Poets House: Mighty Poetry Megolopolis

15 Oct

A while back (okay, it was July, people. July. And yes, I know it’s October now. Sheesh-I’ve been busy, okay? And yes, I know you know “busy” means watching too much TV while eating too many potato chips. Whatever.) I trekked out to Poets House in Battery Park City with a poet-friend in town from Southern California to show off how awesome the New York City writing world is. (Yes, I’m a braggart and a lout about New York City when it suits me.)

Little did I realize just how awesome Poets House would be. My friend actually berated me for not coming here sooner on my own (by that point, I’d been in NYC for a year and never visited). The building is gorgeous, with huge windows overlooking Battery Park City, big tables to spread yourself (by which I mean, your work) out on, free WiFi, and even a cozy private reading room where you can read aloud any poetry books you pick out. Oh, and the books? Mind-boggling would be a good word. Lust-inducing would also be appropriate, as would profoundly moving. They have rows and rows and rows and rows of poetry books. And journals. And anthologies. And sound recordings. And. And.

But the best thing of all is their Showcase, which we happened to be in time to visit.  The Showcase, in short, is a round-up and brag-on of all the poetry (and poetry-related) books published in the U.S. THAT YEAR. Yup. All. Of. Them. It’s pretty friggin’ awe-inspiring.


Here's my brilliant friend K in the Room of Glorious Wandering


Here’s how good my friend K is: we both walked into the space, nearly wet our pants, and then said, “Okay, see ya,” and headed to our separate corners to browse to our hearts’ great joy and contentment. If you’ve never been, and you’re planning on visiting New York City in the summer, plan your vacation around it. I’m not kidding. If you’re a poetry lover, it will make you gleeful and knock-kneed. Trust me.

Here are just a few of my faves from Around the Room:


Who doesn't love popsicles? (Love the peek-a-book of Charles Harper Webb's latest - a former and esteemed teacher of mine)



Firebird? Phoenix? Glam'd up turkey? I don't care - I love it. And she got a foreword by Thom Lux? Hate her already.



Gorgeously illustrated



And who doesn't love plumbers?


There were so many books (over 2,000!) but this one in particular struck me as an ingenious idea, one that many of us with writing friends could easily replicate:


Poetry in the round


Seven Poets, Four Days, One Book is the brain-child of poet Christopher Merrill, who gathered six fellow poets for four days of poetry collaboration. Here’s the ridiculously simple idea: they’d each read a poem of their own, and the other poets would note interesting lines, words, and images from this poem. With this list, they’d then write their own poem, incorporating some part of the original poet’s work. Then they’d read that, and on and on and on and on. It’s on my wish list.

And lastly, I want to give a shout-out to this great little magazine that we discovered, published via postcards to its subscribers:


Why didn't I have this idea? Because I'm not that clever, probably.


Abe’s Penny is published by sisters Anna and Tess Knoebel, out in the cultural wonderland that is Brooklyn, NY. Here’s a few sample postcards from the Poets House collection:


I want, I want, I want.



I’m going to have to steal this idea and Christopher Merrill’s. So if you’re a writing friend of mine, be prepared. I will want to lock you into a house (preferably one as cool as Sarah’s House) and write with you. And then send you postcards. Deal with it.

Rock on, people.

– Jho


4 Responses to “Poets House: Mighty Poetry Megolopolis”

  1. Jingle October 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm #


  2. Jingle October 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    To link in a poem to our potluck today, click here:

    thanks for the support.
    Happy Monday!

  3. Katie November 2, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    Ahhhhh, the glory of Poet’s House. You forgot to mention that I took a nap in the reading room. 🙂 I had to! I will now refer to that room as the Reading Womb. I felt so safe and comfortable there.

    • jhointhecity November 2, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

      That was hilarious. I was searching all over the building for you – the other writers busily working away must have thought I was a nut. Good times.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: