Eight years Nicholas Adamski and I created The Poetry Brothel with the goal of bringing poetry to New York City audiences in a new way. We soon discovered that that mission also had the power to bring new audiences to poetry in cities all over the world. A few years later our mission expanded and we set out to unite the disparate poetry communities of the largest city in the United States with The New York City Poetry Festival, which in just five years has become one of the largest annual gatherings of poets in the world. Last summer The Typewriter Project was installed as an NYC Parks Department interactive art installation in Tompkins Square Park, where it offered passersby the unique opportunity to sit down at a vintage typewriter and add a few lines (or hundreds) to possibly the longest collaborative poem ever written. By the end of the project more than 1,000 New Yorkers, who may or may not have known it at the time, took a few moments out of their busy lives to sit down at a typewriter in a park and become poets.
2015 was an enormous year for The Poetry Society of New York. In addition to launching our first full-scale installation of The Typewriter Project, we brought The Poetry Brothel to several new locations. In March, The Poetry Brothel graced the 17th Century cellars of Les Caves in Paris for the first time. In June, our team built and installed The Poetry Brothel in the middle of a forest in Western Michigan, where our poets read privately to over 3000 attendees of the popular music festival, Electric Forest. In October, we took a west coast tour and introduced branches of The Poetry Brothel to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, OR. 2015 also saw our team raise a record $12,000 on Kickstarter for the New York City Poetry Festival and launch our first annual membership drive.
But the most exciting news I have this is year is infrastructural. In fact, an important goal that we have dreamt of since we started down this path has finally come to fruition. It is with great joy, pride, and certainly bright hope for our future endeavors that I announce that our company was officially granted non-profit charity status by the IRS. Thanks in large part to our new CFO and longtime friend, B. Carter Edwards, we are finally in a fiscal position to take our programming to the next level. With the doors to brand new funding opportunities swung wide open, we are more eager than ever to continue with the vital work of expanding the role of poetry in our culture.
Here at The Poetry Society of New York we feel a unique ability to address the challenges and opportunities dotting the new and constantly shifting poetry landscape of today. Poetry has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of language; it has evolved and adapted to fill the specific poetry-shaped hole that has existed in every place where humans have ever gathered. With the persistent forward march of exponentially growing technological wonders, we feel that it is poetry that grounds us, that returns us to that which connected our ancestors, both to each other and to us. It’s not that poetry is dying or being lost, as is so often stated; it’s that our need for it is growing larger and more vital every day. At The Poetry Society of New York, we are committed to stoking this fire and fanning these flames — to building the brightest and most vibrant vehicles possible for poetic work.
Friends, this is the work of our lives. Every day we find new allies with like minds and congruent hearts. We are building our congregation, and we thank you for your support from the very bottom of our collective heart.
CEO, The Poetry Society of New York, Inc.