Our Zoom Readings will be recorded and shown on our website
Pameletta Jones is known as the Ambassador of Peace. Her title in faith means "One who freely offers themselves and comforts others while speaking about our Creator, and his son King Jesus.” For over 30 years, the Ambassador of Peace has been writing powerful spiritual poetry for all audiences. She’s a poet, author, speaker, and overall spiritual caregiver. She’s also a mother and grandmother who sings in her local church choir in the Cleveland, Ohio area.
Pameletta often expresses her faith in nursing homes, interacting with the residents and staff. She can usually be found reading scripture, singing spiritual songs, and reading poetry with a smile. She freely offers and accepts hugs from residents and staff.
Her next endeavor will involve reading scripture and poetry to children—both well and unwell. When you meet the Ambassador of Peace you’ll discover an easy-going friendly and loving spirit who is fun to work with. She looks forward to a future of writing more poetry books and motivational speaking.
Barbara Ann Branca is a writer and performer who straddles the arts and sciences, creating musical and poetic works based on her lifelong passions for the environment, music, and family history—and who is happiest when those themes intersect.
Branca was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island within walking distance of Walt Whitman’s Birthplace. Formally educated in the sciences, she has been a classroom teacher, adjunct college instructor, textbook author, and science editor at prominent New York publishing houses. .She recently retired as Communications Manager of New York Sea Grant, where she promoted vital research along our coasts, writing articles and songs to bring the message home.
Music has always been a parallel passion. Throughout her career she has composed original music, as well as performed jazz and blues at a variety of venues: the USO on an army base, an international orchestra in Greece, a university jazz band, New York night clubs, honky-tonks from Alaska to Maine, and most recently at The Jazz Loft, and for fund-raisers at the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe.
Over the last decade, her love of writing has expanded to include poetry, often focusing on environmental themes, her immigrant family heritage, and romantic relationships. Her performances intersperse spoken poetry with sung jazz standards, bringing a unique style of reading to the New York and Long Island poetry scene.
Branca has read on National Public Radio, at Cornelia Street Café, Bowery Poetry Club, Parkside Lounge, Greenwich Village Bistro, the Huntington Poetry Barn, and Walt Whitman Birthplace, where she won first place at “Super Poem Sunday” in 2010 with her poem Flash Flood, the title poem of her chapbook published by Nino’s Wine Press.
George Wallace, writer in residence at Walt Whitman Birthplace, notes of Flash Flood, “Branca’s poems are instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever heard her in performance—indelible moments retold in a signature musical style and punctuated by gourd-rattle and a smile... These are iconic remembrances, playfully retold, unforgettable once heard.”
Her original poetry has been published in several anthologies, including Polarity eMagazine, Paumanok (II and III), Grabbing the Apple, Long Island Quarterly, Silver-Tongued Devils Anthology, and No Distance Between Us—The Next Collection. Branca is currently working on a collection of short stories.
Mbonisi Zikhali is a spoken-word artist, storyteller, youth mentor, qualified community services worker, grassroots community organizer, and mental wellness advocate. His spoken-word name is Zomkhonto, which is his totem. He is originally from Zimbabwe and is currently based in Windsor, Canada.
He refers to himself as a Nguni empath, Nguni referring to related Bantu-speaking ethnic groups living largely in South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.
He is driven to ensure that people find joy in the power of words and storytelling. He is also a member of Artcite Windsor’s Community Connector and Free Verse Poets, which both seek to incorporate poetry and drumming as a way to re-engage the community in artistic ways, while providing a safe space to share stories and support each other emotionally.
Tom Stock writes easy-to-understand poems that always have surprise endings. He says, “My audiences deserve the experience of fresh language.” The originator of the Babylon Village Arts Council’s monthly reading series at Jack Jack’s coffeehouse, Tom has two books of poems—one about the Pine Barrens, the other about Fire Island.
Nancy Keating’s poetry has been published in New Letters, The Southampton Review, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. Her second book, White Chick (2021), won the Antivenom Prize from Elixir Press, and a chapbook, The Patron Saints of Knitting, came out earlier this year from Finishing Line Press. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she holds an MFA from Stony Brook University and teaches at Farmingdale State College.About her writing, Pulitzer-Prize winner Peter Balakian has said, "White Chick confronts some of the ruptures of our democracy while it charts the noble comedy of a human journey. Nancy Keating reminds us that the poet's vocation as satirist is always vital to the poet's place in the wider culture. The crisp, lyric wit and ironic humor of these poems is deadly serious. They are political in the best sense because they ask us to interrogate ourselves."
Joseph “Joe” Hurns was born in Cleveland, Ohio. While growing up, he lived with his mother, stepfather and two siblings - an older sister and a younger brother. Joe didn’t start writing poetry until the age of 50. During his seven-month incarceration, Joe’s mother sent him a bible and it was then he was inspired to write his first poem. The name of the poem was entitled “The Bible Salesman”. He sent the poem to his mother and after reading it, she told him it was so good, he should continue writing poetry. He then started sending her poems every week. Joe has now written over 46 poems. Other than during the Poetry Street on the Road platform, Joe has only publicly read his poems twice. The first time was during his mother’s funeral. The second time was during his brother and sister-in-law’s wedding reception. Accepting the Lord has drastically transformed Joe’s life. After being disconnected from his family for 11 years, he has connected with them. He now feels like “Big Papa Joe” to his ten grandchildren. Through the Lord and his poetry, Joe has acquired love, understanding, and freedom to share his life journey with others.
Takudzwa “Taku” Chikepe, a native of Zimbabwe, is internationally known as VaChikepe: The Poet. He is a 35-year-old Master of Divinity student at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, but he is so much more! He is the founder of VaChikepe and the 100 Sailors (V-100-S, 2016) and publisher of The Sailors Review (TSR, 2020), an arts and literary journal which has published 58 issues. TSR includes the work and thoughts of more than 500 poets and artists from Africa and around the world. In 2021, Taku won the International Reggae & World Music Award for Best Poet in the Mutabaruka Category, and was the first African, to win the Award. He has also had two documentaries made: The Life of a Poet: Part 1 and Life of an Artist: Part 2. Taku is in the process of registering VaChikepe and the 100 Sailors as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), in the United States, the objective being to establish V-100-S as a premier international organization that highlights and disseminates poetry and art, and enhances the growth, development, and visibility of poets and other artists across the globe. Taku seeks to collaborate with organizations willing and able to assist and highlight his efforts to develop and showcase African poets and other artists. He dreams of creating a sustainable world-class poetry and art global village. VaChikepe has been writing Poetry for 16 years, has a BSc Honors in publishing studies, and his ultimate goal is to be a world leader. Just for a joyously moving experience, check out Taku's musical talent as well here.
Marsha M. Nelson is a playwright, screenwriter, and award-winning poet. She is the author of two poetry books, Night Visions and All Rise-Stand Up Holy Gates. Her poem, I Thought It Was Love, won the Nassau County Poet Laureate Society 2016 contest. She has also written and directed several Resurrection Cantatas and Christmas plays. Her poetry has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies such as NCPLS, PPA Literary Review, Long Island Quarterly, Poet’s Almanac, Bards Annual, Bach in the Afternoon, Canyon, River, Stone and Light, and Paumanok's Transition. Marsha was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She emigrated to the United States at the age of 13 and received her BA in Creative Studies from Hofstra University. Marsha is a world traveler and loves exploring new and interesting places. Since childhood, she has always loved animals and now owns and operates a dog grooming business, Luv’n Pooches and Pals Dog Grooming.
Bri(e) Onishea calls herself a collection of mismatched socks. A bisexual social worker by day, and a genderqueer poet by night, she has performed her work throughout Long Island and parts of New York City since 2014. She spends her free time staring lovingly at her collection of books, and enjoys cemeteries far more than any reasonable person should.
T. A. Niles was a seed planted in the Caribbean soil of Trinidad & Tobago on the cusp of the transformational 60s. He was watered and fertilized in the gardens of Brooklyn, New York and Hartford, Connecticut throughout most of the bell-bottomed era of the 70s He was forged in trials by fire in the US Marine Corps in the late 70s thru early 80s Budded and bloomed in academia in the 80s and 90s before his withering began at the turn of the 21st century. Yet, before he falls from the stem, and is ground once more into dust, he hopes to feed a mind or two with morsels of his meanderings. He comes to us from Mimbres, New Mexico- the latest stop on a life journey dotted with myriad landscapes. For his recent foray into this community of poetry, T. A. credits the audiobook production of Hiram Larew’s most recent collection, Mud Ajar. He hopes that his expressions will be balanced between, on the one side, his history, imagination, soaring flights and crash landings, his ambivalent relationship with language- and just about everything else- and, on the other side, your benevolent eyes, welcome-mat of ears, cosmic-sized mind, and authentic responses
Susan Dingle is a poet, preacher, social worker and community organizer currently residing in the Pacific Northwest when not on the North Fork. Her two chapbooks,published in 2020, are PARTING GIFTS by Local Gems Press and IN PILGRIM DRAG by Finishing Line Press. From 2014-2019 she started and co-hosted Poetry Street at the Blue Duck Bakery Cafe” with Robert A. “Bubbie” Brown, and in 2019, welcomed Chip Williford and Maggie Bloomfield as new co-hosts and artistic directors. She is currently a student in the MFA program at Pacific University, and leads a therapeutic writing workshop at East End Hospice.
Michelle Whittaker is a West Indian American poet who grew up on Long Island. She is the author of Surge which was awarded a Finalist Medal for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She has been published in the New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, Shenandoah, Upstreet, Pank Magazine, and other publications. She has received Pushcart Special Mention, Cave Canem Fellowship, and New York Foundation of Arts Fellowship in Poetry. Currently, she is the Poetry Editor at The Southampton Review.
Bruce Johnson is a lifelong resident of Long Island. He has published a collection of poetry entitled, "Borderlands and Dreams," which contains work written over the past 30 years and includes themes of our interaction with nature, homelessness, child neglect, the persistence of memory, relationships, and enjoying corn muffins at the diner. He has worked as a carpenter, bank teller, butcher, construction manager, adjunct professor, cook and restaurant owner, as well as a computer programmer. He retired recently from a career as a social services caseworker. Soon he will figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. Bruce co-founded the Huntington Poet's Cafe (the Barn) in 1991 along with George Wallace. Art and poetry have always played an important role in his life and he is glad to be actively reading, writing, and listening. He has not won any contests, but that's not for lack of trying.
Rainer Pasca is a 16 year old, multi-talented performer, an actor, a rapper and a poet, who performs in music festivals, stars in plays, and features at poetry venues. He is currently starring in A Chorus Line and completing a second album while earning an IB Diploma at Bay Shore High School. IG@rainer.raps
Barbara Segal is a poet and visual artist deeply influenced by the mystical worlds of nature and spirit. Her poems are published in numerous poetry journals and anthologies. A long-standing member of Poets Circle, a women’s poetry group, she is an Interfaith Minister and was for years a Reiki hospice volunteer. The Secret Road: Walking with Persephone, just published by Finishing Line Press, is her first book. She is a "prize-winning poet” as she won the PPA awards — for Poetry and for Haiku.
Robert A. "Bubbie" Brown was born in Aquebogue, Long Island, New York. He is the middle child of five children. He is a graduate of the Riverhead High School class of 1958 and his life is a testament to how God does extraordinary things through ordinary people. Many of his successes were born in the First Baptist Church of Riverhead, where he serves as deacon, has been a member of the Choir for over sixty years, a member of leadership team and also volunteers in the church's food pantry (Open Arms Care Center). In the late 60's when young men of color were not readily accepted into local scouting troops, Rev. Wilson Tolbert encouraged Bubbie to form a Boy Scout troop. Troop 259 was formed, and in less than three years won 2nd place in a state-wide Camporama at Heckscher State Park, competing with over 25,000 other scouts, earning Mr. Brown a "Spark Plug Award" for being the #1 Scout Master in the Peconic Bay District. During his thirty-seven plus years employment at Brookhaven National Laboratory, he served for over twenty years as liaison to the Medical Department's Affirmative Action as well as several terms on BNL Director's AA Committee. Recognizing Mr. Brown's love of poetry, Pastor Charles A. Coverdale encouraged Bubbie to write Christmas poems to be presented at the church's annual ''Gift to the community" Christmas concert. With the urging of his beloved wife, Aramentis, Mr. Brown self-published his first book of poetry entitled "It's Time". This endeavor also lead to the release of a CD of Christmas Poems. Mr. Brown was included in a training workshop through the Gamaliel Foundation which focuses on the power of one's God-given gifts. His gifts were utilized within the Riverhead school system where he was instrumental in forming a "Fourth Grade Enrichment" program, where the 4th graders are treated annually to inspirational speakers and role models of the community who have gone on to successful careers as doctors, scientists, financial advisors and police officers. They are even treated to trans-oceanic conversations with fourth graders in Ghana, Africa. As community liaison of the First Baptist Church of Riverhead, he intercedes in many issues involving school, parents, and students. 10 addition, Mr. Brown represents The First Baptist Church in CAP (Community Awareness Program), an organization whose main focus is on the dangers of over-the-counter drugs used among our youth. Mr. Brown co-chairs the East End Voters Coalition, a group whose purpose is getting people registered to vote and to the voting polls. This group also instituted an essay contest for fifth graders in the Riverhead School District where three winners are presented with gifts at the annual JuneTeenth celebration. Over the years, Mr. Brown has been blessed to receive many awards; SCOPE (Suffolk County Organization for Professional Educators) awards in 2008, the PDK international (Phi Delta Kappa) Stony Brook Chapter for educational advances in his community, Omega Phi Chi Rho Chapter "Pride for Fatherhood Uplift Award," Times News Review "Man of the Year" Public Servant Award in 2010 and 2012. Also in 2012, the Kiwanis Club of Riverhead presented him with the "Star Award" for community service. In 2015, Mr. Brown was honored with "The First Baptist Church of Riverhead Martin Luther King Meritorious Award". In 2014, Poetry Street was formed which Mr. Brown co-hosts with Susan Dingle. Maggie Bloomfield and Chip Williford. Poetry Street was open to all at the Blue Duck Bakery Cafe This venture is described by Mr. Brown as "a poetic adventure that only experience can explain". Mr. Brown has not been alone on his journey. He has been in the company of the First Baptist Church Family for spiritual strength, his related family for moral support and his dear and loving wife, Aramentis for his soul support. He is grateful for his four children, Eric, Collene, Robert and Alexa who have provided tests and blessings along the way.