Monday, June 23, 2014

Why we watch(ed) Brazil or Why the score doesn't Always Matter

is in this literary sports journal Some Call it Ballin.  Read it here.  Read a host of other amazing sports pieces as well.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email

Monday, June 09, 2014

Ladies First 2014 - Sports and Music

Ladies First 2014 - Sports and Music
These days, on the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil I am gearing up, as I have every World Cup since 1974 to spend countless hours behind a television screen overdosing on football. 
I am a Trinidadian, and my friends and I grew up marveling at the beautiful game by watching the Brazilians.  We saw the tail end of Pele’s magical career and came of age as Brazil’s 1982 squad – the most breathtaking team to not win the Cup – made us all more intelligent and imaginative by playing a brand of football that taught us for the first time something about sport and our innermost social, political, cultural, individual selves.
As players, we were learning (consciously) for the first time about rhythm’s role in the game, located as both are, in the body.  We started studying Brazil’s practices and had our own aha moment when we saw them coordinate warm-ups to the sound of samba.
We recognized our similar African roots and the ways in which our game had to mimic and where it had to diverge.  There would forever be a connection for us between sports and music.
Today, as a writer and sport geek, it is hard not to see how the American – in particular the African-American experience vindicates that understanding.  Black athletes have played a blues informed baseball, a hip-hop informed basketball – all these endeavours informed by the spirit of innovating of the masters’ tools and syncretizing them with one’s own.  As a sport fan, it is a glorious moment to be witnessing and studying the confluences.
And as an artist and music fan then, I’m excited about this year’s edition of Ladies’ First.  Created about two years ago by Lynn Bechtold, Keve Willson and Milica Paranosic Ladies First is a concert series with an idea to connect women of different networks through music and performance.  Each year they present a different angle, feature a different profession, and honor some major ladies in the field.
The series is co-produced by Composers Concordance and the Czech Center NY.
This year, their focus is on the connection between Music and Sports.  It falls on the second day of FIFA World Cup Brazil, and it will present 11 compositions, each dedicated to and inspired by a different sport.
You have. Check. This. Out.  Go see the concerts and meet inspiring athlete women.
Ladies First 2014
Friday 7pm
13 June 2013
Bohemian National Hall
321 E 73rd Street NYC 10021

Music and performances by Lynn BechtoldKen Butler (Tzadik records), Vicky Chow(Bang on Can), Dan Cooper (Ute Lemper/Sound Liberation/Erbium), Valerie Coleman(Imani Winds), Lori Cotler (AKA Loire)Jennifer DeVore (Zentripetal), Patrick Grant (Tilted Axes: Music for Mobile Electric Guitars),  Roxan Jurkevich (Barcelona Symphony Orchestra), Milica ParanosicGene Pritsker (Sound Liberation/Absolute Ensemble), Mioi Takeda (Miolina), Michiyo SuzukiKeve Wilson and Czech electroacoustic duo DVA.
Featured athletes include Emma Hayes of Chelsea LadiesSonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis and the 1987 world weightlifting champion Karyn Marshall.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Number 11 for National Poetry Month - National Botanical Gardens, 1986 by Roger Bonair-Agard (recording)

For my last entry for National Poetry Month, i indulge my own poetry.  This is the closing piece of my most recent collection, Bury My Cothes.  It is 16plus minutes long, and like collection’s opening piece blurs the lines between memoir, short story and poetry - the latter perhaps, only because it’s in a poetry collection.
There is some risk to toying with the idea of genre like this, except that the separations amongst genres are so often artificial and semantic.  The piece documents one of the last big events in my life in Trinidad before i emigrate to New York.  It is the story of a car crash and the attendant minor violences of my young life there, with a foreshadowing to some of the more significant violences Trinidad has come to know. The book is concerned with violence in African diasporic art and therefore, also, with the violences in my own life - those inflicted on me and by me.  It makes it a large book, as poetry collections go.
The book, my third, is my best effort so far i think.  It is certainly my most ambitious.  Give it a shot, my shameless self-promotion notwithstanding.  It is available from Haymarket Books ( and in many fine bookstores.
Hope National Poetry Month was good to you.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email

Friday, April 18, 2014

#10 for National Poetry Month - one turn around the sun by Tim Seibles recorded by Roger Bonair-Agard

Long Poem by Tim Seibles recorded by Roger Bonair-Agard w/ cameos by Nina Jane Merrill Bonair-Agard
To be perfectly transparent, Tim Seibles is a mentor of mine.  I love his work.  I love the conversation of it partly because - and this is why sometimes we choose the mentors we do - i like to believe that something of that conversation appears in my own work.  Seibles’ work with a long poem is particularly deft.  I imagine that his ability to concentrate an intensity of purpose, language and passion in a line, a word and phrase; and then sustain it for - in this case eighteen and a half minutes; is mine.  I want it to be mine so desperately, because his poems are at once so perfectly personal and political at the same damn time that you’re left marveling at the poem’s ability to achieve that AND not implode at the same time, like what you imagine might happen if you time-travelled and came into contact with yourself.  All of us hoping we’re writing poems that deconstruct and explain our world(s) in a way that souls might be able to read/parse and here’s Seibles writing the soul so that the universe might parse it.
Look, you have to find the 20 minutes in your day, your night right now to listen to this poem.  So many times we’re moved to wish we could get back some time we just spend watching, listening to, doing some inane thing.  We get to experience so little that we’d willingly give the universe back 20minutes in gratitude for.  This might be one such block of time.  Listen to this poem and then go love your girl or your boy or your child or your own lonely skin harder.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email

#9 for National Poetry Month - claim - for the ocean by Roger Bonair-Agard

a recorded poem of my own for #9. claim - for the ocean, which appeared in the journal Drunken Boat earlier this year.

get it.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#8 for National Poetry Month - On Hiking the Smoky Mountains - First Draft

On Hiking the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

 I keep thinking about the Cherokee
on their land some 40 odd miles away –
the word reservation – as in something reserved
for.  I keep thinking about this
land that is no-one’s and for which so many
have deeds – pieces of paper marked and stamped
with the state’s seal – a proclamation that makes
it so.  And so of course I think
of my own black skin   in this South
in these mountains – the place of the Blue
Smoke the Cherokee called it – and how
on edge I am in it   such that I’ve a knife
dangling from my waist  a hunting knife
inscribed with a stamp that says something
of the Chippewa nation.  To be sure
I have never cut a man   but there have
been bottles broken   pockets full of rocks    
a baseball bat all meant towards grave
harm and thank God it never has quite come
to that.  But here again these good folk look
through me as though their being here has nothing
to do with my being here – carefully cataloging
the trillium and the showy orchids and the violets
and the hemlock and the deer and the blue heron
and the black bear – all of which the Cherokee
had names and stories for long before these good
folk had deeds.  I keep thinking about how
it’s a good bet none of these Cherokee come
here to hike – to walk for the sake of walking
this land which they once felt free to walk.
I’m thinking again   of course   about
the girl with us     my best made thing
and what I want to teach her about land
and people and respect and how maybe
the only way to do it is to take her down
to the reservation and sit in a bar there and tell
stories – the ones I was told about land
and hope that there we each hear a more
familiar song – something of smoke
and gods and nations – something to make
us feel free in our skins without all the sharp
edges we think we need to get by.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email

Saturday, April 12, 2014

#7 for National Poetry Month - Roger records Negores with Guns by Nikki Finney

Nikki Finney’s work (and her mentorship) has been re-casting my sensibility of my own voice for many years now.  Her poems stay steeped in personal and public history in a way that won’t let us forget that the one cannot actually relinquish the other.
This poem, to my reading, epitomizes and essentializes this work of Finney’s.  It is sublime, her ‘map’ of the American South here.  She has always been particularly skilled at this specific portraiture and its nuances of love and hostility, but here the artist’s brushstrokes have become even finer, more exact.  I chose to record this poem in part because of the brilliant sonic evocation of the repetition - how among other things, she echoes gunfire’s retort while holding the entire scene in the well cared for and familial love of these black folk, teaching their daughter to survive in the only way they know how.
If one can achieve the duende in the word before the word is actually uttered, then it is achieved here - the soaring, the lifting, the contracting with writer and reader to be transported into new understandings of love and fight and black people.  I hope you dig it.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email

#6 for National Poetry Month - first draft offering - On Nina's climbing stairs

On Nina’s climbing stairs

The little one is climbing
stairs. Today   for the first time
I call her strong girl    I call
her young homie    I do not
call her pretty   or even
beautiful          I call
to her from imagined conversations
in our future     In these reasonings
she is saving me   again.  She is
refusing to let me be
anything but my best strongest unkillable
self.      The young homie’s gaze
doesn’t waver     she questions
me with the resolve of a prosecutor
She will hold me guilty for anything less
than refusing to die      every day
she comes to the well with me.
She bids me      drink father   live
The little one is climbing stairs
today               for the first

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email

Friday, April 11, 2014

#5 for National Poetry Month - Interview with Patrick Rosal

Patrick Rosal is a Filipino-American writer, author of 3 collections of poems and Assistant Professor of creative writing at Rutgers-Camden.  He is also a dear friend and I credit him with much of the study in conversation that has coalesced for me into a poetics.  When i first heard Patrick read poems at our LouderARTS Project in NYC circa 2003, i was ecstatic and dismayed.  Here were brilliant poems by someone whose poetic project as it were, was very similar to mine - except he was so much better.
In this interview, i get to sit with Patrick and share with you a tiny corner of the kinds of conversations we’ve had throughout the year.  It’s 30 minutes long.  Get your headphones in and settle in.  There’ll be more of these interviews to come.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email