Looking at Yeats, though the lens of his finished poems, he can seem a historic poet, almost cast in marble. In fact Yeats was a turbulent, troubled young man who became a passionate and sorrowful older one. His love poems show that. His poems of Ireland show it too. His beautiful language, far from being a monument, is a fever chart of the intensity and hunger with which he lived his life. Ireland and a desperate, unrequited love affair drove his poetry, some of which is the greatest of the twentieth century. So did his fear of old age and his fury at the modern world.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, an elfin, red-haired diva of the sonnet, published some of the wisest, sexiest, and most feminist poetry of the 20th century. From her childhood as caretaker of her siblings in Camden, Maine, to her adolescent near-miss at a national prize for "Renascence" which sparked a national poetry controversy, to her bohemian life in one of Greenwich Village's tiniest brownstones, Millay was as uncompromising in her devotion to the rules of verse as she was in her flaunting of social rules.
Who were the Beat Poets? Why are they ""beat"" and what does that mean? A look at their work, and the decades of the fifties and sixties in which they wrote, will explain why they remain iconic figures in American poetry. Their writing was shocking to some yet celebrated by others. Contemporary reaction to their poems was vociferous and divided. Today they continue to be notorious, though there is growing interest in their lively, noisy, exciting work. The Beat goes on!
In advance of our move to Battery Park City later this year, Poets House, the Battery Park City Neighbors' and Parents' Association and Battery Park City Seniors join forces to present a reading by Dave Johnson, a poet and playwright whose works include Marble Shoot and Baptized to the Bone. The collaborative event will offer Battery Park City residents an introduction to our programs and services and give members of the Poets House community an opportunity to learn more about Battery Park City.
E. E. Cummings accomplished the rarest of balancing acts: He managed to be both a deeply committed experimentalist and a very popular poet. How does a writer manage to be an innovator, pushing the boundaries of poetic form and content and still connect so powerfully with readers with his serious play? We'll look at the range of Cummings' achievement—his memorable and sensuous love poems, his fierce political satires, his compassionate anatomies of the human situation.
The greatest iconoclasts don't set out to. Take Emily Dickinson. She just couldn't do some things as others did them. She couldn't seem to manage to get saved despite great pressure from revival-happy Amherst; she couldn't bend her talent to write poems in any way that her time could accept as poems; she couldn't want fame if it meant publishing; she couldn't trade the intensity of her own mind for the busyness beyond her gate.
Through an innovative collaboration between Poets House and New York Waterway, Poets House staff members will be distributing artfully-designed, pocket-sized poems to hundreds of ferry passengers as they disembark in Battery Park City (across from Poets House's future home) on April 17th. As a part of the first nationwide celebration of Poem-in-Your-Pocket-Day, commuters, tourists and day-trippers will be welcomed to the shores of Manhattan with inspiring lines that they can carry with them throughout their day.
Edward Hirsch and Marie Howe read from and discuss their highly-anticipated new collections. Joining them at the podium will be Eugene Schlanger, author of September 11: Wall Street Sonnets and Other New York City Poems
The only event of its kind, the annual Poets House Showcase is a free exhibit featuring all of the new poetry books and poetry-related texts published in the United States in a single year—with more than 2,000 titles on view from over 500 commercial, university and independent presses. Thanks to the generosity of the New York Public Library, this year’s Showcase will take place at the historic Jefferson Market Library, a nineteenth-century landmark that has played host to Stephen Crane, E. E. Cummings and Marianne Moore.