What We Bring: A Collaborative Performance Piece

What We Bring: A Collaborative Performance Piece

What We Bring is a collaborative, multimedia ensemble performance piece that utilizes projected images, video, text, lighting, as well as soundscapes and live music to tell five distinct and braided stories. It presents the journeys of five immigrant artists–Yahaya Kamate, Héctor Morales, Sahar Muradi, Malini Srinivasan, and Lu Yu–who immigrated or whose families immigrated to the U.S., following the 1965 immigration reform law. Each artist’s story of migration is interweaved with the art tradition they brought with them, symbolized by a precious object. “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 performance is part of City Lore’s current exhibit, What We Bring: New Immigrant Gifts.



Teatro Sea, Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center, 107 Suffolk Street, NY, NY

Price: $15


What We Bring to Jazz: International Contributions to America’s Classical Music

What We Bring to Jazz: International Contributions to America’s Classical Music

A dialogue and performance with Carolina Calvache, Alma Micic, and Héctor Morales bringing Colombian, Serbian and Peruvian perspectives on jazz.  Curated by Tom van Buren.

Hector Morales

Carolina Calvache

Alma Micic










This program is part of City Lore’s current exhibit, What We Bring: New Immigrant Gifts.

Price: $10

Isle of Klezbos: Isle of Manhattan 20th Anniversary All Gal Sextet Concert

Part of the Isle of Klezbos: Isle of Manhattan 20th Anniversary Sextet Concert Series.

Celebrate ISLE of KLEZBOS 20th Anniversary & Spring at CityLore! We’ll feature all six gals to perform literally two blocks from where our band played its very first show two decades ago. In 1998, we brought the new group to debut at CB’s 313 Gallery (the folkier sister club two doors down from CBGB’s). Join us for an evening of music, refreshments & fun — and brand new repertoire as well as traditional and unorthodox favorites. Come enjoy the full sextet:

Debra Kreisberg – clarinet & alto saxophone
Pam Fleming – trumpet & flugelhorn
Melissa Fogarty – vocals
Shoko Nagai – accordion & keyboard
Saskia Lane – double bass
Eve Sicular – drums |bandleader

Tickets on sale soon! Keep an eye on this event, save the date & spread the word. Seating is limited & CityLore is the New York Center for Urban Culture, we’re honored to finally make our premiere appearance in their gallery performance space in the heart of the East Village, so close to our Yiddish Rialto reminiscences & queer roots too.


“Isle of Klezbos: Isle of Manhattan! 20th Anniversary Sextet Concerts” 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 the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. http://LMCC.net/
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Lower Manhattan and beyond.

Thanks also to our fiscal sponsor, JFREJ: Jews for Racial & Economic Justice http://jfrej.org/

ISLE of KLEZBOS photo by Angela Jimenez.


Storytelling Cafe: All Things Dumplings

Storytelling Cafe: All Things Dumplings

Tuesday, May 8th, 7-9pm  

Price: $20, includes taste samplings

Join us for a delicious evening of dumplings and stories from around the world! Chefs from four different regions of the globe share their dumpling-making traditions and the bounty of their kitchens. A panel discussion will be followed by a buffet featuring vegetarian and non-vegetarian selections.

We are working with
Cafe Dushanbe, Tajik chef Imomov Olim making Manti.

Vaselka, chef Olesia Lew making Ukranian Pierogies

Yelka Kamara making patties from Sierra Leon

and Cafe Himalaya providing momo.

Click HERE for Tickets!!

Bronx Rising! Tribute to San Jordi Day

Bronx Rising! Tribute to San Jordi Day

Jazz Appreciation & National Poetry Month

Saturday, April 21, 2018

7:00 – 9:00PM

In Catalonia, Spain San Jordi Day is celebrated on April 23rd by giving gifts of books and roses. For this program, we will give out books to readers of all ages. As that day is also the birthday of Cervantes and Shakespeare, poetry is also recognized, so poet Rebecca Rivera will recite poetry inspired by these masters. This will be followed by another installment of our Maxine Sullivan Women in Jazz series, where we present music by Poems & Strings led by pianist Carolina Calvache. Carolina is featured in City Lore’s exhibit, What We Bring. This special performance is in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month & National Poetry Month.


BMHC Lab 1303 Louis Nine Blvd Bronx NY

Sheyr Jangi: Lineages of Survival (Reading & Game)

Sheyr Jangi: Lineages of Survival (Reading & Game)

The Afghan tradition of the poetic duel is called “sheyr jangi,” or “poetry fighting,” and has its roots in the early medieval Central Asian courts. We pay homage to this tradition–but with a twist. We have curated a “deck” of poems by classical poets writing in Arabic, Farsi/Persian, Turkish/Turkic, and Urdu. Our 7 poets, who come from these lineages, will first read from their own work, then they’ll battle the literary ancestors of the card deck–with the audience’s help. Audience members will also be invited to join in the jangi. Poets: Majda Gama, Rami Karim, Aurora Masum-Javed, Sahar Muradi, Sham-e-Ali Nayeem, Zohra Saed, and Purvi Shah.


**Sheyr Jangi is a collaboration between City Lore and Ping Chong + Company. This special performance will be part of the 2018 Split this Rock Poetry Festival in Washington, D.C.


For ticketing information, please see festival registration at:  http://www.splitthisrock.org/                               


Spring Burial

Spring Burial:

The Legend of the Service Tree


Poetry of Everyday Life Blogpost #9


Service Tree in bloom, courtesy New York Botanical Garden

“We grew up thinking that if there wasn’t pavement under our feet, we were lost,” Marc Kaminsky said, as he sat with his longtime friend George Getzel, who lay dying in a hospital bed at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, talking about spring. They were two Bronx kids. Now, two aging, brilliant intellectuals, they knew each other from their time at Hunter College School of Social Work in the ’70s. Struck by George’s tranquility in the face of mortality, Marc asked his friend, filmmaker Menacham Daum to videotape their conversation, and sent a copy to me.

In his better days, George told Marc, he’d loved to visit the New York Botanical Garden in all four seasons. Each time it would be a totally different world—the garden was a symbol of nature and birth and growth and decay.

“You discover this natural world,” Marc remarked. “You take this literal fact and use it as a symbol of immortal life.”

“I was especially close to the Service Tree,” George continued. “It’s an indigenous tree in northeast America. It’s a tree that’s barely a tree—it might be considered a bush—but it’s a tree. It actually fruits, it has a sweet little fruit that comes out of it when the spring warms up, but it’s the first tree that blossoms in the woods. It has soft, large flower petals, light pinkish-white, and if you can reach out and smell it, the tree has the most delicate perfume—really beautiful. It only grows when the earth around it is unfrozen.

Service Tree blossom, courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden

“Our ancestors—at least the ones in North America—had a real problem when people died during the winter, because they couldn’t bury them; the ground was too hard. So what they did was wait till the Service Tree bloomed, and then they knew they could bury the dead because the ground was soft enough. Otherwise the bodies would have to be kept in coffins stacked in barns. That touched me deeply.

“So for the last few years, when I could still walk, I’d been trying to hit one of my holy places—the Service Tree. I would go into the Bronx botanical garden to walk on a trail through fifty acres of virgin forest that had never been cut, and there is the Service Tree, and I try—it has a life of flowering of, like, three days—so I always try to imagine, ‘Is the ground soft?’ ‘Will I make it?’ And sometimes I make it and sometimes I don’t, and the Service Tree’s spent flowers are on the ground, but I think that it is emblematic of my notion of immortality in life: a brief time, a beautiful fragrance, and then passing, disintegrating, falling to the ground, and renewal.”

Alone with his mortality in the hospital late one night, George spontaneously texted Marc some of his spiritual musings. Marc later lined the text out as a poem. It ended:

Humankind calls out for compassion
For one’s self and then the other
The spent perfume of the petals
Of the Service Tree
Fall to the forest bottom
When earth loses its chill

“The last four lines” Marc told him, “sound like the poem that Zen priests wrote just before they died.” It was as if George were musing about an eternal spring, with ground soft enough to accept his body, a universe that still had a place for him even after his death.

George Getzel

So here I am in bed, and I’m fading away, I’m losing weight, there are changes, and people visit me and they say, ‘I really want to go to the botanical gardens with you,’ and then a little sadness comes over me—’cause that’s not possible anymore.”

George was a faculty member at the Hunter College School of Social Work, now the Silberman School of Social Work for more than 30 years. As someone who avoided the limelight, he wouldn’t have wanted anyone to walk in his footsteps. “If anything I do is truly worthwhile in my eyes or in the world’s eyes, I don’t want to be copied,” he said. “I just don’t want it—I’m me, you’re you. But I do want to inspire.”

And so as spring rolls around after a bitter winter, I was inspired to call the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and asked if they knew about Service Tree. The garden arranged for horticulturalist Jessica Schuler, Director of the Thain Family Forest, to meet my wife and me at the reflecting pool the next Saturday. We traveled into the woods she knew so well and we stood in front of the tree George had loved. Though it was the first beautiful day of spring, the Service Tree had just a tiny splash of pink on the buds. Perhaps the ground wasn’t yet soft enough to bury the dead.

Checking for blossoms on the Service Tree, photo by Amanda Dargan

I told Jessica about George, whom I never met, and his metaphorical interpretation of the Service Tree. Jessica told us the tree’s Latin name was Amelanchier arboria, but that it had had a variety of common names and etymologies in early North America. When it was planted by grew by the river, it was called “shadbush,” because it bloomed when the shad would run. It was also called “Juneberry,” because it often bloomed in June. And it was called “Service Tree,” because it bloomed when the ground was no longer frozen and it was time to bury the dead and hold a service.

Back in the hospital room, Marc felt that the space around himself and George was getting greater and greater, and that on the other side of that space was death, but that the space of life was also growing greater. George continued to express his deep and thoughtful perspective on life in the face of imminent mortality, making connections between blossoming and withering, growth and decay. “I remember holding my wife’s hand when she was dying,” George told Marc, “and having a great sense of intimacy, the same as when I held my hand over her belly when she was pregnant. There’s this mixture. Even in the face of the grim realities of life that nauseate you and shatter your dreams, I’ve found—with difficulty—deeper meaning.

“We all hold down to something that we would hope would have permanence,” he continued. “Something that would lead us beyond our grave and have something of eternity tied to it. We discover that the idol—be it money, position, your own children, the neighborhood you live in—it’s not forever and it falls apart and isn’t what you thought it was when you were a young man. It becomes moth-eaten and dissipates, and then with that—and here is where I think the faith of an older person, the circumstance of an older person, is useful—it’s followed by new growth, new possibilities.”

George Getzel died on January 7, 2018. The Service Tree he loved so well will bloom again this spring.


“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 steve@citylore.org. 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.


What We Bring! Exhibit Opening

Join City lore in Presenting:

What We Bring: New Immigrant Gifts adds to the national dialogue on immigration, bringing in to focus the cultural contributions of new immigrants.  With this exhibition, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act, implemented in 1968, which inaugurated a new era of immigration from Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. What We Bring celebrates the rich layers of creativity, tradition, and increased cultural diversity that the law set in motion, especially in New York City, where 6-in- 10 residents are first generation or the children of immigrants.


Opening Reception: Friday, April 6th from 6-9 PM
Exhibit Dates:  April 6th – September 16th, 2018
Gallery Hours:
Fri: 2 – 6pm
Sat – Sun: 12 – 6pm



Bronx Rising! In The Spirit of Aña: Adukeiras and Batukadeiras

In honor of Women’s History Month, we celebrate the traditional rhythms and sounds of the Adukeiras and Batukadeiras. The Adufe is the frame drum that is traditionally played by groups of women in the Iberian Peninsula. In this case, in the interior of Portugal. The adufeiras are the symbols of women’s roles as the “messengers” of the ancestors. Batuku is a Cape Verdean rhythm also played by groups of women, which carries the rhythmic subdivisions used by the adufeiras, as well as a call & response typical to African music. Presented by Catarina Dos Santos and Marcy DePina, with Maria Rodrigues and other musical guests.

Yalizsa Bakes! will be in the house to sell her awesome snacks.

Admission fee: $7 | $5 for students and seniors | FREE for IG residents and kids 12 – under.
Co-sponsored by Bronx Music Heritage Center.

RESISTANCE! Exhibition Closing Reception


Resistance: a word that has urgent relevance to events past and present. This past Yiddish New York, curators Deborah Ugoretz and Tine Kindermann invited contemporary New York-area artists to participate in a timely dialogue: What defines resistance?

Join us for the closing reception of this stunning exhibit, featuring Tine Kindermann and Josh Waletzky performing a special program of songs of resistance. More performers and programming TBA!


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