Since its founding the late ’60s, the Poetry Project has been a major force in contemporary American literature. It’s not just an institution but an entire social sphere, where poets and their readers can mingle freely, listen to each other, and come away with new ideas. The current worldwide interest in American and especially New York poetry is a direct result of the presence of The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church. – John Ashbery
The Poetry Project has, over the decades, provided poets with a safe haven, laboratory, and stage. These, combined, have activated and preserved our various ways of thinking and linking language to ourselves and to the world. Remarkably, the Project has never stopped reinventing itself as an institution: that is, it has allowed the currents of poetic innovation to inform its choices and decisions. In this, it is as unique as it is irreplaceable. – Ann Lauterbach
The Poetry Project is one of a kind. Although there are cultural houses in Europe and other venues for poetry, none have the scope and the prestige of the Poetry Project. Here, in Paris, for example, we receive its newsletter and follow its activities. The French poets are themselves very eager to know what goes on in American poetry through the activities of the “Project” which is more than a gathering place and is rather an active participant in a field whose importance is well known through the intellectual circles of the whole world. American poetry is at its most creative phase. It is the most important poetic movement we know of, and its direct influence on poets everywhere is a fact that gives us the responsibility to keep an organization like the Poetry Project alive, and even expanding. – Etel Adnan
At the Poetry Project I have often had the great experience of listening to a well-known poet or an unknown young poet and suddenly the room falls away, all my worries fall away, everything falls away, and I just hear. I get inside the work and find it so wonderful and brilliant that it’s as if I am being raised out of my chair. And when I go home I’m so much happier, more energized and awake, and more optimistic than I was before the reading. – Ron Padgett
Since its founding in 1966, the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery has been a forum for public literary events and a resource for writers. Over the past four decades, hundreds of poets, writers and performers, including Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Alice Walker, John Cage, Sam Shepard, Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones), Philip Whalen, Eric Bogosian, Philip Glass, Kathy Acker, Barbara Guest, Paul Auster, Peter Straub, Francesco Clemente, Robert Creeley, Alice Notley, Bernadette Mayer, Kenneth Koch, Thurston Moore, Steve Earle, Cecil Taylor, Patti Smith, Yoko Ono, Sherman Alexie, Michael Ondaatje, Robert Ashley, Anne Carson, Anne Waldman, Ron Padgett, Jim Carroll, Andrei Codrescu, John Yau, Lydia Davis, and Paul Beatty, have shared their work at the Poetry Project. With three different reading and performance series a week, plus lectures and special events, the Poetry Project is a vital and hospitable hub for the writing community in New York City. The Poetry Project was the scene of the only joint reading by Robert Lowell and Allen Ginsberg and has been the site of historic memorials to poets Paul Blackburn, Robert Duncan, Charles Reznikoff, Frank O’Hara, Ted Berrigan, Edwin Denby and many others. Staffed completely by poets, the Poetry Project consistently achieves an integrity of programming that challenges, informs and inspires working writers, while remaining accessible to the general public.
Now in its 45th season, the Poetry Project continues to furnish encouragement and resources to poets, writers, artists and performers whose work is experimental, innovative and pertinent to writing that proposes fresh aesthetic, cultural, philosophical and political approaches to contemporary society.
If you’d like to know more about the Poetry Project’s history, please visit The Project Papers, which are published essays about and from the Poetry Project.