Matin Farawell, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s Poetry Director, and director of the Dodge Poetry Festival, has announced their roster of poets and other performers who will be participating in the 15th biennial Poetry Festival, scheduled in October 23-26 this year. For the third time, the festival will be held at its new home the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), as well as venues in Downtown Newark Arts district, all within walking distance of NJPAC. The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, an biennially initiative in even-numbered years since 1986, is a celebration of poetry that immerses participants in four days of readings, performances, and conversation. In its 26 years history, The DodgePoetry Festival has involved more than 500 poets, including Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, an an unparalleled array of much published and award-winning poets. The Festival is the largest poetry event in North America.
Poetry speaks to people in many ways. Its a common language to try new ideas, to address the issues of the day. Among the poets who will give featured readings from the stage of the Prudential hall are Richard Blanco, who was selected to read at President Barak Obama’s second inauguration , Eavan Boland, Ireland’s most honored female poet; former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (2001-2003);l former U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Rita Dove (1993-1995) and Robert Pinsky (1q997-2000); Mark Doty, winner of thew National Book Award for Poetry and T.S. Eliot Prize; as well as Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Old and Gary Synder. Other featured poets are; Jan Beatty, Rita Doves, Claudia Emerson, Aja Monet, Marilyn Nelson, Alice Oswald, Katha Pollitt, Alberto Rios, Tracey Smith, Brian Turner, and Kevin Young.
Highlight of the announcement was an tradition of the host and sponsoring organization’s CEOs to recite their favorite poetry readings from the CEO of NJPAC John Schreiber, and Dodge Foundation CEO Chris Daggett, not to be over shadowed, the Deputy Mayor , Margarita Muñiz, Deputy Mayor Neighborhood Engagement. John Schreiber told the audience it was customary to read a poem to kick-off the announced event.
Deputy Mayor , Margarita Muñiz excited the crowd with her light-hearted poem by her grand-daughter, “Poetry is for the young and not so young at heart, Poetry gives voices to some that don’t have a voice. Poetry enriches experiences, what we hope for and what our aspirations are, what we want and what we don’t want. So to me poetry is personal. I love poetry. We come from a poetry family, my husband reads poetry to me in Spanish, I read poetry to him in English, and then we talk about it. But more importantly, when we have have pizza night, every now and then, its turned into poetry night. Its called the Muñiz’s poetry festival, from my six year old grand-daughter.
“Pizza Pizza , Pizza Pie,
Pepperoni in my eye,
sausage pepper, extra cheese,
can we order a pizza please.”
For his part CEO of NJPAC John Schreiber recited a poem from Dorothy Parker a well known poet from of Long Branch New Jersey. He selected her poem for satirist qualities, she is best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.
The poem he read was “A Verse For a Certain Dog”, here are some verses from the poem
Such glorious faith as fills your limpid eyes,
Dear little friend of mine, I never knew.
All-innocent are you, and yet all-wise.
(For Heaven’s sake, stop worrying that shoe!)
(Get off the pillow with that dirty bone!)
(Must you eat puppy biscuit on the bed?)
Lancelike your courage, gleaming swift and strong,
Yours the white rapture of a winged soul,
Yours is a spirit like a Mayday song.
(God help you, if you break the goldfish bowl!)
“Whatever is, is good” – your gracious creed.
You wear your joy of living like a crown.
Love lights your simplest act, your every deed.
(Drop it, I tell you- put that kitten down!)
You are God’s kindliest gift of all – a friend.
Your shining loyalty unflecked by doubt,
You ask but leave to follow to the end.
(Couldn’t you wait until I took you out?)
for the full version of the poem go to http://worlds-poetry.com/dorothy_parker/verse_for_a_certain_dog
Not to be out done, Chris Daggett, shared with the audience his learned love for poetry, which came in part byway of his poetry director Martin Farawell insistence. He saw the festival not only as the voices of the silenced and inspired, but saw its function, along with other art medium as a catalyst for Economic Development in Newark’s downtown. ” People rarely see the Poetry festival as a Economic driver, and the arts as a economic driver. Its one of the essential drivers in Newark, creating a village, of people with common interest, but not only do the patron attend the festival, they go to the hotels, go to the near by art galleries, boutique and restaurants”Mr Daggett said. The festival is also partnering with other organization which some include, Newark’s Convention Visitor Bureau, other art institution, Newark Museum, 1st Baptist Church, Trinity & St Phillip Cathedral, North Star Academy, NJ Historical Society, and Aljira within the arts and cultural district. He said, more importantly to me was it bringing the community together, and reaching the greater community. “We have a poetry school program, we combined our efforts with the other arts and we have mini festival, we also bring poetry to the classrooms in Newark, we go in the schools and work with the teachers on a residency basis, to work with kids and teachers”. For his part with the poetry recital, Mr Daggett selected a poem by Marge Piecy, for his interest in public service and public policy, the poem is entitled “To Be Of Use”
by Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
for the full version of the poem go to http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2006/09/04
Other important highlights of the festival,
“Another Kind of Courage,” readings by veterans and their families
“Present Imperfect,” readings and conversations focused on poets and disabilities.
“Poemjazz,” Robert Pinsky’s innovative dialogue between poetry and music.
A Celebration of the late Amiri Baraka his writings and works.
Performances by “Brick City Voices”, emerging poets from Newark, NJ