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BY SCOTT STIFFLER | Some leave locks on bridges as a testament to their bond with another, only to endanger the very structure that inspired them. Then, there are some who walk a connective span, swoon at the skyline, put pen to paper and create something just as intimate as romantic love, but more lasting and universal.
For 20 years, the annual poetry walk across the Brooklyn Bridge — a benefit for Lower Manhattan’s 60,000-volume-strong Poets House — has celebrated the power of cadence and carefully chosen words to create a bond between the city and its people.
“The best way to discover poetry is through unexpected, positive exposure,” says Poets House Executive Director Lee Briccetti, who calls the Bridgewalk “a great way to bring the transcendent, transformative ‘ah-ha!’ of poetry to an unsuspecting public, while at the same time providing an only-in-New-York poetry event for the art’s most ardent supporters.”
If past years are any indicator, several hundred people will take part — providing photo ops for tourists, passages to linger in the minds of passing joggers and, yes, celebrity sightings. Longtime participant Bill Murray, an icon in his own right, will once again join inaugural poet Richard Blanco. From the front of the procession, they’ll occasionally stop to read poems that articulate the cascade of emotions brought out by those who’ve walked the Brooklyn Bridge, viewed the skyline and contemplated the risks and rewards of life on the other side.
More food for thought awaits at journey’s end, during a dinner held in DUMBO at 26 Bridge, the historic foundry-turned-event space. This year’s featured poets are Richard Blanco, Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang, Cornelius Eady, Edward Hirsch, Laura Kasischke, Thomas Lux and Ocean Vuong. A short film in memory of poet Galway Kinnell (1927-2014) will acknowledge his steadfast commitment to Poets House and the Bridgewalk.
The poetry walk across the Brooklyn Bridge takes place on Mon., June 8. Individuals who are interested in participating can sign in at 6:00 p.m. in the small park just outside of the Municipal Building at 1 Centre St. The walk begins at 6:30 p.m. sharp. Readings take place in the park and on the Bridge, concluding with Richard Blanco’s sunset reading of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” beside Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn. The dinner will follow the walk and will conclude around 9:30 p.m.
All proceeds benefit the programs and services of Poets House. Tickets for the walk and dinner begin at $250 ($225 for Poets House members). For reservations (required), contact Krista Manrique at 212-431-7920, ext. 2830 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For info on Poets House programming and services (much of it free to the public), visit poetshouse.org.