Toni Morrison in conversation at the Harlem Arts Salon Feb 24th

We are super excited to present Nobel Laureate, novelist, and grande dame of American letters, Toni Toni-MorrisonMorrison, on Sunday, February 24th from 2:00 to 5:30pm at the Harlem Arts Salon. Surely, it’s got to be one of the hottest tickets in town. Already guests from as far away as Tokyo, Montreal, Oklahoma and California have secured their places at this historic event. You should do the same. Guests will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis, and seating is very limited!

Ms. Morrison will be in conversation with pre-eminent African-American poet, writer, MacArthur Genius Award recipient, and our favorite iconoclast, Ishmael Reed. Meanwhile, poet and Miles Davis biographer, Quincy Troupe, our partner in all things cultural and newly refreshed after completing  Earl the Pearl: My Story with ex-New York Knicks phenom, Earl Monroe, promises to keep the conversation flowing as moderator. Mildred Howard, renown for her sculptural installations and mixed media assemblages (and one of the most inspired cooks to ever sling some pots) is preparing  sumptuous somethings to munch on, as she did for the Earl Lovelace salon. That food that day was out of this world! I’ve yet to come close, never mind master, her phenomenal bread pudding! (You can find her recipe on our  April 2012 blog entry.)

We have reached full capacity, folks! If you’d like to be on a Stand-by list, send us an email to

Earl Lovelace in Harlem

The conversation that Sunday afternoon in March between Earl Lovelace and Elizabeth Nunez at the Harlem Arts Salon was sizzling, as they practically agreed on nothing which heightened the afternoon with dazzling energy. Nunez, a critically acclaimed novelist herself, as well as a Trini-ex-pat, peppered our guest with commentary befitting her academic station as professor of English at Hunter College. He counter-punched with lyrical passages from his newest novel, IS JUST A MOVIE. It was rich.

(l-r) Quincy, Margaret, Earl Lovelace, Mildred Howard, Elizabeth Nunez

(l-r) Quincy, Margaret, Earl Lovelace, Mildred Howard, Elizabeth Nunez

You don’t have to take my word for it, ask Anthony Arnove, our co-sponsor at Haymarket Books and publisher of the book. Anthony was there and brought along another eyewitness, Vanity Fair columnist Anderson Tepper, who wrote a delicious review in the Paris Review. Or just watch the video!

The food was slammin’ too. Mildred Howard designed and prepared a sumptuous menu with a sassy Mexican flavor and the freshest of fresh ingredients (even the garlic!) imported from California . We served a five-orange citrus salad with jalapeno-stuffed olives, handmade beef, chicken, cheese corn, vegetarian tamales, black beans over brown rice, red cabbage slaw with jicama, a tomato, cilantro piccadillo. To top it off, she made the most divine bread pudding out of leftover baguettes! Tomcat Bakery  makes the best baguettes, if you ask me.

Mildred Howard’s Bread Pudding with coconut

2-3 day old baguettees

1½ cups of shredded coconut

3-4 + cups of milk (can also substitute one of the cups of milk with cream and milk or buttermilk)

4-5 eggs whipped

2 cups of packed brown sugar

1½ cups of butter

2 Tbsp vanilla flavoring

3-4 Tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

Juice from 3 lemons

1 shot cognac, whiskey or dark rum(optional)

Crumble baguettes and cover with one half of the milk.  If the bread is extremely hard, toss in water to soften the bread. Do not let the bread sit in the water. Pour off the water and cover with milk. Cover bowl with plastic wrap to maintain moisture. From time to time, break up bread with a fork or spoon making sure there are no huge pieces of bread. The bread should have a very soggy feel. Add more milk if necessary.

In a separate bowl whip eggs and remainder of milk, 1-2 cups. Melt 1 cube of butter and add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut to milk and eggs. Stir and mix all of the ingredients with the soaked bread. Place in a buttered baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake at about 350° for 30-40 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and pour the following mixture over the bread pudding.

In a separate pot add ½ cup of butter, ½ to ¾ cups of sugar and lemon juice in a pan; cook all ingredients until melted and slightly syrupy. (You can also add a little cognac, whisky, or dark rum). Pour over top of the bread pudding and leave in oven for an extra couple of minutes. Let set for about ten minutes before serving.

Note: I vary bread pudding depending on the kind of bread that I have left over. Sometimes I use biscuits, croissants, pound cake, sandwich bread or a combination. You can add pecans, currants, yellow raisins, or whatever you taste maybe. I’ve also replaced part of the milk with coconut milk in addition to the coconut. The important trick is that you want the bread pudding not to be too heavy. Whipping the eggs helps to prevent that from happening.

As the saying goes, “A good time was had by all!”

Victor Hernández Cruz

Victor Hernández Cruz moved to New York at the age of five and now divides his time between Morocco, his native Puerto Rico, and the United States.

Elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American poets in 2008, Cruz was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall and Griffin Poetry Prizes. He won the World Heavyweight Championship in Poetry twice and was featured on Bill Moyers’ Peabody Award-winning series, Language of Life. He is also a Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

The poetic narrative of Victor’s work has consistently earned him high praise and is a sensorial journey centered in his immigrant family experiences, his intense exploration of different lands and cultures and how they are inter-connected . Among his body of work are these earlier volumes of include Red Beans, Maraca, The Mountain in the Sea, Bi-Lingual Wholes, and Mainland. You are invited to meet this celebrated poet on November 13 at the Harlem Arts Salon. Bring your friends and family.

Publishers Weekly likened Cruz’s reading chops to

“…. a salsa band leader coaxing and challenging dancers to more and more complex steps, Cruz dares readers with dizzing polyrhythms, polymetric stanzas, backstepping word structures and a sense of improvisation.”

Click Watch Victor reading to see for yourself what they’re talking about.

A Life’s Time

You know time’s a witch. She flies and flies and never apologizes for her speed. She’s like a mad driver on booze or whatever. So sometimes it takes a minute to recognize that our time vs her time isn’t within our control, and before you know it you’re looking back and thinking, “Jeez I wish I hadda …. ” and poof! It’s over!

Looking back if you can say, ‘Well I did this and that happened as a result, and I did this and that, and this happened as a result,’ and those results made a positive difference in the lives of others, then I think it’s okay to pat yourself on the back.

Quincy Troupe has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Well, all of you who know Quincy know how incredibly instrumental he’s been in providing a platform for poetry, for literature, for emerging and established writers, and especially for writers of color, for his groundbreaking work as an editor of anthologies, magazines, and literary journal. The number of writers whose careers he has been instrumental in developing is staggering. His dedication, generosity and tireless work in the arts are unparalleled. As his wife and biggest fan, I know how much of his heart and soul have been devoted to this work. I’m very proud that this work has be recognized by his peers. Let me be among the first to send out a big cheer for Quincy and say, “JOB WELL DONE.”

I’m quite thrilled to accompany him to San Francisco in September to sit in the audience and cheer LOUDLY when he takes the podium and gets his plaque on September 19th.