a poetry place

August 8, 2022

Should you find yourself in New York City, you may want to pay a visit to the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street), where the American Poets Corner “memorializes the literature of our nation in all its surprise, wit and beauty.”

Modeled on the Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey, the American Poets Corner was dedicated in 1984. A Poet-in-Residence serves a term of five years and appoints a group of Electors to nominate and consult on the selection of inductees (writers deceased for at least 25 years), whose names, dates, and poetic quotes are engraved on stones within the cathedral. The current Poet-in-Residence, appointed in 2020, is Marie Howe, and the most recent inductee (2020) was Audre Lorde. Events include an annual induction ceremony as well as an annual reading of selections from Dante’s Inferno.

THE CITY was founded to respond to the crisis in local news across New York’s five boroughs. One of The City’s initiatives is to “reimagine the way we say goodbye. In a time when our rituals around death have been interrupted and we cannot gather in-person, we want to bring New Yorkers together to tell and listen to the stories of those we’ve lost to COVID-19.”

Today, Friday, December 11, 2020, at 3:00pm Pacific, you can join the free, online MISSING THEM Memorial Event with poetry readings from Ellen Bass, Ross Gay and Aracelis Girmay, presented by Brooklyn Public Library and THE CITY. RSVP for access information.

River To River is an annual summer festival created by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) in the aftermath of 9/11 “with the intention to heal and celebrate New Yorkers’ resiliency through the power of art.”

Responding to the challenges of the present moment, River To River 2020 presents the vision of four artists: Asiya Wadud (pictured above), Jean Shin, Muna Malik, and Mona Chalabi. A number of the projects are collaborative.

If you happen to be in New York August 15-18, Muna Malik invites you to fold a piece of paper into an origami boat and on it, write your answer to the prompt “We have an opportunity to set sail towards a new future. What society would you build and how do we get there?”, and bring your boat to Belvedere Plaza in Battery Park City. If you’re not in New York, you can also take a picture of your boat and email it.

The festival continues through August 30. Learn more about River To River Festival, the artists, and their projects on the LMCC website.

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photo by Ian Douglas

July 4, 1855

July 4, 2020

There may have been many other notable events on July 4, 1855, but we mark two in particular: the New York state legislature passed an early prohibition law (struck down by its Supreme Court soon after) and Walt Whitman published the first edition of Leaves of Grass at the Brooklyn print shop of James and Andrew Rome. Whitman continued to revise the text for the remaining three-plus decades of his life. Read it on Project Gutenberg. And auspicious Fourth to you.

stuff we love

April 3, 2020

In the metropolitan area surrounding Albany, New York (known as the Capital Region), Colleen Wygal is a poet and an English teacher at Schenectady High School. These days, she’s encouraging her students to take to the streets (in socially responsible ways, of course) and express themselves with chalk. She’s gotten pretty good at the chalk toss, delivering boxes of sidewalk chalk to neighbors around town. See more Walk Poetry on Facebook, #walkpoetry on Instagram, and @walkpoetry on Twitter.

You have until March 28, 2020, to get to the Center for Book Arts in New York City to see Warren Lehrer: Books, Animation, Performance, Collaboration.

Warren Lehrer is a prolific writer and artist/designer and this exhibition combines book arts, animation, typography, and performance. Many of the works are collaborative, created with other writers, musicians, and animators.

Warren Lehrer will present/perform his work as author, designer, and book artist, and discuss the relationship between the books, animations and performance/readings on Thursday, March 26, 2020. The event is free, with advance registration.

If you are interested in visual poetry, this is a must-see.

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image: “Poetry” from Five Oceans in a Teaspoon

speaking to Liberty

January 1, 2020

Emma Lazarus, a prolific poet from earliest childhood, is best known for her sonnet “The New Colossus,” which is engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

A new exhibit at the Center for Jewish History in New York explores the poet’s life and story and examines the genesis of “The New Colossus.”

In addition to the exhibit, there is a video, a teaching curriculum, and a poetry contest for student poets in middle school and high school. The contest invites students to write a poem to the Statue of Liberty that expresses a personal vision of America.

This article in The Villager indicates that the exhibition will be open through 2022 (though this is not clear from the exhibition website) and additional displays will be added later in 2020. The deadline for submissions of student poems is Friday, May 1, 2020.

Reasons to go to… New York

September 26, 2019

Really, who needs a reason? But if you should find that your travel plans include New York this autumn, be sure to visit The Center for Book Arts, which is presenting three new exhibitions that showcase the book as a medium that translates across time and space: Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today curated by Deirdre Lawrence, The Traveling Artist: Journals by Lydia Rubio, and Witnessing Through Artist’s Books: Clarissa Sligh. These exhibits will be open to the public October 4 through December 14, 2019. (Note: The Center for Book Arts website is under construction, so here is a detailed description on Eventbrite, and here is a Facebook link.)

Walt Whitman’s Words includes work by the remarkable artist Meg Hitchcock. If you do go to New York, you can also see Hitchcock’s visual poetics at C24 Gallery (September 26 – November 29), Doug Adams Gallery at Graduate Theological Union (September 5 – December 13), and Green Door Gallery in Brooklyn (October 11 – November 10, 2019).

You have until September 8, 2019, to take in Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything at the Jewish Museum in New York City.

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything is the first exhibition entirely devoted to the imagination and legacy of the influential singer/songwriter, man of letters, and global icon from Montréal, Canada. The exhibition includes commissioned works by a range of international artists who have been inspired by Cohen’s style and recurring themes in his work, a video projection showcasing Cohen’s own drawings, and an innovative multimedia gallery where visitors can hear covers of Cohen’s songs by musicians such as Lou Doillon; Feist; Moby; and The National with Sufjan Stevens, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Richard Reed Parry, among others.

Poetry. Music. Inspiration.

In case you miss it in New York, the exhibit will be on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, September 17, 2020 – January 24, 2021.

Poetry for Queens

January 6, 2019

There’s nothing static about Queensbound. Here’s a description from KC Trommer’s site:

QUEENSBOUND is a collaborative audio project curated by KC Trommer and supported by a New Work grant from the Queens Council on the Arts. From Long Island City all the way to Jamaica, the poems of QUEENSBOUND map the neighborhoods and the vibrancy and diversity of the borough, embedding audio recordings from leading Queens poets and writers on a subway map, designed by Kyle Richard. Technical support for QUEENSBOUND was provided by Maham Faisal Khan.

On November 3, 2018, the QUEENSBOUND project launched with a reading on the 7 line and reception at the Queens Museum. Some of the leading writers and poets of Queens, including Rosebud Ben-Oni, Malcolm Chang, Catherine Fletcher, Sherese Francis, Jared Harél, Nicole Haroutunian, Abeer Hoque, Safia Jama, Paolo Javier, Joseph O. Legaspi, Ananda Lima, Maria Lisella, Vikas K. Menon, Belal Mobarak, Meera Nair, Maria Terrone, and curator and host KC Trommer, read original work on the 7 train, beginning at Vernon Blvd Jackson Av stop, before stepping off at Mets-Willets Point and heading over to The Queens Museum for a reception. The event concluded with a song which included lines from every poem in the launch from Adam DeGraff and Tyler Burba, hosts of the reading series Kith & Kin.

Read the story in Literary Hub and listen to the poems by clicking on the Queensbound map.

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