Letter from the Director, April/May 2018

Letter from the Director

Be strong Bernadette
Nobody will ever know
I came here for a reason
Perhaps there is a life here
Of not being afraid of your own heart beating
Do not be afraid of your own heart beating

– from Bernadette Mayer’s “The Way to Keep Going in Antarctica”

I’m writing this dispatch on my laptop with my feet up, sipping a blended scotch in an oversized white sweater that I found at a thrift store for $1. The forecast calls for snow tonight. In a private apartment in the East Village, the search committee charged with hiring the next Executive Director of The Poetry Project conducted their first round of interviews. One hundred people have asked me who is going to take over and what will I do next. I repeat the above lines in my head, with one edit – “Be strong Stacy.” Sometimes I was afraid of my own heart beating, but I rarely acted a fool. And if I suffered what else could I do. I loved the room with all of my might, and here we are. I sip my drink and talk with, as I always have, my future self.

– SS

Stacy Szymaszek

Stacy Szymaszek is a poet, and arts administrator/organizer, and teacher. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where in 1999 she started working for Woodland Pattern Book Center. She founded and edited seven issues of GAM, a free magazine featuring the work of poets living in the upper midwest. In 2005, she moved to NYC to work for The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, where she served as Executive Director from 2007-2018. Szymaszek is the author of the books Emptied of All Ships (2005), Hyperglossia (2009), hart island (2015), Journal of Ugly Sites and Other Journals (2016), which won the Ottoline Prize from Fence Books and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2017, and A Year From Today (2018 ). She is the recipient of a 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts award in poetry. She is a regular teacher for Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program, and mentor for Queer Art Mentorship.

Szymaszek is the 2018-19 Hugo Visiting Writer at the University of Montana and was a Poet-in-Resident at Brown University in fall 2018.