2020 Festival Announcement

18th Biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival to be held online

 “Virtual Dodge Poetry Festival” set to begin October 22, 2020

Media Contact:
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation/Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

David Mayhew, david@davidmayhew.net or 203-533-5621

Friday, June 26, 2020

MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY – Martin Farawell, poetry director of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, announced today that the 18th biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, noted for being the largest poetry event in North America, will be held virtually this year.  This decision was made by the Foundation staff and Board of Trustees due to the ongoing unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We humans have gathered around fires to chant, dance, sing, share stories, and poems since the ice ages. It’s how we carry on,” Farawell said. “We’ll just have to join around a virtual fire for this year’s Dodge Poetry Festival.”

Typically held over four days, with multiple events occurring throughout the day and evening, the 18th biennial Dodge Poetry Festival was originally scheduled for October 22 through October 25 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and other venues in Newark’s Downtown Arts District.  This year’s Festival will begin on Thursday, October 22, and live streaming events online will likely take place over a number of days or weeks.  The overall format is still to be determined but is expected to encompass the Festival’s acclaimed program of readings, performances, and conversations. 

In the name of access and equity, live streaming of the 2020 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival will be offered online at no charge. Performances on-demand will be available to the general public for a nominal subscription fee. Schools and teachers that register in advance will have free full access.

“The Dodge Poetry Festival has always celebrated the great diversity of voices that make up contemporary poetry,” said Tanuja Dehne, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.  “We are excited to further support them as we reimagine the Dodge Poetry Festival, expand the Festival community and provide greater access to contemporary poetry and poets to audiences across the globe.”

“We will continue to support diverse poets by also providing relief for COVID-19’s impact on nonprofit organizations that support poets of color, the LGBTQ community, and poets with disabilities,” continued Ms. Dehne.

“While poets and poetry lovers, educators and students won’t be gathering together at this year’s Festival, we are excited to bring the virtual Dodge Poetry Festival into homes and classrooms around the world,” said Preston D. Pinkett III, chair of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s Board of Trustees.  “What we learn from hosting a virtual event in October will provide us with new knowledge, enabling us to plan future Festivals, both in-person and with virtual world-wide reach.”

Poets previously announced for the 18th biennial Dodge Poetry Festival will be participating in the virtual Festival, including the current U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, and former Laureates Charles Simic and Natasha Trethewey. Also participating will be Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, President Obama’s first and second inaugural poets respectively, as well as Pulitzer Prize winners Forrest Gander and Tyehimba Jess, and MacArthur Fellowship recipients Terrance Hayes, and Edward Hirsch. Other much published and award-winning poets previously announced for the 2020 Festival are Ellen Bass, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Marilyn Chin, Cornelius Eady, Martín Espada, Kwame Dawes, Natalie Diaz, Nikky Finney, Carolyn Forché, Vievee Francis, Linda Gregerson, Brenda Hillman, Marie Howe, Dorianne Laux, Ada Limón, Alicia Ostriker, Paisley Rekdal, David St. John, and Kevin Young.

The 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival marks the third time, but first time online, the renowned Academy of American Poets will integrate its annual Poets Forum into the Festival, bringing together their Board of Chancellors for readings and conversations.  Participating Chancellors include Elizabeth Alexander, Ellen Bass, Marilyn Chin, Kwame Dawes, Forrest Gander, Linda Gregerson, Joy Harjo, Terrance Hayes, Brenda Hillman, Marie Howe, Dorianne Laux, Alicia Ostriker, David St. John, Natasha Trethewey, and Kevin Young.

For regularly updated information about the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival’s virtual plans, please visit www.DodgePoetry.org and join the Poetry Program’s e-mail list.  Find the Festival (#DPF20) on social media:

Facebook:       Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival
Twitter:           @DodgePoetryFest
Instagram:       @dodgepoetry


About the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

The Dodge Poetry Festival was the first large-scale event to put poetry itself at its center and to invite poets and audiences from a wide base of the culture.  More than 650 poets, including Nobel Laureates and U.S. Poets Laureate, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, Guggenheim, Fulbright, MacArthur and National Endowment for the Arts fellows, and an unparalleled array of widely-published and award-winning poets, have been part of the Festival in its 34-year history.

The Dodge Poetry Festival has been featured extensively in five PBS television series, including Bill Moyers’ Emmy-winning, multi-part series The Language of Life and Fooling with Words. Excerpts of readings from the Festival are routinely aired on PBS through the series Poetry Everywhere with Garrison Keillor and over 100 short readings can be seen on Dodge’s YouTube channel (youtube.com/grdodge).  To read the Poetry Program’s popular Poetry Fridays blog and find more information about the Festival, visit www.dodgepoetry.org.

About the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

For more than 40 years, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has nurtured leaders, ideas, and institutions that use creative problem-solving to promote a sustainable future. Dodge supports arts, education, environment, informed communities, and poetry to connect communities and influence social change to achieve an equitable New Jersey. Learn more at www.grdodge.org.