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On the 'Most Inclusive' Poetry Fest in the Big Apple
The New York City Poetry Festival is run almost entirely by Nicholas Adamski and me. Nicholas also co-organizes The Poetry Brothel with me. Of course, we also have a slew of friends, volunteers, and interns who help us out. Liz Axelrod has been huge on development for us. Lisa Marie Basile manages our social media presence. Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein and Jordana Frankel run the Children's Poetry Festival. We couldn't have done made past festivals happen without former interns Conor Messinger, Emma Timbers, and Elizabeth Von Klemperer, volunteers like RA Araya and James Cook, and active supporters like John Deming at Coldfront Magazine and Jen Benka at the Academy of American Poets.
Nick and I first conceived the festival while planning The Poetry Brothel's summer residency on Governors Island in 2011. We looked at the beautiful triangle of grass sprawling out in front of our house, and realized we needed to host a poetry festival there. Our mission as collaborators has always been to present poetry in beautiful, innovative, and "not boring" ways in order to re-introduce the art of poetry to the general population. The New York City Poetry Festival draws inspiration from a vast history of summer festivals, from ancient to the present, to celebrate the vibrancy of the poetry community in New York City.
I am the Executive Director of the festival with a staff of volunteers, which basically means that I coordinate all of the minute logistics that go into the festival's production, and I also execute a bunch of those logistics. I organize the development, programming, and publicity for the festival. For this year's festival, I wrote grants, sponsorship decks, and budgets and disseminated them; I put out the call for participants and have managed all of that information as it has come in; I had a new website designed, and I write and manage all that content; I co-directed a Kickstarter video and launched a (successful!) Kickstarter campaign; and now I am beginning to coordinate and train all of our staff. I basically read and answer A TON of emails.
Governors Island is a magical relic of New York's history, a pastoral island that somehow exists in one of the biggest cities in the world. The Trust for Governors Island is also incredibly supportive of the arts. We chose July because it is a hot and sunny month in the middle of summer.
Festival highlights include our headliners: Paul Muldoon and the Wayside Shrines, Mark Doty, Joyelle McSweeney, and Matthea Harvey. Paul Muldoon will be playing music with his band. Other highlights include the Brooklyn Brewery Beer Garden, where we'll be serving $5 beer all day; The Poetry Brothel, in an old, dark, candlelit officer's house where poets will give private, one-on-one poetry readings; The Ring of Daisies Open Mic; The Children's Poetry Festival, where there will be writing games and an all-kids stage, and The Typewriter Project, where attendees are invited to write a few lines on an antique typewriter in a rustic, wooden booth.
I usually tell non-poets there is a ferry ride, cheap beer, delicious food, and a solar powered merry-go-round. Non-poets love this festival!
This is the most inclusive poetry festival in New York, if not the world. We invite all poetry organizations, large and small, to participate, and we have them curate their own readers. It is also free to attend and free to participate.
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