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First New York Poetry Festival Takes Over Governors Island

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The First Annual New York Poetry Festival takes place this weekend in and among the green lawns, rows of London Plane trees and historic brick houses of Governors Island. More than 130 poets from across the country will read their work.

"Our aim is to unite the poetry world of NYC," said Nicholas Adamski, one of the founders of the fest. "This festival is going to give a poetry lover from deepest Brooklyn [the chance] to hear poets who usually perform in cafes on the Upper West Side, Queens, Harlem, the Bronx."

The free festival will feature work read from over 30 poetry reading groups and collectives, including the Bowery Poetry Club, Metro Rhythm, the Poetry Project, KGB, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 2nd Ave Poetry, Stain of Poetry, Earshot, the Typewriter Girls, Futurepoem and Kiss Punch Poem.

Poetry Brothel, a group of poets who call themselves "poetry whores" who read verses to their "johns," will occupy an entire house on Colonel's Row during the fest. There will also be Open Mic nights on Saturday and Sunday.

Here are some of the reading groups that take the stage during the weekend's festival. There will also be vendors selling local food, drinks and crafts.

  • Warrior Writers Warrior Writers is a group for poets who are also war veterans. On Saturday from 3:45 to 4:30 P.M. on the Stage 2, the Brigadier Stage, expect to hear experiences of war alongside lyrical yearnings for peace and love. Poetry is often accompanied by music and dance. 
  • Mad Hatters' Review The Mad Hatters' Review is an online magazine that focuses on psychosocial issues like the "pollution of minds, hearts, bodies and nature." The magazine collects a wide variety of works, so expect everything from dark humor to satire to whimsical wordplay to psychological and philosophical verses. On Saturday at 4 P.M. on Stage 3, the Admiral Stage.
  • Southern Writers Reading Series This group includes some of "the finest contemporary writers from below the Mason-Dixon Line." Curtis Rogers, Sarah Levine, Monica McClure, Patricia Spears Jones and Yusef Komunyakaa will be the hosts of the Southern Writers reading on Saturday on the Admiral stage at 2 P.M.
  • The Mom Egg The Mom Egg aims to promote mothers and women artists, and as such poets in its group write about all things moms and motherhood. Check the group out at 4 P.M. on the Brigadier stage on Sunday.
  • Poetry Brothel The poetic word will be celebrated in the manner of the world's oldest profession all weekend from 12 until 5 P.M. One mansion will be decorated in the 19th century style where young, local poets will indulge visitors in private poetry recitations for a fee of $5.

The First Annual New York Poetry Festival runs from 12 to 5 P.M. on Saturday and Sunday. Click here for a complete festival schedule or here for the Governors Island Ferry schedule.

Updated 7/28/11