Crossings: Words and Music — Who’s Who

Rika Lesser, poet, translator, essayist, and educator, is the author most recently of Questions of Love: New & Selected Poems and a revised edition of Etruscan Things. She has translated fifteen collections of poetry or fiction for readers of all ages, primarily from Swedish and German, including works by Göran Sonnevi, Gunnar Ekelöf, and Claes Andersson from Swedish, and Rafik Schami, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Hermann Hesse from German as well as Kiki Dimoula from Greek, her first translation in that language. Her honors include the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, an Ingram- Merrill Foundation Award in Poetry, The Landon Poetry Translation Prize, a Fulbright Commission fellowship, two NEA Translation Grants (2001 and 2013), and two Translation Prizes from the Swedish Academy.

Kiki Dimoula is a member of the Academy of Athens. She has been awarded the Greek State Prize twice, the Grand State Prize, the Ouranis Prize, and the Aristeion of Letters (given by the Academy of Athens), as well as the European Prize for Literature. Her poetry has been translated into English, French, Danish, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and many other languages. Rika Lesser’s translation with Cecile Inglessis Margellos of The Brazen Plagiarist: Selected Poems comes out as a Margellos World Republic of Letters Book from Yale University Press on November 13, 2012.


Aaron Jay Kernis, winner of the coveted 2002 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition and one of the youngest composers ever awarded the Pulitzer Prize, has taught composition at the Yale School of Music since 2003. Among the most esteemed musical figures of his generation, his music is featured prominently on orchestral, chamber, and recital programs worldwide and he has been commissioned by many of America‘s foremost performing artists. He was invited to join the American Academy of Arts and Letters as a member in 2011 and is the most recent winner of the Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University.

Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti (1876-1944) was an Italian poet and the founder of the Futurist movement.  He is best known as the author of the Futurist Manifesto (1909), which was published in French on the front page of the most prestigious French daily newspaper, Le Figaro. Marinetti believed that violence was a means of producing an aesthetic effect, as well as inherent to life itself. Consequently, Futurism had both anarchist and Fascist elements.First published in 1932, The Futurist Cookbook is a collection of essays, exhortations, scenarios, and recipes for food of the future which related the artistic movement of Futurism to food and challenged the conventions of nineteenth-century Italian fare.

Asta Hansen has worked in film, television and theatre on both coasts and abroad. Recent highlights are the role of Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, John Jesurun’s Stopped Bridge of Dreams at La Mama and in his webisode Shadowland, and lead role in Spotless which was selected for the Poppy Jasper Film Festival in Northern California.

Violinist Nurit Pacht has enjoyed a career as a chamber musician performing in festivals worldwide. As a recitalist and in concerto appearances, she has performed in venues such as London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Moscow’s Great Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, The People’s Hall of China in Beijing and, at the invitation of Christoph Eschenbach, at Ravinia’s Rising Stars Series. Chosen by director Robert Wilson to be the featured musician in his multi-media piece “Relative Light” featuring solo violin works by John Cage and J.S. Bach, Ms. Pacht is equally at home in both standard and contemporary repertoire. Her passion for new music has culminated in world premiers and commissions from composers including Michael Hersch, Noam Sheriff and Annie Gosfield. She has performed in duo recitals with Philip Glass playing the composer’s works for violin and piano.

Cellist David Bakamjian performs regularly as a recitalist, chamber player, and recording artist. He  has soloed with numerous orchestras on both baroque and modern cello, and has served as principal cellist for many others. With the Casa Verde Trio, Mr. Bakamjian completed six critically acclaimed national tours as well as a month-long tour of China. On baroque cello, he performs with Brooklyn Baroque, the American Classical Orchestra, Early Music New York, Concert Royal, and the Long Island Baroque Ensemble. He co-wrote and is featured in “Evocations of Armenia,” a program for solo cello and spoken word that was specially conceived for the MET museum. His CD of Boismortier cello sonatas was released last year.

Pianist Evelyne Luest is an accomplished soloist and chamber musician and has performed and toured in Europe, South America, Asia and the USA. She has won several competitions including the Artists International Competition in New York as soloist as well as many awards with her ensemble, Contrasts Quartet. Ms. Luest has performed as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Italy and on the St. Paul Sunday National Radio Show. Her many collaborations include such noted musicians as cellist Truls Mork and flutist Emmanuel Pahud. Recent performances include festivals and concert venues in Norway, France, Japan, Spain, Albuquerque, and Detroit. Her long list of premieres includes compositions by Ned Rorem, Joan Tower and Aaron Jay Kernis. Ms. Luest studied with Gilbert Kalish at SUNY/Stony Brook, where she received an M.M. and D.M.A. in piano performance.


Opportunities for Artists: Writer to Writer

Have you been looking for a convenient and supportive writing group–a forum in which to share your writing, get valuable feedback, and develop your craft? Or a writing class where you can learn from skilled and experienced practitioners without breaking the bank? If your answer to either–or both–of these questions is yes and you live in or around Northern Manhattan, then Writer to Writer may be for you. Sunday Best curator Patricia Eakins and new Sunday Best volunteer Dianne Garville will be facilitating this new workshop which they describe as “an affordable, welcoming harbor for writers in any genre who work in isolation and are looking for a supportive community, constructive critical feedback, and encouragement to submit manuscripts for publication.”

Writer to Writer will be held at Holy Trinity Church in Inwood (20 Cumming Street, New York, New York 10034) on six consecutive Wednesday evenings beginning April 18, 2012. Each session will run from 7pm to 9 pm; the cost is a mere $10 per workshop session ($60 for the entire program). Writer to Writer will be a facilitated peer workshop appropriate for writers of all skills and experience levels from the novice to the published professional. Anyone who writes and takes his or her writing seriously knows how valuable a supportive yet structured workshop can be in terms of providing inspiration, guidance, support, and perspective. Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in a workshop with two highly skilled writers and teachers at a price that can’t be beat.

Read on for more info about Patricia and Dianne:

Patricia Eakins is the author of The Hungry Girls­ and The Marvelous Adventures of Pierre Baptiste (a novel) which won the NYU Press Prize for Fiction and the Capricorn Fiction Award of the Writer’s Voice. She has also won two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Parnassus, Conjunctions, Fiction International and The Paris Review, which awarded her the Aga Khan Prize. The French translation of The Hungry Girls came out in 2003. Eakins has an M.F.A. in fiction from Goddard College and has taught writing at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), The New School, and NYU-SCE. She curates the Sunday Best Reading Series in Northern Manhattan.

Dianne Garville is the author of The Snow Baby’s Search for Christmas, a children’s book published by American Heritage. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and is the winner of the Ardella Mills Prize for Graduate Fiction. She has attended the Bennington Writer’s Workshop and received an Americorps grant to attend the NY Writers Conference at Skidmore College. She has done post-graduate work in creative writing at City College and is currently working on Carmen’s Daughter, a memoir linking intergenerational family stories. Dianne has taught English and Creative writing in New York public schools for fifteen years.

For more information about the workshop, please email Patricia at or Dianne at

Published in: on April 3, 2012 at 7:06 am  Comments (3)  

Poster for Sunday Best Curator Patricia Eakins’s Reading with Harold Jaffe at Word Up

Event Recap: Openings to Light, an Afternoon of Poetry

The Sunday Best Reading Series spring season is well underway. Just this past weekend, on March 4, the series hosted The Festival of the Word in Northern Manhattan, a double-header event featuring a children’s theatre workshop with The People’s Theatre Project and a reading by three local writers who won artists’ grants for 2012 from The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA). We still have more exciting literary programs coming up this spring, including “Crossing the Atlantic,” an afternoon of poetry from “across the pond,” on April 15. Meanwhile, we offer  a recap of “Openings to Light,” which took place on December 4, along with photos and an audio link hosted on the WHFR website.

“Openings to Light” featured readings by three gifted poets: Amy Holman, Christopher Locke, and Sharon White. Amy Holman opened the program with poems from her book Wrens Fly Through This Open Window, published in 2010 by Somondoco Press, as well as newer works.  Holman’s poetry is at once quirky and unsettling, witty and gorgeous. After explaining that the title of her book came from one of its poems, “The Past is Always Coming,” which is about “dinosaurs and the four-chambered heart,” Holman started her set with a poem inspired both by an episode of CSI dealing with the “human chimera” phenomenon and by a “strange news” headline regarding a kidney transplant. In addition to strange news headlines, Holman finds poetic material in everything from archaeology to marine biology to outdated and overused slang expressions.

Poet Amy Holman.

Christopher Locke read works from his book End of American Magic and the soon-to-be-published Waiting for Grace. Many of Locke’s poems are survival stories, narrated by someone who has made it to the other side of a childhood steeped in religious extremism and a youth marked by struggles with substance abuse. As a father, Locke has found salvation closer to home. In the title poem of Waiting for Grace, named after his daughter, he “wait[s] for the yellow cube of her bus” and notes that “every day she saves [his] life.”

Poet Christopher Locke

Philadelphia poet Sharon White closed the program with selections from her most recent book Eve and Her Apple. White described the book as poetry “about travels” and  touched upon journeys of various kinds, from a trip to the Grand Canyon with her brother at age 15 to her experiences working on a farm in Norway. White’s father had just died when she wrote many of the poems, many of which were informed by her passage through this loss.  Explaining that, as a poet, she had become tired of her own voice, White also read poems that experimented with voice and taking on new identities in her verse.

Poet Sharon White

If you missed the reading–or would simply like to listen to the event again, you will find the full audio of “Openings to Light” on the Sunday Best Program page on the Washington Heights Free Radio (WHFR) web site.  Click here to listen! And thanks to Sig and Theo Rosen, Sunday Best’s sound techs, whose hard work makes the reading series possible.

Sound technician Theo Rosen

Published in: on March 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Other Literary Events: TODAY, Sunday, 11/20, at 2pm; UPTOWN NARRATIVES at WORD UP BOOKS

If you are in northern Manhattan today, please consider stopping by Word Up (4157 Broadway, at West 176th Street) at 2PM to hear Uptown Narratives,  a program of memoir and personal essay featuring some current and former Sunday Best Reading Series volunteers.  Among the readers will be Bonnie Walker, Sunday Best Reading Series photographer and blogger; Rita Calderon, Food Committee Member; and Risa Hirsch Ehrlich, front desk staff and all-around volunteer-extraordinaire.  All three have also read at the Sunday Best Reading Series.  The fourth reader on today’s program is Liam Drew, a new resident of Washington Heights whose work recently appeared in The Guardian. Please come welcome Liam to the neighborhood!

Read on for program details.



Readings of Memoir and Personal Narrative

By Writers from Washington Heights and Inwood

Sunday, November 20 at 2PM

Word Up: Community Bookstore

4157 Broadway (at West 176th Street)

Rita Calderon

Rita L. Calderon is a long-time Washington Heights resident and a psychotherapist. Her non-fiction work has appeared in several newspapers, including The Philadelphia Daily News and The New York Times. She has read her work at Above the Bridge Writers Café and the Sunday Best Reading Series.

Liam Drew

Liam Drew is a neuroscientist. In addition to writing memoir, he writes pieces that demystify science for the layperson. He was recently published in The Guardian.

Risa Hirsch Ehrlich

Risa Hirsch Ehrlich, who is primarily a visual artist, has been writing memoir for the past several years. She finds memoir to be a safe way to visit the past with the present adult conducting the vulnerable younger self backwards.

Bonnie Walker

Bonnie Walker is a writer and photographer, as well as an attorney. She is currently working on a book-length memoir.

Event Recap: Feasting on the Cornucopiad

Last weekend’s reading “The Cornucopiad: Nourishing the Muse” was a grand success from both the artistic and the culinary perspectives.   Sunday Best’s dedicated Food Committee proved itself once again during the after-reception, offering up a table of quiche and other delectable treats.  However, the Committee’s performance behind the microphone was the true revelation of the afternoon.

Food Committee members Rita Calderon and Donald Wilen engaged the audience with their highly appetizing memoir pieces.  Widely published poet Nancy Haiduck thrilled us all with a series of poems dedicated to her husband Neal, who later serenaded the event to a sweet close with his clarinet.

Featured reader Nicole Peyrafitte provided the assemblage with a hearty main course of multimedia works that combined music and visual art with the word, both spoken and sung.  Nicole’s dazzling performances drew for inspiration upon everything from Ovid’s Fastis to the fish tank at the Dragon Land Bakery on Baxter Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown.   This eclectic mix of ingredients was blended together with the innovation and virtuosity of a five-star chef and delivered with the sophisticated charm and humble generosity of home-made cooking.  The feast that Nicole offered was more than enough to sustain her audience creatively and spiritually through the final weeks of what has been a very hard winter.  Indeed, for the first time in many months, a few rays of sun still shined through the Lounge windows at 6:00 pm when the reading wound to a close, giving hope, to allude to one of Nicole’s works, that Ceres would soon return.

Please stay tuned to the Sunday Best Reading Series blog for announcements about next month’s event and photos from The Cornucopiad and other past readings.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 7:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Thank You, Heather!

Thank you, Heather Sellers, for mentioning your thoughts on reading at the Sunday Best Reading Series in your blog entry “Usually He Fell Asleep at These Things” !

Those of you who attended the Word, Music and Art reading on January 12, 2010 will no doubt remember Heather’s highly engaging performance of “Cups of Men,” a dating saga recounting Heather’s adventures as she heroically pursues her quest to have 100 cups of coffee with 100 different men.  (For those who were unable to attend the January reading, Heather’s piece, which was published in Oprah’s O Magazine, is available through this link.)

Heather’s beautiful description of Hudson View Garden and its environs and her delightful recaps of Soho Voce’s musical performance and Sarah van Arsdale’s short film “Bone on Bone” pay perfect tribute to January’s multimedia extravaganza.  The Sunday Best Reading Series is deeply appreciative!

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Event Announcement: An Exaltation of Poets, February 7th at 4:00 p.m.


Samuel Menashe


Judith Baumel “[she] somehow manages to be a mistress of metaphor, a plain-spoken observer, and a meditative poet at the same time” –Poet Rachel Hadas 

 Gardner McFall  “elegies [that] celebrate lives of common beauty and…do justice to the odd, the wayward, and the broken….a wise and moving book” –Poet Carl Dennis

 Samuel Menashe “each poem reads as if it’s been handblown, filled with an exactly measured dose of Wisdom and then polished 9,000 times” –David Orr, New York Times

 Judith Baumel is Associate Professor of English and was Founding Director of the Creative Writing Program at Adelphi University. She also lectures on modern and contemporary American poetry at Oxford University, UK. A former director of the Poetry Society of America, her poetry, translations and essays have been published in Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Yale Review, Agni Review, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Her books of poetry are The Weight of Numbers (for which she won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets); Now; and The Kangaroo Girl (forthcoming from GenPop Books). 

 Gardner McFall is the author of two books of poems, Russian Tortoise and The Pilot’s Daughter, and the librettist for Amelia, an opera commissioned by Seattle Opera with music by Daron Hagen, set to premiere in May 2010. She has published two children’s books and edited the prose of May Swenson for the University of Michigan Press. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, The Sewanee review, Poet Lore, and Southwest Review. She teaches at Hunter College.

 Samuel Menashe is the first recipient of the Neglected Masters Prize awarded by the Poetry Foundation. He is the author of multiple collections of poetry, published in both the United States and England, including New and Selected Poems (The Library of America, 2005), The Niche Narrows, and No Jerusalem But This. His work has appeared in New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Antioch Review, Proteus, Midstream, Commonweal, Yale Review, and Harper’s. He attended Queens College and received a doctorate d’université from the Sorbonne. He has taught at C. W. Post College and at Bard College. During World War II he served as an infantryman in France, Belgium, and Germany.

Published in: on January 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Event Announcement: Word, Song, and Art, January 10th at 4PM

Readings of poetry and prose interwoven with watercolor illustrations, film, and a capella singing

Laurie Newell “startling music that weaves the personal and the global, the past and the present, the interior life and the outer world” -Kim Rosen, author of Saved by a Poem

Heather Sellers “cadence of chant…serious voodoo…magic incantations—a scary, beautiful world” – poet Barbara Hamby

Sarah Van Arsdale “as fresh and vivid as a cold summer lake….smart and full of feeling” Mark Doty, National Book Award winner

Soho Voce deliciously joyous and inventive improvisational singing

The Lounge, Hudson View Gardens
Pinehurst Avenue and 183rd Street

Sunday, January 10th at 4:00 p.m.

Suggested donation of $7 includes free drinks and snacks

Reception after to meet the writers

Laurie Newell is a fan of words and of putting them together in unusual ways. She has appeared in New York in musical and poetic performance at the 55 Bar and Nuyorican Poets Cafes. She has lived and worked on four continents.

Heather Sellers is the author of three volumes of poetry, three books on the writing process, and a children’s book. Georgia Under Water, a collection of linked short stories, was a Barnes and Noble Discover pick. Her memoir on face blindness is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. Her work has appeared in O, Oprah’s magazine and Best of the South

Sarah Van Arsdale is a novelist (Toward Amnesia, 1996, and Blue, winner of the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, 2003) who has recently expanded into drawing, painting and filmmaking. She teaches creative writing from her home at Hudson View Gardens.

The improvisational vocal collective Soho Voce spontaneously invents song, using a variety of musical forms in the tradition of Bobby McFerrin and Rhiannon.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 6:01 pm  Comments (2)  
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