I received the following gift from a long-time friend, Tony Mitchelson, who sent me a poem last week for the holiday season. I had been to one of his readings in the past, but realized I didn’t know the meaning of the word “Linyak.” I asked him what “Linyak” meant and he just sent me the following:
“Linyak is my revised spelling of the word Lagniappe which is a Creole word which means to ‘give a little something extra.’ The way it is used down in Louisiana is if your mother sent you to the store to buy something, when you paid for the goods the store owner would give you a little something extra. If you were a kid, he might give you a little brown bag with a few pieces of candy in it. If your mom sent you for vegetables, he might throw in a sweet potato, ear of corn or some item in the bag. That is called giving Lagniappe.
“I thought Linyak ‘giving a little something extra’ was a very good concept. So I brought the concept back to New York and formed an organization called ‘The Linyak Project’ where me and my friend and fellow writer, Layding started putting shows together with poetry, jazz, plays, medical and business info given to the public, and it was all free. We wanted to give a little something extra to the community that they didn’t have to pay for. At some of our events we also gave out food and beverages, all free. We had crowds of oven 100 people at places like schools, churches, book stores and cultural centers in New York City and in backyards of homes. We’ve hosted a Jazz Series at Layding’s brownstone home in Harlem.
“So that is what I’ve been doing for 11 years now. Usually we host 3 or 4 special events a year. We also hosted a once-a-month Fat Tuesday Linyak Project program at Sista’s Uptown Bookstore in Harlem where audiences could enjoy cultural events and show their talents to the public. We paid the performers out of our pockets and the audience experienced what Linyak is all about. We only hosted one Linyak Project event in 2020 due to the pandemic. Hopefully 2021 will allow us to continue spreading Linyak.”
We can all learn this beautiful concept and use it in our daily lives. Thank you Tony for this beautiful gift!