Tag Archives: poetry

Fresh Pond Road street festival to hold student poetry and art contest

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Angelica Harris

Organizers of the Fresh Pond Road street festival in Ridgewood will present something new at this September’s fair: a poetry and art contest open to local schoolchildren.

The participants for this poetry and art contest, hosted by the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, must be enrolled in a New York City public or private grammar, intermediate or high school. They are to present one original poem and one original artwork.

“This contest is going to add a new dimension to the festival and the people who visit Ridgewood,” said Michael Conigliaro, managing director-adviser of the festival for the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens.

The topic for the contest is “Growing up ______American in Queens,” (i.e. Growing up Italian-American in Queens), with an alternate topic of “What community means to you.”

Students from any country or ethnic background can submit a poem and piece of art about their experiences and their families’ experiences living in Queens.

“As a professional writer, poet and advocate for children, to be able to read and share the poems of these youngsters from Queens, will be a treasure to our great borough, and to bring together everyone, no matter what their background,” said Angelica Harris, president of the Excalibur Reading Program located in Glendale, and poetry contest leader.

Each participant is allowed to submit one poem and one piece of art. The contest will be divided into three categories, one for grammar school, one for intermediate school and one for high school. Poems are to be in English, five verses, up to five stanzas long, but no more than 50 verses on one sheet.

The art pieces must be a drawing or painting in oil, watercolor or any other creative medium and must not be larger than 2 feet by 2 feet.

The works of the participants will be on display during the four-day festival in a special community stand.

“We want to offer a free space to nonprofits in order to be able to allow them a chance to show what their organization offers, and to help our neighbors find resources that they may need for their families,” said Lucy Dolce, office director of the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, and festival coordinator.

The contest will be judged by professional teachers, poets and artists. Three prizes will be given out, one for each category. Prizes will be handed out during a special ceremony to be held on Sept. 6, the final day of the four-day festival. Prizes adding up to $1,200 will be divided between the winners.

If students or parent have any questions or want submit their poetry and piece of art, they can send it to Harris’ email at info@excaliburreadingprogram.org. The deadline for all submissions is Aug. 15.


LIC poet set to release second book

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Mike Geffner

One Long Island City resident has turned her heartache into poetry and will soon be releasing her second book.

Audrey Dimola, who has been living in the western Queens neighborhood all her life, is set to release her book “Traversals,” a collection of poetry and prose, on Nov. 3.

Unlike her first book called “Decisions We Make While We Dream,” a collection spanning 12 years of poetry and prose released in 2012, her new book reflects on specific events in her life that took place between the fall of 2011 and present day.

“That’s why I ended up calling it ‘Traversals’ because it ends up being about the journey, survival and going through heartbreak, going through loss and losing yourself and then finding yourself,” Dimola said. “My motto after that became to turn your ache into art.”

In the 176-page self-published book, Dimola uses poetry and prose to reflect on the hardships she faced in losing a loved one, ending a long-term relationship and then growing from the obstacles.

“It makes me pull back and realize that everything has a purpose and everything happens for a reason. And I wouldn’t be in this wonderful place that I am in right now if all those things wouldn’t have happened,” Dimola said. “I hope to be able to help other people.”

BOOK - promo shot

The poet also said putting the book together was an emotional experience, as she looked back on the events in her life. However, she sees the book as a way to honor the events and people that were a part of them.

“[The book] is the beginning of becoming the person that I am, breaking out of the shell and breaking out of myself,” Dimola said. “It’s just a wonderful milestone.”

Strongly involved in the Queens literary community, Dimola recently took part in open mic nights as part of the series The Inspired Word at COFFEED in Long Island City. She said she sees the art community growing and thinks it is important for artists not to be afraid of putting their work out there.

“I just want to stress to artists to not be afraid. In this day and age it is a lot easier to get your work out,” she said. “It is important to support each other, keeping the [art] community up and being brave.”

A formal release party of “Traversals” is scheduled for Nov. 13 at Q.E.D., located at 27-16 23rd. Ave. in Astoria, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The launch party will also feature poetic, musical and dance performances by other artists.

For more information visit www.audreydimola.com.


Flushing woman uses experience in advice column for undocumented youth

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Angy Rivera

Angy Rivera, a formerly undocumented immigrant, knew which words she wanted to let out when she was invited to take the stage at Flushing Town Hall last month.

In her original poem, “Community Not Condominiums,” the 23-year-old Flushing resident describes in detail the communities of Jackson Heights, Flushing and Corona through following a food vendor named “Doña María.”

Doña María is up before the sun rises
Moon shining on her face she gets ready for the morning commute
It’s her job to feed others
Moon shining on her face ella empieza a cocinar arepas, tamales, café y chocolate
Arepas made with corn and cheese
They start to melt as soon as they touch your mouth.

“At first I thought, ‘Oh wait, what if someone doesn’t understand that,” Rivera said about writing the poem in both Spanish and English. “But that’s how it is here in Queens.”

The college junior, who is studying culture and deviance with a minor in human services at John Jay College, said she felt pride when writing the poem for being part of “such a beautiful community” and remembering all the great details of each neighborhood. Yet, she said she also felt sadness when thinking about the idea of growing up and facing changes.

How will Doña María sell her tamales, arepas, café y chocolate
When the streets becomes businesses she cannot pronounce
Will her café con leche compete with Starbucks?
These signs of a cleaner and safer Queens erase the resiliency already here
We weren’t dirty to begin with
Will her house stand untouched during gentrification?

“That’s what I wanted to make sure came across, as much as it’s a celebration of Queens, on the flipside it’s about things we can lose,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time Rivera’s words reached a much larger audience. In 2009 she joined the nonprofit New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first volunteer undocumented youth and membership led organization started in 2007, as an intern.

The Colombian-native, who was undocumented for 19 years and has recently obtained a visa, went on to create a national undocumented youth advice column in 2010 called “Ask Angy.”

“It was the first time I met with other immigrant young people that wanted to change things that they saw unjust,” said Rivera, who immigrated with her family to the United States just one week shy of her fourth birthday. “Through them I grew as a person.”

Now as a core member of the organization, she helps out in the media/outreach and arts/self-expression programs. Through her weekly column, she said she gets people writing to her from all around the nation about different subjects undocumented youths face, such as driving without a license and deferred action.

Although she said it is tricky at times because she doesn’t always have answers, especially when it comes to legal topics, she said the column has helped her learn different laws depending on states.

“Being involved helped me become more open about a lot of things and helped me learn a lot of new stuff,” she said. “It’s been very healing to meet other people in the same situation as you. It’s always been nice to have a group to understand.”

Continuing her involvement in activism, Rivera has also become part of Queens Neighborhoods United, a coalition created to build power and develop leadership in Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. The group recently has gone around cleaning the streets down Roosevelt Avenue.

Rivera now plans to recite “Community Not Condominiums” at a new quarterly series called “Queens Documented,” which launches on July 20 at Terraza 7 located at 40-19 Gleane St. in Elmhurst and features stories and music from people who migrated to Queens.

To read Rivera’s full poem, click here.