Poets Network & Exchange Shines the Spotlight on Jean Harripersaud

Jean Harripersaud is currently the Managing Librarian of New York Public Library’s Bronx Library Center.  She has been with the New York Public Library for the past 15 years, starting as a Librarian in the Bronx.  She has a Master’s in Library Science from Queens College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. Jean has a passion to spread the joy of reading to the Bronx and firmly believes that “reading does indeed take you places.”(Dr. Seuss) and a book is
a great companion.

Brief History of the Bronx Book Fair
Launched in 2013, the Bronx Book Fair is dedicated to engaging and growing the community of poets and writers in the Bronx and to connecting those literary artists to readers and book lovers of all ages. Through readings, workshops, and presentations. Our goal is to engage the community with a variety of literature and programs that will broaden access to Bronx literary artists, increase library usage, and encourage a love of books and reading. I had the joy to speak with Jean HarriPersaud in a Q&A about her work as a Bronx Book Fair Planning Committee member. 

What brought you to the Bronx Book Fair?
A love of reading and a desire to spread the joy of reading to my fellow

What are you most looking forward to at the Bronx Book Fair?
Meeting Bronx Literary figures and of course, the wonderful people from the Bronx and beyond who will be in attendance.

What would you like attendees to take away from the BronPoets Networkx Book Fair and the Bronx Library Center?
That the Bronx is a haven for all literary types, level, genres and ages.  Let’s get together and talk books – my favorite thing.

Does the Bronx play a role in your work/educational/cultural life?
If so, please explain.
I live and work in the Bronx.  I am very proud of the rich history of the Bronx, feel privileged to serve the peoples of the Bronx and am very enthused about the progress being made in the Bronx – especially having our own book fair and being a part of the team helping to make it happen.

Please tell us about any current or upcoming projects you are working on that we can look forward to.
At the Bronx Library Center we are working on getting more people to read more in order to raise reading levels across every age group in our lovely borough.  We have already seen some successes in the past 6 months with the increase of literary type programs – more folks are checking out more books to read.

Please share any additional information that might be of interest. Example, past Bronx Book Fair experience.

The Bronx Book Fair is the place to meet and connect with awesome literary talent from the Bronx.

“Thank you, Jean Harripersaud for a wonderful and informative interview!”
“Thank you, Lorraine Currelley!”

The Bronx Book Fair is free and takes place May 5, 2018 at the Bronx Library Center from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM! https://www.bronxbookfair.com.

©Lorraine Currelley Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved.


Poets Network & Exchange Shines the Spotlight on Michael Alvarez

Associate Directors

In January, 2018 I had a welcomed opportunity to interview  Bronx Book Fair Planning Committee member Michael Alvarez.

Michael​ ​Alvarez​ works in the Bronx, where he is currently the Associate Director for the Central Bronx Community Branches of The New York Public Library. A supporter and facilitator of literacy, lifelong learning and community engagement. He is a founding member of the Bronx Book Fair Committee. With more than 30 years of experience in public service with The New York Public Library, Michael has served the public, primarily in the Bronx and Manhattan in a variety of professional roles from Librarian, Library Manager, and Chief Librarian to Associate Director. He is a leader who is passionate about working with his colleagues in promoting the vast collections, educational programs and services that are expertly and freely offered by the staff at each of the branches of The New York Public Library.

What​ ​brought​ ​you​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair?
As​ ​the​ ​then,​ ​Chief​ ​Librarian​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Library​ ​Center,​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair​ ​
in its​ ​infancy​ ​came​ ​to​ ​us,​ ​that is (the brain parents Americo Casiano and Ron
Kavanaugh) looking​ ​for​ ​a​ ​venue​ ​and​ ​the​ ​rest,​ ​as​ ​they​ ​say​ ​is​ ​history.​ ​ ​I​ ​am happy
each​ ​year​ ​not​ ​only​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​host​ ​venue​ ​but​ ​to​ ​participate​ ​in​ ​the​ ​year​ ​long
planning​ ​of​ ​the​ ​book​ ​fair.​ ​

What​ ​are​ ​you​ ​most​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair?
I​ ​am​ ​very​ ​excited​ ​about​ ​the​ ​upcoming​ ​7​th​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair,​ ​as​ ​we​ ​are​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process of​ ​arranging​ ​several​ ​panel​ ​discussions​ ​and​ ​programs​ ​for​ ​people​ ​of​ ​all​ ​
ages.​ ​A​ ​few​ ​of these​ ​include:​ ​how​ ​to​ ​get​ ​published​ ​and​ ​reading​ ​recommendations​ ​for​ ​different​ ​age groups.

What​ ​would​ ​you​ ​like​ ​attendees​ ​to​ ​take​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Book​ ​Fair​ ​
and​ ​the 
Bronx​ ​Library​ ​Center?
Attendance​ ​to​ ​these​ ​fairs​ ​has​ ​steadily​ ​grown​ ​over​ ​the​ ​years.​ ​ ​The​ ​expectation​ ​is​ ​that attendees​ ​will​ ​get​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​connect​ ​with​ ​others​ ​while​ ​they​ ​actively​ ​participate​ ​in the​ ​programs.​ ​ ​The​ ​culture​ ​of​ ​reading​ ​is​ ​heavily​ ​promoted​ ​at​ ​this​ ​event.​ ​ ​My​ ​desire is​ ​for​ ​everyone​ ​that​ ​is​ ​visiting​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​Library​ ​Center​ ​for​ ​the​ ​very​ ​first​ ​time​ ​to feel​ ​welcomed​ ​and​ ​have​ ​access​ ​to​ ​the​ ​rich​ ​resources​ ​on​ ​each​ ​of​ ​the​ ​six​ ​floors​ ​of​ ​the Center!

Does​ ​the​ ​Bronx​ ​play​ ​a​ ​role​ ​in​ ​your​ ​work/educational/cultural​ ​life?​
​If​ ​yes,​ ​please 
In​ ​my​ ​current​ ​professional​ ​role,​ ​I​ ​oversee​ ​12​ ​of​ ​the​ ​vibrant​ ​Libraries​ ​of​ ​the​ ​
Central Bronx.​ ​ ​As​ ​such,​ ​I​ ​have​ ​the​ ​pleasure​ ​of​ ​spending​ ​a​ ​great​ ​of​ ​time​ ​in​ ​this​ ​borough​ ​and seeing​ ​first-hand​ ​how​ ​the​ ​New​ ​York​ ​Public​ ​Library​ ​is​ ​impacting​ ​
lives:​ ​Early​ ​literacy instruction,​ ​Coding​ ​for​ ​teens,​ ​Adult​ ​Basic​ ​Education,​ ​Career​ ​Assistance,​ ​English​ ​for speakers​ ​of​ ​other​ ​languages​ ​and​ ​much,​ ​much​ ​more.

Please​ ​tell​ ​us​ ​about​ ​any​ ​current​ ​or​ ​upcoming​ ​projects​ ​you​ ​are​ ​working​ ​on​
​that​ ​we 
can​ ​look​ ​forward​ ​to.
Mentoring​ ​ at the ​ ​Library​ ​is​ ​currently​ ​being​ ​offered​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Mott​ ​Haven​ ​Library
​in the​ ​South​ ​Bronx.​ ​ ​This​ ​free​ ​program​ ​is​ ​provided​ ​for​ ​high​school ​ ​students​ ​with​
​a focus​ ​on​ ​College​ ​Readiness​ ​and​ ​Career​ ​Preparedness.

Launched in 2013, the Bronx Book Fair is dedicated to engaging and growing the community of poets and writers in the Bronx and to connecting those literary artists to readers and book lovers of all ages. Through readings, workshops, and presentations. Our goal is to engage the community with a variety of literature and programs that will broaden access to Bronx literary artists, increase library usage, and encourage a love of books and reading.

The Bronx Book Fair takes place May 5, 2018 at the Bronx Library Center from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM and is free and open to the public. Visit the BBF website
for updates at https://www.bronxbookfair.com.

©Lorraine Currelley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Arts Activism, Creativity and Social Responsibility

Mental Health & Healthy Aging

As creatives do we have a responsibility to address social justice? If so, what does it mean to be both artist and activist? What does this work look like and how does it impact our work, lives and communities? How does it impact our cultural and educational institutions? These are just some of the questions being asked, pondered and answered by artists. Clearly with our institutions under threat by the new administration we have much to ponder as we move forward.

Creating art under the new administration will  surely test our resolve and demand commitment to addressing social justice. It will demand artists have the courage to address these attacks on our art and lives. Attacks threatening to silence our messages. Social justice art demands we not cower in the face of

these attacks and stand firmly in our support for the who are marginalized and disenfranchised. Understanding that we are in…

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Poets Network & Exchange Magazine Announces Pushcart Prize Nominees

A New DesignPoets Network & Exchange, Inc. is honored for a second year to announce our choices for Pushcart Prize Nominees. Our Nominees represent four poets, an essayist, a memoirist and a storyteller.  It was an honor to read their work. We wish each of our nominees success in all of their present and future endeavors.
We present our six nominees and their categories.

Radhiyah Ayobami
born in Brooklyn , writes and workshops with pregnant teens, inmates, and elders. An Africana studies graduate of Brooklyn College and a prose MFA
graduate from Mills College in Oakland. Honors awarded from the New
York Foundation for the Arts and the Sustainable Arts Foundation.
women’s business here (Non-fiction)

Mercy L. Tullis Bukhari
is a wife, mom of two and writer of fiction and poetry. She finds inspiration
from being Bronx-bred, from The Bronx and a feisty woman. She has featured at the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe and The Bronx Book Fair  among many venues. A tenured high school English Language Arts teacher and adjunct professor of American Literature and at the College of New Rochelle. Mercy is the author of SMOKE, her first poetry collection published by Blind Beggar Press. When Mercy is not tending to her family or teaching, she’s writing her first novel.
Black Dolls for Everyone (Memoir)

Carmen D. Lucca
born in Puerto Rico, Carmen D. Lucca is a bilingual poet, author-translator  of the first collection of Julia De Burgos’ poetry. Ms. Lucca, whose poetry has been published in Ireland, Latin America, Puerto Rico and the United States. Awards
include the Palma De Burgos, a Silver Medal from the Academie des Arts, Sciences et Lettres, Paris, France, a 108th Wing Essential Piece  for her contribution to the National Hispanic Heritage Month events honoring Julia De Burgos at McGuire Air Base, and a Disney Teacher-Award nomination. Ms. Lucca’s most recent poetry book is The Sunset Watcher, a collection of poetic meditations based on her observations of life.
Thanks for My Bronx (Poetry)

Sokunthary Svay
is a Khmer writer and musician from the Bronx, New York. She and her family were refugees from Cambodia who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge Regime. She is the poetry editor for Newtown Literary. A founding member of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA), her work has been published internationally in Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, London and Australia. Svay was a subject in New York Magazine’s “Living in a Sanctuary City” portfolio and featured in the New York Immigration Coalition’s This is Our NY, broadcast in Times Square. Additional writing credits include Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time, LONTAR: Journal for Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, FLESH, Prairie Schooner, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Blue Lyra Review and Mekong Review.
She is the author of Apsara in New York, a first collection of poetry, Willow Press. She is a past Willow Arts Alliance Residency Fellow and a recipient of the First Friday Residency at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. Svay recently received an American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice Fellowship for 2017-18, where she will gain experience as a writer for voice and the operatic stage alongside her composer partner Liliya Ugay.
Don’t Let Your Heritage Be Past Tense (Poetry)

Peuo Tatyana Tuy
is a spoken word poet, creative workshop instructor, and community organizer. Her poetry collection, Khmer Girl (2014), is inspired by the traumas of her life, including her family escaping the killing fields of their native Cambodia and enduring the inequities of life as immigrants in the United States. Her work has appeared in Art Papers (2016), WHYY (2017), a Philadelphia news media, and Poets Network & Exchange magazine (2017), Lao American Review (2017), Sahtu Press (2017), LAOMAGINATION (2017). She has also been featured in video projects such as The New School’s “Futurographies: Cambodia-USA-France (2016), Northern Monday Films (2017), Urbintel (2005), and 30ToLifeProductions (2016). Peuo Tuy
has appeared at Harvard Law School, Massachusetts State House, The Big Read/Miami Book Fair, the 2017 Minnesota Fringe Festival, New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as various junior high schools and high schools in the east coast. Peuo is one of the founding members and the Executive Director of the new Cambodian American Literary Arts Association, and is currently working on her forthcoming book of poetry entitled, Neon Light Brights. During her free time she loves to swim, jog, read, travel, watch movies and TV shows, and devour dark chocolate cakes.
Hasbro Neon Light Brights (Poetry)

Elizabeth White
is an author and seasoned non-profit executive with domestic and international expertise in economic development, aging solutions and gender equality.  Ms. White earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, a Masters in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University, and a BS in Political Science from Oberlin College.
Breaking the Reframe on Aging (Essay)

Lorraine Currelley, Executive Director & Editor

About the Pushcart Prize


The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America.

Since 1976, hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in our annual collections. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series. Every volume contains an index of past selections, plus lists of outstanding presses with addresses.

The Pushcart Prize has been a labor of love and independent spirits since its founding. It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 60’s and 70’s.


Women of Passion and Purpose


On behalf of Poets Network & Exchange thank you to everyone who came out for “Women of Passion and Purpose.” We were delighted to have you. Special thanks to our fabulous featured poets Jill Austen and Meredith Trede for your powerful words, we loved every poem shared. You were both amazing! Dear Meredith and Jill it was an honor. Thanks to everyone for joining me in honoring my friend Fay Chiang. For those not present we honored with words and lit candles which remained lit during the event in her memory. My sorrow is a little lighter today,

It was great seeing friends. Thanks to Maestro Marlon Daniel for photographing the event. You are appreciated beyond measure. Thanks, to our Open mic participants and everyone who purchased a book. Thanks to Brad our tech person and one of our greatest supporters, we appreciate you.

Enjoyed the after event community conversations, the sharing and living in the moment. This brings me immense joy. Everyone who took photos please tag me in them. We look forward to seeing everyone in the near future. More photos to come. (Photo Marlon Daniel)

©Lorraine Currelley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Lorraine Currelley Elected the New Executive Director for the Bronx Book Fair


I’m pleased to announce my newly elected role as the Executive Director for
the Bronx Book Fair.  I am both humbled and honored. I look forward to working in this new and exciting role. It is indeed an honor to be recognized for my work and commitment to community, the performing and fine arts and literary communities. I am moved by the support  and confidence of those who nominated and voted for me. Looking forward to another  year of working to provide the best in literary programming to the Bronx and greater New York City communities.

My platform is literacy, and working to create innovative programming and to enhance the artistic experience for artists and community residents. In addition, to work to provide opportunity for our Bronx literary community of poets and writers.

We are now approaching our sixth year. Launched in 2013, the Bronx Book Fair is dedicated to engaging and growing the community of poets and writers in the Bronx and to connecting those literary artists to readers and book lovers of all ages. Through readings, workshops, and presentations. Our goal is to engage the community with a variety of literature and programs that will broaden access to Bronx literary artists, increase library usage, and encourage a love of books and reading. The Bronx Book Fair has a vision for mobilizing the trusted, neutral, information-rich public space of the library to deliver literary and literacy  programming. A vision that includes building effective collaborations. A vision that fosters mastery and promotes meaningful social engagement. Our work to date affirms this vision. Thanks, to the Bronx Library Center, Michael Alvarez, Associate Director and Jean Harripersaud, Adult Librarian for your commitment, work and for providing such a wonderful home for the Bronx Book Fair.

We have exciting programming planned for Bronx Book Fair 2018. We will be posting events leading up to the Bronx Book Fair.  Visit our website for updates at

Letter to Former Executive Director

Dear Ron Kavanaugh,

Thank you, for your service as our former executive director. Your time and work  on behalf of our beloved Bronx community and the Bronx Book Fair does not go unnoticed. Looking ahead with great expectation as we proceed.

Congratulations, as you proceed as the Bronx Book Fair Social Media Coordinator.

All the best,
Lorraine Currelley,
Executive Director
Bronx Book Fair

© Copyright Lorraine Currelley 2017.  All Rights Reserved.


Saving Our Lives: A Call to Self Care

Are you taking the needed time to self care? Do you feel as though you’re on an unending escalator unable to get off? Are you experiencing feelings of burnout, exhaustion, trauma, stress, depression and anxiety? Overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness and frustration? Overwhelmed by the constant media overload of
articles and discussions centered on the state of this country’s affairs?
Are you eating properly and getting the needed sleep, your body requires? Have you joined thousands of  others traumatized by assaults on our humanity and well being by this administration? If the answer is yes, it’s time to step back and self care.

While, being vigilant we must take care to not allow these unrelenting poisonous assaults to inhabit our spirit  overwhelming us and affecting our health and well being. Whether our personal concerns or protesting social justice issues, we must take care to protect ourselves. Self care is not an option, it’s a necessity. Healthy bodies cannot survive without  proper care. We must do everything possible to protect our health. Self care demands that we step away from all activities to rest, re-energize, relax and return renewed. We cannot be of service to anyone, if we are not well ourselves.

Ways to Keep Healthy:

0. Get sleep.
1.  Honor your right  to private time, time for self. Make no apologies.
There is a difference between taking time for self and isolation.
2. Do not isolate yourself( remove yourself relationships, the world,
and your normal routines.

3. Remember, there is still beauty and love in the world. Embrace it!
4. Do those things that bring you joy.
5. Surround yourself with those you love, like and respect.
6. Laugh.
7. Dance.
8. Listen to music and sing along.
9. Pray and meditate. Keep your spirit and heart fed.
10 Take a break from social media and definitely threads (debates).
11.Check in on each other.
12. Share a meal. Organize a potluck.
13. If physically able, take a walk and enjoy nature. Sit by the water.
14. Be still. Clear your mind. Repeat a mantra of your choosing.
15. In a crisis? Speak with a professional and/or someone you trust.
16. Work on your art, create.
17. Take a well deserved break. Have a me day.
18. Eat properly. Cut out junk foods.


For information visit Mental Health, Resources & Advocacy

©Lorraine Currelley 01/30 2017. All Rights Reserved.

In Appreciation

We thank and acknowledge the phenomenal poets and writers who graced our Poets Network & Exchange’s stage and pages in 2016. We also give honor to a loving and supportive community, for attending and supporting our programming. We give honor to the organizations Poets Network & Exchange collaborated with and invited us to feature in their programming. We thank and appreciate  Poets & Writers, Inc. for funding. Our honorees are Irene Mtk, Gary Johnston, Meredith Trede, Patricia Spears Jones, Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari,Elizabeth Lara, Ngoma Hill, Edward Currelley, Nkosi Nkululeko, Tyehimba Jess, E.j. Antonio, Peuo Tatyana Tuy, Bonafide Rojas, Charlie Vázquez, Philip Ammonds, Jerome G. and Jacqueline Johnson.

In 2016 Poets Network and Exchange nominated six incredible poets and writers for the Pushcart Prize. Our Pushcart nominees are E.J. Antonio, Fay Chiang, Edward Currelley, Gary Johnston, Christopha Moreland and Kate Rushin.

Creatively I’ve realized a number of goals, both personally and via my organization Poets Network & Exchange. I’m truly humbled and grateful for the recognition, kindnesses and support. I’m quick to acknowledge while honors are appreciated and welcomed, it is my relationships with those I’ve met in 2016 and my long and lasting relationships that fortify and propel me forward. Relationships built mutually on loyalty, trust, love and respect. The lifting up and being lifted up. I’m grateful far beyond measure.

It has also been a year of great pain and loss. Poet and artist Monica Hand and actor, teacher and poet Laurie Carlos both made their transitions. They were both dynamic women and artists and left a phenomenal body of work.

We are because of your continued support. On behalf of Poets Network & Exchange we wish you and yours abundant blessings for 2017!

©Lorraine Currelley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Laurie Carlos 1949-2016


My heart is broken, my head is aching and my eyes are filled with tears. The world has loss a magnificent human being/presence. My friend and teacher Laurie Carlos has died. My friend lived and loved well.

I met a vibrant, authentic, caring, brilliant, down to earth woman, many years ago as a young woman. She wore short cropped hair and would adorn it with colorful hair wraps. I admired the long flowing colorful skirts and dresses she wore. She was everything I hoped to be. I have fond memories of our chance meetings on the streets of Harlem. Whether rushing to a meeting, event or running errands, she always stopped to talk before rushing off. We both valued these moments. After shared salutations came discussions that always left me encouraged, inspired, smiling and in deep reflection. Her presence in my life grew me. When she hugged me and said, she loved me I knew it to be true.

Laurie Carlos didn’t just walk down a city street or into a room, she appeared to float. She was beautifully confident and richly human. She filled any space she entered with her presence, bringing light and joy with her. Her smile was real and her laughter came from a deep and sincere place. She was a faithful friend. She didn’t waste words, time and actions. She exercised wisdom and did everything with purpose.

Laurie’s Gift.

It was an honor and joy to be invited to her home. Once before leaving she presented me with a very important and special gift. She said, I was to pass it on to another worthy young woman of my choosing. I have not passed it on. The person receiving it is left with a major responsibility, the keeper of a legacy. One which cannot be taken lightly.

Becoming my teacher.

A few years later she was an invited guest performance instructor for a writing workshop and performance group I belonged to. I remember Ntosake Shange stopping by. They were fabulously outrageously fierce. I believe Jessica Hagedorn stopped by as well. I’m blessed to have had this experience/opportunity. She had a gift for making us, her students better. She taught and challenged us to go deep within ourselves and encouraged and instilled in us the will to give everything to our performances. She always said, our audiences were deserving of our very best. Her accomplishments were many. Among them, an original cast member of FOR COLORED GIRLS.

How can I share a lifetime of friendship in a post? I can’t! I will end by saying, I will continue to follow your example dear friend and teacher. I will continue to live with purpose. To value each day and those I call friend and family. Death is ever present. I pray we celebrate each other, never taking each other for granted! Do not leave what’s important for another day! Love and live well now!

Laurie Carlos is survived by her daughter Amber. We uplift and love you Amber. You are not alone in your grief. You have our love, support and condolences. You are embraced by love and prayers for comfort and peace. May your beloved mother rest in peace,
love and power, all that she lived, gave and more.

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.