Conference introduction by Ron Kavanaugh, executive director of the Mosaic Literary Conference
11:15-1:00: The World of Piri Thomas Documentary Screening & Lesson Plan Discussion
Gordon Parks along with writer and poet Piri Thomas lead us on a journey through New York City’s Spanish Harlem. Parks guides our eyes through El Barrio, while Thomas reads from his best-selling memoir, Down These Mean Streets.
Following the rare screening, educator Eisa Nefertari Ulen will discuss how the documentary’s subject matter on Piri Thomas and Gordon Parks can be used to explore experiential learning that takes place outside the classroom. Q&A follows.
The World of Piri Thomas, 1968, Gordon Parks (Director), B&W, Sound, 60 min., 16mm. (print from the Chicago Public Library Collection).
1:00-2:00: Revisiting Down These Mean Streets
Poets and educators Anthony Morales, Peggy Robles-Alvarado, and Christopher “Chilo” Cajigas will discuss how Piri Thomas dealt with losing and regaining freedom, and the path created for and by Thomas to become an educator, poet, and writer. First published in 1967, panelists will also examine the actual life of the book, which has been banned in many school districts across the country. Erik “Advocate Of Wordz” Maldonado, facilitator.
2:00-3:00: Lunch & Museum Galleries
The Bronx Museum of the Arts’ galleries will be open. Feel free to view exhibitions Beyond the Supersquare, Rethinking the Garden Casita, Here I Am: Photographs by Lisa Leone, and more.
3:00-3:30: We Are Family Book Club Final
In a public forum, participants and the facilitator John Maney of the We Are Family Book Club will assess Down These Mean Streets, and the impact of communal reading as a tool to enhance literacy. Facilitated by Ron Kavanaugh, executive director of the Literary Freedom Project.
3:30-4:00: My Friend Piri Thomas
Piri Thomas’ longtime friend Elba Cabrera will share memories of her friend and give insights on Piri’s personal inspiration.
4:00-5:00: Conversation & Reading
Poets Willie Perdomo and Rich Villar will discuss the life and literary impact of Piri Thomas, and how poetry can be used in the classroom. Both guests will read poems by Piri Thomas as well as their personal work. The conversation will be led by poet and educator Urayoan Noel.