Islands & Rivers: Poetry and the Art of the Possible in the Age of Climate Change

This May, we are looking greatly forward to a stellar event from one of our key partners in the realms of poetics and mindfulness, the City University of New York’s Center for the Humanities Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. Lost & Found publishes original texts by figures central to and associated with New American Poetry, in an effort to excavate lost documents and to illuminate understudied aspects of literary, cultural, and political history. While focusing on poetry and poetics, Lost & Found continues to expand their range of focus as well into other art forms including music, performing arts, and the visual arts, particularly in the context of specific historical moments of great synergy.

Please register for Day 1, here!

Please register for Day 2, here 

Trailer for The Story of Everything

Top row: Patricia Spears Jones, Kealoha, Mariposa Fernandez. Bottom row: Emily Lee Luan and Rosamond S, King

Islands & Rivers: Poetry and the Art of the Possible in the Age of Climate Change will be a two-day series of gatherings, performances, screenings and workshops presented by Engaging the Senses Foundation, Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative and the Center for the Humanities at the the CUNY Graduate Center, and Casa de las Americas at LaGuardia Community College. The aim of series is to bring an environmental justice framework to creative, humanistic practices; and to conversely bring creative, humanistic practices to bear on environmental justice work.

The first day of Islands & Rivers will take place on Wed, May 17th, 4:00 to 7:30 PM in the Skylight Room (9100) at the CUNY Graduate Center with a late afternoon and evening of environmental poetry grounded in water-based and island-born knowledgeways integral to our understanding and implementation of climate adaptation and just transition writ large.

  • At 4:00 PM there will be a celebration of Jumping into the American River by Mary Norbert Korte and The Catalog of the Diane di Prima’s Occult Library with Anne Waldman, Ammiel Alcalay, Mary Catherine Kinniburgh, Iris Cushing and Jason Weiss.
  • From 5:30-6:30pm there will be a celebratory toast to launch the books, the festival, and the evening’s readers.
  • At 6:30pm we’ll begin a reading entitled Poetry Archipelagoes: Islands, Climate Change, and the Poetic Imagination with Mariposa Fernandez, Patricia Spears Jones, Kealoha, Rosamond S. King, and Emily Lee Luan. 

Programming continues the following day at LaGuardia Community College at LaGuardia Community College, Little Theater,31-10 Thomson Ave, Long Island City.

  • At 12:30-2:00, Hawai’i Poet Laureate Emeritus Kealoha will present a workshop for students entitled The Universal Language of Poetry & the Arts. Kealoha, MIT scientist and poet,  is the creator of a multimedia feature-length film directed and produced by Engaging the Senses Foundation entitled The Story of Everything, which explores diverse explanations for the origins of life, uniquely blending past & present, science & consciousness, and the environment & the arts. 

Kealoha will lead the poetry / storytelling workshop with LaGuardia students from classes of participating faculty Alliah Abdullah Matta and Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, drawing upon his poetry performances and the ways in which we can integrate poetry and the arts across all cultures, and in our everyday lives and celebrations, meanwhile healing, raising consciousness, and deepening our ability to connect with each other and the natural world. He will guide students through a hands-on writing experience, encouraging them to find their own poetic voice.

  • From 2:00-3:00, Professor Alejandro de la Fuenta will present “Colombia and Afro Latin American Studies: Perspectives from Afro-Latin American Research Institute” discussing issues of comparative slavery and race relations, and drawing connections between and across port cities, with a special focus on Colombia.
  • At 3:00 Kealoha will present a brief excerpt from The Story of Everything , make connections and draw insights from the poetry and storytelling workshops earlier in the day, and kick off an open mic poetry reading with participants.
  • At 3:45 Kendra Krueger of the The Community Sensor Lab, which seeks to equip youth and community members with research tools and STEAM skills to better advocate for local policy change on public health and environmental justice, will present a hands-on presentation of community-led data collection techniques intended to document and support mental health in the era of climate change.
  • At 4:00 PM we will celebrate with a Bulla en El Barrio Musical Concert and Performance! Bulla en El Barrio is a feminist educational group that aims to share the traditions, experiences, and lives of the Colombian cantadoras from the regions of Uraba, Cordoba, Bolivar,and Atlantico. Bulla explores the songs and the dances that are part of these traditions which historically have been a tool for self-expression among women.

Please join us for this rich and immersive, multi-faceted exploration of poetry, humanistic practices, and environmental justice work!