In October, The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, the country’s largest celebration of poetry, will make Newark and New Jersey Performing Arts Center its home for the fourth time in a row. According to NJPAC CEO John Schreiber, the upcoming poetry festival will turn Newark’s Downtown District into a “nice little village of words” in celebration of the festival’s 30th anniversary (and the city’s 350th).
Newark’s very own “Brick City Voices” – a group of Newark’s brightest emerging poets – will take the stage alongside award-winning writer Claudia Rankine, Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Alexander, and second-term U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera during the festival. The festival, which will take place from October 20th to October 23rd, will consist of performances and readings occurring at multiple venues and cultural locations in the city, all within walking distance of NJPAC.
Festival highlights include a celebration of the late Amiri Baraka. Baraka was a participant in numerous Dodge Poetry Festivals, including the first two in Newark, and will be celebrated at Newark’s Symphony Hall on the first weekend of October 2016 to mark the start of Newark Poetry Month.
Rankine, who is also the 2016 NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Literary Work, will also in a discussion with Herrera and poet Martin Espada about poetry and its place in social justice. The event, titled “The Work To Be Done: Poetry and Social Justice,” will also feature live performances of poetry and music.
Although 2-16 marks the biannual festival’s fourth celebration in Brick City, this year The Dodge Poetry Festival will unveil a historic collaboration with the renowned Academy of American Poets. This collaboration will integrate the Academy’s celebrated Poets Forum into the festival. The forum will open the festival with a reading from the Academy of American Poets’ Members of the Board of Chancellors, which include MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Khaled Mattawa.
Discounted festival tickets will be made available for Newark residents, students, seniors and teachers. For poetry lovers coming from around the state, New Jersey Transit will offer $10.50 round trip ticket vouchers for Festival participants.
When asked what Newark residents can expect from this year’s Dodge Poetry Festival and Newark Poetry Month, Gwen Moten, Executive Director of The City of Newark’s Arts, Cultural Development and Tourism office, stated that Newarkers should “get ready for a month of excitement, enjoyment and learning about poetry.”
In the words of Chris Daggett, President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, this year’s festival will provide “something for everyone, even people who don’t yet know how powerfully poetry can speak to them.”