As if you didn’t know, the “poetry scene” in New York City is legendary. And the establishments fostering this scene stretch from the Lower East Side to the Upper East Side, and beyond. From The New York Times today:
When you imagine a poetry reading, the scene that comes to mind probably doesn’t involve battalions of underwear-slinging admirers. Poetry is supposed to be dusty stuff, the reading of which can inspire even a hyperactive 4-year-old to go gentle into that good nap. And yet here is Dylan Thomas’s wife, Caitlin, describing her husband’s famous 1953 performances at the Poetry Center in New York, now part of the 92nd Street Y, “I used to come in late and hear, through the mikes, the breath-strained panting ... booming blue thunder into the teenagers’ delighted bras and briefs.”
As signs of performative triumph go, happy underwear surely beats a standing ovation.
Not that Thomas’s success should be surprising. Poetry has a long tradition of being not only read but also performed vigorously and well, and 50 years after Thomas, New York is still one of the best places in America to hear poetry out loud, whether it’s being declaimed from a stage, whispered in an auditorium or shouted in a bar. All of which is in keeping with the history of poetry as an oral art.
As The Times noted in the article, Seamus Heaney was here on September 26, to kick-off the 92Y Poetry Main Reading Series. We’ll share a video clip from that evening soon, here on the 92Y Blog. Check back next week!
Next in the Main Reading Series: Chinese/US Poetry Exchange with Xi Chuan, Zhou Zan, Marilyn Chin and Li-Young Lee on October 10.
We were honored to welcome to him in March, part of our 92Y Arts & Entertainments Talks. Above are video highlights from that evening. Care to share your own favorite Mellencamp moment or song? Leave a comment below!
Coming up in 92Y Arts & Entertainment Talks: Paula Deen with Dr. Gail Saltz (Oct 11); Caroline Kennedy (Oct 13); Fashion Icons With Fern Mallis: Calvin Klein (Oct 17); Andy Borowitz Presents: The Funniest American Writers (Oct 19).
Above is great video, recorded by an audience member, featuring the “Shababa Mamas” singing Eyn Keloheynu at Rosh Hashana Family Services on September 29 at 92nd Street Y. The services were led by Karina Zilberman, Director of Jewish Family Life and Culture at 92Y. See more videos of the Shababa Mamas on the 92Y Shababa Facebook page.