Friday culture break

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why my little neighborhood in Manhattan is important to me, and this week we've been celebrating at the 3rd Annual Howl! Festival. (Full disclosure: I've worked for the Festival and one of its major venues, the Bowery Poetry Club.) The week-long celebration of counter-culture gives the neighborhood a chance to both celebrate its past, and promote its future of creativity.

As my work in politics has become both my main focus and main source of income over the last year, I sometimes forget the importance of creative expression in the work I do. Last night, I had dinner with Anne Waldman (the first female Beat poet and co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics) as part of the Bowery's Study Abroad program. She talked in great detail not just about the need to artists to continue to engage in acts of resistance through their art, but to create the sphere of exploration, and to create what she calls the "rival government," where we help to define The Way Things Should Be.

All week long, there's been chances to watch someone like a group of activist-poets performing under the title "Poets Against the Killing Fields," to the exploration of Art in Odd Places, to the Viva Charas! celebration tomorrow afternoon; events where politics might not be overt in the title, but where a multitude of discourses are created and realized. Perhaps the best part, besides the performances themselves, is the dissecting and digging conversations that happen after each, and the reconnecting of our lives to our communities here.

If you're around the New York area this weekend, come by Tompkins Square Park and have a look around. You'll see the old and new there, and plenty of in between. Take a break from the daily onslaught and explore your own creative answers to the problems we face.

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