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PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNAL: Writing in a (Harlem) Tree

September 24, 2014


First off, sorry to my Word On the Street Go-ers, I had an amazing opportunity to perform and explore in New York City so for this first time in like 4 years (maybe 5?) I missed the WOTS Festival. But with justifiable cause.

So yeah, that’s me. Touching no regular tree but…


I totally geeked out. Went on a trek to 125th street and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard (SAY WHAT? Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, I must be in Harlem) then walked about exploring. There were a whole bunch of dope street names:









Dope intersection hustle at 135th street. Love the building and the islands with sprawling trees in the centre of the streets.

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The infamous mural of our great leaders, you know, just there, between the man selling me burnt audio CDs of the Jackson 5 and the Afrikan woman offering to braid my hair (for cheap!)




And only a few blocks up is THE APOLLO! Say what? ( I was saying ‘Say what?’ a lot more than I usually do)

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New York loves me, they know that green cabs are my favourite colour cabs. Loving the contrast against the red brick


Found these sexy bathtubs turned flowerpots down a back alleyway along St. Nicolas street. And I found more greenery…


HERE! This park was just waiting for me. Beyond the bustling streets and the 99 cent pizzas there’s this glowing paradise. I had to climb a harlem tree. And climb I did!


Then I scaled down the steps and spotted this found poem:

the poet
the farmer
the beggar
the strangler

Finally I crossed over to 135th street and headed back to Malcolm X Boulevard and visited the Schromberg Research Centre of Black Culture (dats what’s up) got my very own New York Public Library AND checked out the an exhibit based on Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls choreopoem.


Talk about engaging. So vibrant, expressive, emotional, heart drenching, captivating and all around visceral. No photos from the exhibit, you  have to experience that one for yourself. The little anti-oppression strategist in me wanted to let the museum know that there should be some trigger warning sign somewheres though, I was revisiting some deep-seeded trauma as I walked past various interpretations of Shange’s play.


Right across the street was the Harlem Hospital. A whole heap of black doctors and nurses dashing in and out of those doors. And see those little tents. Just my luck! I caught the weekly farmers market right outside the medical centre. Bought 6 peaches for $2.50!

Heading back to the subway, more green caught my eye, in the way of a sign. This amazing sign! I was rushing to meet a friend otherwise I would have totally gone shopping here.

That’s all I got for now. Heading to Harlem again tomorrow.

Adventure is out there!





© Whitney French

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