MacDowell - Urban Word Present Evening of Afro-Latinx Poetry

- February 11, 2020

Type: Press Releases, Artist News, Events

(From left): Jennifer Martinez, MacDowell Fellow and award-winning poet John Murillo. and James Lherisson will read their poetry and discuss the form at MacDowell NYC in Chelsea.

(From left): Jennifer Martinez, MacDowell Fellow and award-winning poet John Murillo. and James Lherisson will read their poetry and discuss the form at MacDowell NYC in Chelsea.

This Afro-Latinx Poetry Salon pairs literary figures with teen poets as part of yearlong series exploring disciplines practiced by artists at MacDowell in Peterborough, NH.

On Saturday, February 29, The MacDowell Colony joins Urban Word NYC to present MacDowell Fellow and award-winning poet John Murillo with two emerging teen poets from Urban Word NYC, Jennifer Martinez and James Lherisson, in a reading and discussion to celebrate Afro-Latinx poets at MacDowell NYC in Chelsea.

The event, the second in MacDowell’s year-long salon series "Spark & Illumination" and the 2020 installment of Urban Word’s "Page Meets Stage: The Crossover," is supported by the popular New York City poetry series "Page Meets Stage" and will be hosted by MacDowell Fellow, board member, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Vijay Seshadri. "The Crossover" is a reading series that pairs teen poets with esteemed literary figures and is hosted by organizations committed to creating spaces for communities underrepresented in American letters. The MacDowell Colony, founded in 1907 to nurture creators of every discipline, has supported poets at every stage of their careers by providing them with time and space to make work.

“There are certainly parallels between Urban Word and MacDowell. Each provides critical support to writers at crucial points in their development, and each, in its way, provides a touchstone, a home for said writers,” says John Murillo. “I wrote and edited numerous poems in my forthcoming second collection, Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry, at MacDowell, and I couldn’t imagine the collection coming together the way it did without a MacDowell Fellowship.”

“MacDowell embraces the eclectic landscape of artists who are making new work across seven creative disciplines and we are thrilled to partner with Urban Word, which supports 25,000 emerging teen authors across New York City each year,” says Executive Director Philip Himberg. “Many of these young poets will be future MacDowell Fellows, and MacDowell has a unique responsibility and opportunity to provide a platform to these dynamic young voices of our democracy.”

The event is free, but tickets are limited. Previous organizations that have collaborated with Urban Word to create "The Crossover" include Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Kundiman, Lambda Literary, and Apicha Community Health Center.

For tickets and additional information, go to the event's registration page.

The next event in the 2020 MacDowell NYC Salon Series takes place on March 12 when MacDowell presents "The Afro-Cubanism of Aruán Ortiz: From Contemporary Chamber Music to Avant-Garde Jazz." This evening of acoustic performances cocurated by MacDowell Colony board member and Fellow Tania León along with board member and WQXR personality Terrance McKnight offers a multilayered look into the Latin American/American musical influences and connections of composer Aruán Ortiz.


John Murillo is the author of the poetry collections Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010), which is a finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award and will be reissued in 2020 from Four Way Books, and the forthcoming Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books 2020). His honors include a Pushcart Prize, the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, in addition to numerous fellowships. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and The Best American Poetry series 2017 and 2019 volumes. He is an assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University and also teaches in the low residency M.F.A. program at Sierra Nevada College.

Jennifer Martinez is a senior at the Cinema School in the Bronx and is a finalist for New York City’s Youth Poet Laureate title.

James Lherisson is a freshman at Hunter College and is a member of Urban Word NYC’s Youth Leadership Council.

Urban Word NYC
Urban Word NYC serves aspiring young writers from across New York City’s five boroughs. Its target population reflects the makeup of the public institutions from which they are largely drawn (40% African American, 20% Latino, 18% Asian/Pacific Islander, 15% White, 5% Middle Eastern and 2% Other), more than 95% of whom attend Title I schools (free or reduced lunch). In addition, UW also serves youth in homeless shelters or alternative incarceration facilities and hosts events for young people in a range of community centers, religious spaces, and commercial venues across the city.