The Harlem World Magazine Reading Series Part One got off to an exciting start on December 4th 2015 at Sister’s Uptown Bookstore, 1942 Amsterdam Avenue, Harlem, New York.
We asked the participants to give their impressions:
J.P. Howard author of Say/Mirror
I enjoyed the diversity of the featured authors and learning about the process that went into writing each of the authors’ books. I especially appreciated the feedback I received at the end of the reading and was moved to know that so many of the pieces I had selected, resonated with multiple people. The reading occurred just a few days after my beloved mother, Ruth King, a well-known Harlem model of the 1940’s and 1950’s, passed away. I knew it would be particularly challenging to read from my debut poetry collection, Say/Mirror (The Operating System, 2015), as it explores the mother/daughter relationship with my own mother via poetry, memoir and the use of my mother’s vintage photos.
What I didn’t expect and what was most memorable was how the experience of sharing the recent loss of my mother, along with poems that explored our relationship, served a cathartic purpose both for me and for some members of the audience. In sharing our pain and our personal experiences, we learned that we are not alone and that there is often a universal connection. So many people came up to me after the program to say that my poems/experiences reminded them of their own childhood experiences, thus connecting us via the power of poetry.
CC Minton, author of Daddy’s Greek Potato Pie
Sister’s Uptown is a gem in the community. It creates a warm and cozy feel surrounding books. The guests who attended were engaged in the conversation and the story of Daddy’s Greek Potato Pie I’m happy that they found parts of the story funny and giggled just like kids do.
I was impressed with Eartha Watts Hicks’s history of how she got started and the advice she gave on being a first time author. I’m in the process of writing a new book so it was definitely food for thought.
I am also inspired by J.P. Howard’s strength. The passing of her mom earlier in the week shows the commitment she has to her craft and how her mother inspired her over the years as a model and more.
Dontré did an awesome job facilitating the conversation between the audience and me. I felt so comfortable with him in answering the questions, I wondered if we had met before.
Lil’s pumpkin, apple and other freshly baked breads were light and delicious. She was the hostess with the mostest when it came to satisfying a certain picky eater named Drew.
Eartha Watts-Hicks/Love Changes
Lil Nickelson’s apple bread was moist, sweet, and the most succulent apple pastry I’ve ever experienced. The same sentiments were echoed about her sweet potato and other treats, as the Harlem World Reading Series and Harlem creatives Lil Nickelson, CC Minton, JP Howard, and I helped usher in the holidays at Sisters Uptown Bookstore.
Wellness expert, CC Minton openly shared what it was like crafting the children’s book that has been taking her to events around the country and the motivations behind “Daddy’s Greek Potato Pie: A Book About Healthy Eating.” She held the audience captive as she shared from her book that encourages youngsters to embrace healthy eating and better food choices.
Host, Dontré, asked me very pointed questions about my journey to crafting my debut novel, “Love Changes,” the world of self-publishing, as I have come to understand it, and my best advice to beginners. I was glad to share with the audience how reaching out and connecting to readers is just as important as developing writing skills. Readers need to identify with the author, in order to identify with their writing.
The highlight of the event was the performance by JP Howard, who opened with the statement, “My mother was a diva.” Howard, who just days before learned of her mother’s passing, shared her experience of what is was like growing up the daughter of a popular black runway model in Harlem, prior to Harlem Renaissance. The spoken word pieces encapsulated in her poetry book, “Say/Mirror: Poems and Histories” were epic and brought joy to the audience as we celebrated her mother’s legacy.
The evening was a smash hit. All three authors were well received. I was blessed by being there to listen to each of the authors read from their writings as well as speak about their journey to getting published.
JP reading poems about her Mom particularly touched me because I’m writing a book that’s titled “Mommy Told Me” right now. It’s been thirty-one years since my Mom passed away and I always miss her a little more during the holiday season. Her work inspires me to keep putting my memories and recollection down for others to read about.
I can’t wait for the Harlem World Reading Series Part Two!
Organized by author of Holy Candy writer Yolande Brener.