Paint & Sip with African Voices on 12/18

On Friday, December 18th from 6:30-9:00 PM, join African Voices Magazine for a night of books, wine, and painting. Their Paint & Sip Gathering is the perfect pre-holiday opportunity to mingle, paint, and indulge in some book talk with other creatives. African Voices says of the event: “Artist D. Cross will guide you in a journey of self-expression and empowerment.  Let your muse lead you — paint your vision board for 2016 or whatever you desire. No experience in art is needed, bring your sense of adventure! There is a Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight in all of us.”

Registration is $20 before December 15th and $25 thereafter, which includes the cost of art materials and refreshments. The African Voices Upper West Side office is easily accessible by the 1, 2, or 3 trains at the 96th St stop.

"Mick Jagger’s Green-Eyed Daughter and Other Stories" by prose finalist Elizabeth Denton


Sheila tugged one rubber glove tighter to break the air bubble at her fingertip.  As she parted Malika’s thin red hair, she looked up and saw Wendall drive away in his truck.  What on earth?  God, all the things she’d said. She shouldn’t have been so heavy handed.  She jerked her leg, a sort of repressed stomping.  She remembered the way he’d responded to her touch and the way he’d touched her back, especially her breasts, which he’d lingered over and praised.  She was forty years old with a plain face and a decent figure and though she’d never been married, she knew what to do and say when it came to sex.  One-night stands were not her thing.  She believed that it took two or three times for a man to feel the connection and so she’d been frustrated by her inability to seduce him again. Sheila had had her eye on Wendall ever since she’d learned about his divorce. The tackle-style seduction had been a strategy.  Inside the truck, they’d taken turns—half dressed—and then inside her house, when she’d tried for more, it hadn’t worked.  She kept touching his shoulder or his knee, punctuating when she spoke, to test the voltage.  Low. And now, Wendall hadn’t spoken more than a few words to her for two weeks.

Last week she’d blamed it on the weather.  He couldn’t have pushed Carolyn on the swing in the rain.  This week she blamed it on the lice, the closing of the school.  The parents had called secret meetings to complain to one another about the way she was handling the crisis.  She called Wendall to ask him what they’d been saying behind her back and all she’d gotten from him was that the meetings had been secret from him too.  It was the most stressful thing she’d ever gone through. Several parents wanted their tuition money back—a ploy to force her to reopen the school.  So, okay.  She’d bought a buzzer.  Any parent who agreed to have his child’s head shaved was in.  All other students would be checked for lice at the door.  The parents agreed and Sheila reopened the school. Now, here she was—the Gestapo.  She wished she’d thought to take the muscle relaxers she always downed two days before her period.   It was a terrible time for her; she could have used Wendall’s support.

“Just this one time,” he’d warned.  Her last boyfriend had said something similarly unpromising (“I’m a loner”) and then stuck around for years, but watching Wendall drive off just now, when he had every reason to come speak to her, she knew she’d lost him.

Elizabeth Denton is the author of the short story collection, Kneeling on Rice (University of Missouri Press). Stories from her second collection, Mick Jagger’s Green Eyed Daughter and Other Stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Blackbird and The Yale Review, where her story “Mick Jagger’s Green-Eyed Daughter” won The Yale Review Prize. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and has won several grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She earned her MFA from Columbia University and taught briefly at Yale University and City College. She teaches fiction writing at the University of Virginia and lives in Batesville, Virginia with her husband, writer Mark Edmundson.

The Burqa Issue in Of Note Magazine

Of Note Magazine offers an intersectional approach to art and activism, covering issues such as race, class, education, the prison industrial complex and sexism. Their focus—through mediums such as photographs, sculpture, video, and prose—is on using art as a template for both expression and change. From its “Impact” section on their website, Of Note says:

Through its curated issues, OF NOTE has featured over 70 Artists from 40 countries who use the arts to address social justice/human rights issues. OF NOTE’s long-form journalism authored by its roster of over 30 emerging and established internationally-based Writers has focused on how artists are:

1. addressing mass incarceration in the United States
2. responding to current immigration debates and challenging preconceived notions about immigrants
3. championing the education of girls in developing nations
4. raising awareness about indigenous communities around the world
5. bringing attention to the plight of girls caught in Colombia’s drug and gang wars and illuminating the heroic stories ofEthiopian girls who fight back against child marriage
6. documenting the plight of abandoned children with albinism in Zimbabwe
7. shedding light on the dangerous journey of migrants between the Guatemalan/Mexican border
8. combatting the culture of silence surrounding domestic violence in Indian communities
9. fighting illiteracy among the ‘Born Frees” in South Africa
10. confronting sexism in the portrayals of women and girls in the media

Of Note‘s current issue, “The Burqa“, tackles a subject most timely: the systematic oppression of minority groups in the United States and elsewhere based on religious belief, appearance, and cultural signifiers. Islamophobia runs rampant, showing itself in ways new and old, from electoral politics to the No-Fly List to targeted hate crimes. In a powerful editor’s note by Of Note founder Grace Aneiza Ali, the burqa is explored as a means of denoting identity for both wearer and oppressor.

While many employ the burqa as fodder for debate, the Artists Of Note we’ve selected for The Burqa Issue use their creative voice and art practice to examine the complicated experiences of the women who actually wear the burqa—by choice or by force. These multi-disciplinary global artists employ the burqa, actual and symbolic, in their photography, documentary film, poetry, graffiti, street art, murals, sculpture and painting, to trouble our perceptions.

While their art questions, provokes, defends, indicts, or unapologetically takes a stance for or against the burqa, it is art that is first and foremost deeply personal, before it is political. Each of these women know intimately, and at times painfully, how the world encounters women donned in burqas because they have worn them or borne witness to stories of the women they love—their mothers, sisters, aunts, matriarchs and friends—who have.

Last spring, in their “Imprisoned” issue, Of Note featured artists whose work focuses on mass incarceration and the racist and classist tendencies of the United States that set people of color up for the “school-to-prison pipeline.” It is unsurprising, then, that Randall Horton found himself the topic of discussion once again, as he has broken that mold of his own accord. A piece by Sally Ann Hard titled “Randall Horton: From Prison, to Poet, to Professor” is one of the highlights of this issue. Horton’s poem A Reoccurring Nightmare In Maximum Security” opens the essay, in which Sally Ann Hard shares her own experiences loving a man behind bars. Hard’s subsequent activism focuses on ensuring that, after release, prisoners can transition back into society with the least possible stigma.

Previous issues of Of Note can be found online.

Heroes Are Gang Leaders Performance at Berl’s

On Saturday, December 12th, from 7:00-8:00 pm, Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop in DUMBO will host a night of “literary hip-jazz-blues.” The event will feature a performance by the experimental jazz band Heroes Are Gang Leaders, whose members include poets Thomas Sayers Ellis, Ailish Hopper, James Brandon Lewis, Luke Stewart, Margaret Morris, and Randall Horton, whose Hook: A Memoir we published last month. It will surely be a night that celebrates lyricism in a myriad of forms.

More Heroes Are Gang Leaders:

More of Randall Horton:

HookA Memoir is available for purchase from Small Press Distribution online.

Randall Horton on The Stan Simpson Show

Following Randall Horton’s last segment on Fox on November 30th, he appeared again on The Stan Simpson show this week.

The interview with Simpson touches on many themes throughout his new memoir, Hook: poverty, drugs, class, growing up black in America. “What happens is that you become sucked in—but then you become addicted,” Horton says. But Horton has always dealt in the seemingly insurmountable and so too has come out on the other side. Watch the interview to learn more about Horton’s journey.

Hook is currently available for purchase through CreateSpace online.

"Mad Magi" by prose finalist Cecilia Fernandez

Mad Magi

On the evening before the early morning fire, Maximo looked up at the black Florida sky littered with diamonds and shivered in the January cold. The wind hurtled off the churning waves in Miami’s Biscayne Bay and ripped through his corduroy coat.  The links of his 18-carat gold chain felt icy against the coarse black hair on his chest. He remembered the winters back home on the island; they were never quite as cold as this one in exile.  Not so cold that he had to turn on the electric blanket and plug in the floor heater before diving into the sleep that left him feeling more dead than alive.          

He reached inside his shirt and touched the carved gold medallion of San Lazaro, patron saint of the sick, the lost, the woebegone, and offered a quick prayer. Standing in the evening wind,he wrestled with the details of a plan growing like a reckless monster in his head. Each time he thought about it, he felt more certain he would go through with it: call Ana from a phone booth, tell her he was ready to leave his family, pick her up at her apartment and begin the drive north to a new life. There had to be something beyond what he wasdoing: selling toys seven days a week. He needed lightness of being,and he had to take the first step to find out where it was.

Cecilia M. Fernandez is the author of Leaving Little Havana: A Memoir of Miami’s Cuban Ghetto, selected as a finalist in three categories at the 2015 International Latino Book Awards, one of the top ten nonfiction books by a Latino author (2015) and a finalist in the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Book Contest (2011). She is an independent journalist and college instructor with a passion for literature. Her work has appeared in Latina Magazine, Accent Miami, Upstairs at the Duroc: the Paris Workshop Journal, Vista Magazine, and Le Siecle de George Sand. A former reporter for The Stockton Record, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Miami television stations WPBT, WSVN, WSCV, and WLTV, Cecilia is an Emmy nominee from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; she received Dartmouth University’s Champion Tuck Award (Honorable Mention for Television), the Scripps-Howard Award: News Writer of the Month and a Fellowship for Independent Summer Study from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Cecilia earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University and an MA in English Literature from the University of Miami. Her undergraduate degree in journalism is from the University of California-Berkeley.

PHOTO RECAP: Randall Horton’s Hook Release Event

On Friday, November 20th, Augury joined forces with African Voices Magazine to host a night in celebration of the launch of Randall Horton’s Hook. The event featured many special guests and close friends of Horton, who read from their own work, shared anecdotes, and ultimately all expressed a collective feeling of joy for what Hook has become. Our dear friend Dave Bledsoe is credited with all of these photos.

Julia Judge, Mike Miller, Kimberly Steele, Randall Horton, Kate Angus, Nicolas Amara, Carolyn Butts, and Ian Lloyd.


Randall Horton signing copies of Hook.


The crowd at African Voices’ Upper West Side space.


Nkosi Nkululeko.


Tyehimba Jess.


Sally Ann Hard.


Hettie Jones.


Becky Thompson


Linda Perez.


Randall Horton reading from Hook.



Randall Horton and Linda Perez.



Randall Horton’s author page.

"Her, Bodily" by prose finalist Sarah Pape

Her, Bodily

Montgomery Wards. The name on our lawn mower connected by a thread to the nametag shining on her breast. Glass sheen walkway and a country of beds, shoe on shoe on shoe, and the box full of gold. Mom stands behind it. I see her skirt through the glass she tells me not to touch. Lets me hold the red ruby ring.

I wanted the Hush Puppies. Tassels. Little moustaches shimmying over the puckered toes.

Homeward, we slide over the truck bench, DadMeMom. The scent of sunrust, the sweat and perfume soaking through blouse tied at the throat. How she would pull the sash loose, exposing her moles—constellation over the rise of breast flesh.

There was the moment of crossing the green bridge before the rise of land and road. The truck spasmed—halted—at the base of the ascent. What did I know about distance until we opened the doors into darkness, held hand into hand and began stepping?

I was too big, but she held me. Held my body in long stretches. Arrived to the pay phone fused like an animal with two heads, a bouquet of sweating limbs. Where did Dad go? He came for us, I know. He went the other way in the dark.

Bessy, he named her. The truck that never carried us again.


Sarah Pape teaches English and works as the Managing Editor of Watershed Review at Chico State. Her poetry and prose has recently been published in: Passages North, Ecotone, Crab Orchard Review, Harpur Palate, The Pinch, Smartish Pace, The Collapsar, Pilgrimage, The Squaw Valley Review, The Superstition Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. She curates community literary programming and is a member of the Quoin Collective, a local letterpress group. Check out her website for more:

Apply for Poets House Emerging Poets Fellowship by December 11th!

Poets House, known for its extensive (60,000-volume) poetry library, events, and workshops in and around New York City, has announced a deadline of December 11th for their annual Emerging Poets Fellowship.

Through the 12-week fellowship, lead by Adam Fitzgerald, selected poets will have the opportunity to engage in discourse, guidance, and workshops with both peers and distinguished faculty and guests. Events and conversations with poets and scholars will also take place during the fellowship period. Tuition is free and a stipend will be provided to cover travel expenses. At the end of the fellowship, a group reading will be held, showcasing the prose completed over the three months.

Interested applicants are highly encouraged to submit work before Friday, December 11th.

To learn more about Poets House and the application process, visit their website.