Help! hattie STILL can't go home

Thank you to beautifully generous family, friends, comrades, and strangers who answered the call to help our sister hattie gossett—poet, warrior woman, mother of spoken word, Harlem diva— who lost her NYC apartment to a fire.

The good news is that hattie is safe, but due to the criminal negligence of the landlords, she has lost everything—computers, manuscripts of plays, non-fiction, poetry, performance art, archives LPs, artwork, plus furniture, clothing, and household goods. EVERYTHING.

What happened
In January 2018, hattie returned from physical therapy to a seven-alarm blaze enveloping the Riverside Drive building she has called home for over 50 years. Yes, she’s lived there for 50 years (that means rent control y'all)!!

The building is condemned and uninhabitable for two years. The city still wants to put her in a shelter, but that's not going to happen. In Phase I of our campaign, people generously donated $22,118. That's enough money for the first year's rent for interim housing until the building is inhabitable again (based on 1500-2000 monthly rent).


The Tenant Association lawyers for Riverside Drive folks have been in court pushing the landlords to complete renovations, so folks can get back into their homes. It's slow, but steady.

1.) Hattie's found a wonderful uptown apartment last September
She has been there for a year and needs to secure funds for this year IMMEDIATELY.

2.)  We need to raise money for the second year's rent NOW.
If you gave during Phase 1, thank you, and please consider giving again.

Our Goal  for Phase II is $25,000. 
$22,000 will cover the second year's rent and utilities.
$3000 will go toward replacing helping with living expenses.

Why it matters. Why you should care (besides the obvious)
As part of the Black Artistic DNA of New York City, hattie’s contributions run deep. She was a co-founding editor of Essence Magazine and Kitchen Table Press, and The Village Voice dubbed her “intellectual godmother of rap artists.” (You can see more on her print reviews and awards below)

So we’re calling on all lovers of poetry, revolution, laughter, music, performance, community, Black women’s voices, and Black women’s power to help raise desperately needed funds for our sister hattie in her time of need.

barbara smith, audre lorde, cherríe moraga, and hattie
photo credit: Joan E. Biren (c) JEB

Hattie is a generous, powerful, feminist foremother whose artistic work over the decades cuts across multiple audiences and disciplines. For the 2017-2018 season, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has re-staged Shelter, which includes hattie’s poem on homelessness, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place at the Intersection of Reduced Resources and Reverberating Rage." Choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and originally performed by Urban Bush Women in the late 1980s, AAADT first performed it in 1992. Here is a clip of a recent performance that features hattie’s words.

I also want to take a moment to talk about what hattie has meant to me personally. She is one of the soul sisters who shaped my understanding and helped me navigate the New York (and East Coast) political performance landscape during 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. She is a dear friend, and I value the mid-20th century foundation of her afro-futuristic sight. AND she is one of the Dora Milaje warriors who re-captured my stolen 1960s Gibson guitar in a sting operation fit for the big screen! Hattie is our bad-ass warrior-woman-poet sister, cousin, mother, auntie, grandmother.

For decades, the profound artistic critiques of this award-winning poet have given our world light and sanity in dark and crazy times. Now it’s time for us to spread light and sanity to her.

Please give what you can. No amount is too small. No amount is too large. Really.

Donations $100.00 and over are tax-deductible!

According to hattie's direction, all funds collected here will be managed by Peter Hale, who will distribute them to her dirtectly.

Help spread the word. It makes a difference! Please share this link with y/our community through Facebook and Twitter.

Significant tax-deductible donations (over $2500) can be made payable to:

Committee on Poetry, Inc.
PO Box 582
New York, NY 10009
attn: Peter Hale

Please write "hattie gossett fund" in check memo

The Commitee on Poetry, Inc (501-C3) is  a wonderful organization that is helping by receiving these funds for hattie.

We have a few NEW REWARDS--hattie's work!!
The next 50 donations of $50 receive a signed poster of hattie's 75th birthday poem, "2016 post election ditty/itz that electoral college/for my 75th birthday." Only available here (as not seen on TV or the internet or anywhere)!

1st two donations of 250.00 receive a signed copy of hattie's 1st book. The out-of-print collector's item,
presenting... Sister No Blues

1st donation of 100.00 receives a signed copy of hattie's 2nd book, immigrant suite: hey xenophobe! who you calling a foreigner?

More about hattie
Reviews & Criticism
·  New York Times: "hauntingly poetic."
·  Village Voice: "diva deluxe .... intellectual godmother of rap artists."
·  Essence: "sassy, ironic, hilarious, profound observations of urban life."
·  Publishers Weekly: "a collection of considerable potency and authority."
·  Art Forum: "like albert camus she faces the clash of cultures with a hardwon laugh; like billie holiday she taps into the vitality of the blues as a survival mechanism."
·  New York Voice: "never a dull moment."
·  Outweek "tight and polished."
· "Hattie Gossett has tempered what could be considered a bellicose insanity with biting creativity to arrive at this collection of sharp critiques on the world she inhabits. She understands and resents being "a female wage slave who has had a lifetime of mostly thankless jobs and who wants out of the rat race while she still has enough creativity left to breathe life into the projects she has been dreaming."

·  David Randolph Distinguished Artist-In-Residence at The New School University.
·  Ms. Foundation Award.
· Yip Harburg Fellowship at NYU
·  New York Foundation for the Arts Fiction Fellowship.
·  J.T. Stewart Residency Award, Hedgebrook.
·  Jerome Foundation.
·  N.Y.C. Department of Cultural Affairs.
·  N.Y. State Council on The Arts.
·  Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.


  • Gini Courter 
    • $50 
    • 31 mos
  • D. Denenge Akpem 
    • $100 
    • 37 mos
  • Michelle Conley 
    • $10 
    • 45 mos
  • Bea Joyner 
    • $100 
    • 45 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 46 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Judith Casselberry 
Brunswick, ME
Peter Hale