People’s Hall of Fame Honors Phyllis Capello, CWP Teaching Artist



Group of NYS Teaching Artists on stage at Bowery Poetry Club accepting their tokens of esteem by City Lore's People's Hall of Fame.

City Lore recently presented the People’s Hall of Fame at Bowery Poetry Club, awarding “tokens” of esteem to a group of New York City’s venerable Teaching Artists and their tireless supporters.

Congratulations to CWP Teaching Artist Phyllis Capello, who was among the September 13th inductees (back row, second from left). She was nominated by CWP Youth Programs staff Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh and Autumn Tilson. Autumn attended the event to introduce Phyllis.

“It is my great honor to get to celebrate Phyllis Capello tonight with you,” said Autumn. “I have had the pleasure of working with Phyllis for ten years at Community-Word Project and I can confidently say that anyone who has ever worked with Phyllis will tell you she brings something special into every room she enters. Her joy and passion radiate through her work.

It’s fitting that one of the first things you’ll learn about Phyllis upon meeting her is that she is a clown with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit, enlivening the spirits of both pediatrics and elders. In fact, her passion for play is contagious!

Though she is formally a writer with Community-Word Project, Phyllis has a rich music practice and never travels far without her ukulele. Her lessons are full of music, storytelling, and community building. After decades as a Teaching Artist, Phyllis continues to grow and evolve her practice each year both in the classroom and as a mentor to fellow teaching artists.”

“My work exists because of community,” says Phyllis, “and when I teach the art of poetry and storytelling I have the opportunity to be with and teach the folks whose hearts, minds, and muscles built my city and allow me to be an artist. I’m always learning, especially when I’m teaching. My love of teaching and community is ever expanding and satisfying.”

Phyllis also supports early career Teaching Artists in growing and expanding their skills. She generously becomes an informal mentor and often the Teaching Artists who work with her walk away from a residency inspired and empowered to try new facilitation techniques in the classroom. And her shimmering north star? Phyllis starts each class with a Maori saying:

The Breath of Life,

The Spirit of Life,

The Word of Life,

Goes Out to You and You and You,

Always the Word

The People’s Hall of Fame is an awards celebration and party established in 1993 that honors grassroots contributions to New York’s cultural life. Taking as its symbol a historic New York subway token, The People’s Hall of Fame presents “tokens of our esteem” to individuals and organizations who are contributing creatively to the folk culture of New York City.

Colorful flier announcing the People's Hall of Fame Teaching Artist inductees at Bowery Poetry Club