February 25, 2020
Into every life a little poetry should fall. If you're looking to write it, hear it, discuss it, or even look at art exhibits about it, New York is the place to be. We've got the ways for you to get your poetry fix in New York.
First, if you’ve participated in a poetry-themed event in New York, chances are the Poetry Society had something to do with it. Dedicated to promoting poetry within the culture, they offer numerous poetry-themed events. These include a poetry festival on Governor’s Island the last weekend in July and The Poetry Brothel, an immersive literary cabaret. They also offer student workshops and micro-residencies, which give working poets small blocks of time to write.
Plus, there's the Typewriter Project, which installs vintage typewriters at different sites around the city. Participants can write, read, and comment upon online poetry.
They also have their own press, dedicated to publishing both poems and visual art. And they’re perhaps best known for Poetry in Motion—a partnership with MTA Arts and Design. It combines poetry with visual art in posters in subways cars and digital screen in subway platforms.
If you see or participate in some form of poetry in New York, you’ve probably been involved with the Poetry Society. One way to get your poetry fix in New York!
Next, if you want more of a library-type feel, Poets House is a national poetry library and literary center. It offers one of the most comprehensive independent poetry collections in the country.
Poets House houses more than 70,000 poetry books and related collections. They also offer workshops, conversations, and exhibitions. Workshops range from the straightforward: “Dream Work/Poem Work,” to the more complicated: “Poetics of Terror: Visceral Performance & Cyborg/Trans Poetics.”
Exhibits tend to focus on books, manuscripts, and artwork that illuminate the relationship between poetry and visual arts. And if you want to listen and not necessarily write, upcoming workshops include “Tuesday Talk: Nature in Poetry with Bob Holman" (April 21). It celebrates Earth Day with a screening, discussions, and readings that look at endangered languages and endangered species.
Another way to get your poetry fix in New York? A multicultural, multi arts institution, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe is best known for its open mic events. Those events are mostly known for poetry and music--often jazz and hip hop. However, comics and storytellers also appear.
The Café offers a voice for rising poets, musicians, actors and filmmakers. Founded in 1973 by Miguel Algarin as a salon in the East Village, it gave a voice to artists who weren't being represented by mainstream industries.
The cafe is also known for its poetry slam. It offered the first one in New York in 1989, and two slam events are now held each week. And huzzah! Those who advance far enough get to participate in the National Poetry Slam.
Bowery Poetry also offers poetry open mic nights, which include some bilingual nights. They also offer workshops like “Writing with Attitude,” a free creative writing workshop that operates like a college workshop. It includes discussions and participants commenting on each other’s work.
At the end of the year, LUNA, a themed literary magazine of the participants' work, is published. And musicians--they also offer songwriting and a musical showcase.
And finally, founded more than 50 years ago, The Poetry Project was an offshoot of coffeehouses that held readings on New York’s Lower East Side. Today, it promotes contemporary poetry through readings, workshops, a newsletter, and a literary magazine. It also offers internships, fellowships and archives.
They’re well-known for their annual New Year’s Day marathon reading. Luminaries such as Philip Glass, Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith and Yoko Ono all appeared there. Before literary fame flashes though your mind: It’s invitation only. But don't despair: They always need volunteers.