A Personal Perspective
BY MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE
Having the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in the neighborhood has opened up opportunities for performers and connoisseurs alike.
The former Dutch Reform Church has played host to numerous events of varying sizes since it opened as a performing arts center in 2008. A few weeks ago, it was the lobby that acted as a venue—not to music or dance performances, but to two up-and-coming literary artists.
Sherese Francis—a Southeast Queens-based poet, writer, blogger and literary curator—read from her latest book, Lucy’s Bone Scrolls. The poet and entrepreneur, who has published work in journals and anthologies—including African Voices, Newtown Literary, Blackberry Magazine, Kalyani Magazine and Near Kin: A Collection of Words and Arts—also owns a pop-up bookstore and has received a 2017 Queens Council on the Arts grant.
Her pleasant reading style harkens to a bygone era, rather than the current spoken-word bravura. She is certainly one to watch and, indeed, emulate.
Then, there was Malcolm Boyd, a Corona-based mystery writer who read from his novel, One Way In, No Way Out: A Mann Walker Adventure. Boyd, a first-time author, had the audience on the edge of its seat as he read from his debut detective novel. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Boyd is not only an author; but also an actor, so his reading was particularly engaging as he brought the main character to life.
First published as an e-book—and now a paperback—One Way In, No Way Out is the first in a Mann Walker trilogy on which the modern-day Renaissance man is working. Boyd is presently a sports editor and political columnist for the New York-based Our World Media Magazine.
After enduring the pitfalls of the publishing industry, he formed his own company, Three-Legged Elephant Publishing, which is “designed to assist first-time authors in getting their work through the legalities and fine-print details that force most freshmen authors into giving up on dreams of a published work.”
Book Two of the Mann Walker trilogy, Mann In The Middle, is due for release in late 2017 or early 2018. The title character is somewhat reminiscent of a 1970s “Blaxploitation” hero. But if One Way In, No Way Out were to be made into a film, one could imagine Idris Elba playing the lead character. He is that cool.
The bottom line is that without the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, most of us would not have had access to such an event, unless it was on a college campus, which is a great place to enjoy an evening of literary entertainment. But it is also great to have a venue as attractive and accessible as Jamaica PAC. It is one of the notable centerpieces of downtown Jamaica and we should take full advantage of it.
For those of us who love the arts—and that’s practically everybody—we can be proud of these two literary superstars-in-the-making.