Sunday, July 31, 2011

Scenes from the First Annual New York Poetry Festival

July 30th & 31st. Governors Island, New York City

Quod si me lyricis vatibus inseres
Sublimi feriam sidere capite

Note: video quality seems choppy on my machine, and is best viewed with the audio turned off.

Brooklyn Ferry to Governors Island from Pier 6 from Douglas Manson on Vimeo.

The Ferry ride is quick, but fun. The readings were held along the beautiful & stately Colonel's Row, under a colonnade of ample, lush sycamores.

I spent most of my time at the Admiral's Stage, and heard poets from FOU magazine, No, Dear and the Southern Writers Reading Series.

Here was the first great MC at the festival. Please help me identify some of these presenters and poets!

The first poet was Claire Donato. She's a great poet:

"The kindest poet lives alone."

Next up was Cynthia Arrieu-King:

Great poet and owner of Berl's Brooklyn Poetry Shop, Farrah Field read next:

Happy to provide gender equality was the wonderful Chris Martin:

Next was a poet, whose name I missed:

I then heard poets from the Southern Writers Reading Series. Author of Painkiller, Patricia Spears Jones raised the volume!


Just before I was drawn away by the siren song of the Poetry Whores at the nearby brothel, I heard the distinct cadences of the well-received Yusef Komunyakaa, whose most recent collection is The Chameleon Couch (Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2011):

At one point, thrown off his line by the booming PA sounds from the nearby "Brigadier" stage, he smiled and asked "How does this work?" I'm not sure he heard me, but I responded, "It doesn't!" Usually the sound systems worked quite well, but at times one heard a kind of mixed combination of lines from different stages, that was sometimes interesting, but usually disruptive. I stood directly between the two stages once and tried to find a point of dialogue, which worked for a few moments as two poets read, but then found it less exciting than it could have been. Perhaps more coordinated presentations of "naval word battle" could extend the dramatic possibilities of holding simultaneous readings. Too bad there weren't some semaphore poems in the mix. My two cents.

It was all free, in an amazing place, on one of the most beautiful days we've had this summer. If you see this in time, go out today (31 July) and check it out! Take water and food with you, though great food and drink were available for purchase. Please support the poets! This is an event to look forward to in coming years. Where O where were you, Boo-Boo??????? Zoom-zoom???



  1. Red dress poet is the beautiful Tricia Taaca. :)

  2. The first one, red top & white skirt, is me, Lisa Marie Basile.