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Blog Posts by Subject: Poetry

Who is Harlem Witness?

Who is Harlem Witness? St. George Library Center found out not too long ago when local Staten Island musician Shawn "Harlem Witness" DeBerry performed his Gospel-Rap set to audience full of eager concert goers. Shawn also provided us with a little bit of information about his musical background and the personal aspirations he has for his craft. 

What kind of music do you listen to?

I actually listen to a wide variety of music such as

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Aphrodite Metropolis: Kenneth Fearing in the Village

Kenneth Fearing was a major poet of the Great Depression and the founding editor of the Partisan Review.

He lived at 311 W. 11th Street and his birthday is July 28.

You can find a selection of 

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The Life of a Poet: Hart Crane in the Village

Hart Crane lived for a time at 45 Grove Street (he more famously had an apartment with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge) and his birthday is July 21.

Crane was a poet in the Rimbaud fashion. His life was restless, chaotic and short.

It may have been a good 

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Christmas in July: Clement Clark Moore in the Village

Clement Clark Moore is credited with writing one of the most famous poems in the world, "Twas the Night Before Christmas," also known as "A Visit from St. Nickolas."

This poem was first published anonymously in 1823, and was not attributed to Clement Moore until it was included in an 1844 anthology of Moore's poems. Moore wrote it for his children and at their insistence he included it in this edition. Moore, however, was generally more serious minded than this poem and apparently wanted to distance himself from it. He certainly didn't need the 

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Looking for Something Lost: Mark Van Doren in the Village

Mark Van Doren edited and published An Anthology of World Poetry in 1929. Amazingly, this enabled him to buy the house at

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Poetry Fest at the Aguilar Center for Reading and Writing

If you think of poems as flowers, then the Aguilar Poetry Fest was an exercise in charming cross-pollination. Sharing was the thing. Students were seated in groups of about 6, where they read their chosen poems to each other and then intermixed with other tables to multiply the fun. Poets included Langston Hughes,

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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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