Fall Interactive Arts Festival at Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library

Posted 27 January 2014 12:00 AM by Toni "Bee" Brooks, Jossie Mar Bailey and Salim Abdul-Rahman

I grew up ’80-‘90’s Roxbury and Dorchester and unfortunately we were all impacted by the challenges affecting our ‘hood. Fortunately though, the outlet of poetry was springing and it helped us sift through the myriad of feelings we were having. Practicing the art connected us to each other, freed us from frustration, and my peers – across the ages – were able to build a new inspiring community. My most memorable moment at this season’s Fall Interactive Arts Festival is a testimony to inspiring unity and public speaking. I met a woman named Toni – which is cool because there are not a heap of us. She seemed a bit shy but in my paying attention I discovered “her unique” – for she plays the drums and piano, is a mother and her decorate leather vest meant “I ride motorcycles.” I said she seemed shy – but she too had an eye on me. After the session I mentioned “I forced you two together to create a great work” But Toni corrected me and said ‘You did not force us – you encouraged and allowed us to come out of whatever shell we had and come together as strangers and connect to do a good work.” The two women created individual poems and read - which lead to public speaking. But these neighbors, who did not know each other, have now connected and become a spark in the fire of community.

Crafting poetry helps with getting your emotions from within, out into the atmosphere. That is important in a tumbling world, which trains us to keep our most earnest feelings in check in order to function. The beauty of art is that it is emotive – and it keeps us sane! Reciting and reading poetry aloud I always urge within any workshop I conduct because it specifically lends to people to become confident public speakers.

Jossie Mar Bailey, children's dance instructor at the Fall Interactive Arts Festival:

My dance instruction helps audiences learn to appreciate the many different aspects of dance. I find it helpful in providing individuals with dance instruction within many different cultural dance styles that affords the community an ability to communicate with me. This occurred when the children selected their own songs and dances in communicating their own joy during the session. My hope is that everyone within a community can have the opportunity to be able to access the arts. The festival helped the Roxbury community access many different forms of art. Salim Abdul-Rahman, drumming presenter at the Fall Interactive Arts Festival:

It seems like hearts and minds come together during a performance. It gives people a chance to look at each other face to face and everybody feel warm. When they hear my drums, it gives the community an experience and sense of value. When I play drums, people come from everywhere. It’s like a village. When I saw the young people doing the dance they just looked joyful. I could see the struggles in their eyes but they kept going. It was just joyful to experience. For me, there wasn’t a time when blacks weren’t in the arts and those moment of experiencing artists early in life kept me going places. We need an institution where everyone can learn. Personally, I would like to see more unified arts in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan with more plays, jazz, drama and poetry. I think events like the Fall Interactive Arts Festival needs to be done more often and more deliberately.

Jossie Mar instructs children about the importance of streching during her workshop at the Fall Interactive Arts Festival

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