i nomad tribe

i nomad tribe is my poetry artist-in-residency at the Living Room Drop-in Center, the only 24 hour drop-in center for people experiencing houselessness in the Bronx. My poems, inspired by the participants, are the residency’s course content. To spur creativity, I embraced and celebrated the participants’ stories by turning our discussions into poetry. I performed this collection of poems once, while I was still in the groove of this residency (see the video Leibow’s Leonia Talks in the gallery). My work offered an empowering reciprocal exchange, the participants became inspired to write and perform their own poetry. One participant, JSmooth, wanted to share his poems publicly. So, we created a blog of his work (link available gallery). Through Being Neighborly, an organization I founded, I also negotiated free access for JSmooth to attend a Moth spoken word event at the Bronx Museum. He performed live, and took third place (the video I shot of his performance is available in the gallery).


 

I also took photographs, inside the drop-in center and during my trip back and forth. These images are further signs of people living outdoors in New York City, finding temporary emergency shelter in the city system and striving to shift into permanent housing. A topic of continual concern during this residency was reducing the social stigma associated with people who experience houselessness by bringing greater awareness to their grace, talents, and hardships.


 

In 2014 I applied for, and received, an artist-in-residency grant from the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene to facilitate the first iteration of this ten month workshop. The workshop became popular, so the contract was renewed for 2015. In 2016 and 2017, the New York City Department of Homeless Services became the fiscal sponsor.

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