Originally published in the Queens Chronicle.
Queens Museum of the Arts will host a day-long literary arts festival on March 15 that’s filled with more than a series of poetry readings.
Entitled “Eterniday,” the festival mixes curated readings and a book fair with other activities like hip-hop music, film screenings and even a bread-making demonstration.
“It’s going to be a festive occasion with tremendous variety,” said Paolo Javier, the Queens poet laureate, who organized the event as one of his final acts before leaving the position. He likens the event to a carnival.
Javier hopes to show that despite often being overshadowed by Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens has cultivated and inspired a variety of artists for a long time. He gives as examples musician Louis Armstrong, writer Jack Kerouac, and artist Joseph Cornell, whose work was the source for the festival’s name.
“Queens has always been interested in literature. Queens has produced literature, vital literature and vital art for a long time,” he said. “It ain’t just the food that’s made our county exquisite.”
For that purpose, he’s invited many artists to the festival who have either been born in Queens, worked in Queens, or have created art that’s inspired by Queens even though they may not live in the borough.
A number of the performances will take advantage of the museum space and exhibits. For example, poets have been invited to read works while being surrounded by the 50 prison bunk beds that compose the current Los Angeles Poverty Department Retrospective installation.
Other activities in the festival include workshops, a print-making demonstration and a showcase of local reading series scattered throughout the borough entitled, “Meanwhile Back in Queens …”
“I want [people] to know that things like this are going on every day, every month, every week in the borough,” said Audrey Dimola, who organized the showcase. “There are people on the ground setting up bookstores, curating readings, and the neighborhood is coming out to open mics.”
The day will end with a live set by DJ Despo, a Filipino-American artist, at the museum’s atrium where cocktails will be served.
“I wanted to put a pulse on where Queens is at in terms of its poetry scene, its art scene, from a poet’s perspective,” Javier said. “I expect to be as surprised as everyone attending it.”
For more information on the event, go to eterniday2014.wordpress.com.