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Blog Posts by Subject: Poetry

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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I ♥ G-Dubs: A Love Letter to the George Washington Bridge on Its 80th Birthday

The George Washington Bridge (Photo: Jason Megraw)

Most New Yorkers, when asked to name NYC landmarks, will conjure up the familiar array of iconographic symbols that make up our city: the Statue Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Ground Zero Memorial, etc. — but having grown up in Washington Heights, I can’t help but place the George Washington Bridge among the great monuments of Gotham pride. Ever since its completion in 1931, this stunning suspension bridge has remained a sight that never gets old, one which 

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Library Way

Ask NYPL gets a lot of questions about the sidewalk on Library Way. If you haven't seen it before, on your next trip to the main building on Fifth Avenue, be sure to approach from the east and

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Slam Poetry in NYC

Slam Poetry is alive and well in New York City and beyond. Check out this slam the NYPL and Urban Word hosted at the Bronx Library Center, featuring the Precision Poetry Drill Team.  With so many of the Urban Word visiting poets coming from the Slam tradition, I want to take a moment and discuss the art form and point you towards exciting Slam events, videos, and resources in New York City.

The history of slam poetry is complicated, almost as 

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Further Reading: Activism Through Poetry

Slam poetry is a new and unique development in modern literature. Activism through poetry, however, has been around for as long as the art form itself has. I’ve never had a cup of coffee and talked shop with any of the Urban Word Masterpoets, but I’d love to. I want to share some of the history and tradition of activism in African-American art and culture. Best of all, books and CDs of all of the artists mentioned here are available at your local 

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Stuff for the Teen Age: Aracelis Girmay at Urban Word

Aracelis Girmay received a red typewriter in seventh grade, and she never looked back. Just like the young poets at Urban Word, she figured out early on that writing poetry could change her life, and the lives of everyone around her. She said it better than I ever can:

"When I was 13, though, I read The 

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Stuff for the Teen Age: Roger Bonair-Agard at Urban Word

Roger Bonair-Agard is the guest of Urban Word NYC on August 3, and he is definitely not afraid to speak his mind. When the media reports that the world’s first all-black penguin is “assimilating nicely,” Roger is there to fire back a volley. While Lil’ Wayne raps about bling, Roger pokes fun at his tattoos and interviews with Katie Couric. We need Roger Bonair-Agard out there fighting, shouting so that he can be heard above the 

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Stuff for the Teen Age: Roger Sedarat at Urban Word

Now more than ever, the world needs to hear from Roger Sedarat. Since his career began, he’s been raging against oppressive regimes throughout the world, but his focus is Iran. He wants his work to help the Iranian people seize their country for their own. Sometimes this plays out in a symbolic way in his work, and sometimes in more literal fashion. He laments lost loved ones, lost human rights, and lost culture. He focuses his anger to a point and uses it to change people’s minds. Witness this video of his 

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Stuff for the Teen Age: Aimee Nezhukumatathil at Urban Word

Urban Word’s Summer Wordshops are rolling right along. On Wednesday, July 27, Aimee Nezhukumatathil joins the fray for an afternoon workshop at Urban Word HQ from 3 to 5 p.m. Head downtown afterwards to hear her read from her new book, Lucky Fish, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

I’ve never been to Southeast Asia, but after reading Lucky Fish, I feel like I have. Nezhukumatathil (Nez for 

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Stuff for the Teen Age: Poetry Workshops with Urban Word

This summer, The New York Public Library is pleased to partner with Urban Word NYC for a summer of poetry. Urban Word hosts poetry workshops year-round for teens, and they are free, free, free — the best kind of entertainment in New York City.

I’m psyched to hear some of the poetry that our amazing teens come up with to welcome their first visiting poet in the Summer Build-A-Peace series, Alexis DeVeaux. She’s a Harlem native that has spent the better part of 

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The Writers' Club — The End of the World?

Harold Camping predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011. These are our responses:

Judgment day came late this year     or early or sheepishly on the news I stood by the window ready to jump — On the ledge — It wasn’t that I wanted something to happen, But if it did I was prepared. 89-year-old Jimmy Burly Jones Said the world would end at six. (I thought he was talking about himself or his own life that he couldn’t fix). It wasn’t until I turned the TV on — on PIX That’s WPIX ... The 

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The Tree of Life & the Poem of Being

The Tree of Life opens May 27th in theaters; of course, having not yet seen the film there is little I can say about it (the studio released only a few plot details), but a discussion of his previous films may inform a deeper viewing more than simply assuming a passive stance. All too often, we are encouraged to receive films or books this way, in some vague popular idea that our minds are storage receptacles and that we simply experience a movie more or less in the fashion the filmmakers intended. I would like to counter this idea and 

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