Category Archives: Face Out

March 18: Danielle Lazarin & Jessie Chaffee in conversation

Word Up is proud to present Danielle Lazarin and Jessie Chaffee—two authors, native New Yorkers, and longtime friends to Word Up—whose debut fiction explores the complex lives of women and girls.

Danielle Lazarin’s debut story collection, Back Talk, is peopled with women and girls defiantly pushing the boundaries between selfishness and self-possession. With a fresh voice and bold honesty, Back Talk examines how narrowly our culture allows women to express their desires.

Danielle Lazarin has won grants from New York Foundation for the Arts and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, the Glimmer Train Family Matters Award, and Hopwood Awards. She is a graduate of the writing programs of Oberlin College and the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. She lives in Inwood with her husband and daughters.

In Jessie Chaffee’s novel Florence in Ecstasy, a young American woman arrives in Florence from Boston, knowing no one and speaking little Italian. But Hannah is isolated in a more profound way, estranged from her own identity after a bout with starvation that has left her life and body in ruins. She is determined to recover in Florence, a city saturated with beauty, vitality, and food―as well as a dangerous history of sainthood for women who starved themselves for God.

Jessie Chaffee was awarded a Fulbright Grant to complete Florence in Ecstasy and was the writer-in-residence at Florence University of the Arts. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Slice, Bluestem, Global City Review, and The Sigh Press, among other places. She received her MFA from the City College of New York, and she lives in New York City, where she is an editor at Words Without Borders.

Authors Danielle Lazarin & Jessie Chaffee in conversation
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032

March 10: Root Shock: Dr. Mindy T. Fullilove & Coach Dave Crenshaw in conversation

Join Word Up for a conversation between Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove—author of Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It (New Village Press)—and Coach Dave Crenshaw, on the effects of displacement on communities.

Like a sequel to the prescient warnings of urbanist Jane Jacobs, Root Shock reveals the disturbing effects of decades of insensitive urban renewal projects on communities of color. Fullilove passionately describes the profound traumatic stress—the “root shock”—that results when a neighborhood is demolished, and she demonstrates that urban renewal didn’t just disrupt black communities: it ruined their economic health and social cohesion, stripping displaced residents of their sense of place as well. Dr. Fullilove insists that understanding the damage caused by root shock is crucial to coping with its human toll and helping cities become whole.

Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD, is a professor of urban policy and health at The New School, having moved there in 2016 after 26 years at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University. Her research examines the mental health effects of environmental processes such as violence, segregation, and urban renewal. In 2004, she worked with colleagues in Upper Manhattan to start the CLIMB project, which has advocated for reinvestment in the area’s cliffside parks. This has spurred millions in new investment, including a 2016 $30 million investment to update Highbridge Park. Coach Dave Crenshaw is a youth sports coach and community organizer. His youth program—Team Dreamers, based at his first alma mater P.S. 128 in Washington Heights—trains up to 100 kids in athletics, life skills, and more.
The conversation will be followed by a Q&A with the audience. Books will be available for sale.
Root Shock: Dr. Mindy T. Fullilove & Coach Dave Crenshaw in conversation
Saturday, March 10, 2018 
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
New York NY 10032

November 18 – Reading: Elizabeth Jaikaran’s TRAUMA

Trauma is a collection of true and extraordinary stories that speak of the abuse suffered by Guyanese women, girls, and members of the LGBT community in Guyana and after having emigrated to the United States. Jaikaran reveals accounts of the horrific violence and trauma that display the strength and resilience of Guyanese women as they have struggled to survive and flourish.

Elizabeth Jaikaran was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens. The proud child of Guyanese immigrants, she is a graduate of the CUNY City College of New York and NYU School of Law. She writes for numerous platforms, including Brown Girl magazine. As an author and lawyer, Jaikaran hopes to be a voice for communities residing in underrepresented margins.

Elizabeth Jaikaran, Trauma: A Book Reading and Book Signing Event
Saturday, November 18, 2017
3:00–5:00 pm
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032

November 17 – Futurepoem presents: Rosa Alcalá and Urayoán Noel

Futurepoem presents a night of readings from Rosa Alcalá and Urayoán Noel!

Rosa Alcalá

Rosa Alcalá is the author of three books of poetry, most recently MyOTHER TONGUE (Futurepoem, 2017). Her poems, along with critical perspectives on her work, are included in Stephen Burt’s The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them (Harvard UP, 2016), The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time, eds. Charles Altieri & Nicholas Nace (Northwestern UP, 2017), and American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement, eds. Claudia Rankine and Michael Dowdy (Wesleyan UP, forthcoming). The recipient of an NEA Translation Fellowship and runner-up for a PEN Translation Award, she edited and translated Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling, 2012). She is also the editor and co-translator of Cecilia Vicuña: New & Selected Poems (Kelsey Street Press, forthcoming). She has taught for CantoMundo, and was the 2016 Allen Ginsberg Fellow at Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Currently she is Associate Professor in the Department of Creative Writing & Bilingual MFA Program at the University of Texas-El Paso.

Urayoán Noel / Photo by Jonas Hidalgo

Urayoán Noel is a Bronx-based poet, critic, performer, and translator originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is the author of eight books, most recently the poetry collection Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico (University of Arizona Press, 2015) and the critical study In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press, 2014). An Associate Professor of English and Spanish at NYU, he also teaches at Stetson University’s low-residency MFA of the Americas and vlogs at

Futurepoem presents: Rosa Alcalá and Urayoán Noel
Friday, November 17, 2017
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.

September 29 – (H)afrocentric Book Author Talk & Signing

(H)afrocentric Volumes 1-4 is a new trade paperback gathering the first 4 comics volumes of Glyph Award winning Juliana “Jewels” Smith’s and illustrator Ronald Nelson’s unflinching visual and literary tour-de-force on the most pressing issues of the day. With a foreword to the book by Kiese Laymon, (H)afrocentric tackles racism, patriarchy, gentrification, police violence, and the housing crisis, and popular culture head-on—with humor and biting satire. Unapologetic and unabashed, (H)afrocentric introduces us to strong yet vulnerable students of color, as well as an aesthetic that connects current Black pop culture to an organic re-appropriation of hip hop fashion circa the early 90s.

We start the journey when gentrification strikes the neighborhood surrounding Ronald Reagan University. Naima Pepper recruits a group of disgruntled undergrads of color to combat the onslaught by creating and launching the first and only anti-gentrification social networking site, The motley crew is poised to fight back against expensive avocado toast, muted Prius cars, exorbitant rent, and cultural appropriation.

Whether Naima and the gang are transforming social media, leading protests, fighting rent hikes, or working as “Racial Translators,” the students at Ronald Reagan University take movements to a new level by combining their tech-savvy, Black Millennial sensibilities with their individual backgrounds, goals, and aspirations.

Juliana “Jewels” Smith
is a writer, educator, and speaker. She is the Glyph Award winner for Best Writer on (H)afrocentric: Volume 4 and the honoree of the first annual Excellence in Comics and Graphic Novels Award from the African American Library and Museum at Oakland. With humor and sharp wit, Smith connects comic books, politics, and popular culture.

Ronald Nelson is an illustrator originally from New York City. He studied at School of Visual Arts, the Art Students League, and Cooper Union. Ronald’s areas of expertise are in the fields of portrait drawing and sequential art. He is also proficient as a storyboard artist and cartoonist.

Mike Hampton
has been a self-published comic book artist and writer for over fifteen years and the colorist and letterist of (H)afrocentric for over five years. As a freelance graphic designer he has created logos, album covers, business cards, and fliers.

Kiese Laymon is an award-winning black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon is the author of the novel Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.

“Smith’s comics ooze with originality.”—AFROPUNK

“(H)afrocentric is a book that is incredibly contemporary and fits the progressive minds of today’s readers. It tackles issues of intersectionality and gentrification in ways that are not only informative but also entertaining. It’s unlike any comic book I’ve ever read.” —Jamie Broadnax, founder and managing editor of

“(H)afrocentric is fully dope, artistic, brilliantly drawn, styled, and wonderfully radical with an awesomely fiery heroine! Juliana Smith and her team are to be commended for this desperately needed political and cultural contribution. Get into it and grab your soapboxes!” —Jared A. Ball, author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto

(H)afrocentric Book Author Talk & Signing
Friday, September 29, 2017
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Avenue @ 165th St.
New York NY 10032