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