Every year on the last weekend of July, The New York City Poetry Festival invites poetry organizations and collectives of all shapes and sizes to bring their unique formats, aesthetics, and personalities to the festival grounds, which are ringed with a collection of beautiful Victorian houses and tucked beneath the wide, green canopies of dozens of century old trees. By uniting the largest community of poets in the country and offering a unique setting for literary activity, the New York City Poetry Festival electrifies arts and literature and brings poetry to new light in the public eye. 

The 9th Annual New York City Poetry Festival

July 27th & 28th, 2019

11am-7pm on Saturday / 11am-5pm on Sunday

Colonel's Row, Governors Island

Free & Open to the Public

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Get excited about our 2019 headliners! 

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Robert Pinsky is a poet, essayist, translator, teacher, and speaker. His first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism—and such national enthusiasm in response—that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry’s place in the world. Known worldwide, Pinsky’s work has earned him the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize, Italy’s Premio Capri, the Korean Manhae Award, and the Harold Washington Award from the City of Chicago, among other accolades. Pinsky is a professor of English and creative writing in the graduate writing program at Boston University. In 2015 the university named him a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, the highest honor bestowed on senior faculty members who are actively involved in teaching, research, scholarship, and university civic life. Robert is reading on The Algonquin Stage on Saturday, July 27th at 3:30pm.

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Dorothea Lasky is the author, most recently, of Animal, forthcoming in 2019 in the Bagley Wright Lecture Series. She is also the author of five full-length collections of poetry: Milk (Wave Books, 2018), Rome(Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2014), Thunderbird (Wave Books, 2012), Black Life (Wave Books, 2010), and AWE(Wave Books, 2007). She is also the author of six chapbooks: Matter: A Picturebook (Argos Books, 2012), The Blue Teratorn (Yes Yes Books, 2012), Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010), Tourmaline(Transmission Press, 2008), The Hatmaker’s Wife(2006), Art (H_NGM_N Press, 2005), and Alphabets and Portraits (Anchorite Press, 2004). Born in St. Louis in 1978, her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, The Laurel Review, MAKE magazine, Phoebe, Poets & Writers Magazine, The New Yorker, Tin House, The Paris Review, and 6x6, among other places. She is the co-editor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (McSweeney's, 2013) and is a 2013 Bagley Wright Lecturer on Poetry. She holds a doctorate in creativity and education from the University of Pennsylvania, is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and has been educated at Harvard University and Washington University. She has taught poetry at New York University, Wesleyan University, and Bennington College. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Poetry at Columbia University's School of the Arts and lives in New York City. Dorothea is reading on The Algonquin Stage at 3:30pm on Sunday, July 28th. 

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Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, the GLCA New Writers Award, and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. The collection was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and named one of the best of 2017 by The Brooklyn Rail, Entropy, Library Journal, and others. His work has appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Tin House, Poem-a-Day, The Best American Poetry, Bettering American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Chen earned his MFA from Syracuse University and is pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing as an off-site Texas Tech University student. He lives in frequently snowy Rochester, NY with his partner, Jeff Gilbert and their pug dog, Mr. Rupert Giles. Chen is the 2018-2020 Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University. Chen Chen is reading on The Algonquin Stage at 3pm on Saturday, July 27th.

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Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and migrated to the US when he was nine. He is a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and holds fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University, the Lannan Foundation, MacDowell, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, Stanford University, and Yaddo. Zamora’s poems appear in Granta, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon, 2017) is his first collection. Javier is reading on The Algonquin Stage at 3pm on Sunday, July 28th.

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Lynn Melnick is the author of the poetry collections Landscape with Sex and Violence and If I Should Say I Have Hope. Her poetry has appeared in APR, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, and A Public Space, and her essays have appeared in LA Review of Books, ESPN, and the anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. A former fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and previously on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, she currently teaches poetry at Columbia University and the 92Y, and works with saferLIT. Born in Indianapolis, she grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in Brooklyn. Lynn is reading on The Algonquin Stage at 2:30pm on Sunday, July 28th.

Getting to the Festival

Governors Island is accessible by three ferries:

  1. Governors Island Ferry - Manhattan ($3 roundtrip)

  2. Governors Island Ferry - Brooklyn ($3 roundtrip)

  3. NYC Ferry - East River ($2.75 each way)

The Governors Island Ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn are both operated by Governors Island and are designed specifically for visiting the island. They take direct routes to and from the island without stops. You can find the complete, up-to-date ferry schedules for each location on the Governors Island website

The Governors Island Manhattan Ferry departs from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street, New York, NY. The Ferry landing is immediately east of the Staten Island Ferry (but not the same building). It is at the very southern tip of Manhattan and easily accessible from the 1,4,5,N,R,J or Z trains.

The Brooklyn Ferry disembarks from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, located at the foot of Atlantic Avenue (corner of Columbia Street). It is accessible via the R,2,3,4,5 trains and the B23, B65, B61 buses.

The East River Ferry, operated by NYC Ferry, makes several stops along the East River—Midtown, Long Island City, Williamsburg, Dumbo, Wall Street—and only stops at Governors Island on weekends. A complete, up-to-date ferry schedule listing the locations of all stops is available on the NYC Ferry website.

Here is a link to a downloadable PDF map of Governors Island that shows you the walking routes from each of the ferry landings on the island to Colonel's Row. 

See you on the island!

 
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Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski founded the New York City Poetry Festival in the summer of 2011. Early that spring they had a conversation in which they both expressed their disbelief that New York City, the capital of the poetry world in America, didn't have its own poetry festival. Later that spring, having confirmed a summer residency in a house on Governors Island for their infamous immersive performance series The Poetry Brothel, they began to spend a great deal of time on Governors Island's lush lawns encircled by sycamores. It was too perfect a venue for an outdoor summer festival not to give it a try. They slapped the first annual #NYCPOFEST together in just a few short months with little more than some plywood, paint, cinder blocks, a few bolts of fabric, and a couple of borrowed microphones and speakers, but it was clear from day one that the New York City Poetry Festival was exactly the event the New York poetry community had been needing.

The purpose of the New York City Poetry Festival has been to liberate poets and their work from the dark corners of bars, bookstore, and coffee shops and their halogen-lit college campuses, and to bring together as many NYC poets as possible, in the bright light of day, to meet, mingle, and collaborate. Fostering an open, approachable, diverse, innovative, fun, and culturally prominent literary community lies at the core of The Poetry Society of New York's mission. While there are still a few entrenched poetry establishments, for many writers and artists, and even the general public, they can seem remote and inaccessible; The Poetry Society of New York aims not only to bridge these gaps, but to unify this city's poetry community in ways never before thought possible.

The New York City Poetry Festival has been honored to present such award-winning writers as Mark Strand, Paul Muldoon, Yusef Komunyakaa, Patricia Smith, Mark Doty, Dorothea Lasky, Joyelle McSweeney, Cornelius Eady, Aja Monet, and Matthea Harvey, but more importantly the festival has given poets and poetry lovers from all five boroughs and beyond an opportunity to hear, appreciate, and interact with poets whom they might never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. The festival has also presented hundreds of artists of other mediums. By reaching outside the established poetry communities, The Poetry Society of New York hopes to create new audiences for poetry and facilitate collaborations between poets and other artists. Similarly, by reaching out to colleges, high schools, grade schools, and youth-focused poetry organizations the festival hopes to encourage, educate, and inspire fledgling writers of all ages to become a part of New York's diverse and dynamic poetry scene. 

If you would like to make a fully tax-deductible donation to The Poetry Society of New York, a New York state 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, click here.

Check out these photos from past New York City Poetry Festivals!