Category Archives: Events

Oct. 21–Nov. 11: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

We welcome back Brooklyn Institute for Social Research for another class, this time examining Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The class will be led by Jude Webre, and will take place on 4 Saturdays: October 21, October 28, November 4, and November 11, 2–5pm, at Word Up Community Bookshop. The course is capped at 20 students, and course readings go out one week before the start of class. To enroll, visit:

In 1945, Ralph Ellison began work on his epically ironic novel Invisible Man (1952), primarily to make sense of his involvement with radical politics in Harlem over the previous decade. On the fault line between art and politics, Ellison’s book makes a powerful claim for African-American experience and black modernism at the center of the American narrative. Yet the questions it raises about the ideology of race and the constraints it places on American class politics and aesthetic ideals remain unresolved today. Ellison viewed the cosmopolitan aspirations of modernism as both liberatory and, for black artists, bedeviled by race. As the American literary canon took shape in the early Cold War, Ellison argued for the plight of his narrator, “both black and American,” as emblematic of major, persistent paradoxes in American society.

In this course, our reading of Invisible Man will grapple with these questions in the text and its key contexts: Ellison’s intellectual biography and aesthetic development as well as the political climate of 1930s Harlem, when the narrative largely takes place. We will analyze the novel as a record of Ellison’s disillusionment with the Communist Party of America, asking both about his experience with the Party, and how might that experience have influenced his depiction of conflicts over race in American labor politics. Likewise, we’ll consider how the novel situates Harlem, then regarded as the capital of Black America, within the larger picture of the Jim Crow South and the Great Migration. How should we understand Ellison’s self-conscious placement of his novel in the tradition of American epic that includes Melville’s Moby-Dick? What is its relationship to the inventive forms of high modernism and jazz? In service of these questions about aesthetic, historical, political, and intellectual contexts, the course will draw on a selection of bebop recordings, the work of Adorno, dialogues with Ellison’s modernist interlocutors, and interchanges with contemporary writers and musicians, including Richard Wright, Robert Penn Warren, Kenneth Burke, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk.

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research class on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
4 Saturdays: October 21, October 28, November 4, & November 11

Word Up Community Bookshop 
2113 Amsterdam Avenue (@ 165th St.)


October 15: Words and Music Series: Papa Susso and Kewulay Kamara

The second collaboration in our new Words and Music series.

Born in the village of Sotuma Sere in The Republic of Gambia, West Africa, Alhaji Papa Susso (Suntu) is a griot or jeli, master player of the kora—a 21-stringed, lute-like instrument—and director of the Koriya Musa Center for Research in Oral Tradition. In Gambia, Susso pursued a career in the civil service, before becoming the chief kora player of The Gambia National Cultural Troupe. In 1974, he founded The Mandeng Music and Dance Limited, an organization that conducts research on Mandeng history, traditions and ethnomusicology, while providing assistance for traditional Mandeng performers. Susso, now based equally in the Bronx and in Gambia, travels widely and has performed for the Baltimore, Detroit, Kalamazoo, San Antonio, St. Louis and Chicago Symphonies, the Louisiana Philharmonic of New Orleans, the Kazumi Watanabe Opera in Tokyo, Japan, and at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. In 1991, Susso was appointed Regents’ Lecturer in ethnomusicology at UC Santa Barbara.

Kewulay Kamara is poet/storyteller from Sierra Leone. His poetry and stories are based on the Mandeng oral traditions of the Jali (musicians and bards) and the Fina (poets, historians, and masters of ceremony). Kamara comes from a Fina lineage and works with the traditional ensemble format of the Jali and Fina working together. He is based in New York City where he has performed at Symphony Space, City Center, The Great Hall at Cooper Union, the Museum of Natural History, and the Museum for African Art, and where he performs regularly at the Bowery Poetry Club. Kamara has been featured in numerous journals and television including the New York Times, TBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, and other media outlets. He is a regular participant in the bi-annual Peoples Poetry Gathering in New York City. He is a founder and director of Badenya, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that utilizes the presentation of African arts as a community-building and bridge-building tool.

Words and Music is a new series that facilitates intentional collaborations between writers and musicians. Six such pairings, curated by Word Up Community Bookshop, will result in six separate public performances throughout the year.

Words and Music is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

October 11: Socialist Action Panel featuring Father Luis Barrios

Join Socialist Action for a panel with Father Luis Barrios, Ninaj Raoul, and Marty Goodman.

Father Luis Barrios is the priest of Holyrood Church in Washington Heights. Guatemalan immigrant Amanda Morales-Guerra has found sanctuary at Holyrood Church since Aug. 17. A member of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, Father Barrios is a former prisoner of conscience in the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) movement. He is a member of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, Boricuas por un Nuevo País. Dr. Barrios is a community activist, a priest activist, and a faculty activist. He teaches psychology and Latin American history at John Jay College.

Ninaj Raoul is the co-founder and a community organizer at Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (HWHR) in New York, an organization founded in 1992 to respond to the human needs of Haitian refugees and immigrants fleeing persecution. Ninaj is fighting to protect Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitians and others, now threatened by President Trump.

Marty Goodman is a former board member of the Haitian Refugee Center of Miami. He witnessed the fall of Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 1986 and was an official election observer in the 1990 election of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He opposed the US/UN occupation of Haiti and is a member of the ‘Black Lives Matter in the Dominican Republic’ committee. Goodman is also a member of Socialist Action.

Sponsored by Social Action – 212-781-5157

Socialist Action Panel: Trump and Immigrants: Deportation, DACA, and the Sanctuary Movement
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.

October 13: Healthcare Justice & Equality | Cuidado de salud igualidad y justicia

~Español abajo~

Join us for a discussion of healthcare inequality and New York State’s ethical and humane solution: The NY Health Act, with Mary O’Brien, MD, Physicians for a National Health Program. We’ll hear real-life stories about experiences in our current healthcare system, and also information on how to get involved from Uptown Progressive Action, SNaHP, and Campaign for NY Health. Moderated by Juan Rosa. Audience participation encouraged!

Organized by Uptown Progressive Action with support from Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria, Physicians for a National Health Program Metro NY Chapter, Students for a National Health Program Columbia P&S Chapter, Campaign for New York Health, Barack Obama Democratic Club. 

Healthcare Justice & Equality: The New York Health Act
Friday, October 13, 2017

Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Avenue (@ 165th St.) NYC


Únase a nosotros en una discusión de la desigualdad en el cuidado de la salud y la solución ética y humana del Estado de Nueva York: La Ley de Salud de Nueva York, con Mary O’Brien, MD, Physicians for a National Health Program. Se sugiere la participación de la audiencia.

Organizado por Acción Progresiva del Alto Manhattan con el apoyo de la Librería Comunitaria Word Up, los Medicos para un Programa Nacional de Salud NY Capitulo Metro, Estudiantes para un Programa Nacional de Salud Columbia P&S Chapter, Campaña para New York Health, y Barack Obama Democratic Club.

Cuidado de salud igualidad y justicia: La Ley de Salud de Nueva York
Viernes, 13 de octubre, 2017
Librería Comunitaria Word Up
2113 Avenida Amsterdam (en la calle 165)

October 5: MER Reading – 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Mom Egg Review writers will read poems about motherhood, about change, and some about both. MER writers offer a fresh perspective on motherhood that challenges “adspeak” and sentiment. Featured readers will be Peg Alford Pursell, JP Howard, Elizabeth Lara, Veronica Liu, and Angela Abreu. MC is Marjorie Tesser, MER Ed.

More about our readers: 

Angela “Angy” Abreu is a Dominican-American mom, activist, organizer, poet, and author. Angy is known for co-founding Wordat4F, “Where Community Activism meets the Arts: is a grassroots traveling open mic series that aims to cultivate a love of spoken word, poetry and literature in the Uptown (Washington Heights, Inwood & Bronx Communities) of New York City. Angy is a young woman, who is about “activating” her community into making moves for the greater good and creating networks of support for those in most need of it.

Peg Alford Pursell is the author of Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow (ELJ Editions, March 2017), a collection of micro-fiction and hybrid prose with praise from Joan Silber, Antonya Nelson, Peter Orner, and others. Her work has appeared in Permafrost, the Los Angeles Review, Joyland Magazine, and many other journals and anthologies. She is the founder and director of the national reading series Why There Are Words and of WTAW Press. Visit her at

JP Howard’s debut poetry collection, SAY/MIRROR, was a 2016 Lambda Literary finalist. She is also the author of bury your love poems here (Belladonna*). JP was a 2017 Split this Rock Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism finalist and is featured in the 2017 Lesbian Poet Trading Card Series from Headmistress Press. She was the recipient of a 2016 Lambda Literary Judith A. Markowitz Emerging Writer Award and has received fellowships and grants from Cave Canem, VONA, Lambda, Astraea and Brooklyn Arts Council. JP curates Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon, a NY-based forum offering women writers a monthly venue to collaborate and is an Editor-at-Large at Mom Egg Review online. JP’s poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Academy of American Poets, Apogee Journal, The Feminist Wire, Split this Rock, Muzzle Magazine, and The Best American Poetry Blog. JP holds a BA from Barnard College and an MFA in Creative Writing from The City College of New York.

Elizabeth Lara’s poems have appeared in numerous online and print journals, including Mom Egg Review; Edna; Confluencia in the Valley: The First Five Years of Converging with Words; Truck; Ex Tempore; The Wide Shore: A Journal of Global Women’s Poetry; and Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. In 2011 she was a resident at the Millay Colony in Austerlitz, NY. She was a member of the Hot Poets Collective (New York, 2011-2012), and co-edited Happiness: The Delight-Tree – An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry (United Nations SRC Society of Writers, 2015 and 2017).

Veronica Liu is a writer and editor, and her writing, comics, photography, and silkscreen prints have been published in Broken Pencil, Quick Fiction, Mom Egg ReviewIn/Context, and other journals and zines. She has been involved in community arts organizing for 22 years, most recently as founder and general coordinator of Word Up Community Bookshop, a collectively managed volunteer-run bookshop and arts space in Washington Heights. Veronica has received grants for writing, the development of an arts/music fair, oral history, and various publishing projects from Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, Manhattan Community Arts Fund, Citizens Committee for New York City, and Goodman Fund.

Marjorie Tesser has edited poetry books and anthologies for Bowery Books and Demeter Press and is editor in chief of Mom Egg Review. She is the author of poetry chapbooks THE IMPORTANT THING IS (Firewheel Award Winner) and The Magic Feather. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in Drunken Boat, Akashic Press’ Thursdaze, Earth’s Daughters, and others. She.