Porches: from Upper Monroe with Love

Porches: from Upper Monroe with Love

Maybe Salman Rushdie met Azar Nafisi outside a kabob joint on the streets of Tehran. [Photo: Mistral Khan-Becerra] 3/09/16

Since you last met Shadi in From Thurgood Marshall School of Law to Rochester Prep High School, she interviewed a drug king pin in the jungles of Central America. No, oops, that was Sean Penn. But Shadi Kafi has, like Penn, gone experiential (though not gonzo) in her ceaseless exploration of upper Monroe. Below is a photo montage from her series-in-progress: Yards to Porches of Upper Monroe.

Briefly on our newest Talker of the Town.


bravura performance at the Brighton Town Square gazebo. 40 dollars earned! 3/12/16

Also holding a law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Shadi teaches World History at a college preparatory high school and is earning her M.S. in Educational Administration at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education. With a passion for Arts Integration.

Putting passion into action, in the past year Shadi has pursued poetry, theatre and music. Not having stroked her violin since teenage girlhood, Shadi first brushed up on her chosen instrument at Music and Arts in Pittsford. Complimenting her work at Warner, Shadi recently was awarded a scholarship from the Eastman Community Music School.

theatre pic

performing at MuCCC, 2/24/16 [Photo provided by Shadi]

Always interested in drama, on the suggestion of a colleague, Shadi  joined the Bronze Collective Theatre and performed last month in “Monologues on Clarissa Street” which focuses on the Third Ward of Rochester during the Great Migration in the 1930s and 40s.

As for her poetry, this summer Talker is sending Shadi abroad to Paris, in training to be another Louise Colet, Hélène Cixous, or Brigitte Fontaine.

Not exactly, but as part of Shadi’s vision of integrated arts education, she is attending a seminar at the American University of Paris’ Summer Writing Institute taught by Siân Melangell Dafydd.

Needless to add, Shadi’s longstanding fantasy is to become a gonzo photojournalist for Talker of the Town. Dreams can come true, one porch step at a time.


Growing up in Houston, Shadi watched as her Iranian mother tended to the family garden as if it were an orchard back home along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea in Shomal.

Roses, Gol-e-Mohammadi in Persian, were her mother’s favorite. “Boo-kon,” she announced to the family every morning as she decorated the table.

When growing up, Shadi never thought of her mother as a storyteller. Other than the smell of Gol-e-Mohammadi, her mother rarely spoke about the garden, leaving the mysteries of Iran to the imagination.

“It’s funny,” Shadi says:

I spent very little time in that yard. Now as an adult I am drawn to gardens and porches and create stories in my mind.

As that adult, Shadi also sees porches from a different perspective.

Porches are interesting because they are oddly public and personal at the same time. It’s like we are seeing the bedroom but without seeing the bed.  It’s foreplay, a tease, a clue to what may lay inside.

Inventing what if porches could talk, Shadi strolls her Pinnacle Hill neighborhood. The captions are little prose poems for which Shadi makes no claim to profundity. (That’s why she is going to Paris.)

The delight is sharing her delight.

Shadi has the Talker elan! For both self-cultivation and to serve as a model for students, Shadi is taking advantage of Rochester’s rich intellectual and aesthetic life. With openness, liveliness and good humor.

Yards to Porches of Upper Monroe by Shadi Kafi


I am an Iranian flag who came to America after the 1979 Revolution.  I am not a stranger who hides a nuclear bomb in my backyard. I am a peaceful immigrant, painted in camouflage of red, white and green. Ornated with red roses which represent passion for both Iran and this country and white daffodils representing the white flag of surrender. I am beautifully transparent.  @295 Laburnam Crescent.


Bon jour! This is your sexy red door speaking. Welcome. Inside, doors and people use French dialects and dance through Moulin Rouge corridors.  Flaunting and flirting fluently in French. Every evening a sold out performance at a 1920’s cabaret. @ 228 Field St.


Costa Rica runs wild outside me. Come climb through her savagery, pick red and white daffodils along the way, zip line from her trees to final rest on my red velvet chair for royalty. Remain burnt against the crimson sun until final redemption. You found your way home. @179 Laburnam Crescent.


More things should be as simple as me, a maple wood swing and silver wind chime. Take a seat. Let’s get your priorities straight. I don’t worry about the plants because I don’t have none. And the caged bird only sings in my head. @257 Field St.


Her ex-boyfriend sent her flowers again. This time for Valentine’s Day. She says it’s getting stalker-ish. She sits here on me with her girlfriends laughing at her ex. He was sooo desperate and boring. Everybody knows a woman falls in love with an artistic and intelligent man. He wasn’t it. I told her he wasn’t on our level. @254 Pinnacle Road.


Inside the house lives Eve. God remade the Garden of Eden at the bottom of my porch steps to remind Eve of her soul’s  heavenly station. Wild cherry, grape and butterscotch medallion flowers for garlands in her hair. Eden’s garden becomes her crown. @ Field St.

From Thurgood Marshall School of Law to Rochester Prep High School

Talker is doing experiential journalism (formerly gonzo journalism). Join us

“Futility of Knowing One’s Self” by Anna Overmoyer from the Anderson Arts Building

A portrait of a Rochester artist (Alex Hillis) at the Greenhouse Café. And a few minutes of South Wedge night life.

Bringing wisdom and beer to the masses with Jake Kwiatkowski

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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