The Largest Poetry Event in North America: The 2010 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival Presented at Newark's New Jersey Performing Arts Center October 7-10

Sep 07, 2010, 11:00 ET from New Jersey Performing Arts Center

20,000 expected to attend a Poetry Village to be established in Newark

NEW YORK, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The largest and most renowned poetry event in North America, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's 13th Biennial Dodge Poetry Festival, will be hosted this year by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and the City of Newark.  The Festival is expected to attract an audience of more than 20,000 people nationally and internationally. The Dodge Foundation will  also provide free tickets to more than 4,500 high school students representing 250 schools across the country. The Festival features former U.S. Poets Laureate Kay Ryan, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and Mark Strand as well as dozens of distinguished poets over four days of readings, discussions, and conversations.



The Festival opens on October 7th with an event unrivaled by any other poetry gathering: a Poetry Sampler featuring back-to-back readings by two dozen major poets, including Kay Ryan, the most recent U.S. Poet Laureate, and former Poets Laureate Billy Collins and Rita Dove, as well as Pulitzer Prize and McArthur "Genius" Fellowship winner Galway Kinnell. The event takes place in NJPAC's 2,800-seat Prudential Hall.

Other notable poets reading in the Poetry Sampler are Amiri Baraka, Kwame Dawes, Matthew Dickman, Bob Hicok, Martin Espada, Dunya Mikhail, Joseph Millar, Nancy Morejon, Sharon Olds, Marie Ponsot, and Claudia Rankine. All poets in the Poetry Sampler will participate in the Festival's subsequent three days of scheduled readings, conversations and discussions. The Festival will culminate with a Sunday afternoon Poetry Summit on October 10th in Prudential Hall featuring four Poets Laureate: Billy Collins (2001-03), Rita Dove (1993-95), Kay Ryan (2008-10), and Mark Strand (1990-91).


Newark is the ideal location for the Poetry Village because of its vibrant arts district, mix of Beaux Arts, Gothic, Art Deco and contemporary architecture as well as its proximity as a transportation hub, providing easy access for audiences by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and PATH trains. At various times throughout the Festival, audiences will have their choice of up to 10 different poetry events occurring simultaneously throughout the Festival's Poetry Village. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and its surrounding neighborhood offers a wealth of state-of-the-art concert halls, intimate cabaret rooms and meeting spaces within nearby cultural institutions, museums, galleries and churches to ensure a rich, varied experience for all festival-goers. Other Festival venues, all within several minutes walking distance from NJPAC, include Aljira-A Center for Contemporary Art, The Newark Museum, New Jersey Historical Society, Peddie Baptist Church, Trinity-St. Phillips Church and the Robert Treat Hotel. "This is simply momentous in the evolution of Newark as one of the region's leading cultural destinations," said Lawrence P. Goldman, President and CEO of NJPAC. "We suspect that NJPAC fans and Dodge Poetry Festival fans aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but we hope to introduce Newark to some new visitors and to involve Newarkers intimately in this highly prestigious and hugely anticipated Festival."


At the heart of the Festival are a series of readings that remind us poetry is historically an oral/aural art. Principal among them are the half-hour readings by Festival Poets, which occur on the Main Stage in Prudential Hall every evening and during weekend afternoons. The Festival also includes a range of mid-day poetry readings at venues throughout the Poetry Village. Bobby Sanabria & Quarteto Ache, a Latin jazz group, will provide music to accompany the readings in Prudential Hall on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.


The Festival provides infinite opportunities for conversation - with Festival Poets, teachers, students, friends, and other members of the poetry community who come to share the common ground of the Festival. The Festival offers Poets on Poetry sessions in which individual poets reveal their relationship to poetry by discussing poems which are important to them. Conversation: On the Life of the Poet brings together several poets to discuss their lives and their art. In prior Festivals, panels have included topics such as The Mysterious Life Within Translation, Poetry and Jazz, Poetry and the Dignity of the Ordinary, and Going Public with Private Feelings, among many others. These events also offer the public the opportunity to interact with accomplished poets in Conversations on Craft, which includes discussions of work patterns, work habits, and specific matters of poetic craft.


Continuing its commitment to student participation, the Dodge Foundation will provide free tickets to more than 4,500 high school students representing nearly 250 schools across the country. Along with other festival goers, these students will have the opportunity to hear distinguished poets read, discuss some of the enduring questions evoked by poetry, and talk about poems that have been most important to them.


  • Billy Collins (U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003) was named a "Literary Lion" by the New York Public Library and was honored as "Poet of the Year" by Poetry Magazine in 1994. In 2004 he was the first recipient of the Poetry Foundation's Mark Twain Award for humor in poetry. He has participated regularly at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival with his most recent appearance in 2008.
  • Rita Dove (U.S. Poet Laureate, 1993-1995) was the first African-American U.S. Poet Laureate and the youngest poet ever appointed to the post. Her many honors include the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry and the 1996 National Humanities Medal bestowed upon her in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. She last participated at the Festival in 2004.
  • Kay Ryan (U.S. Poet Laureate, 2008-2010) whose numerous collections of poetry have brought her a wide range of honors and awards ranging from the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to being named to Entertainment Weekly's "It List." This marks her first Festival.
  • Mark Strand (U.S. Poet Laureate, 1990-1991) was a winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in poetry and the author of numerous collections of poetry. He has also been honored with the Edgar Allen Poe Prize from The Academy of American Poets. This marks his first Festival.
  • Amiri Baraka is a Newark native and the founder of the Black Arts movement who's work as a poet and playwright have brought him numerous honors and awards including the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Obie Award for excellence Off-Broadway. He last participated at the Festival in 2002.
  • Martin Espada has had eight collections of poetry that have received such awards as the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement, American Library Association Notable Book of the Year, and the American Book Award. He last participated at the Festival in 2008.
  • Galway Kinnell is a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry as well as the National Book Award, the Frost Medal, and the MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the "genius grant." He has served as the State Poet of Vermont. He last participated at the Festival in 2004.
  • Sharon Olds was a State Poet of New York from 1998 to 2000. She has won the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award, the Lamont Literary Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She last participated at the Festival in 2008.

Poets making their Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival debuts include:

  • Kwame Dawes was born in Ghana and raised in Jamaica. He has published 13 books of poems and more than 20 of his plays have been produced over the past 25 years. He is the director of the Calabash International Literary Festival that takes place annually in Jamaica.
  • Matthew & Michael Dickman, A New Yorker profile on these young, up and coming twin poets stated that "Michael's poems are interior, fragmentary, and austere, often stripped down to single-word lines; they seethe with incipient violence. Matthew's are effusive, ecstatic, and all-embracing, spilling over with pop-cultural references and exuberant carnality."
  • Bob Hicok is a winner of the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress and a recipient of four Pushcart Prizes, Guggenheim and two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowships. His poetry has been selected for inclusion in six volumes of Best American Poetry.
  • Dorianne Laux is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, Editor's Choice III Award, and an NEA Fellowship. She is also the co-author of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry.
  • Dunya Mikhail was born in Baghdad and has published four collections of poetry in Arabic and two in English. An Iraqi exile who fled her country after being placed on Saddam Hussein's enemies list, she is a recipient of the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing.
  • Joseph Millar has won fellowships from the NEA, Montalvo Center for the Arts, and from Oregon Literary Arts. His poems have appeared in many national publications.
  • Nancy Morejon is the best known and most widely translated Cuban woman poet. She was the first Afro-Cuban to graduate from Havana University, where she majored in French, and the first black woman poet to publish widely and be accepted as a professional writer, critic, and translator in her native country.
  • Marie Ponsot in nearing the age of 90 and has published numerous collections of poetry. She has won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for The Bird Catcher.
  • Claudia Rankine is the author of four collections of poetry and is co-editor of the anthology American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language.

Also joining the Festival's remarkable roster for the four days of readings and discussions will be returning poets Marjorie Barnes and Penny Harter as well as newcomers to the Festival: Taalam Acey, Hadara Bar-Nadav, Tara Betts, Jericho Brown, Teresa Carson, Michael Cirelli, Kyle Dargan, Oliver de la Paz, Juba Dowdell, Santee Frazier, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Kathleen Graber, Rachel Hadas, Tyehimba Jess, Laura McCullough, Malena Morling, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Margo Taft Stever, and Jerry Williams.


The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, an initiative of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation held biennially in even- numbered years since 1986, is a celebration of poetry that immerses participants in four days of readings, conversations and performances. Eleven of the previous twelve Festivals have been held at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey. When it was announced by the Dodge Foundation that the 2010 Festival would be canceled due to financial restrictions, the City of Newark and NJPAC stepped forward to partner with the Foundation to ensure the event's continuation. The Festival's debut in Newark is expected to attract audiences upwards of 20,000.

"The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation is thrilled to partner with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the City of Newark in re-imagining the Dodge Poetry Festival," said Christopher Daggett, President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. "The Festival is the largest of its kind in North America, NJPAC is the premier performing arts center in the state, and Newark is in the middle of an exciting renaissance. Bring these three together and something amazing is bound to happen. We hope that you enjoy, and are inspired by, the poets, the poetry and our vibrant new location."

Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker continued: "We are proud that the Dodge Foundation has selected Newark and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to host the largest poetry festival in North America. The Dodge Poetry Festival will attract visitors from across the globe and we invite them to explore the rich cultural diversity of our City," he continued, "Newark has a long history of producing literary giants like Stephen Crane, Philip Roth and Amiri Baraka. This festival will add a new chapter to that history, and will continue to manifest Newark's status as a world-class destination for entertainment and the arts."

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival has been featured extensively in four PBS television series, including Bill Moyers' Emmy-winning, multi-part series The Language of Life and Fooling With Words. Coined "Wordstock" by The New York Times, the Festival will feature multiple daytime events occurring simultaneously at NJPAC and in other venues throughout Newark, all within short walking distance or reached by shuttle buses. In the evenings and on Sunday afternoon all events will take place in NJPAC's 2,800 seat Prudential Hall.

Since 1986, the Festival has regularly attracted the world's leading poets and an audience totaling more than 140,000 people both nationally and internationally – including 17,000 teachers and 42,000 high school students. Prudential Foundation is the Festival's Presenting Sponsor. Additional sponsorship support has been provided by Bank of America, Berkeley College, Chase, Fidelity Investments, PSEG Foundation, Sagner Family Foundation, and Victoria Foundation.


Go Green, Go Newark. A major mass transit hub, easily reached by NJ Transit, AMTRAK and PATH trains, with light rail service directly to NJPAC, Newark offers a unique opportunity to green the Poetry Festival. Visit for travel information and plan to leave your car behind.


Tickets can be purchased by phone at 1-888-GO-NJPAC, in person at the box-office at One Center Street (open Monday- Saturday, noon to 6pm, and Sunday, noon to 5pm), or online at As they become available, information and program updates about the 2010 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival will be available at

Tickets On-Sale Now:

Weekend Pass (Saturday & Sunday)



Seniors/Teachers with ID*


Students with ID*


*Includes access to all Festival events on Saturday and Sunday.

Four Day Pass (Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon)



Senior/Teachers with ID*


Students with ID*


*Includes access to all Festival events, all days.

Tickets available August 16, 2010:

Friday, Saturday or Sunday Single Full Day Admission



Senior/Teachers with ID*


Students with ID*


*Includes access to all Festival events on a single day only.

Friday or Saturday Daytime-Only Admission



Senior/Teachers with ID*


Students with ID*


*Includes access to morning and afternoon events only on Friday or Saturday.

Prudential Hall Featured Events Only (Thursday-Saturday evening)



Senior/Teachers with ID*


Students with ID*


*Includes reserved seat ticket for a single evening featured reading program in Prudential Hall only. No access to morning and afternoon events on Friday or Saturday.

SOURCE New Jersey Performing Arts Center