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A Note from the Poets House Executive Director (Fall 2015)

What does poetry do? Well, nothing without a cooperative act—and that is part of its appeal.

Poets House, a place for poetry honoring the many expressions of the art, is a place of cooperation and co-creation—and that is part of its appeal.

Light-filled and serene, on the banks of the Hudson, Poets House is one of the largest poetry libraries in the U.S. Yet it creates a space of intimacy and welcome, a place for language in our lives and our cultural landscape.

Part of poetry’s genius is opening the universal through the single voice. Poets House also opens the universal through the specific, creating a specific place for poetry that opens into many places, and into a wider sense of community, extending far beyond the confines of geography. Witness, for example, the ten-city conclusion of Poetic Voices of the Muslim World, a Bridging Cultures partnership with library systems around the country, exploring poetry as lived practice in Muslim cultures. Thousands of people have attended these programs. Hundreds-of-thousands have seen the traveling exhibit. What does poetry do? It tells us “what it feels like to be alive in a certain time and place,” wrote Stanley Kunitz.

As you look at this calendar, you will see that there is so much history and co-creation to be shared this fall. Programs focusing on the work of Ai, Bernadette Mayer, John Wieners; talks by Fred Moten, Jerome Rothenberg, Jane Hirshfield and Lynn Emanuel. The Library Symposium at Poets House brings together poets, archivists, collectors and curators to talk about the library of the future—both as metaphor for capacious imagination and as real-time exploration of institutional networks dedicated to shared knowledge, undergoing profound transformations. There are also great workshops, seminars on craft, events for children, free class trips and a remarkable visual arts exhibition of Trevor Winkfield’s work.

What does poetry do?

When Cornelius Eady was recently interviewed at Poets House and asked pointedly, “Why poetry?”, he retorted instantly, “Why sleep?” You need time, Cornelius said, to put experience together…and “if you don’t sleep, you fall off a cliff.” I laughed out loud; this is what poetry does, it keeps us from falling off a cliff! What a marvelous way of thinking about our lives in language: poetry, modulating experience and essential to our well-being.

Join us this fall as some of our country’s great poets help us think in profound ways that refresh our spirit and the language we live with (and keep us from the edge of the cliffs).

— Lee Briccetti, Executive Director 

Download our Fall 2015 Calendar (PDF)

Read Previous Letters here:

Spring 2015
Fall 2014
Spring 2014
Fall 2013
Spring 2013
Fall 2012
Spring 2012

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