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by Jessica Allen
Last Thursday evening in Manhattan a hundred or so literary writers and readers gathered inside Cooper Union’s Great Hall, a magnificent venue that has been host to such historical events as Abraham Lincoln's rousing Cooper Union Address, in which he urged the nation to abolish slavery, in 1860. People rushed in from the cold, scanning the auditorium for empty seats. Heavy winter coats took on lives of their own, refusing to stay within the confines of the narrow wooden chairs. Our collective body heat seemed to rise in direct proportion to the noise.
by Anna Mantzaris
In the second half of the twentieth century, a number of poets’ theater programs, including the Poets’ Theatre, which was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1950, and staged plays by John Ashbery, James Merrill, Frank O’Hara, and Richard Wilbur, provided venues for work written by poets for the stage. Now, a new generation of poets’ theater programs are raising their curtains for plays by poets.
by Dalia Sofer
Since Dana Gioia was named chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in January, the organization has awarded nearly $1 million to poets and translators of poetry and over $2 million to literary arts organizations. But the highest profile project of Gioia’s term so far begins this month, when six theater companies—from New York City; Chicago; Minneapolis; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Portland, Oregon—will begin a yearlong tour of 100 small and midsized cities across the U.S. to perform a selection of plays by William Shakespeare. A seventh theater company will tour 16 U.S. military bases.
by Sam White
Last spring I embarked on a modest project. Having photocopied 10 of my favorite poems—by poets living and dead, from several different countries—I stapled them into an anthology and stood on a sidewalk in Times Square, where I read the poems aloud. I had no other gimmicks and no amplification. I did this on several occasions, always bringing a friend along for moral support and to assist in handing out free copies of the anthology, which I titled "Antidote."
by Diana Abu-Jaber
Giving a public reading, for most writers, involves a good deal of anxiety, a powerful dose of pride in one's work, and the cool relief of getting through the experience without humiliation. Payment often comes in the form of applause. But for those writers whose names regularly appear on book jackets and prize announcements, public readings can mean big business—and big paychecks.
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