Bronx Rising! Salute to Fania

Another chapter of our ‘Conversations with the Masters,’ featuring an onstage interview with legendary FANIA conguero and Bronx native Eddie Montalvo, followed by a concert with Zoilapianista Martinez and her Latin Sound Band, paying tribute to Fania‘s Papo Lucca.

Admission: $7 | $5 for students and seniors | FREE for kids 12 – under + IG residents.

Lcated steps from the 2/5 train at Freeman St. Parking accessible.

Part of the The Bronx Tourism Council’s Salsa Fest: a month-long, borough-wide annual celebration of Salsa, the musical genre with roots in The Bronx. Co-sponsor: City Lore.


Sufi Songs: Crosscurrents in Persian and Turkish Classical Music at Poets House

City Lore and Poets House


Amir Vahab & Ensemble in  

Sufi Songs: Crosscurrents in Persian and Turkish Classical Music

An outdoor concert of poetry and song


Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at 7:00pm

Poets House

10 River Terrace


Amir Vahab, called the “ambassador for a silenced music,” by the New York Times is joined by his Ensemble for an evening of Sufi poetry and song. They will perform classical Persian and Ottoman pieces, including works by Rumi, Hafiz, Baba Taher, Yunus Emre, and more. 


This program is part of City Lore’s summer educator institute A Reverence for Words: Understanding Muslim Cultures through the Arts, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and part of Ping Chong + Company’s Beyond Sacred National Initiative, supported by the Building Bridges Program, the grant-making arm of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.



Amir Alan Vahab is one of New York’s most celebrated and distinguished composer-vocalists of Sufi and folk music. He sings in many different languages with a unique mystical style. As an instrumentalist, he plays and teaches the tanbour, saz, oud, ney, daf, and zarb. Amir Vahab’s music is rooted in tradition, but has been influenced by contemporary sounds. He has played before audiences ranging from select private shows to crowds of 6,000 people and has composed eclectic music for theatre, film, and performed for several television and radio stations in the United States. He has recorded seven albums and is currently teaching and lecturing private and group classes in universities, libraries, museums, and cultural centers, and organizes music therapy and sound healing workshops.




Live from the POEMobile – Poems on Steam

Poetry of Everyday Life Blogpost #10

My friend and possibly distant cousin, Ariel Zeitlin, expressed the view of many of us when she quipped, “You may be living over a hot air grate, but at least you’re in New York.” I’ve always been fascinated with the steam that billows out from the underground in New York, on and around which many homeless souls have found some cold winter warmth. To me it suggests that the hallowed ground beneath our New York City footsteps is bubbling and gurgling like a witches’ caldron, an orgy of passion or the fires of hell – mirroring the teeming life of the city above.

But for Chris Jordan, who spends his time thinking and imagining and projecting light both from his luminous soul and the hi tech projectors he owns and thinks so much about, the steam from the streets was just another challenging surface to project upon.

And for our poetry team – Bob Holman and Sahar Muradi and myself –the intermingling of words, light and steam was away to express the fleeting evanescence of life.

Ride with us in the POEMobile and watch it now before the steam disappears into the ether.



“By showing us that poetry lives everywhere,” writes Bob Holman in the preface to Zeitlin’s new book, The Poetry of Everyday Life: Storytelling and the Art of Awareness, “Steve seems to make the whole world into a poem, with all of us collaborating daily in the writing of it.” If you like the blog, you’ll love the book. Click here to purchase.

Please email your thoughts, stories and responses about the poetic side of life to This monthly post continues to tap into the poetic side of what we often take for granted: the stories we tell, the people we love, the metaphors used by scientists, even our sex lives. I chronicle the poetic moments in life and also look at how we all use poetry in our daily lives. I am a folklorist, and I want to hear from you—because that’s where all the best material comes from. For more information about The Poetry of Everyday Life published by Cornell click here.



Poetic Duels: Sheyr Jangi

 Join us for a reading featuring poetry by Marwa Helal, Haleh Liza, Jess Rizkallah, and Adeeba Shahid Talukder, followed by a poetic game. “Sheyr Jangi,” poetry fighting, is the Afghan version of the poetic duel. Tonight we pay homage to this tradition—but with a twist. We have curated a “deck” of poems by classical and contemporary poets writing in Arabic, Persian, Turkic, and Urdu. The featured poets and audience will be invited to battle these literary ancestors!

This program, curated by Zohra Saed and Sahar Muradi, is part of City Lore’s Summer Educators Institute A Reverence for Words: Understanding Muslim Cultures Through the Arts, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and part of Ping Chong + Company‘s Beyond Sacred National Initiative, supported bu the Building Bridges Program, the grant-making arm of The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Featured Poets


Marwa Helal is a poet and journalist. Her work appears in Apogee, Hyperallergic, Poets & Writers and elsewhere. She is the author of I AM MADE TO LEAVE I AM MADE TO RETURN (No, Dear/Small Anchor Press, 2017) and Invasive species (Nightboat Books, 2019). Helal is the winner of BOMB Magazine’s Biennial 2016 Poetry Contest and has been awarded fellowships from Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, and Cave Canem. She has presented her work at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Studio Museum in Harlem and Brooklyn Museum. Born in Al Mansurah, Egypt, Helal currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Haleh Liza Gafori is a vocalist, poet, and translator, born in NYC, of Iranian descent. Her poems have been published by Columbia University Press and Rattapallax Press. As a vocalist, she enjoys singing in Persian, English, and Spanish, and has performed at various venues including Lincoln Center, WorldFest, the Bonnaroo Festival, and Carnegie Hall.  Haleh is currently translating a series of ghazals by the Persian mystical poet Rumi, and composing a body of poems in response. She lives in Brooklyn, where she writes, performs, teaches, and facilitates circles where people gather to explore, discuss, and sing select poems and songs. Haleh received her MFA in Poetry from CCNY, and her BS in Biological Sciences from Stanford University.


Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a Pakistani American poet, translator, and singer. She translates Urdu and Persian poetry, and cannot help but bring elements from these worlds to her own work in English. She is the author of What Is Not Beautiful (Glass Poetry Press, 2018). Her book Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved, forthcoming through Tupelo Press, is a winner of the Kundiman Prize. A Best of the Net finalist and a Pushcart nominee, Adeeba holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and is a Poets House 2017 Emerging Poets Fellow.


Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American writer from Massachusetts. She has an MFA in Poetry from NYU & is founding editor at Maps For Teeth magazine and pizza pi press. Her collection THE MAGIC MY BODY BECOMES won the 2017 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize as awarded by the Radius of Arab-American Writers and University of Arkansas Press. Find her at

Storytelling Cafe: Going Bananas!

Storytelling Cafe: Going Bananas!

Food & Identity in the African Diaspora

Thursday, July 12th, 7pm

Price: $20, includes taste samplings 


This event will chart the course of the versatile starch, the plantain, as it has traveled from Africa to the western hemisphere.  In particular we will look at foods based on plantain mash that derive from the various west African fufu dishes–mangú from the Dominican Republic, mofongo from Puerto Rico and hudutu from the Garifuna community.  The presenters will discuss how they prepare the food and what it means to them and their families.  Merelis Catalina Ortíz (Dominican Republic), Yalizsa Suren (Puerto Rico) and Julia Melissa Velazquez (Garifuna/Honduras).  The discussion will be followed by a tasting of food samples and a short performance by the Wabafu Garifuna Dance Theater as they perform pieces that incorporate the utensils used in the preparation of hudutu.

Luz Soliz is the director of the Wabafu Garifuna Dance Theater and is featured in City Lore’s current exhibit, What We Bring: New Immigrant Gifts


Wild Geese Sorrow: “The Chinese Wall Inscriptions at Angel Island.”

Wild Geese Sorrow: “The Chinese Wall Inscriptions at Angel Island.”

Reading and Talk
(New translations by Jeffrey Thomas Leong) 
Bay Area poet and writer Jeffrey Thomas Leong shares his mesmerizing new book, Wild Geese Sorrow: The Chinese Wall Inscriptions at Angel Island.

The first new translation in almost 40 years, Wild Geese Sorrow takes readers through the deep anger, sorrow, and loneliness felt by the Chinese immigrant detainees at the Angel Island Immigration Station between 1910-1940. Sequenced to narrate the detainee experience, the poems tell of arrival, long detentions, medical exams, political outrage, and for some, deportation. Readers will learn about a critical period of American immigrant history, so essential to our contemporary policy debates.

This coming Thursday 6/28 at 7pm. – Free

Bronx Rising! Festival of the Sun

Join us as we celebrate and learn about the Andean Summer Solstice (Inti Raymi/Fiesta del Sol) in the Bronx. The program will open with a presentation of Inti Raymi by Fabian Muenala which will be conducted in Kichwa and Spanish. There will be a music performance by Kaylla and dance performances by Kichwa Nation and Grupo Danza Indigena de Saraguro.

Bronx Music Heritage Center is located steps from the 2/5 train at Freeman St. Parking accessible.

Admission: $7 | $5 for students and seniors | FREE for IG residents and kids 12 – under.

Part of the South Bronx Culture Trail produced by Casita Maria Center For Arts & EducationDancing in the Streets, and the Bronx Music Heritage Center.

The Drum and the Seed, A Haitian Odyssey

The Drum and the Seed

Ti Zwazo’s wicked stepmother has put the child to an impossible task: go to the house of the Spirit of Death and bring home his most vital secret. On her journey she meets three nature spirits and a magic bird, each of whom helps her win entrance to the underworld—and the secret. Can she use this sacred knowledge to bring life back to her dying village?

Find out when Makandal presents a reading of this neo-folktale of struggle, hope, and respect for Earth. With art by Kesler Pierre.

The Drum and the Seed, A Haitian Odyssey
Friday, 22 June, 7:00 pm
The City Lore Gallery, 56 East 1st Street, Manhattan
Map and directions here

Admission:  $10
Advance purchase recommended as seating is limited (BUY)

Featured Image: The House of Bawon Samdi, guardian of the cemetery and keeper of the cycle of birth, death, and regeneration. Created by Kesler Pierre for The Drum and the Seed.

This program is supported by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

What We Bring: Stories of Migration (Abbreviated Version)

What We Bring: A Collaborative Performance Piece (Abbreviated Version)


This abbreviated version of What We Bring (see above) presents the journeys of three artists–Yahaya Kamata, Héctor Morales, and Malini Srinivasan–who immigrated or whose families immigrated to the U.S., following the 1965 immigration reform law. Each artist’s story of migration is interwoven with performance of the art tradition they brought with them. “What We Bring” aims to add to the public discourse on immigration by de-centering the focus on the economic contributions of new immigrants to honoring their remarkable cultural contributions and influences. Directed by George Zavala.

This special outdoor performance is in conjunction with Madison Square Park Conservancy’s public art program Delirious Matter, featuring the work of artist Diana Al-Hadid.

City As Muse: What You Bring

SATURDAYS, from 2-5 PM

 JUNE 2, 9, 16, 23, 2018

City Lore Gallery 

56 E 1st St, New York, New York 10003

Dramatize and perform memories and interactions with NYC landmarks and characters–actual or fictional–in this four-weekend theatre/playwriting workshop for all ages and abilities!

Taught by Playwriting, Directing and Dramaturgy team

In conjunction with City Lore’s current exhibition, What We Bring: New Immigrant GiftsAlvin Eng and Wendy Wasdahl will lead City As Muse–What You Bring. With NYC as muse and theatre/playwriting as medium, a unique opportunity to engage personal histories in a dramatic dialogue with NYC’s artistic, cultural and social legacy. Learning fundamentals of playwriting, acting/improvisation and collaborative ensemble work, workshop participants will create and perform short dramatic monologues and scenes. Create and collaborate on the page and the stage! Alvin Eng and Wendy Wasdahl are a NYC-based Playwright, Director and Dramaturg team specializing in new play development and theatre education workshops for all levels and ages. They have presented plays and led workshops throughout NYC and the U.S., as well as in Paris, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China.

Tuition is $50 for all four sessions

CITY AS MUSE is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement / Creative Learning, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

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