The Dark Room Collective End of Tour Celebration May 11th

At the Harlem Arts Salon with Natasha Trethewey

The Dark Room Collective, a group of black writers founded twenty-five years ago in Boston by poets Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange, and musician Janice Lowe was conceived as a reading series and became a small community of poets. Strange writes that “it was the sustaining practice of writing in community just as much as the activism of building a community-based reading series for writers of color that kept us engaged in collectivity” (Painted Bride Quarterly 60). Read more.


The poets at a glance…


tisa-bryantTisa Bryant is on the Critical Studies faculty at CalArts. Her book of essays, Unexplained Presence, was published in 2007. Bryant’s writing has appeared in Evening Will Come, Mandorla, Mixed Blood, in the ‘zine, Universal Remote: Meditations on the Absence of Michael Jackson and in the catalogues and solo shows of visual artists Laylah Ali, Jaime Cortez, Wura-Natasha Ogunji and Cauleen Smith.  She is co-editor, with Ernest Hardy, of War Diaries, which was nominated Best LGBTQ anthology by the LAMBDA Literary Awards. She is co-edits and publishes The Encyclopedia Project. Click here to read more about Tisa Bryant.


tsellis2_0Thomas Sayers Ellis was born and raised in Washington, DC. His book The Maverick Room won the Mrs. Giles Whiting Writers’ Award and the John C. Zacharis First Book Award. His most recent book is Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems. His work has appeared in Poetry, Grand Street, Tin House, Ploughshares and The Best American Poetry, 1997 and 2001. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, at Lesley University low-residency MFA program, and at Cave Canem. A photographer, poet,  contributing editor to Callaloo and Poets & Writers, Ellis is co-founder of the Dark Room Collective.  Find more on Thomas Sayers Ellis here.


MajorJackson_about1Major Jackson has three books of poetry: Holding Company, and Hoops, both finalists for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry, and Leaving Saturn, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Award Circle. He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award and was honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont and core faculty at Bennington Writing Seminars. He was a creative arts fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced  Study at Harvard University. He is the poetry editor of the Harvard Review. Read more…


Keene_John600_300_287John Keene is associate professor at Rutgers University-Newark in African American and African Studies, the English Department and MFA Creative Writing Program. A novelist, poet, essayist, and translator, Keene is the author of the award-winning novel, Annotations, and the poetry collection, Seismosis, in collaboration with artist Christopher Stackhouse. Keene received a 2005 Whiting Writers Award for fiction and poetry. His work has been published in African-American Review, AGNI, Encyclopedia, Gay and Lesbian Review, Hambone, Indiana Review, Kenyon Review, Mandorla, Ploughshares, and Public Space. Read more… 


photo_by_Diana_YanezJanice Lowe, poet and composer, has been published in Callaloo, The Hat, In the Tradition, and American Poetry Review. She has taught creative writing and music workshops in numerous schools, libraries and community programs and was composer and songwriting consultant on the pilot episode of My Time on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Her work has been performed at Ars Nova, La Mama ETC., The Chelsea Playhouse, The Ohio Theatre, Dixon Place, The Eugene O’Neill Musical Theater Conference, NAMT Festival of New Works, NYU, among others. Read more…


Tracy-K-Smith-448Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Life on Mars, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award, and The Body’s Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been a protégée in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She teaches at Princeton University. Click here to learn more about Tracy K. Smith and read her poems.


SharanSharan Strange grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina, was educated at Harvard College, and received an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a contributing and advisory editor of Callaloo and co-founder of the Dark Room Collective. Her poetry has appeared in AGNI, The American Poetry Review, Callaloo, The Best American Poetry 1994, The Garden Thrives, In Search of Color Everywhere, and in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Read more


natasha-tretheweyNatasha Trethewey, appointed US Poet Laureate in June 2012, is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.  Native Guard, her third collection of poetry, received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.  Ms. Trethewey is the author of four volumes of poetry and one non-fiction work:  Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, published in 2010. Read more…


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Natasha Trethewey & the Dark Room Collective May 11th 2013

Meet & Greet US Poet Laureate and

The Dark Room Collective

We are pleased to present a reception Saturday night, May 11th, from 8:00-10:00pm for US poet laureate Natasha Trethewey, and distinguished award- winning poets, Tracy K. Smith, Major Jackson, Tisa Bryant, John Keene, Janice Lowe, Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange (co-founders), the original members of the Dark Room Collective where it all began.

Dark Room Collective Today

Dark Room Collective Today

Conversation and refreshments served. A not-to-be missed, historic evening.  Seating limited. Click here to reserve your place.

Books by each writer on sale at this event.

Events at the Harlem Arts Salon are private.  We reserve the right to refuse admission to anyone.

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Earl “the Pearl” Monroe in the house! May 5th

Earl the Pearl Dusk JacketLearn the whys, wherefores, how comes, and other inside information about the life of Earl “the Pearl” Monroe (aka Black Jesus), when legendary basketball star & ex-NY Knickbocker, Earl Monroe talks with his biographer, Quincy Troupe, at the Harlem Arts Salon, Sunday, May 5, from 2:00pm – 6:00pm. You won’t want to miss this! Limited Seating.
Buy your ticket(s) today!

$50 per person + one hard cover copy of Earl the Pearl: My Story + refreshments!


Earl Monroe talks to Quincy Troupe

Earl Monroe talks to Quincy Troupe

The Harlem Arts Salon is a private event at the home of Margaret & Quincy Troupe and we reserve the right to refuse admission to anyone. Call (212) 749-7771 for more details or email Margaret Porter Troupe at


Harlem Arts Salon 1925 Seventh Avenue 7L New York NY 10026 (betw 116&117 Streets)

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Poetry & Jazz Brunch with Golda Solomon: Medicine Woman of Jazz

golda_solomonCome cozy up with us on Sunday, April 7, at 2:30pm, and  listen to the sassy, sensual performance of Golda Solomon reading from her latest book of poetry, The Medicine Woman of Jazz.

Golda loves the sounds of words as much as the meanings they convey. A gifted wordsmith with a syncopated soul, she paints vivid imagery and plants seeds of wisdom while honoring the groove and capturing the rhythm of blues in her poetry with a passionate flair and dynamic delivery spiced with a sly humor that can be traced back to her Flatbush roots. With an eye for detail and an ear for rhythm, Golda demonstrate a strong affinity for the inherent nuances and happy accidents of improvised music while also reveling in a clever turn of phrase, a well chosen word, just the right touch of alliteration.A trio of fine musicians,  including “woodwind improvisor,” saxman Will Connell, Jr, bassist, Larry Roland, and drummer and musical director, Michael T.A. Thompson, to put a jazzy back beat on a beautiful afternoon!

Michael TA Thompson

Michael TA Thompson

   Will Connell Jr
Larry Roland

Larry Rolan

Taste a tantalizing sample of Golda’s style OLDER WOMAN’S BLUES

Golda Solomon is a communications, speech, and theater arts; a poet, performer, producer, and docent; a supporter of women  writers and musicians as well as young musicians, poets, and performers. She was project director of Po’Jazz at The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, Sleepy Hollow, New York for four years before bringing the series to The Cornelia Street Café, Greenwich Village NYC in 2003.

The series is 6PM Third Thursdays, September-December and February-June  ( Golda has pioneered several unique businesses including JazzJaunts, a personalized jazz service, and, with Barbara Sfraga, ICAAN (Interactive Communication and Arts Network), which provides innovative, on-site, organization-specific arts programming to workplaces, schools, and other organizations. She has a collection of poetry, Flatbush Cowgirl, published in 1999, for which she co-produced a companion CD, First Set.  She also co-produced the CD Po’Jazz: Takin’ It To The Hollow, which includes over 20 poets and musicians. Her most recent CD is Word Riffs. “She uses speech-song to explore words as percussive and melodic entities and Jazz as a cultural force is the topic of her discourse”-Suzanne Lorge, All About Jazz.

In 2002, Golda’s poetry won first prize at the Writer’s Workshop in Asheville, North Carolina. She is a two time named International Women in Jazz awardee, and invited to perform her jazz-flavored poetry at a celebration of the organization’s 10th anniversary and at the First International Women In Jazz Festival, both held at the “Jazz Church”, St. Peter’s in midtown Manhattan. Several of her poems are currently featured on the poetry page of  Her work appears regularly in The Mom Egg and Solomon may also be found in the anthology, Heal (Clique Calm Books). She is currently working on a new collection titled, Never More Than A Borough Away: Brooklyn Bops. Her book and CDs are available on, and directly from

EJ Antonio

EJ Antonio

RSVP at (212) 749 7771 or email: 

Seating limited! $25 for one/$40 for two. Buy your ticket(s) today!

Special Guest:  Poet EJ Antonio will make the introductions!



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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

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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!”

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Feeding the hand

Oh, how lucky we feel at the Harlem Arts Salon to have the inimitable Mildred Howard as our guest chef at our Sunday, March 25th salon featuring Trinidadian novelists, Earl Lovelace and Elizabeth Nunez.

Mildred will try anything. That is, anything that involves stretching the limits of the imagination. She’s GOT to be the hardest working woman in the art business. She should be awarded a MacArthur Genius Award for her prodigious output of installations, paintings, glass houses, mixed media sculptures, and prints.

So it’s not surprising this super duper artist extends her creative energies towards food, preparation and presentation receiving equal attention. Among her long list of chef credits is her stint as interim executive chef at Alice Waters’ (founder of the five-star restaurant, Chez Panisse) Edible Schoolyard.

Come Sunday. The food’s going to be yum yum. Mildred’s shipping the sweetest, ripest California oranges for a mouth-watering orange & olive salad. She tells me she’s sending five different varieties! AND a box of Haas avocados that I remember as wonderfully mellow, rich and creamy for guacamole. There’ll be black bean chili and home-made vegetarian tamales.

Our relationship with Mildred goes way back to our days in lovely La Jolla, sunny San Diego. Hers was among the most successful exhibitions mounted at Porter Troupe Gallery. Howard, who lives in Berkeley, California, probably has more site-specific, public art sculptures in San Francisco than any other living artist! (at least I can’t think of any other). Mildred Howard will join in a panel on Friday night, March 23, at the NYU Black Renaissance Noire magazine release party, where she’ll give a slide presentation about her works. In case you didn’t know, Quincy Troupe is BRN’s editor.

As for trying anything, here are a few of Howard’s recent projects:

Photo courtesy Mildred Howard

Her solo exhibition Parenthetically, It’s Only a Figure of Speech, consists of fifty-two oversized red and black glass punctuation marks that spanned five walls at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA. Parenthetically Speaking: It’s Only a Figure of Speech is is a new collection of work by Mildred Howard comprising more than 40 glass punctuation marks, proofreading symbols and musical notes inspired by At the End, a poem by Quincy Troupe. Both the poem and the exhibition reference punctuation as a metaphor for the passage of time.

Howard’s Blackbird in a Red Sky (a.k.a. Fall of the Blood House) was one of the outdoor art installations displayed on the Mezzanine Plaza at the Museum of Glass inaugural opening in 2002. The piece consisted of a house made of red glass panes set alongside dozens of red glass apples floating in the reflecting pool.

Image credits: Mildred Howard (American, born 1945), Punctucation Marks (Exclamation Point, Curly Brackets, Semicolon), 2011. Blown glass, 36 x 16 x 10, 30 x 10 x 7 and 12 x 7 x5 inches, courtesy of the artist and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA. Photos by Duncan Price.

In 2011 she completed and installed three large works and is in the process of completing four major public art works. At the Palo Alto City Hall, she has installed a phenomenal piece called Clear Story, inspired by the architect Joseph Eichler and comprised of 97,000 bottles in varying in sizes. About 94,000 of them range in sizes from 3/4 inch to one inch. Imagine counting all them bottles! It’ll be there through May 2012.

Clear Story

Clear Story. Courtesy Mildred Howard

The House that Cannot Be in Color But Its Own, 2011 is a permanent piece at the Sacramento International Airport. The title for the piece came from one of Mary Jo Bang‘s poems. The house is made of purple glass and fragments of mirrored glass that reflects the scaled up parts of bits of personal letters written during the California Gold Rush days.

The House that Will Not Pass for Any Color than It\’s Own, 2011. Courtesy the artist.

By 2014 three other major public art works will be mounted at the San Francisco General Hospital, two 12’ x 40’ faceted Corten steel pieces at the Richmond Bay Area Rapid Transit where a poem by Ishmael Reed will weave in and out of the structure and a 16’x16’ empty Rococo Frame (I think this is my favorite piece, at least today it is!) will sit atop of Hunters Point Hill in San Francisco.

Mildred Howard Roccoco frame

Roccoco Frame. Courtesy Mildred Howard

Finally, Howard has twenty two-dimensional works completed in February 2012 at Sharks Ink in Lyons, Colorado, that will be featured at the 2012 Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair (April 28-29) that travels to New York and later to the San Francisco Art Fair. This is the description on the BMA website “For one weekend every two years, more than 20 presses, printers, and dealers convene in Baltimore for this exciting two-day event. Spend an afternoon in the company of remarkable prints and people buying limited editions, drawings, multi-part portfolios, single prints, and photographs.”

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What a show!

Michael Marshall Monoprints opened at Skoto Gallery on Thursday, March 1st, and remains on view through March 31st. What Marshall does with monoprints is at once magical and highly technical, producing texture, colors on colors, optical illusions fashioning new tonalities of blues and fire-engine reds juxtaposed against a verdant greens. His embossing, stitching effects are simply amazing. The energy at the opening was warm and effusive among the various friends, former classmates, and collectors who attended the debut of this soon-to-be-known, highly accomplished artist out of Hawaii. His works, exquisite gems, shone with magical color and rhythmic, musical notes at once bluesy American with classical European technique. The in and out and around movement, the cut-outs peek-a-boo overlapping, masking and unmasking of forms, evoke African sculpture, Japanese zen-like landscape, village scenes, cathedrals is a journey, an exploration requiring profound concentration to produce such immaculate lines and evocative forms.

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Is Just a Movie

There’s nothing in the world more fabulous than finding a good book to read. I’m in the midst of reading Earl Lovelace’s newest novel, Is Just a Movie (Haymarket Books, 2011), and it’s all I can do to not roll on the floor in laughter. What a fantastic read! You can meet Mr. Lovelace in person and get a signed copy of this wonderful book at my next salon, on March 25th. He’ll be here talking with novelist, Elizabeth Nunez, author of eight novels, including the critically acclaimed, Boundaries, Anna in Between, and Prospero’s Daughter.

Get your ticket(s), while they last at Harlem Arts Salon.

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Quincy’s Book Party Jan 15 2012

What a day we had on Sunday! Lots & lots of people, great food, great sorrel punch & ginger beer. Sam Murray cooked for me and we served curried chicken, curried goat, oxtails with butter beans, fried sweet plaintains, rice and peas, and sauted kale with a vinaigrette sauce by vegan chef Brenda Been was a gigantic hit!
You know it’s a party when our beloved State Senator Bill Perkins is in da house!

Left: State Senator Bill Perkins; right: Michael Kenny

We loved re-connecting with Donal Fox, the exquisite composer and brilliant pianist whose Peace Out for Improvised Piano and Orchestra we can’t stop listening to. In two words utterly transporting. Feel free to check out what the “newspaper of record,” i.e. The New York Times, had to say about it, if you need independent verification, “Mr. Fox, a composer, pianist and improviser who deftly draws from jazz and classical contemporary traditions, was the soloist in his intense, episodic 15-minute work.” It was especially delightful to meet his lovely wife, Karen, a powerhouse in her own right.

Sunday was so much fun that we’re super-energized and looking forward to our next salon on March 25th with the inimitable novelist, Earl Lovelace for his new book Is Just a Movie from Haymarket Books
< …that is, unless we decide to do something during Black History Month in February. Our friend poet Brenda Connor-Bey, whom we haven’t seen in a long time and were so pleased to have in the audience, wrote to me later,

Brenda Conner-Bey

Margaret: Congratulations on a first-class afternoon presentaion of the Harlem Arts Salon for Quincy’s book, “Errançities.” I apologize for having to leave as early as I did. But this is one of those weekends where we were invited to several affairs. All that being said, I would not have missed Q’s celebration. On that note, his work has expanded in so many wonderful directions; sort of like a sage coming into his own. While browsing through the book before he performed, I was able to read the first two stanzas of the piece on Michael Jackson and I swear that Michael rose up from those words on the page to let me hear his story.

I especially liked his collaboration with Kelvyn Bell. I tried to explain the performance to a group of artists at the open house I attended after leaving you. The words and music were in tandem–not one in front or behind the other; they flowed. Magnificent!

It was a special afternoon; magical and inspiring. I thank you for the acknowledgement of my presence (quite unexpected but appreciated just the same!) and for the well-oiled machine you had working behind the scene. Bravo!

All of this was made possible with the generous contribution and support of publisher Coffee House Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) publishing entity with a superb list of contemporary poets and writers. Thank you Jessica and Tricia, Alan Kornblum and Chris Fishbach and the whole Coffee House staff. Thanks also to Anna Pasztor, who videotaped the event. Our special thanks to guitarist, Kelvyn Bell, poet Allison Hedge Coke and all our wonderful guests who attended!

Kelvyn Bell composed the music on SoundArt: a new tongue the new CD that is a collaboration between Quincy, Kelvyn, Hamiet Bluiett and Ronnie Burrage. Copies available through Quincy Troupe (

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