More than 75 poetry organisations presented more than 250 poets during the free, two-day festival that took place on June 30th and 31st. Writing and reading communities were brought together, as well as introducing those intimidated by or unfamiliar with poetry to various mediums in an inviting space on Governor’s Island. Formatted to simulate an outdoor music festival, the Poetry Festival brought together New York’s literary communities, showcasing varied voices, formats, reading series, presses and collectives, ranging from a college group from Staten Island to a senior center from Brooklyn; each poet bringing with them a unique vision of poetry. Headliners included acclaimed poets Jericho Brown, Camille Rankine, and Matthew Yeager. Readings curated by Brooklyn Poets, Great Weather for MEDIA and Coast to Coast Poetry Press Collective were also featured.
Incredibly powerful reactions to recent tragic events, including the killing of innocent men and women at a Gay night club in Orlando, Florida, and the deaths of unarmed black men and women, were present in many works. Words were carefully crafted into intense poems to help listeners and readers heal, feel and sort through the pain as a community. These were sandwiched next to hilarious monologues about previous relationships, metaphysical experiences and more.
Activities for children from the fifth Annual Children’s Poetry Festival sponsored by Writopia Lab, featured writing games and its own kids-only stage. A balloon forest provided writing prompts for children where they also had the opportunity to write and present their work. Other festival features included The Ring of Daisies Open Mic, The Typewriter Project, and The Poetry Brothel.
The Poetry Brothel is an incredibly unique and immersive theatre experience that brings poetry to life. The Poetry Brothel presents poets as courtesans, each operating within a carefully constructed character. Poets performing at the Brothel engage audiences in an immersive experience that flows seamlessly through the Brothel’s public spaces into its private poetry readings.
The Typewriter Project is a series of site-specific, literary installations that encourage users to take a seat at a typewriter inside a wooden booth and to share their words with the public, which ‘allows writers and typists of all levels to join in a citywide linguistic exchange. Each booth is outfitted with a 100-foot scroll of paper and a USB typewriterkit, which allows every written entry to be collected, stored and posted online for users to read, share and comment upon’.
Attendees moved between outdoor stages and enjoyed food and refreshments from delicious vendors, including Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, Big D’s Grub Truck, Toum, Everything About Crepes, Gorilla Cheese and Andy’s Italian Ices. A beer garden sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery provided ales.
Sponsors included Brooklyn Poets, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, Coast to Coast Poetry Press Collective, Everfest, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, The Gettysburg Review, Great Weather for MEDIA, Hubert’s Lemonade, Literary Manhattan, The New School, New York Distilling Company, The Poetry Table and Writopia Lab.
The New York City Poetry Festival was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc., with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Watch for updates next summer to join the 7th annual poetry festival!