Letter from the Executive Director
This June marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In observance of that occasion we’ve been working with The Academy of American Poets and Lambda Literary to organize a big thrilling insistent exultant reading in the Sanctuary, featuring contemporary and historic queer voices, which will close out our 2018 – 2019 season of programming in just about a week.
The event (summer, more generally) brings memory to mind in intense syncopated bursts, even while the future keeps happening too. All this year, my first at The Poetry Project, there’s been crackle in the room, though I feel deeply as well that this has been a season of passings, and each loss brings pause to us in a different way. We have a number of remembrances in this issue of The Poetry Project Newsletter, and as of this writing, we’ve also learned about the recent passing of two poets, Michael Rumaker and Kevin Killian, who have shaped our community with their particular generosities of work, presence, mentorship, the gifts of attentive time they have shared with us.
I feel a kind of humility toward the constancies of change here, a trust in the momentum of poets toward horizon, and something rhizomatic too – a lateral, circular, multi-dimensional sense of generation, something compassion-driven in continuity, continuing complexity. In the year ahead, we will be growing – adding new staff members to support a wider range of events, workshops, and published content. We are working with our partners at The Library of Congress to make The Poetry Project’s full audio archive from 1966 forward publicly available for the first time. Laura Henriksen has moved into a new role here, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, to connect The Project’s culture of open learning and exchange with new audiences and partners. And while we’re sorry to be saying goodbye to our current curators and editors in their present roles – Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves with the Monday Series; Mirene Arsanios and Rachel Valinsky with the Friday Series; and Marwa Helal and John Rufo with the Newsletter – we feel gratitude for the spirit and care they have brought to their respective work, and look forward to welcoming new folks to these areas of our work come Fall.
Thank you for everything you bring to The Poetry Project as a writer, reader, teacher, student, listener, scholar, correspondent, friend. It is an honor to spend time in poetry with you.