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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Independent Lens Film The Eyes of Me Will Be Screened at the Overbrook School for the Blind

Is there such a word as a documentary-phobe? What do you called someone who absolutely hates documentaries? A year or so ago, you could have called that someone me. But, I must say, I have seen some moving documentaries that have captured my attention and made me care about the theme or subject of the film.

I am a big fan of the PBS series Independent Lens, which showcases documentaries that explore incredibly interesting subject matters. I especially like seeing these films not on television , but as part of the Community Cinema project. This is a program that features Independent Lens films at a community venue. Every month between September and May, Community Cinema brings together organizations, community members and public television stations to learn, discuss and get involved in today’s social issues.

Tomorrow, Community Cinema comes to my neighborhood and will feature a documentary called The Eyes of Me by Keith Maitland. How do you see yourself when you can’t see at all? We all know how difficult it is to be a teenager, but how about if you are a blind teenager. The Eyes of Me follows
four blind teens from the Texas School for the Blind as they learn how to fit in and live independently. Forced to confront the world without sight, they share their inner-visions of the outer world.

A panel discussion will follow the film with students and alumni from Overbrook School for the Blind and advocates from Liberty Resources, Inc., and the Center for Independent Living in Philadelphia. The discussion will be moderated by Bill Chrisner, of the Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR) program at the Disability Rights Network of PA.

Come out and see this documentary with your parents and friends. Let’s hear your ideas and insights.

The screening of The Eyes of Me will be:
Wednesday February 24th, 2010

7:00PM - 9:00PM
Hosted by Overbrook School for the Blind
6333 Malvern Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19151
Free parking in school lot. Wheelchair accessible.

This film is closed-captioned and audio description is available.
To RSVP and to request audio description, go to call (215) 877-0313 x405.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

All That We Love Deeply Becomes A Part of Us; Celebrating Malcolm X

Today is the 45th anniversary of Malcolm X’s death; his assassination. I love this photo of him and his daughters with Muhammad Ali. I so identify with his girls and their lost of a great father. Here, also, is a painting of one of Malcolm's adult daughters next to him. (*Painting by Khaz Ra'el.)

Listen to the eulogy for Malcolm X as it was delivered by Ossie Davis. It is AWESOME ! Listen, too, to Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come. This weekend, Comcast has been showing Spike Lee’s movie Malcolm X, which is a must see.

Eulogy :

Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Art Sanctuary and The Philadelphia Daily News Present the Haikudelphia Poetry Contest

"Haiku is more than a form of poetry; it is a way of seeing the world. Each haiku captures a moment of experience; an instant when the ordinary suddenly reveals its inner nature and makes us take a second look at the event, at human nature, at life." A.C. Missias

The Art Sanctuary and the Philadelphia Daily News are sponsoring a haiku contest as part of the 26th Annual Celebration of Black Writing Festival, which happens May 26-29, 2010. This contest, which ends March 19, 2010, is open to high school students in grades 9-12, from Philadelphia and surrounding counties. Students are invited to write their best haiku focusing on this year’s writing festival theme, Movement: Paying it Forward, in honor of the many recent and upcoming civil rights anniversaries like the 45th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March and the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Contestants will write their best haiku highlighting this theme. Three finalists will be chosen and invited to the lifetime achievement award ceremony honoring Nikki Giovanni. At the close of the festival, a winner will be announced on Saturday, May 29, 2010.

Prizes For Three Finalists & Fan’s Choice:

1st Place Winner: $500 worth in prizes

$500 cash prize, plus additional prizes.

An autographed copy of Sonia Sanchez’s Book “Morning Haiku”

(Gift card: Barnes & Noble, Scrabble, Toys R Us)


2nd Place: $250 worth in prizes

An autographed copy of Sonia Sanchez’s book

(Gift card: Barnes & Noble, Scrabble, Toys R Us)


3rd place: $150 worth in prizes

An autographed copy of Sonia Sanchez’s book

Fan’s Choice: $50 worth in prizes

An autographed copy of Sonia Sanchez’s book

Gift Card (Barnes & Noble, Staples, Toys R US)

How to Enter:
• Submission must be original
and never published.
• No purchase or payment
necessary to enter or win.
• Online submission can be
submitted at
• Mail entries to:
Haikudelphia Poetry Contest
Newspapers In Education Dept.
400 N Broad Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19130

What is a Haiku?

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that consists of three short lines containing only 17 syllables. The first line of a Haiku is only 5 syllables, the second line only seven 7 syllables, and the third line 5 syllables. The theme for your Haiku in this contest is Civil Rights. The great challenge in writing a Haiku is creating imagery and meaning in only 17 syllables over 3 lines of poetry, so pick your grammar wisely!In the late 1600’s, Basho Matsuo, who is known as the first great poet of Haiku, wrote this example:

An old silent pond...

A frog jumps into the pond,

splash! Silence again.

Good luck!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine For Lucille Clifton

I have the perfect Valentine for you-the poetry of Lucille Clifton. She died yesterday and I feel so honored and blessed to have met her and to have heard her say her own words. She is-I purposely use the present tense because she lives on through her poetry- a fierce woman who celebrates the complex journey of being a woman. Here are a few of my favorite poems by her and here is a link to more of her work.

Above is a painting by Kadir Nelson, who is one of the best book illustrators. ( Do check him out.) This painting is called Be Giving and that’s what Ms. Clifton’s poetry does for young girls like me. It gives us a sense of ourselves, of what’s to come and a rope to hold on to when we might loose our footing.

Lucille Clifton invites us to love ourselves.
Happy Valentine’s Day.

won't you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

wishes for sons
by Lucille Clifton

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
i wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.

Telling Our Stories

By Lucille Clifton

The fox came every evening

to my door asking for nothing.

my fear trapped me inside,

hoping to dismiss her but

she sat till morning, waiting.

At dawn we would, each of us,

rise from our haunches,

look through the glass

then walk away.

Did she gather her village around

her and sing of the hairless moon face,

the trembling snout,

the ignorant eyes?

Child, i tell you now it was not

the animal blood i was hiding from,

it was the poet in her,

the poet and the terrible stories

she could tell.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Come Aboard the Love Train for Valentine's Day

Looking for a different take on Valentine’s Day in the form of public art? A phenomenal series of events by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program will highlight the renowned Love Letter project, by artist Stephen Powers. An exhibit, public tour, and special Love Train event will take place February 12-14, 2010.

A collaboration with internationally-renowned artist Stephen Powers, Love Letter is a series of over 50 rooftop murals and street-level signs in and around the Market Street corridor in West Philadelphia, spanning from 46th Street through 63rd Street – created during the summer of 2009. The complete work of art and corresponding film, collectively titled Love Letter, are unlike anything Philadelphia has ever seen from its public art in terms of size, scope, ambition, and universal appeal. The murals are artistically-designed text, mostly seen from the elevated train along the upper levels of row homes and businesses along Market Street in West Philadelphia. They read like love notes from a boy to his unrequited love, in non-sequential messages, like analog versions of modern-day text messages.

Events will begin on Friday, February 12, 2010, with the exhibit Opening of Love Letter. An exhibition of sketches, found objects associated with the project, and some personal work by artist Stephen Powers will be on display through February 28 at 1226 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The Opening Reception will take place on February 12 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm and is free and open to the public.

On Saturday, February 13, 2010, tickets are available for the Love Letter Public Tour, the weekly scheduled public tour of Love Letter at 10 am. The tours depart from the LOVE Park Visitor Center in JFK Park, 1600 JFK Blvd., for a ride on the El train accompanied by a Mural Arts Program tour guide. Tour passengers will learn intimate details about the project and specific murals along the way. Space is limited, and reservations are required. The cost is $17 per person, which includes the SEPTA train token. Reservations are required by calling 215-685-0754 as space is limited. The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is now offering these tours of Love Letter every Saturday from 10 – 11:30 am.

The Love Train will be the culminating event of the weekend, on Sunday, February 14, Valentine’s Day. Love Train is an exclusive 5 m.p.h. tour aboard a privately-chartered, festively-decorated, SEPTA El Train to view Love Letter, with commentary provided by a special guest. The tour will be followed by a private reception at SEPTA’s grand mezzanine to celebrate the spirit of love with hors d’oeuvres and champagne. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is sure to impress. Love Train departs at 3 pm from the LOVE Park Visitor Center in JFK Park, 1600 JFK Blvd., on February 14. Tickets are $40 per person, $75 per couple. Space is limited and reservations are required. Tickets can be purchased at 215-685-0754.

The Love Train event is a partnership between SEPTA and the Mural Arts Program. In conjunction with the event, SEPTA sponsored a love promotion-Did You Find Love on SEPTA? SEPTA ran a contest where riders submitted their SEPTA love stories about how they found new loves or re-connected with lost loves while riding on a train, bus, or trolley. The winners of this contest will be invited to ride the Love Train and attend the VIP reception on February 14.

The primary creative force behind the project, Stephen Powers, was born and raised in Philadelphia and spent several years as a youth painting graffiti on these rooftops. Powers opened his art studio in January of 1998. Since then, he has shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Deitch Projects, the 49th Venice Biennale, and the Luggage Store in San Francisco. As a 2008 Fulbright Scholar, Powers painted a love story in the streets of Dublin and Belfast.

For this project, Powers returned to paint Love Letter across the very same rooftops under which he came of age in Philadelphia. The driving concept behind the project and film is the story of a boy writing on walls to win the heart of a girl who rides the el train through West Philadelphia each day. He leaves her a “love letter” along the roofs of the buildings that are visible from the train, in hopes that she will see them, and they can be together. The work functions both as a love story between two young adults and a beautiful proclamation of an artist’s love for his city, his neighborhood, and the trains that are a part of its core. In Powers’s own words, the project is a “love letter meant for one but with meaning for all.” The film will be directed by Joey Garfield, a long time Stephen Powers collaborator, and will be produced by New York City-based production company Ghost Robot.

As part of the project, the artist and the Mural Arts Program created a sign-painting enterprise as a jobs training program for young people in the neighborhood, while providing businesses with much-needed signage. In addition, the project employed community residents to paint signs and murals throughout the summer.

For more information about these events contact Mural Arts at 215-685-0754.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Look for Sweet Honey in the Rock This Spring

Due to this gorgeous snowstorm, Sweet Honey in the Rock will not perform today at the Kimmel Center. Their concert has been rescheduled for Friday, May 7, 2010. I’ll keep you posted. Listen to Sweet Honey sing No Mirrors in My Nana’s House and watch this so cute animation of this song. Here’s the link.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sweet Honey in the Rock at the Kimmel Center

I first learned of the writer/philosopher Khalil Gibran from my mother’s friend, Mrs. Asmar. She was from Lebanon but had lived in Cote d’Ivoire for many years, including the time my family was there. She was very proud of the work of Khalil Gibran and because he, too, was from Lebanon. What I vividly remember is my mother reading his On Children to me, a six-year old and I could not understand it. She then got out her Sweet Honey in the Rock albums, not CD’s ,and she played their interpretation of On Children and I got it. And it is a piece of literature that I treasure and still share. This post is for you-Mr. and Mrs. Asmar.

Give a listen to Sweet Honey in the Rock, who will perform on Saturday, February 6, 2010 , 3:00 p.m., at the Kimmel Center, in Philadelphia. They will take your breath away.

On Children:

Breaths :

Would You Harbor Me:

The Kimmel Center
260 South Broad Street
Philadelphia,PA 19102

Happy Birthday Norman Rockwell-Thank You Ruby Bridges

I’m writing this post quickly so I won’t miss my school bus. Today is Norman Rockwell’s birthday. I’m sure you’ve seen many of his illustrations before, even if you’re not familiar with his name. Mr. Rockwell created the illustrations for the covers of the Saturday Evening Post magazine for years. His signature theme was small-town, white America. Even a little, postmodern, inner-city brown girl like me can appreciate his work. But it is Mr. Rockwell’s painting of The Problem We All Live With that earned him a place in my heart. He recognized that the United States had an ugly, racist side that had to be exposed. In The Problem We All Live With, Rockwell shows Ruby Bridges, a little seven-year old, African-America girl being escorted to school by US Federal Marshalls. This was during the early 1960’s in New Orleans. Each day, this little girl, as she entered school had to contend with hundreds of white adults screaming racial slurs at her and telling her she didn’t belong at an all-white school.

Check out Mr. Rockwell’s painting. Look at the tomato thrown against the wall. Mr. Rockwell made that tomato, that object of hatred, rise into an eagle of hope. Today, I say happy birthday to Mr. Rockwell and I’m giving a big thank you to Ruby Bridges for paving the way for me to get a quality education.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sonia Sanchez Reads At Free Library of Philadelphia-Feb. 2, 2010

I recently won an essay contest in which I wrote about how Sonia Sanchez inspires me as an activist writer. I am so blessed to live in a city in which I have access to the best and most respected writers in the world; writers like Ms. Sanchez. Those who are familiar with my writing style know I always aim to celebrate what many see as not worthy of celebration. Ms. Sanchez is definitely one of my literary role models.

I invite you to come and hear who Maya Angelou describes as a lion in the literary forest. Sonia Sanchez will read tomorrow, February 2, 2010, at the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. She will read from her new work entitled Morning Haiku. This event is free and open to the public. Come and hear a giant!

Sonia Sanchez
February 2, 2010
Free Library of Philadelphia/Central Branch
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103