; Brooklyn Community Board 5 board member and cochair of Parks, Sanitation, and Environment; and founder of Soil Afrika Global. She is a committed member of the Street Vendor Project. Nkhereanye has earned an associate’s degree in hospitality management from New York College of Technology, degrees in sociology and women’s studies from Hunter College, and a masters in public administration from the Metropolitan College of New York. She has read at the PEN World Voices Festival, Nuyorican Poet Café, Union Square farmer’s market, and Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop.

Mark Nowak is a poet, cultural critic, playwright, and essayist from Buffalo, New York. Nowak is the author of three poetry collections:  Revenants (2000), Shut Up Shut Down (2004), and Coal Mountain Elementary (2009). A portion of his critical book, Social Poetics (2020), chronicles his work with the Worker Writers School.

José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal (2018), was a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Award, a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize, and named a top book of 2018 by NPR and the New York Public Library. He is coeditor of the anthology The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext (2020) and cohost of the poetry podcast The Poetry Gods. His work has been featured in the New York Times and Paris Review.  

Christine Yvette Lewis is a leader, organizer, and secretary/cultural outreach coordinator with Domestic Workers United (DWU), where she encourages culture and art as strongholds in the work for social justice and domestic workers’ rights. As a worker-leader and multidisciplinary performance artist, Lewis has pulled from her Calypsonian roots and skills as a steel-drum player, spoken-word artist, and poet to get her message out and build power. She has spoken out on initiatives like the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights at venues such as The Colbert Report. For eight years, she has helped organize a partnership between DWU members and the Public Theater’s Public Works productions of Shakespeare in the Park. She has been an active member of the Worker Writers School since its inception in 2011.


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