Meet David Ellis, who captures today’s Harlem — and its history — one poem at a time
“I will be walking down Lenox Avenue until the day I die. I feel the spirits and souls of those who were here before I was born.”
With its continuing development and gentrification, it’s no secret the streets of Harlem are ever-changing, but for David Ellis, they remain as poetic as they’ve always been.
“I will be walking down Lenox Avenue until the day I die,” Ellis, 39, said. “I feel the spirits and souls of those who were here before I was born, but when I walk down Lenox Avenue, there’s just an energy that has not gone away for 16 years.”
The poet has been the library tech coordinator at St. Mark the Evangelist School on 138th Street since 2002, and released his second self-published poetry book, “Honey in Harlem,” earlier this year, but his words have been displayed in Harlem establishments like Revolution Books, Lenox Coffee and Red Rooster for years.
“David is very much a part of this New Harlem Renaissance, and his thoughtful poetry captures that elegantly,” Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster’s co-creator and chef, told Metro. “His love of this community and teaching is evident as well as his passion for poetry and artistry.”
Ellis treats his poems and haikus like photography and painting, writing on canvas, in frames and even on driftwood for beachgoers to happen upon on City Island, his home neighborhood for the past eight years.
“At the end of the day, it’s just to put poetry out there to show that words are beautiful,” he explained. “It’s something I haven’t witnessed, so I’m putting it out there.”
Ellis released his first poetry book, “Beach in City Island,” in 2017, and strives to release one each year. “Concrete and Brick,” a book about his upbringing in 1980s Mount Vernon, is planned for 2020. He also just released “Love on Lenox,” which features him reciting nine “Honey in Harlem” poems with a solo pianist, on iTunes this summer.
Ellis will host a “Honey in Harlem” book signing and reading at Revolution Books from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday.
“It’s called ‘Honey in Harlem’ because it represents the people, the faces that I see every day. The honey is us,” he said.
David Ellis’ books are available at Revolution Books and on Amazon.