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Poetry Month


Each April, librarians throughout NYPL post readings, discussions and events celebrating National Poetry Month, a time when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.

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 26.

His famous poem "Marriage" can 

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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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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 "collaborations between poets, 

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Mr. Flood's Party

If you are of a certain age, you may be familiar with Edwin Arlington Robinson from a Simon and Garfunkel song, "Richard Cory." The words of the song were changed somewhat from what Robinson wrote but it still ended with the same shocking, brutal conclusion. Here’s the whole poem:

Whenever Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him: He was a gentleman from sole 

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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 than anything I can write:

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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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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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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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April in the Reader's Den: Featured Poets from the L.E.S Review

Our final week of April in the Reader's Den will focus on the selected works of poets contributing to a new poetry and arts journal, The L.E.S Review, founded by poet, artist, and Pratt Institute Library and Information Science student Jesi Bender.

In the five years Jesi has lived in New York City, she has accumulated friends in all facets of the arts, and worked for various art institutions throughout Manhattan and Williamsburg.  In other words, 

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After the Kiss: A (poetic) Review

Camille isn't impressed with her new town. It's nothing like her old town (or the one before that, or the one before that). It's tedious making new friends during senior year only to move on like she always does, like they all will with college around the corner. Still, she'll put on a show and pretend it all matters while she marks time until her escape like she always does.

Until she meets Alec at a party. He isn't the boy she left behind. But he's here. He's smart. He's a poet. That's pretty close to perfect.

Camille doesn't want to get involved or 

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April in the Reader's Den: Rainer Maria Rilke

Once upon a time, when I was a backpacking young Bohemian visiting Prague, I had a roomate who introduced me to the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. Having toted the books with him across continents for quiet contemplation, I wondered, what was it about Rilke's words that inspired such steadfast devotion?

Born in Prague in 1875 in what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire,

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April in the Reader's Den: The Haiku of Matsuo Bashō

The Edo period of Japan (1603 - 1868) was considered one of the most stable and peaceful eras in Japanese history. At this time Japan was a fuedalist state ruled by shoguns of the Tokugawa family, but there was simultaneously a significant flourishing of arts and culture. A revival of the principles of

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The Challenges of Finding a Pocket-Sized Poem

Thursday April 14th is Poem in Your Pocket Day.  This tradition began in New York City in 2002 and expanded nationally several years later.  If you go to New York City's PIYPD page, you can learn about special events that will take place that day, and even read some poems by mayor Michael Bloomberg.  But let's get to the real question... how will you pick the right poem for your pocket?

First, let me begin with a story from my own past that emphasizes the 

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WOW: A Poetry Celebration

WOW @ The Library: Celebrating a Centennial of Women’s Poetry

April is poetry month! “What is poetry?.” Is poetry perhaps a garden of expressions blooming in the light of thoughtful thoughts? Wonderful words dancing to the rhythm of rhymes? or Sweet tweets that spring from swayable heartbeats? 

According to

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April in the Reader's Den: The Poetry of Rumi, Persian Mystic

April 2011 marks the 16th anniversary of National Poetry Month, and we shall embark on this sweet 16 with an appreciation of everyone's favorite Sufi mystical poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, otherwise known as Rumi (1207 - 1273 AD). Born in a remote Persian village in the region now known as Tajikistan, Rumi wrote poems of longing and ecstacy that made sweeping parallels between romantic and spiritual love. He was particularly fascinated with the use 

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Reader's Den: Poetry Selections, "Learning to Love America" by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin

For the month of December, the librarians of The Reader's Den have decided to spotlight some of our very favorite poetry. To get things started, I'd like to take a look at the poem "Learning to Love America" by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin. You can read this and many other great poetry selections at The Poetry Foundation's website. Be sure to reserve and/or check of the other works by Shirley Geok-Lim Lin 

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Reader's Den: Library as (Emily's) Muse

Last week in the Reader's Den I shared a library poem by modern New York poet Puma Perl. This week I found a library poem by the immortal Emily Dickinson. She writes of an intimate encounter with an antique volume, and how it transports her.


A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is To meet an antique book, In just the dress his century wore; A privilege, I think,

His venerable hand to take, And warming in our own, A passage back, or two, to make To 

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Reader's Den: Poetry Month with a Local

Poetry Month is here at last: a yearly breath of fresh air and inspiration. Some people find inspiration in nature, others find it in a library. This month in the Reader's Den we'll be looking at the poetry of places, and we begin with a poem by a New York City poet named Puma Perl. Much to the delight of library staff, she found inspiration within the walls of the Mulberry Street branch. She shared this poem, written in July 2008, in anticipation of her reading at Mulberry Street on April 14. Thanks Puma ... Read More ›
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