Description of Festival Events

READINGS

Readings and spoken-word performances have always been at the heart of the Dodge Poetry Festival and are held at a variety of venues throughout the Festival site. 

THURSDAY AFTERNOON POETRY SAMPLER 
One of Dodge’s most popular events, this session introduces the audience to the wide range of poets who’ll be participating in the Festival. Twenty–five Festival Poets will read in the afternoon Poetry Sampler. Each poet will read for 5 minutes.  

ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS CHANCELLORS’ READING
Thursday evening kicks off The Academy of American Poets’ Poets Forum at the Dodge Poetry Festival with readings by current Academy Chancellors Elizabeth Alexander, Ellen Bass, Marilyn Chin, Kwame Dawes, Forrest Gander, Linda Gregerson, Brenda Hillman, Marie Howe, Khaled Mattawa, Marilyn Nelson, Alicia Ostriker, Alberto Ríos and David St. John. 

POEMS AND CONVERSATION: READINGS AND Q & A 
These events offer a more sustained reading by a panel of Festival Poets along with a conversation about their work, their lives and any other topics that spark interest. Three to four Festival Poets each read for 10 minutes, followed by an open-ended conversation and a question-and-answer period 

FESTIVAL POET READINGS 
On multiple stages throughout the Festival site, these daytime events treat festival-goers to longer readings by emerging voices and more established poets. Each session is shared by five poets, who each read for 10 minutes.

MAIN-STAGE READINGS IN PRUDENTIAL HALL
These late-afternoon and evening Main-Stage Readings have been a central feature of every Dodge Poetry Festival since 1986. For the fifth time, they will take place in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s beautiful and acoustically splendid Prudential Hall. Each of the three to five poets reads for 30 minutes. 

RUTH LILLY AND DOROTHY SARGENT ROSENBERG POETRY FELLOWS READING 
The recipients of the 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships will perform their first joint reading as Fellows. The Fellowships, established in 1989 to encourage the further study and writing of poetry, are sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetrymagazine. 

BRICK CITY VOICES 
These readings offer the opportunity to sample and celebrate Newark’s long-thriving poetry community by hearing some of its most dynamic voices. 

KUNDIMAN 
Poets from Kundiman, a national organization dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian-American creative writing, read their work and comment on the importance of the Kundiman community. 

CANTOMUNDO 
Poets from CantoMundoa national organization that cultivates a community of Latinx poets through workshops, symposia and public readings—read their work. 

POETICS OF WAR: WRITING THE MILITARY EXPERIENCE 
Veterans who have participated in Warrior Writers workshops share their work and discuss the importance of opening a dialogue between veterans and their communities. Panelists talk about how the organization provides a supportive network and outlet for honestly communicating their military experiences, helping challenge the "silent veteran" stereotype.   

OPEN READINGS
Anyone can participate in the afternoon open readings in Military Park. Advanced sign-up is not required.  

 

POETRY & MUSIC PERFORMANCES

Musical performances and poetry and music collaborations have been a highlight of every Dodge Festival. Parkington Sisters, the Newark Boys Chorus and current students and alumni of NJPAC’s Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens program will be performing at various events throughout the festival. 

IN PRAISE: A HUNDRED WAYS TO KNEEL AND KISS THE GROUND
An invitation to share gratitude across race, gender, belief system, age and sexual preference through poetry and music, this event features sixteen Festival Poets and music from Parkington Sisters and the Newark Boys Chorus.

POETRY AND SONG 
Nearly every anthology of English poetry begins with the English ballads, which we read as poetry because their music has been lost. Bards, griots and rappers and have all mixed recitation and singing in their performances. In these sessions, poets, songwriters and musicians collaborate in performance and explore questions such as: What might we discover if we explore poetry and song as points on a spectrum as opposed to distinct art forms?  How do they influence and inform each other? What possibilities arise if we question the boundaries between them?  

THE BELOVED: A POETRY AND SONG CYCLE 
This world premiere of a collaborative poetry-and-song cycle was conceived and composed for the 2018 Festival by Gregory Orr and musicians/singer-songwriters Parkington Sisters. 

 

CONVERSATIONS

Never lectures or seminars, these are true “conversations” between one to five Festival Poets and the audience. Speaking from personal experience and using poems (their own and others’) as springboards, poets discuss a broad range of topics. Time is allowed for questions from the audience.

A CERTAIN KIND OF ATTENTION 
Some of the most spiritual poems are also firmly grounded in attention to the ordinary. A poem, even one 400 years old, can foster in us a quality of attention equal to that which we give to the world and to others when we are fully present. Some poets even describe their writing process as not so much a matter of creating as of listening; some poems seem to put us directly inside that experience of listening. What is the special quality of attention we bring to poems as readers and writers? 

A CONVERSATION WITH NTOZAKE SHANGE 
The author of the iconic for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow Is enuf is joined in this free-ranging reading and conversation by Detroit native Sharnita Johnson, who is the Dodge Foundation’s Arts Program Director and a lifelong arts advocate and activist.  

AMERICAN POETRIES (POETS FORUM) 
Adrienne Rich wrote that there is no such thing as an “American Poetry.” Instead, there are American Poetriesso many divergent schools that no single style or aesthetic can be singled out as the definitively “American” one. Academy of American Poets Chancellors consider what we gain from this diversity and by listening more closely to each other. 

CROSSING BOUNDARIES  
Many poems and poets cross linguistic, geographic and cultural boundaries. But for some of our most memorable, influential and powerful poems to be written, boundaries created by personal or government-imposed censorship, family, religious or cultural taboos, or the dictates of one fashionable aesthetic school or another had to be crossed. Some poems come out of the need to break down boundaries. Poets will discuss how they confronted some aspect of this issue and of the poets and poems that helped them.   

GOING PUBLIC WITH PRIVATE FEELINGS 
Festival Poets who answer the question “Have you ever written anything you were afraid to share?” on our Ask a Poet blog always say yes. Most reply that fear is often a good indicator that something needs to be written and that it can lead them toward some of their most powerful poems. But how much of one’s personal life can be made available in a work of art? Festival Poets use their own and others’ poems to discuss the difficulty and the importance of risking vulnerability when trying to uncover personal truths. 

HOW TO READ A POEM (POETS FORUM)
Lucille Clifton once said, “while poetry sometimes to teachers is a matter of text and something to be studied, for me poetry is a way of living in the world….a way of trying to come to peace with the world.” In this conversation, the Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets explore fresh and exciting ways to approach reading poems as a way to engage with one another and our times.

LOST AND FOUND IN TRANSLATION 
Robert Frost famously defined poetry as “what is lost in translation.” Translator and poet Peter Cole turned this position on its head by claiming “poetry is what is found in translation.” The translator isn’t only changing words into another language; he or she is also trying tenter into and carry over another worldview. Why would anyone take on such a daunting challenge? How are our minds, poems and cultures changed by what comes to us through translation?  

MASKS AND MASCULINITY
Cliché notions about the “poetic” personality and the “masculine” one may seem completely at odds, yet many poems have been written that celebrate the rituals, rites of passage and behaviors that society overtly or tacitly accepts as validating masculinity. Some of these poems, although once part of the “official” canon, are now viewed as misogynistic or celebrating self-defeating, even self-destructive, behaviors. How does poetry help us navigate societal demands regarding masculinity? What masks does it offer to hide behind? What opportunities to peer behind them? 

ON CRAFT 
Festival Poets consider and discuss questions related to the craft of making poems. Depending on the poet, these broad-reaching conversations can range from the general (What is the larger purpose of craft? What are the rewards of trying to master it?) to the specific (How do work schedules, patterns of revision, the uses of traditional forms, the subtleties of line breaks or the place of sound and phrasing in composition come into play when considering craft?).  

ON THE LIFE OF THE POET  
What’s the difference between “wanting to be a poet” and making a life in poetry? The real challenges may be about a lot more than writing. How does the culture or subculture we live in influence our notions of what this means, how it is or isn’t possible, or the validity of such a choice? What goes on behind and around a life that produces poems? Festival Poets share their personal observations and experiences, challenges and rewards, delights and disappointments. 

OUR HOUSEECO-POETRY AND THE EARTH (POETS FORUM) 
When Joy Harjo notes“My house is the red earth; it could be the center of the world,” she is writing out of the 10,000-year-old traditions of the first human settlers of this continent. It is a perspective echoed in the word ecology itself, which has its roots in the Greek word for home and in influential works like John Muir’The Mountains of California and Gary Snyder’Earth House Hold, which brought to wider attention that we are not only stewards of but also participants in the natural world. “Our House” engages Academy of American Poets Chancellors in a conversation on how poetry and eco-awareness interconnect. 

THE POETIC LINE (POETS FORUM) 
The poetic sentence is one of the most emphasized elements of form. Is it a unit of time, of perception, of thought, a choreography or orchestration of words? Academy of American Poets Chancellor will discuss the syntax of the line, and how it can indicate patterns in meter, rhythm, and rhyme, influencing the aesthetics and emphases of the poem.  

POETICS OF WAR: WRITING THE MILITARY EXPERIENCE 
Veterans who have participated in Warrior Writers workshops share their work and discuss the importance of opening a dialogue between veterans and their communities. Panelists talk about how the organization provides a supportive network and outlet for honestly communicating their military experiences, helping challenge the "silent veteran" stereotype. 

POETRY AND DEMOCRACY (POETS FORUM) 
In anticipation of the Poetry Coalitions nationwide programming initiative on “Poetry and Democracy” that will launch in March 2019, the Academy of American Poets Chancellors will share their thoughts about Walt Whitmans question from his popular poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”: What is it, then, between us?  

POETRY AND PRIDE  
Poetry as we know it would not exist without the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community, from Sappho to Whitman to Ginsberg to Rich. Festival Poets will discuss how their sense of identity, personal pride and kinship may have been forged through the shared experiences and feelings communicated in poetry.  

POETRY AND STORYTELLING (POETS FORUM) 
To the ancients, the name poet was given to any artist we now call a poet, storyteller or playwright. This likely stems from their common source, as humans first attempted to tell their stories and poetry emerged along with ritual and theater. All these arts require no material other than one human voice for their creation, and no more than one listener to bridge the gap between strangers. Academy Chancellors discuss the connections and differences between trying to tell one’s story in poetry and/or prose.   

POETRY AND THE NEWS 
Poetry was the news recently when the National Endowment for the Arts reported a national increase in poetry reading—up 5 percent between 2012 and 2017. With Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and poetry websites, poems on current events can appear within hours. What do these developments say about poetry or the times we live in? Maybe this is nothing new: Over 400 years ago, balladeers performed and sold copies of songs and poems based on the latest news. Why do poets feel compelled to write and post poems in response to current events?  

POETRY AND THE ORAL TRADITION 
Poetry’s oral tradition predates written language by tens of thousands of years. Homer, like our contemporary hip-hop artists, recited his poems to a musical accompaniment, perhaps no more than a drumbeat. In recent decades, we’ve seen an explosion of readings and open mikes in urban, suburban and rural communities. Audio and video recordings of poems draw tens of thousands of listeners. In these sessions, poets from all schools, genres and styles are invited to read their poems aloud and explore poetry as an oral/aural art. 

POETS FOR TEACHERS 
Teachers have their own reasons for caring about poetry and face unique challenges keeping the art a sustained part of their own and their students’ lives. These sessions are intended for educators at all classroom levels, but the general public would certainly find them engaging.  As in the Poets on Poetry events, Festival Poets lead a conversation about poems and the art of poetry itself.  

POETS ON POETRY 
To paraphrase Gerald Stern, poets are readers who occasionally stop reading long enough to write something down. In these sessions, Festival Poets talk about their vital relationship to poetry as readers and artists. They may address their understanding of poetry, their experience of becoming a poet and how individual poems—both those written by themselves and others—have contributed to that process.    

SILENCE IS BECOME SPEECH 
“Silence is become speech,” Muriel Rukeyser wrote in “The Speed of Darkness,” one of the groundbreaking poems that were part of a new wave of poems by women that changed contemporary poetry. What has this meant to poets and poetry? To readers of poetry? What does it mean for women to have a sense of community within the poetry community? How has this changed the poems that women write—and that men write? Is this gender distinction even necessary or perhaps counterproductive?  

STORYTELLING 
To the ancients, the name poet was given to any artist we now call a poet, storyteller or playwright. This likely stems from their common source, as humans first attempted to tell their stories and poetry emerged along with ritual and theater. All these arts require no material other than one human voice for their creation, and no more than one listener to bridge the gap between strangers. Poets who also write fiction and memoir talk about the connections and differences between trying to tell one’s story in poetry and/or prose.   

TELL ALL THE TRUTH BUT TELL IT SLANT 
In her classic poem, Emily Dickinson advises “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.” What is the purpose of approaching truth obliquely? Is there a truth greater than literal accuracy? Can we ever know how much of an apparently autobiographical poem is factual? How can we trust the testimony of its author, regardless of what the poet asserts about the authentic or fictional nature of a piece? Why should such questions matter to readers or poets? 

THIS SOILTHIS AIR 
Whitman got it right: Every atom of our blood is formed from this soil, this air.  Regardless of whether we honor or ignore it, we are in an intimate relationship with everything around us. That includes elements as basic as water, air and earth. It also encompasses the constructed environment: our city, our neighborhood, our own yard. Then there are the countless beings we are connected to, whether human, animal or plant life. How is poetry formed from these connections? How does it inform or change our perception of them? 

WHAT IS FOUND THERE: POETRY AND ON BEING 
We are starved for fresh language to approach each other and consider “undergirding truths,” as Elizabeth Alexander said when she appeared on On Beingthe celebrated public-radio program and podcast hosted by Krista Tippett. Poetry becomes more relevant, not less so, in complicated times. The voices of poets—and a deep exploration of where poetry comes from in us, and what it effects in the world—has become a central offering of On Being. Join Krista Tippett for a conversation with Jericho Brown, Gregory Orr and Sharon Olds during a live taping of On Being(Each poet will be interviewed separately at different times during the Festival.) 

WHO IS IT CAN TELL ME WHO I AM: POETRY AND IDENTITY 
Poetry, like all the arts, invites us to ask who we are. There are forces and people who try to decide for us who we should be and who we can’t be. How we explore, discover, express, define and challenge who we are through poetry will be the focus of this conversation. 

WHOSE BODY? 
We may think of our bodies as our own, and yet the boundaries that separate the self from the environment, society and the other are permeable and assailable. In light of the #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, disability-rights, LGBTQ+-rights and body-image movements, the question “Whose Body?” will act as an entryway to conversations about a multitude of issues. 

YOU WERE MY FIRST   
Festival Poets look back at what their first published book meant—and continues to mean—to them, and how their relationship to it has changed as their lives and work have evolved. What have they learned? How have they and their work changed since that early accomplishment? What threads continue through their work?