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Some Thoughts On BRIC, Brooklyn’s Beloved Arts Organization

December 13, 2014

Jordana and I were recently interviewed by Brooklyn Independent Media about BRIC, Brooklyn’s beloved non-profit arts organization.

For 35 years, BRIC’s been driving and reflecting the cultural diversity and creativity of our favorite borough, led by its brilliant visionary, Leslie Schultz.

From live music and performing arts (the Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival and BRIClab), to contemporary art exhibitions and programs, to community media programs (Brooklyn Free Speech TV, Brooklyn Independent Media, and Brooklyn Bulletin Board), it’s a Brooklyn gem.

Here’s what we had to say about this special place:

2014 BRIC Gala – Ross Martin & Jordana Martin from Brooklyn Independent Media on Vimeo.

News

Underground Poems On A Rainy Day

October 11, 2014

It’s a rainy Saturday and The Best American Poetry blog features a story on Boston introducing poetry into its mass transit system.

Subway poetry isn’t new.  From the PERverse to the SUBverse, graffiti poetry has always lit up the underground.  Here in New York, “Poetry In Motion” is the formal approach powered by the Poetry Society of America, resuscitated by the MTA in 2012.  The Poetry Society thoughtfully (if not carefully) surfaces bright lines from classic poems and clever turns from poets whose subjects reflect the rich diversity of the city.

However, probably to conform with the MTA’s mission to offend no one, poems are presented in benign rectangles with a “safe” visual aesthetic, certain to add nothing.  Its designs are often childishly reductive or unnecessarily obvious.

(The worst offense of NYC’s subway program, by far, is that it often publishes poems by Billy Collins.)

Boston is improving the model.  Its interpretive design approach serves to enhance, add dimension and attract commuters who might otherwise have their heads stuck in the same device they’ve been staring at all day.  Even when sad or contemplative, like this one from Amy Lowell, they fit perfectly into today’s wet doldrums:

 

Boston is risking more than other cities because its poems often lean head first into the city’s most raw and vulnerable spaces. Like this one, called “Marathon,” by Nick Flynn:

The ambition behind both efforts and their corresponding websites feels good to just about any urban dweller open to a little something different in the cracks of the day.  Why not?

A chance to stop and consider, in the dark wifi-less patches, more train traffic ahead of us.

 

News

A Brisk Morning & A Morning Risk

September 19, 2014

If you told me when I was a graduate student in poetry that, 20 years later, I’d be addressing someone called a “Chief Risk Officer” and his executive leadership team at one of the largest financial services institutions in the world, sharing strategies and insights on innovation and risk management… I would have told you to please not interrupt me when I’m playing NHL Hockey on my Sega Genesis.

Quite a risk, this executive took in handing me the mic for an hour this morning!

So there I was, bright and early, kicking off my talk by offering common ground between the risks a big bank takes and the risks media companies (like the one I work for) take. I led with a clip from Comedy Central’s incredible series “Nathan For You,” now wrapping up its second season.

If you haven’t seen the show, it’s so worth checking out here. In the meantime, here’s a segment from the show’s already famous “Dumb Starbucks” episode, in which Nathan attempts to mitigate risk by implicating a befuddled “attorney” in his scheme.

Comedy Central’s programming, lauded recently in this great piece on Vox, is filled with examples of a network taking risks — and winning because of it.  From Key & Peele to Drunk History, not to mention the daily fearlessness of Jon Stewart, “the channel always has something worth watching,” says Vox writer Todd VanDerWerff.
Yes.  And that’s because there’s nearly always something it bets on, something at stake, something not exactly safe.Like putting a poetry major in front of a bank’s risk management team.

News

Congratulations To Viacom’s MBY Graduates

September 18, 2014

I had a super fun time today celebrating the 151 graduates of Viacom’s “Maximizing Brand You,” a peer counseling and career development program that helps assistant- to director-level employees define and strengthen their own personal brand.  The year-long program has participants define their career goals and gives them the mentoring and skills they need to achieve them.

Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates.  Your selfie sticks are on their way.  In the meantime, here’s the shot I just took with you!


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