Marathon Reading Debriefing


2011’s New Year’s Day Marathon Reading/Benefit was another extraordinary poetry happening. Bob Holman started us off at 2:15pm with a Happy New Year Poem that he wrote the night before and I, in keeping with Project custom, clocked in with the final word at 1:30am. We heard from about 140 performers in-between, with too many surprises to note, but props to musician Nick Hallett whose voice stopped me in my tracks. Whatever I was about to do probably never got done! Even though we produce this reading, the performances (along with the collective momentum)  always peel away blinders from my vision. For this I am grateful. And, huzzah! We raised over $18,000 this year. These funds, as you know, allow us to pay the rent, continue programming 80+ readings per season and plan for the Project’s future. Thank you for every dollar you spent on admission, food, books or Membership that day. And thank you to the food establishments and publishers who donated their goods to us. There is a list of whom they are below and we hope you will support them throughout the year. Two Boots launched an annual Project tribute pizza, which will celebrate a different poet each year. I didn’t get to the slices of “Wichita Vortex Sutra” pizza (for Allen Ginsberg, of course) fast enough, but Arlo said it was a delicious invention. Thanks to Phil and Two Boots.

Poet Karen Weiser told me I looked calmer than an Artistic Director should. I can’t adequately express my gratitude to all of our trusty volunteers for taking most of the weight off our shoulders that day. This event is labor intensive and we simply wouldn’t get very far without dozens of people going above and beyond.

So, back to what we do best… host more readings. It’s my pleasure to mention a few of the forthcoming. Patti Smith made her Poetry Project debut accompanied by Lenny Kaye on guitar on February 10, 1971. They will return for a special 40th anniversary concert of poetry and music to benefit the Poetry Project on February 9th. The Project has been kept in business by poets for 45 years. On March 23rd its former Artistic Directors will unite for a talk and reading. Okay I’m not impartial but I think it’s not to be missed! Also look for readings by Clark Coolidge, Ken Irby and Caroline Bergvall. The calendar (soon to be posted online) will reveal all.

We hope that 2011 holds much promise for each of us and for the state of the world. We appreciate your devotion to our New Year’s celebration and thank you, again, for being part of the Poetry Project.


Stacy Szymaszek


The 37th Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Reading was great. Always the biggest Poetry Project event of the year, this one featured more than 140 performers and an audience of more than 1,000. Our tiny office staff of 3 persons is no match for the Marathon! We needed a lot of help and we got it from these wonderful people:

Aaron Kiely, Adeena Karasick, Alex Abelson, Amanda Deutch, Atticus Fierman, Barry Denny, Betsy Block, Bill Kushner, Bill Martin, Bob Rosenthal, Brenda Coultas, Brett Price, CAConrad, Corrine Fitzpatrick, Chana Porter, Christa Quint, Christine Kelly, Cori Copp, Corinne Dekkers, Daniel Kent, David Kirschenbaum, Derek Kroessler, Diana Hamilton, Diana Rickard, Dixie Appel, Don Yorty, Douglas “All Day” Rothschild, Doug Eberle, Elinor Nauen, Emily XYZ, Erica Wessmann, Evelyn Reilly, Franklin Bruno, Gail Tuch, Geoff Mottram, Geoffrey Olsen, Hilary Johnson, Ian Wilder, Jeffrey Perkins, Jeremy Hoevenaar, Jessica Fiorini, Jo Ann Wasserman, Joe Elliot, Karen Garthe, Kathleen Connell, Katie Fowley, KB Jones, Kye Ginger, Kimberly Wilder, Kyle R. Triplett, Laura Elrick, Lauren Russell,  Lisa Ozag, Macgregor Card, Marcella Durand & Ishmael, Margaret Carson, Mariette Papic, Merry Fortune, Minna Periniva, Miranda Lee Reality Torn, Nathaniel Siegel, Nick Morrow, Nicole  Peyrafitte, Nina Freeman, Phyllis Wat, Rebecca Melnyk, Sara Akant, Sophie Aster Prevallet, Stephanie Gray, Stephanie Jo Elstro, Thom Donovan, Tom Weiss, Will Edmiston, and probably some others who I missed. David Vogen & Jim Behrle deserve special thanks for pulling a day-long shift at the sound table.

Food and services were generously provided by these local businesses and friends:

Bob Rosenthal, Buttercup Bake Shop, Christa Quint, Dael Orlandersmith, Gillian McCain, Grandaisy Bakery, Grey Dog, Magnolia Bakery, Nathaniel Siegel, Nicole Peyrafitte, Porto Rico Coffee, The Source Unltd., S’MAC, Two Boots, and Veselka.

And we had an exceptionally well-stocked book table this year thanks to these people:

Akilah Oliver, Anne Waldman, Anselm Berrigan, Belladonna*, Chain (journal), Coffee House Press, Cuneiform Press, Eileen Tabios, Gilian McCain, Granary Books, Joanna Cooper, Litmus Press, Meritage Press, Murat Nemat-Nejat, Nicole Peyrafitte, Peter Bushyeager, Susan Mills, Ugly Duckling Presse, and United Artists.

It’s nice to begin the new year taking part in the collective effort that makes the marathon happen—thank you all for making it possible.


Arlo Quint

2 Responses to Marathon Reading Debriefing

  1. Anonymous says:

    This year’s poetry Marathon was possibly better than the last three, and up to par or even better than many other years. I felt a collective joviality, and maybe that has to do with the times themselves — but no matter what-for or why, the content was grand and we are so lucky to be in the midst of so many great enterainers and artists. Hats off to the readers, dancers, singers, players.

    That’s the good news.

    The bad news is that I felt the event was oversold, with the hours between 7&9 a potential fire hazard. You couldn’t walk in the aisles and people were sitting three deep on the floor near the doors. To some that might be cause for celebration, but unfortunately coupled w/ some rude and overindulged audience members, and people literally sitting on top of me, it made for a pretty bad experience . I understand the need to make money, but not at the expense of the qualilty of the event. This is my plus10 years in attendance, and I almost couldn’t enjoy myself for the first time ever!

    Maybe next year someone can come up with a few simple rules for people to follow, post them so that everyone can see them, and at some point LIMIT the # of people in the hall.

  2. admin says:

    Thank you for the compliment and the critique. Agree that the event, especially when it falls on the weekends, needs volunteers assigned to crowd control. The staff had some problems navigating the room as well. Thanks for sticking it out and for sharing your concern.

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