Canvas of Words- ‘Preserving Our Roots’ Interview with Poet Bonafide Rojas

Hey all!!!

In just 3 days we will experience Canvas of Words 3rd annual Art and Poetry Festival. And this year’s theme is Preserving Our Roots!! The excitement is growing and I cannot wait to see all these amazing artists come together to give a piece of their poetic souls honoring their roots. I hope y’all ready!

Thus far the poets who will be performing this Saturday have shared with us who they are, what it means to ‘preserve our roots’, and what we can expect at this year’s Canvas of Words event. Well today is no exception because I’m bringing you one of the most talented poets in NYC. He is Bonafide Rojas.

Bonafide Rojas is from the Bronx, has written three published books, and is part of Wendy Angulo Productions just to mention a few of his many achievements. Read the interview to learn more about this poet what he does, what he likes, what we will hear and a few extra surprises that you didn’t know.


Beauty, Brains, and Blogging: Can you please describe to us who you are, the work you do and your poetry?

Bonafide Rojas: My name is Bonafide Rojas, I was born and raised on the grand concourse in the Bronx and have lived there the majority of my life, with a few exceptions in my twenties. I’ve been writing poetry close to twenty years, I have three books published Pelo Bueno, When The City Sleeps & Renovatio which is the newest one, released this year on Grand Concourse Press. The work that I do ranges from teaching creative writing, painting in a group called VIKUBO & playing in a band called The Mona Passage. I love pizza, gin, blazers, a good leave in conditioner, and a good animated series.

BBB: I know that you are part of Wendy Angulo Productions, how did this partnership come about? How does it feel to be in this year’s Canvas of Words as your first time performing at a Wendy Angulo event?

B.R.: Well, I felt I was approaching a period in my career which I could hand over my day to day and booking duties to someone I felt comfortable with and after a few conversations with Wendy and the dialogues we had, I asked her to manage me, but only after she asked me if I was looking for a manager. It’s hard after fifteen years to say ok, I’m done with this, lets see if someone can do a better job.

For Canvas of Words, I’m excited & nervous, I know its her baby, so I’m happy to have been one of the people chosen, I heard I’m opening the show so you know, no pressure.

BBB: Preserving Our Roots is the theme, what has been your inspiration to create the poem you will be reciting October 11? Also, can you please share with us a snippet of what we can expect?

B.R.: I’ve been examining my family and our family line and how we got to New York City, deconstructing the truths and rearranging the perspective. Honestly, I have a strange family, I know some people say they do too, but our foundation is weak and I always wanted to know why, so I’m retracing how we got to this point, I’ll share a section:

‘they were plants, uprooted, potted, transported
the sun is different up north
every night there were six different shades
of boriqua on one table

they were given new nicknames
by new friends on new streets
with american names like alexander, willis,
bruckner, lincoln, this was home turf
new barrio, same as the old barrio but different
it carried the same accent pero no palm trees, no oceans
no morro, no yauco, no ponce, but it all
eventually came to new york

the apartment was small but their hearts are big
during the week they wore salsa as scarves
but wore america on sunday
jesus hangs on the wall in-between
two vejigante masks

the children: felicita, lipo, helen and israel were cubed adolescence in these
streets of mid 60’s south bronx

love can grow in sibling secret language
but sometimes the rivalries are too strong to ignore

I hear amazing stories of how close knit families are
how amazing their grandparents are, or how necessary
aunts and uncles are and I wanted to know, well why isn’t my
family the same? I appreciate and respect the hardships they
went through and I’ve always used that as a tracker of sorts
but my sister and I were just so different than the rest of the them,
So my current period of writing of retrospect is about family and reinterpreting our whole family line.’

I hope you all have enjoyed this interview as much as I did. His poetry truly leaves a lasting impression and this is just a section, imagine seeing him preform the whole piece in person!! I don’t think you want to miss him. Oh and get there early because as you read he is the first one up!!

Here is the link:

And here is the flyer:

This has been Beauty, Brains and Blogging approved!! 😉

Canvas of Words- ‘Preserving Our Roots’ Interview with Poet Nefertiti Asanti

Hey folks!!

We are days away from finally being able to experience the most anticipated show that will be going down in Queens October 11!!! That’s right, Canvas of Words- Preserving Our Roots will surely leave you in awe.

For today, I have for you the next poet who is apart of this year’s Canvas of Words showcase. She is Nefertiti Asanti!!

Nefertiti Asanti is a writer and performance artist from the Bronx. She is passionate about making the lives of queer, people of color and youth communities visible. Over the past 10 years, Nefertiti has been featured in several original theatre works throughout NYC, including Needing It at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Theatre Askew Youth Performance Experience, and the Possibility Project.​

Nefertiti Asanti will be lending her poetic voice and talent to this year’s Canvas of Words- Preserving Our Roots event! She believes that honoring our ancestors is important. Honoring who we are as a people is important. Honoring our craft is important. Asanti is here to make sure that our voices can be heard through poetry and activism. Personally, I cannot wait to hear her this Saturday, October 11th!!

Please enjoy this interview in which she speaks with passion and vigor about what it means to preserve our roots and why we must continue to learn about our culture/identity to create a positive change for the future.

Beauty, Brains and Blogging: Please let us know about yourself, the work you do, and your poetry?

Nefertiti Asanti: I’m Nefertiti Asanti, and I’m very glad my mommy gave me such purposed strong names. They really connect to the African diaspora that I’ve come to love and embrace in defining who I am, how I came to be and who I am destined to become.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, I was fortunate enough to come across all sorts of people.

Unfortunately, I have come to experience and witness many different forms of oppression from racism to poverty to sexism.

Since I was thirteen, I have been part of organizations that exist to advance people of color, women, youth and queer communities. These identities encompass who I am, and I’d become increasingly passionate about organizing for positive change. I saw spoken word and theatre as a way to communicate social injustice and imagine positive alternatives.

Soooo…all of this informs the poetry I write. I write a lot from personal experience, frustration, to figure things out and to creatively be in conversation with people. I have also come to understand my poetry as echoing the voice of matriarchal figures in my life, like my grandma and my mommy and my ancestors. I really like utilizing Ebonics or African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in my work as a way of preserving and honoring my culture, my roots. So often, people of color and folks from immigrant backgrounds are told to speak “proper” English, and there really isn’t “proper” English. I believe it is important to have knowledge of standard English, in order to communicate, but when it comes to relating your people, you speak the language, the dialect of your people, unabashedly.

BBB: Please, tell us what led you to be part of this years show? And why is this show important due to its theme?

N.A.: This show brought me to it! It is important to preserve and honor our roots, whenever we can. So often our roots, culture, our identities are to be celebrated one day or one month out of the year, and the rest of the time we are made to feel inferior because our roots, our culture, our identities. Any opportunity for me to be proud of and in celebration of who I am is an opportunity I can commit to wholeheartedly.

BBB: When we speak of preserving our history, our roots and passing it down to the generations to come, what comes to mind? And can you please let us in on what you will be bringing to this year’s Canvas of Words?

N.A.: I’ve been writing since I was a child, well, scribbling, mocking the “big people”. I thought if I could write in script like adults, that I affectionately called “the big people”, they would pay attention to me and invite me into grown folk conversation. The first poem I can remember sticking with me is Langston Hughes, “Harlem.” My mommy is a teacher, so she wrote that poem up on big chart paper and posted it on the wall of my bedroom door. I would recite that poem before going to bed.

My mommy instilled in me a strong sense of who I am as young Black women and the beautiful, creative heritage I came from. This really stuck with me because in school, I felt like Black culture and history is often defined by pain, bondage and slavery, as if our culture started once we were discovered and exploited by our oppressors. In school, history books do not reflect back to us our history, and it is important that we remember our roots run deeper than what exists in history books.

For this year’s Canvas of Words, I intend to channel the voices of our ancestors from our current and past generations, bring forth the wisdom they’ve bestowed unto me, through the gift of words and bring a call to healing,

Here is a snippet of Nefertiti Asanti’s work:

We were body and soul bound insistent on creation
That would usher us into the era of you,
The newness, the promise, the future of you
We knew that some of you would forget our names
Or keep swallowing our names back down your throat
When it seem like it don’t matter.
Still, don’t mean you can call us.
We speak silence.
Just acknowledge we exist
The way your flesh knows the wind,
Even if your eyes never seent it.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief interview with Nefertiti Asanti!! I think that the Canvas of Words line up will be off the hook!! All of the poets so far have shown us a little bit about themselves and their work that will guarantee for an amazing show! Don’t only take my word for it, come see it for yourself. Check out the flyer for info and the link for tickets.

See ya’ll there.

Here is the link:

And here is the flyer:

This has been Beauty, Brains and Blogging approved!! 😉

Canvas of Words- ‘Preserving Our Roots’ Interview with Poet Cindy ‘Black Angel’ Peralta

Que tal mi gente!

I hope your week is going well so far! I’ve been thinking, I can’t help but getting you over this week without sharing with you the next interview! I have to do it! Trust me on this.

This next poet will raddle your insides with her words and her body language as she performs. Hands down this is a poet who feels exactly what she is saying. She conveys it with conviction and passion.

Her name is Cindy Peralta aka Black Angel Poet! I have seen her perform her work in different venues and it is always a powerful experience. She embodies what she reveals through her poetry. Black Angel is one to watch!

What I appreciate about this artist as well is that she makes sure she takes her children with her when possible to share what she loves, Poetry. It is amazing to see mothers share with their children what their passion is. Which is what this year’s Canvas of Words- Preserving Our Roots is all about. Cindy is passing down her history to her sons through dialogue and exposure to the arts. So please enjoy this interview where she tells us about herself, her work, the importance of preserving our roots and a taste of what we will hear at Canvas of Words- Preserving Our Roots Poetry and Arts Festival October 11!

Beauty, Brain and Blogging: Please let us know about yourself, the work you do, and your poetry?

Cindy Peralta: I’m a single mom of two young boys who keep me on my toes DAILY! I am also an advocate of women’s rights and activist against social injustice. My poetry is usually a reflection of what I do in my life as an advocate and activist with a sprinkle of my personal life here and there.

BBB: Can you share with us your connection with Wendy Angulo and what led you to be in this year’s Canvas of Words- Preserving Our Roots?

C.P.: I met Wendy via Peggy Robles at a feature for Women in Creative Rebellion in 2013. After that we connected for an event in Richmond Queens library and we have been working together ever since. Being a Queens native myself, I sought out to be a part of this event and very appreciative to have been selected to participate in this event to represent not only Queens but Dominican writers/poets as well.

BBB: I have seen you perform your poetry, which is great by the way! You are very passionate about what you deliver and I know this year’s theme for Canvas of Words is something you often write about, Can you tell us how preserving our roots is important for you? And please share with us a snippet of what you will be bringing us this year!

C.P.: Preserving our roots is the only way we can tell our children our stories, the ones that are not written in the history book, the ones who got erased via colonialism. Our history is too rich to let it be told by those who tried to eradicate our lineage. Our history started WAY before 1492 and I want to make sure my sons know this. With that said my poem is dedicated to my Great Grandmother who always held me under her wing.

Here is a sneak peek of what we can expect from Black Angel,

‘They ask me where are my roots…
“Oye nena de donde tu eres?”
where do I come from?
My response comes
Within every reflection
I see her
On the backs of my hands,
my winding mountainous caderas
that seem to go on for days
as I watch my skirt sway…’

There you have it my friends just like that… I don’t need to say anything more than get your tickets!!! What are y’all waiting for!

And guess what?! Starting this Friday October 3 and ending Sunday October 5 at 11:30pm 2 tickets for $20!! Buy one for you and a friend or gift a couple a pair of tickets for them to enjoy! Just a wonderful suggestion 😉

Also if you want a group rate of five or more email the producer of the show at

Thank you and that is all… for now.

Canvas of Words- ‘Preserving Our Roots’ Interview with Poet Roya Marsh

Hey folks!! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! It’s Monday again, the start of the workweek. Why don’t we spruce things up and let me share with you my latest interview with Poet Roya Marsh? Shall we? You will not be disappointed. Roya Marsh is one of the poets who will be part of Canvas of Words ‘Preserving Our Roots’ showcase!

When I first heard Roya Marsh on the stage. I was floored, left in awe! Her stage presence and delivery is palpable. You can feel every line like boom, boom, boom! Sinking deep within leaving you wanting to hear more. Her poetry is raw and gritty and vulnerable and the truth! I don’t want to elaborate too much because you will have to see for yourself what I am talking about. Like I said you will not be disappointed!

I was able to ask her three questions and here is what she had to share. Enjoy!!!

Beauty, Brains, and Blogging: For those that may not know of your many talents, please let us know about yourself, the work you do, and your poetry?

Roya Marsh: My name is Saroya Marsh. I am a preschool teacher and spoken word poet from the Bronx, NY. I’m a graduate of Iona College and am currently working on my MFA in Creative Writing at Manhattanville. I am currently the 2013-14 Inspired Word Slam Master Jam Champion and the 2014 Nuyorican Grand Slam Champ. I have been obsessed with writing since I could hold a pen and it’s an honor for me to be able to share my passion with the youth through Spoken Word workshops and mentoring.

BBB: Being part of the NYC poetry scene you have preformed in many venues and continue to do so and know it quite well! So, how did you hear of Wendy Angulo Productions/Canvas of Words and the impact it has made in the poetry community? And what led you to be part of the upcoming show?

R.M.: I don’t even remember where I met Wendy. What I do know is that she has had my back since the first moment we spoke. Although I am not a Queens native, Wendy has held me down and welcomed me into her artistic family on several occasions. It is an honor to be a part of her growing community and to share a stage with artists who are working toward a greater good!

BBB: Preserving Our History is an important theme. In your poetry you speak of how history has impacted the way we live now, can you expand on this?

R.M.: Everything I write is a direct result of the things that I have learned, witnessed and experienced. I have been told stories of my ancestors since I was a little child and growing older researched more on my own. Learning how much they struggled and conquered inspires me to continue to grow in knowledge so that I may fight against the injustices of the present day. It pains me that classism and racism are still major struggles centuries later. Preserving of roots involves more than just knowing history. It’s about continuing the efforts of change of those before you. My poetry is a flashback and a push forward into the future all at once.

‘Saroya Marsh works as a preschool teacher and youth mentor, but has always had a passion for writing. As a spoken word poet she brings a heartfelt intensity and deep beliefs to the stage, brandishing a saber of light that will penetrate those dark pockets of prejudice, injustice, and hurt, that lay buried deep within each of us. She was a finalist in the 2013 Poetry Idol, 2013 Inspired Word Slam Master Jam Champion and 2014 Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion. She has been featured at these venues and others, including colleges, in PA, DC and the tristate area. Saroya has hopes that her poems will spark a mind of change.’

Roya Marsh is doing it all! We need educators and poets like her who want to inspire change through poetry. Be sure to watch her at this year’s Canvas of Words ‘Preserving Our Roots’ a Queens Poetry and Arts Festival October 11! More info on the flyer below. 😉

Get your tickets!

Here is the link:

And here is the flyer:

This has been Beauty, Brains and Blogging approved!! 😉

Canvas of Words- ‘Preserving Our Roots’ Interview with Carmen Taveras-Molina

Happy Friday all!!!

I hope you had a great week doing what you love!!

So, I’m back to give you this week’s poet that will be gracing the stage at this year’s Canvas of Words-Preserving Our Roots, October 11! Her name is Carmen Taveras-Molina who is heavily involved in the arts by way of dance and writing. Carmen Taveras- Molina carries music in her soul; she expresses it through the rhythmic flows using her body, and creatively through writing and poetry! She shares her passion with the youth because she is aware that our youth need to preserve their history. As we know music is much part of our history and culture, it’s important to our community. She is definitely leaving a legacy. You’ll see.

Carmen Taveras- Molina was ‘introduced to the art of dance in 1998.Taking beginner salsa classes at “La Salsa De Hoy” in Sunset Park, Brooklyn she quickly joined their elite dance team, “The Revelation Dancers” which was directed by Cecilia Williams. Under Cecilia’s tutelage, Carmen was introduced to and mastered Rumba, Jazz, and Hip Hop. In 2003, she joined the world renowned Santo Rico Dance Company, which expanded her mastery and love for Salsa. Carmen had been involved in several regional projects with Santo Rico, as well as international performances in Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, South Korea, and Canada. Carmen served as the Director of the Santo Rico Kids Program for two years, and the “SantoRiquitas”, the program’s all-girls team. In 2011, Carmen took a break from instructional work to pursue a Master’s degree in School Counseling at Brooklyn College. She has since resumed dancing, currently training with Nelson Flores’ Descarga Latina / Ritmo y Sabor. In addition to being a dancer, instructor, and student, Carmen is an endeavoring writer inspired by her Latino culture, mujeres guerreras, and love – in all of its forms.’

Here are my three questions for her. Please enjoy!!

Beauty, Brains and Blogging: Please let us know about yourself, the work you do, your poetry, and what moves you?

Carmen Molina- Taveras: Dominican York born and raised in – PARK SLOPE, Brooklyn – one of the only Dominican deprived NYC boroughs in the 80’s. I am concurrently working as a development coordinator at a school that serves children with autism while finishing up my School Counseling Graduate Degree. When there’s free time I dance (rehearsals, dance classes, social dancing, etc.) – it’s what keeps me sane and balanced.

As far as writing goes, well its been happening in spurts for over a decade. Strangely enough when I write, its usually in Spanish. I find Spanish to be so much more expressive. I’m a novice and have only recently started to share my work. Most of what I’ve written has been reflections of personal relationships, about unrequited love, desire, fear, emotion and my experiences in trying to navigate between the Dominican and American culture.

BBB: Can you tell us a little bit about your connection with Wendy Angulo and what led you to be a part of Canvas of Words – Preserving Our Roots?

C.M.T.: Three words PEGGY ROBLES-ALVARADO! To know her is to alter your life. And when Peggy invites you to be part of an event – no is not an option. No didn’t even cross my mind and I’m glad it didn’t. It’s an incredible opportunity to be part of such an event, particularly one that promotes the preservation and celebration of our roots that feeds our pride for who we are and gives us a platform to share it with others.

BBB: The theme is Preserving Our Roots – is this an important topic as an artist to expand upon? Can you please share with us a snippet of what you will be bringing to Canvas of Words October 11?

C.M.T.: I wish that topics such as these were discussed when I was younger, it would’ve helped with a pseudo identity crisis! As artists I feel as if we hold a responsibility to share our experiences and help others, especially our youth to feel a sense of pride and propel them to continue to learn about and preserve their traditions, their costumbres without a drop of shame.

For me it took quite some time for me to comfortably appreciate and embrace our music. Of course this was during adolescence when all I wanted to do was blend in. Thankfully, I came around and thoroughly appreciate what I once considered NOISE – Salsa, Merengue, Bachata y musica latina.

For Preserving Our Roots, I am working on a piece that speaks of my personal “awakening” – from detesting and rejecting our music to embracing it and allowing it to take me on the best journey of my life as a salsa dancer.

Still in its drafting stage, here is a very short snippet:

Adonde hay percusión – ahi he nacido yo
Conga, tambora y guira
Ha sido mi salvación
Esta alma apócrifa encontró valor
en el “cutun plah” de la conga
con un latente ritmo y fervor

See what I mean!!! Her fluidity in her responses has captured my attention!! And the snippet of her poem… what?! It is true what people say, Spanish is the language that is felt in your core!! And I felt it in that snippet. It is magic. I don’t know about y’all but I am looking forward to seeing her perform on October 11 because she is using poetry to show how music is part of preserving our roots! 😉

Get your tickets!

Here is the link:

And here is the flyer:

This has been Beauty, Brains and Blogging approved!! 😉

Canvas of Words- ‘Preserving Our Roots’ Interview with Spoken Word Poet Rafael Landron!

¡¡¡Hola mi gente!!! Espero que se encuentren bien. It’s the beginning of the work week and we have to ease our way in. I know! So let me help you by bringing all of you the latest interview of the next poet who will be at Canvas of Words- Preserving Our Roots!!

His name is Rafael Landron, a Queens native, a poet, a writer, a cultural activist, a professor and just an all around awesome individual! ‘He has performed at different venues throughout the city including the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and local demonstrations for a variety of causes. His one man show “Rafi’s anti-war expressions” debuted at 2005 at the Clemente Soto Velez center. This show was made into a play which toured throughout the city it’s goal was to bring awareness about the war in Iraq among the Latino community. His published work includes, The Bruised Mango, a book of poetry and his children’s book, Beba, y la Isla nena, published by Editorial Campana 2011 which chronicles the social movement in Vieques P.R. through the eyes of a manatee named Beba. He has performed this story at different schools and libraries throughout N.Y.C. Most recently he was mentioned in the New York Times for participating in Puerto Rican Poets of the Diaspora organized by Manhattan Neighborhood Network where his work was showcased along with other great poets of the generation. Rafael is a also a Prof. of History at Boricua College where he finds inspiration and believes that culture and imagination can stop militarism and bring peace.’

With that being said, check out what he had to say… Enjoy!

Beauty, Brains, and Blogging: Please let us know about yourself, the work you do and your poetry?

Rafael Landron: I am a cultural activist and spoken word poet. I have supported many movements but mainly have worked with the Puerto Rican freedom movement. I am currently organizing a monthly expression for the release of Political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera.
I have published a chap book of poetry called The bruised mango and also published the first bilingual childrens book which chronicals the social movenment in Vieques P.R. Beba y la isla nena. I also debuted my one man show Rafi’s antiwar expressions in 2005 which showed the impact of war on the Latin community at the Clemente Soto Velez center in the Lower East Side. I currently teach history at Boricua College where we are Collaborating with Capicu to intiate the School Of Poetic Arts and am working to develop a cultural workers cooperative called the Latino Arts Movement.

BBB: Can you tell us a little bit about your connection with Wendy Angulo and what led you to be a part of this year’s Canvas of Words- Preserving Our Roots?

R.L.: I was fortunate enough to connect with Wendy at the open mic, which she organized in Queens! I was impressed by the caliber of poetry and the community feel of the event. Mostly, I was so happy to participate at an open mic in my home borough of Queens! I am very grateful to be apart of Canvas of words and share in the values of connecting to our roots.

BBB: The theme is Preserving Our Roots- can you share with us just a little bit of what you will be bringing to Canvas of Words, Oct. 11?

R.L.: I am that beautiful Boricua
Growing like a flamboyan through concrete
Breaking through
With my narly roots showing
Exposed to the terrifying and beautiful world in which it came.
Boricua breaking ground
Flowering in all my amapola glory scared and invinsible simultaneouly
I am love like rain
Falling in el Yunque
I am that tree that won’t stop growing till it reaches the sunlight beyond the darkness of the rainforest.
I am that concrete rupturing madness
Of love ………

Thank you Rafael Landron for sharing the positive work you do for your community. Landron is definitely broadening and opening the minds of those that may not know of our history. We need more people like him.

Rafael Landron is definitely going to add history and cultura to the mix at this year’s Canvas of Words- Preserving Our Roots!!

Please join us and get to know these amazing poets!

Get your tickets!

Here is the link:

And here is the flyer:

This has been Beauty, Brains and Blogging approved!! 😉

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