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Blog Posts by Subject: Poetry

Before You Become a Poet, Work in a Bar: John Masefield in the Village

Before he was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, John Masefield scrubbed floors in a saloon at Greenwich Avenue and Sixth Avenue in the Village.

My guess, that's good training to be a poet or a writer of any kind. 

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A Worse Crime than Burning Books: Joseph Brodsky in the Village

Joseph Brodsky was a Russian poet, born in Leningrad, who became the American Poet Laureate in 1991. He lived at 44 Morton Street and his birthday is May 24.

Like Dylan Thomas, Brodsky wrote a birthday poem. His is called May 24, 1980, and was published in

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Is Private Life Relevant? May Sarton in the Village

May Sarton lived a little bit out of Hudson Park's area at 42 E. 11th Street, but still, close enough. She was a poet, novelist and memoirist. May 3rd is her birthday.

She is credited with saying 

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Reclaiming My West Indian Roots, with Poetry

As a young girl growing up in Jamaica — and later in Brooklyn, NY — I often heard the poetry of Louise Bennett (Jamaicans affectionately call her "Miss Lou") permeate the air. One of my earliest recollections of Miss Lou’s lyricism was hearing the term mout amassi (big mouth). The term comes from the title of one of her most popular poems about a young lady, Liza, who loves to gossip and chat.

To be called a "mout amassi" 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and Poems about Shakespeare

Its'a comin'.  Five presentations on Him.  At 1:15 in the South Court Auditorium at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. 

In the meantime, last night at the Columbia Shakespeare Seminar, a friend and I began to explore the 

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Poetry Writing With Adult New Readers, Strategy 1: The List Poem

You have not crossed the bridges I have crossed. You have not listened to the music I have listened to. You have not been in the top of the World Trade Center the way I have been there. You have not seen the waves I have seen. You have not fallen from horses the way I have fallen. You have not felt the guns on your neck the way I have felt them. You have not been in the sea with a big storm in a little boat the way I have been.

—Excerpt from "Don’t Give Me Advice," by Luis Marin, Tompkins Square CRW

This month is

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"I Remember..." Joe Brainard

Joe Brainard was born in 1941 in Salem, Arkansas and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A gentle, unathletic stutterer, Joe exhibited artistic talent from an early age. It was his way of dealing with the outside world of the public school in a working-class neighborhood. “Artistic” was a wide range of things, including designing his mother’s dresses. He won practically every art contest he entered.

Dayton Art Institute gave Brainard 

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A Poem A Day

April is National Poetry Month, and I promised myself to read a poem a day. Some poets of the black experience immediately came to mind: Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Claude McKay, Sonia Sanchez, Audrey Lorde, to name a few. But then I decided to venture unto new territory and immerse myself into recent works.

I selected four great poets — and distinguished scholars training new generations — who published collections in 2010 and 2011. I found history, current events and the future in their works; and grace, beauty, heartache, struggles and 

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A Poet's Poet: Gregory Corso

Gregory Corso was born at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City. His family lived near Bleecker and MacDougal streets at the time of his birth.

His birthday is March 

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"Chris in the Morning" Reading List

From 1990 through 1995, the television viewing public was obsessed with the goings on in Cicely, Alaska. Northern Exposure ruled the television airwaves. And while our airwaves were dominated by this quirky drama, on the show itself the airwaves were ruled by Chris Stevens and his KBHR radio show Chris in the Morning.

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First Fig: Edna St. Vincent Millay in the Village

The house is for sale again, apparently — One of the most famous in Greenwich Village, 75 1/2 Bedford Street, otherwise known as the skinniest house in New York.

Formerly, it was the home of

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E.E. Cummings: To My Valentine

Copyright by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust.When Edward Estlin Cummings met Marion Morehouse in 1932, he was in the middle of a painful split from his second wife, Anne Barton. But loss soon gave way to what Cummings later described as "an ecstatic arrival." This was Marion.

Morehouse was tall and thin, of Choctaw Indian ancestry, with brown eyes and a narrow face like a Modigliani. Edward Steichen called her "the greatest fashion model [he] ever shot." Aside from Steichen, 

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Life is a Stream: Amy Lowell in the Village

Amy Lowell was a poet who lived for a time at 61 Washington Square in New York City. February 9 is her birthday.

Here is a short selection from her work:

Life is a stream On which we strew Petal by petal the flower of our heart.

"Petals," from

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Joining the Club: The Poetry of David Shapiro

Perhaps it's because audiences for poetry are a bit smaller than some of the other genres I'm drawn to, but whenever I finally get around to reading a poet others have recommended to me, it seems like knocking on the door to a little club of sorts. When the poet is as interesting as David Shapiro, one hopes to return to that door again and again.  

Shapiro is one of many distinguished contributors to the new journal Bridge, which promises 

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Djuna, Did You Used to Visit?

Djuna Barnes, born January 12, lived her final 42 years at 5 Patchin Place in New York City, across the street from E. E. Cummings.

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"The Prophet" in Greenwich Village

Khalil Gibran’s book The Prophet is one of the best selling books of all time and was written while Gibran lived in the Village. Gibran may be known as the national poet of Lebanon, but he lived the final 20 years of his life here, at 51 West 10th Street in New York City, among other places. He died 

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Made of Stories

Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist, was born on December 15, 1913.

She lived in Westbeth at Bethune and West Streets in the West Village.

Her words will tell you more about her 

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Nikky Finney Wins National Book Award in Poetry

On November 16, Nikky Finney received the 2011 National Book Award in Poetry for her book Head Off & Split. Political, sensual, historical, imaginative, Finney’s poems speak of struggle, beauty, love, and race with passion and tenderness. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where she has been teaching for several years, congratulates her on 

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Winter is an Etching: An Artistic Quotation

Every November, the searches for Stanley Horowitz on Google gain momentum. Horowitz, a poet, published a tranquil 18 word poem in the November 1983 issue of Reader’s Digest magazine, page 109. Some years later the poem was posted to a list of autumn quotations on the Internet, sandwiched between poetry giants like John Keats and Robert Frost, and it has been used ubiquitously all over the web ever since. 

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Findings from the Miscellaneous Personal Name Collection: Aging and Death in 19th Century America

90 year old Isaac Bell writing in 1857This 1857 poem was written by a nonagenarian named Isaac Bell. It’s impossible for me not to admire his optimistic, confident attitude toward turning 90 in an era when geriatric care was considerably more primitive than today. I have included an image of the entire poem and would recommend that anyone take a minute to read it.

The thin folder containing Isaac Bell’s poem was filed after a folder labeled “

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