Come to Silvana for the Next FPP Reading on Tuesday, November 18th!

Our next reading is only two weeks away and we are so delighted by our lineup–they are a stunning group of writers and artists.  Join us downstairs at Silvana on Tuesday, November 18th at 7pm for Cameron Fraser, Asali Solomon, Marguerite Van Cook + James Romberger, and FPP co-founder Wendy S. Walters. Special DJ sets by Lady DM.  Silvana is located at 300 W. 116th St. near Frederick Douglass Blvd, across from Harlem Tavern, steps from the B/C at 116th. Admission is free.

More about our participants:

13941Asali Solomon was born and raised in West Philadelphia. Her first book, a collection of stories entitled Get Down, is set mostly in Philadelphia. Solomon’s work has been featured in Vibe, Essence, and the anthology Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Lips and Other Parts. She has a PhD in English from the University of California, Berkeley and an MFA form the Iowa’s Writer Workshop in fiction. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and is on the short list for this year’s Hurston/Wright Literary Award for best new fiction. The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award 2007 nominees include Asali Solomon for her collection of short stories, Get Down published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 2006.  She also was named one of the National Book foundation’s ’5 Under 35 in 2007.

Romberger Van Cook selfportraitMarguerite Van Cook came to New York with her punk band The Innocents, after touring the UK with The Clash. She stayed and opened the seminal installation gallery Ground Zero with her partner James Romberger. Her own works as an artist and filmmaker have placed her in many museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Schwartz Art Collection at Harvard. Her other credits include poet (she was awarded the Van Rensselear Prize while at Columbia) and actor. Her current generational graphic memoir The Late Child and Other Animals with James Romberger (Fantagraphics) has been translated and published in France under the title L’Enfant inattendue. Her color work on the graphic memoir 7 Miles a Second, a collaborative project with James Romberger and the late David Wojnarowicz garnered her a nomination for an Eisner Award 2014 for Best Painter/Multimedia Artist. In 2006, Van Cook became the creative and managing director of the Howl! Arts Festival, which led in 2009 to the establishment of Howl HELP, a free emergency health & care service for downtown artists. She holds an M.A. in Modern European Studies from Columbia University and is currently completing a Ph.D in French at The Graduate Center CUNY. Website:

Romberger Van Cook selfportraitJames Romberger’s fine art pastel drawings are in many private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Romberger’s ecological comic Post York was published in 2012 by Uncivilized Books; it includes a flexi-disc by his son Crosby and it was nominated for an 2013 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue. Romberger collaborated with Marguerite Van Cook and the late writer, artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz on the critically acclaimed graphic novel 7 Miles A Second, which was first published in 1996 by DC/Vertigo and then released in a revised, expanded edition in February 2013 by Fantagraphics Books. Romberger interviews authors for Publisher’s Weekly and he writes critically for The Comics Journal and the pop culture site Hooded Utilitarian. Website:

IMG_5055Wendy S. Walters is the author of a forthcoming book of essays, Multiply/Divide (Sarabande, 2015) and two books of poemsTroy, Michigan (Futurepoem, 2014) and Longer I Wait, More You Love Me (2009).  Walters was a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Poetry, and her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Bookforum, FENCE, Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere.  She has won a Ford Foundation Fellowship, a research fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution, a scholarship from Bread Loaf, and multiple fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo.  She is a Contributing Editor at The Iowa Review and Associate Professor of creative writing and literature at the Eugene Lang College of The New School University in the city of New York.

CamPicCameron Fraser hails from Chesapeake Virginia. He studied sculpture at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and is currently a MFA candidate at Columbia University in the Sound Arts program. For years, he lived in Los Angeles working as a musician, sound designer and recording engineer. His focus is on making work that lives at the intersection of acoustic ecology, sound design and new music and he is interested in soundscapes as narrative spaces. Cameron left his heart in San Francisco, with his girlfriend and two cats.

-4-1With roots stemming from the legendary musical island of Jamaica in the Caribbean, Mackenzie Largie a.k.a. Lady DM describes herself as a ‘musical expat’, an apt description for her fearless take on crossing genres of dance-able music.  Lady DM’s story begins in 1995, in NYC as a host on FIT’s radio station, by day; and avid regular at parties like Theo Parrish’s SugarBabies by night. Two years later, she begins her ascent of the city’s DJ circuit proper, a regular at venues like the Limelight, Orchard Bar, and The Cooler. While based in Europe from 99’-10’, Lady DM regularly hosted radio shows in Zurich, and Berlin, while jetting around entertaining crowds at legendary parties like Amsterdam’s Mazzo Club, Zurich’s Lethargy festival, Milan’s Cox 18, Munich’s Muffathalle, and Berlin’s WMF. In Berlin, Lady DM also curated events, with Berlin’s then up-and-coming artists, including Peaches, Dixon, Jamie Lidell, & Gonzales.  She now calls NYC home.

Tonight! Join FPP for an Evening of Moving Image/Spoken Word as Part of Hyperplace Harlem

Hyperplace Promo-1Hyperplace Harlem, in partnership with First Person Plural, hosts the works of intergenerational and international artists tonight in Harlem.  The evening runs from 6pm-10pm at Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox Ave (between 127th and 128th, near the 2/3 125th stop.  Suggested donation is $10.

The night aims to bring together discrete and diverse practices that complicate and expand notions of place as represented via a wide range of forms—from Machinima to documentary, animated historical footage to spoken word. These films, videos, written works & performances address themes such as relationships between public and private bodies, memory and loss, transferred history, and space as public domain.

Hyperplace Harlem is delighted to include IBM: A Self-portrait, a film by Albert and David Maysles as well as a Q&A with Albert Maysles and participating artists immediately following the screening. The film was selected and will be presented by New York-based artists João Enxuto & Erica Love as part of their project for Hyperplace. The artists chose this 1964 film to compare mid-20th Century corporate tech culture with the Silicone Valley ideology that is affecting a broader swath of the world today.

Participating artists will be present and they include: Albert and David Maysles, Carolyn Lazard, Dirk de Bruyn, Ephraim Asili, eteam, Jenny Gräf, João Enxuto & Erica Love, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Randall Horton, Stacy Parker Le Melle, and Zefrey Throwell.

More on Hyperplace Harlem: Our contemporary notions of place have shifted and expanded as technology and mobility touches the lives of local and global communities. Virtual environments, GPS signals, gentrification, psycho-geography, local ecology, and urban decay are some of the themes our artists traverse while navigating their relationships to place.Hyperplace Harlem will take place in and around Hamilton Heights and West Harlem October 4-6 2014 and will include exhibitions, performances, workshops, and public media art forums. For more information please visit:

The FPP Season Kickoff Blew Us Away!

What a privilege to have had Lacy M. Johnson, Kiese Laymon, and Tiphanie Yanique share the stage this past Monday for First Person Plural Harlem’s season opener.  It was a profound reading– not a word to be used lightly, and we don’t.

Lacy M. Johnson‘s latest book, The Other Side, recounts the harrowing experience of ljohnsonher kidnap and near murder at the hands of a former boyfriend.  Johnson read of the dreams that haunt her still– the expected nightmares of threats and violence, and the perhaps more disturbing dream of sitting down to a calm, comforting conversation with the man.  Through her children, Johnson showed us the lasting impact of the violence done to her.  “I want her to be a little afraid of me,” she writes of her daughter, a three-year-old as irrepressible as Johnson herself was as a child.  The traumatic event taught Johnson to retreat into herself, and in moving moment after moment, Johnson worries about how she closes the door on her children, forgetting how to open it again.

klaymonKiese Laymon decided to read an essay “from the heart,’ one he feels uncomfortable reading outside of his Mississippi birthplace, and we will be forever grateful that he did. “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America,” the titular essay of his recent collection, is a revelation about what it means to be a young black male in a country that is anything but post-racial.  Whereas wealthy/white youth have their foibles and serious crimes alike laughed off as growing pains, Laymon writes, “I was born on parole,” and “nineteen-year-old black boys cannot be perfect in America.” And while he writes of the ways his life might have and did go terribly sideways as a young man, he also finds deep empathy for, among others, his mother, wondering how he has failed to add love and comfort to her life. The essay was a wrenching tour de force.

Tiphanie Yanique read a section of her new novel, Land of Love and Drowning, which began with the musicality of poetry recounting the charmed life of an impossibly tyaniquecharismatic man from St. Thomas who joins the US Army in the time of Jim Crow.  We were spellbound as Yanique narrated a trip he and a few other “Islander” soldiers take to a restaurant near their New Orleans base.  The excursion nearly ends in tragedy as the realities of violent racism slowly– almost too slowly– sink in for the young men, unused to segregation and anticipating the respect the uniform should afford.  The beautiful, talented protagonist cannot believe the local men won’t listen to reason.  The whole of Shrine was leaning forward throughout, to see him safely through.

photo 2(1)Huge thanks to DJ Lady DM spinning us on home!  And thanks again to Lacy, Tiphanie, and Kiese for the work that your words do in the world.  We will not soon forget this reading!

Whole Lotta Love: the Next FPP Lineup Enjoys Critical Acclaim

It seems every time we blink there’s another rave review or fascinating new article out on Kiese Laymon, Lacy M. Johnson, and Tiphanie Yanique, our First Person Plural Lineup at 7pm on Tuesday, September 30th at Shrine in Harlem.

the other sideThe Wall Street Journal Online writes of Lacy M. Johnson’s “incandescent” memoir: it is “written with both fury and restraint. The reader feels pulled onto a fast train, in a compartment with a narrator telling an intimate and terrifying tale.” Kirkus Review calls The Other Side, “Ferociously beautiful and courageous, Johnson’s intimate story sheds light on the perpetuation of violence against women.” You can read a fantastic interview with Lacy at The Rumpus, which says, “Johnson’s memoir is an extraordinary document, and she herself holds an important place in a movement to stop violence against women.”


Long DivisionKiese Laymon published not one but two books in 2013. His novel Long Division was on the “Best of 2013″ lists at The Believer, Buzzfeed, Guernica, Salon, and many other publications.   Roxane Gay writes in the The Nation, “[Long Division] is the most exciting book I’ve read all year.  There’s nothing like it, both in terms of the scope of what the book tackles and the writing’s Afro Surrealist energy.”  Essays from his collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America have appeared in the Best American series, the Best of Net award, and the Atlantic‘s Best Essays of 2013. The Rumpus writes of the collection, “[I]n this very un-post-racial world, Laymon picks up where Baldwin left off, surviving and living to tell the tale….How does he kill himself and others? By fighting, by loving too much or not enough, by eating too much, by quitting, by writing or not writing, and by continuing to push forward despite opposition.

Land of Love and DrowningTiphanie Yanique follows up her award winning short story collection with the stunning debut novel, Land of Love and Drowning, about which Publisher’s Weekly writes, “Through the voices and lives of its native people, Yanique offers an affecting narrative of the Virgin Islands that pulses with life, vitality, and a haunting evocation of place.” Flavorwire calls the novel “sublime,” Huffingtonpost writes, “Yanique’s debut novel bursts with imagination and intoxicating atmosphere, and the deeply felt characters at its heart demand to be heard,” and TimeOut writes, “How rare to encounter a dauntless and complex novel that convincingly melds true history with magic, but Tiphanie Yanique’s debut—a rich seascape about family and legacy, beauty’s clout and the variable waves of race and class on the twentieth-century Caribbean islands—accomplishes just that.”

We feel unbelievably privileged to welcome these three authors to the same stage next Tuesday night.  These are the voices that will be shaping the conversation for years to come.  See you at Shrine at 7pm September 30th!

Join Us for a Night of Screenings and Readings at Hyperplace Harlem

Hyperplace PromoThe First Person Plural Reading Series is proud to partner with Hyperplace Harlem to co-host a night of screenings and readings at Maysles Cinema from 6pm-10pm on Monday October 6, 2014.  The evening will feature work by Albert and David Maysles, Carolyn LazardDirk de BruyneteamJenny GräfJoão Enxuto & Erica LoveLaTasha N. Nevada DiggsRandall Horton,Stacy Parker Le Melle, and Zefrey Throwell.  Maysles Cinema is located at 343 Lenox Blvd, between 127th and 128th.  Take the 2/3 to 125th.  Admission is free.

About Hyperplace Harlem

Our contemporary notions of place have shifted and expanded as technology and mobility touches the lives of local and global communities. Virtual environments, GPS signals, gentrification, psycho-geography, local ecology, and urban decay are some of the themes artists traverse while navigating their relationships with Place.

In this light, we are excited to present Hyperplace Harlem, a three-day festival, on October 4-6.

Hyperplace Harlem’s program will feature media and visual artists, readings, performances, workshops, and discussions. Hyperplace Harlem seeks to bring together artists and audiences from various backgrounds and to foster engagement, sparking new discoveries and conversations.

For more information, check out Hyperplace Harlem’s site here.

A New Season Begins: First Person Plural Premieres on Tuesday, September 30th

We are delighted to announce that the opening line-up of the third season of the First Person Plural Reading Series will feature authors Lacy M. JohnsonKiese Laymon, and Tiphanie Yanique and includes special DJ sets by Lady DM.  We are proud to showcase these artists, especially given the stellar new work they have gifted the world. Plan to join us at 7pm on Tuesday, September 30th at Shrine in Harlem, 2271 Adam Clayton Powell between 133rd and 134th.  We know this will be a night to remember.

About our participants

1653407_10152073317113692_1189887351_nLacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based artist, curator, teacher, activist and author of The Other Side (Tin House Books, 2014) and Trespasses: A Memoir (Iowa, 2012). She is co-creator of the location-based storytelling project [the invisible city], and her work has appeared in Dame Magazine, Tin House, Creative NonfictionPoets & Writers, Gulf Coast and elsewhere. She teaches interdisciplinary art at the University of Houston.


Kiese-Laymon-photoKiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA from Indiana University and is the author of the novel, Long Division  and a collection of essays,  How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Long Division was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by a number of publications, including Buzzfeed, The Believer, Salon, Guernica, Mosaic Magazine, Chicago Tribune, The Morning News, MSNBC, Library Journal, Contemporary Literature, and the Crunk Feminist Collective. Both of Laymon’s books are finalists for the Mississippi Award for Arts and Letters in the fiction and nonfiction categories. Long Division is currently a finalist for Stanford’s Saroyan international writing award. Laymon has written essays and stories for numerous publications including Esquire, ESPN, Colorlines, NPR, Gawker, Truthout, Longman’s Hip Hop Reader, The Best American Non-required Reading, Guernica, Mythium and Politics and Culture. Laymon is currently at work on a new novel “And So On” and a memoir called 309: A Fat Black Memoir. He is an Associate Professor of English at Vassar College.


TiphAuthorPhoto-2Tiphanie Yanique is the author the novel Land of Love and Drowning, published this July 2014.  BookRiot has listed it as one of the best books of the summer. BookPage has listed her as one of the 14 Women to watch out for in 2014.  Her writing has won the 2011 BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Fiction, Boston Review Prize in Fiction, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship and an Academy of American Poet’s Prize. She has been listed by the Boston Globe as one of the sixteen cultural figures to watch out for and by the National Book Foundation as one of the 5 Under 35. Her writing has been published in Best African American Fiction, The Wall Street Journal, American Short Fiction and other places.  Tiphanie is from the Virgin Islands and is a professor in the MFA program at the New School in New York City.


Podcast ladydm_useWith roots stemming from the legendary musical island of Jamaica in the Caribbean, Mackenzie Largie a.k.a. Lady DM describes herself as a ‘musical expat’, an apt description for her fearless take on crossing genres of dance-able music.  Lady DM’s story begins in 1995, in NYC as a host on FIT’s radio station, by day; and avid regular at parties like Theo Parrish’s SugarBabies by night. Two years later, she begins her ascent of the city’s DJ circuit proper, a regular at venues like the Limelight, Orchard Bar, and The Cooler. While based in Europe from 99’-10’, Lady DM regularly hosted radio shows in Zurich, and Berlin, while jetting around entertaining crowds at legendary parties like Amsterdam’s Mazzo Club, Zurich’s Lethargy festival, Milan’s Cox 18, Munich’s Muffathalle, and Berlin’s WMF. In Berlin, Lady DM also curated events, with Berlin’s then up-and-coming artists, including Peaches, Dixon, Jamie Lidell, & Gonzales.  She now calls NYC home.

Join FPP at Silvana in Harlem, Tomorrow at 4pm!

FPP 4x6 for WebJoin us tomorrow afternoon at Silvana *a new location* in Harlem at 4pm for a reading of Karinne Keithley Syers’s My Address is Still Walton: a Play for the Set of Charlie Rose.

Immediately following the play, writers Randall Horton and Nicole Cooley share their work to wrap up our final event of the season. Silvana is located at 300 W 116th St. (at Frederick Douglass) in Harlem. As always, our events are FREE.

The FPP Interview: Randall Horton

FPP spoke with poet and writer Randall Horton about giving shape to the unseen, the intersections between poetry and prose, and the exhausting digging and wallowing required by writing a memoir. Randall reads with us at the FPP season finale on March 9 at Silvana in Harlem.

Bio Pic GtownYour poetry seems quite public, that is, interested in the social realm, in the institutions that rise up in and around communities.  You zero in on the exchanges among people and systems that we might observe, rather than focusing largely on interiority.  Can you tell us about your approach to writing about real or invented characters?

I think you are correct in terms of looking at the structures within society, and how these structures dictate human exchange. When looking at characters, I’m trying to figure out what society is doing to them. I think society invents characters. I love to look at that process.  To read the rest of the interview, go here.

The FPP Interview: Nicole Cooley

candidphotoFPP spoke with poet and prose writer Nicole Cooley about the searing imagery of post-Katrina New Orleans, the glory of dollhouses, and the joy of being a poet’s daughter.  Nicole Cooley reads with us at The First Person Plural Reading Series season finale on March 9 at Silvana in Harlem.

In your book of poems, Breach, we move through terrains physical and emotional as we imagine your New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina. What did you feel most drawn to thinking and writing about in those days?  Which images stick with you still?

I wanted to write the poems because of the images–what I saw when I went to New Orleans three months after the hurricane and what I saw when I went to Mississippi a year after the storm. The front steps that lead to no house. The houses that looked fine until you saw–or my mother pointed out–the thin black waterline on the outside that meant the water rose inside the house and it was ruined.  Read the rest of the interview here.

The Grand Finale of the FPP Season – Sunday, March 9 at Silvana in Harlem!

Please join us for an afternoon of arts both literary and theatrical in the downstairs performance space of Silvana in Harlem at 4:00pm on March 9, 2014.  We will begin with a staged reading of Karinne Keithley Syers’ My Address Is Still Walton: A Play For The Set of Charlie Rose, directed and performed by Johanna McKeon, Caleb Bark, and Lacy Post, then we will hear poetry and prose writers Nicole Cooley and Randall Horton.  For this season finale, we will be in a new space, at the relatively new Silvana cafe and bar at 116th and FDB, across from Harlem Tavern.  Plan to eat delicious Israeli food and drink whatever suits!  As always, admission is free.

n_cooleyNicole Cooley grew up in New Orleans and now lives outside of NYC. She has published four books of poems, most recently Breach(LSU Press) and Milk Dress (Alice James Books), both in 2010, and a novel. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The Feminist Wire, The Nation, and Poetry among other venues. She is currently working on a non-fiction book, My Dollhouse, Myself: Miniature Histories, as well as a new collection of poems, Of Marriage. She is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College-City University of New York.

Bio Pic GtownRandall Horton is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award and most recently a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. Randall is a Cave Canem Fellow, a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a member of The Symphony: The House that Etheridge Built. Randall is Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Haven. An excerpt from his memoir titled Roxbury is published by Kattywompus Press. Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press in the publisher of his latest poetry collection Pitch Dark Anarchy. He currently lives in NYC.

karinne-300x163Karinne Keithley Syers is an interdisciplinary artist and publisher of plays and performance texts. Her work spans dance, writing, sound, animation, essay, video, and projection, and has been seen in and out of New York since 1995. Recently her solo show Another Tree Dance premiered at The Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City after a workshop performance at Mount Tremper Arts. Her chamber operetta/museum installation Montgomery Park, or Opulence, won a Bessie Award for Outstanding Production in 2011, after its 2010 run at Incubator Arts Project. Her work has also been seen at Danspace Project, Dixon Place, La MaMa E.T.C., Tonic, innumerable installations of Catch, several Little Theaters, The Ohio Theater’s Ice Factory festival, Surf Reality, and Ur, and has been supported by residencies and workshops at the MacDowell Colony, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, St. Ann’s Warehouse’s Puppet Lab, Silo, and Mount Tremper Arts. She has collaborated as a performer with David Neumann, Young Jean Lee, Paul Lazar and Annie-B Parson, Chris Yon, Sara Smith, Melanie Rios Glaser, Paul Matteson, and Yoshiko Chuma, as a sound and video designer with Big Dance Theater, Sibyl Kempson, Kate Weare, Ivy Baldwin, Chris Yon, Melanie Rios Glaser, Monica Bill Barnes, as a choreographer with The Civilians, Talking Band, Johanna McKeon, and Theater of a Two-Headed Calf, with whom she has also been a librettist. She founded 53rd State Press in 2007, and now co-edits it with Antje Oegel. They recently published their 19th book of performance scripts. She studied the dark (playwriting) arts at Brooklyn College with Mac Wellman, and is spitting distance from completing her Ph.D. in English at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her long-running audio serial The Basement Tapes of the Mole Cabal can be found on, along with her treasury of ukulele covers and stop motion animations.