← Back

Celebrating National Great Poetry Reading Day

Great Poetry Reading Day is celebrated each year on April 28. Poetry is one of humankind’s oldest art forms. In ancient times, prior to written alphabets and other forms of literary prose, poetry was used to convey historical facts, culture, and traditions from generation to generation. When written language was invented, poetry was one the first types of writing transcribed, dating back almost five thousand years. Poetry remains a crucial cultural cornerstone. There is no shortage of amazing poets or poertry organizations that have called the East Village, Greenwich Village, and NoHo their home, and we’ve put together a list of just some of them (click the link at bottom for additional resources):

Miguel Algarín and the Nuyorican Poets Café

Loisaida introduced Nuyorican as a term for mainland Puerto Ricans, specifically those in New York City. By the 1970s, the Nuyorican identity had become a point of pride for many Puerto Rican migrants, in part thanks to the establishment of the Nuyorican Poets Café. 

Jacob Burckhardt/Village Voice

Alongside Miguel Piñero and Pedro Pietri, Miguel Algarín quickly rose to prominence as a Nuyorican poet through the earliest years of the café. Initially known for informal gatherings of poets and artists in the living room of Algarín’s railroad flat, the café later relocated and began hosting hundreds of poets, actors, filmmakers, and musicians within its walls. This space, led by Algarín and his collaborators, became a hub for New York’s Latinx community and Puerto Rican migrants. As the years went on, Algarín continued to participate in hosting creative events, often sharing his own poetic work with the regular attendees of the café. Click here to read more.

Diane Burns: Native American Poet, East Village Prophet

Native American poet Diane Burns was a luminous, integral fixture of the Downtown arts scene beginning in the 1970s until her death in 2006. Her poetic body of work contains achingly earnest descriptions of her personal experiences as a Native American woman to droll, prophetic indictments of early gentrification in the East Village.

Diane Burns. Date unknown.

She became a well-known performer at downtown poetry readings, her magnetic persona and wry wit searing into the community’s consciousness and memory. She took the stage at revered venues like the Nuyorican Poets Café, she made her mark at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery (where her memorial was held in 2007) with the Poetry Project, and she captivated audiences at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Silent Teacher: East Village Poet Hannah Weiner

Hannah Weiner is a perfect example of an often-overlooked and overshadowed woman poet of the avant-garde poetry movement in our neighborhoods. Her visionary experimentation within, and beyond, the written word, was her “hidden labor,” and she formed an integral part of the East Village artistic community from the late 1960s until her death in 1997.

Hannah Weiner. Date Unknown.

Weiner created and fulfilled a poetic niche wholly her own. As she narrates her own unconventional life path in her autobiographical poem “SILENT TEACHER”: “she… worked for three publishing houses got fired by all of them / she then turned to / retailing and was an assistant buyer for… ladies dresses in / Bloomingdales basement she married a psychiatrist freudian and divorced him four years later then she exaggerated but not lied / herself into a job designing lingerie and turned down her second request for marriage.” She continues, “by this time she was making the rounds of galleries and parties in the early sixties and began to write poetry in 1963.”

This is of course the tip of the iceberg of the great poets who have graced our neighborhoods, from ee cummings to Edna St. Vincent Millay, W.H. Auden to Amiri Baraka. Click here to explore more poets of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo.

Related Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *