The poets drop in to check out B.P.C. digs
Five poets read their favorite odes to New York City Saturday on a sunny lawn in Battery Park City’s Rockefeller Park.
Looking out over the Hudson River, Edward Field delivered a salute to Lady Liberty in the form of the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus,” then he shifted tones and read one of his own poems about the disorientation New Yorkers felt after 9/11. Joan Larkin, Patricia Smith, John Yau and former U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic also read, alternately blessing New York City’s feeling of limitless possibility and cursing its chaos.
The reading capped a day of poetry-themed tours and children’s programs in Battery Park City sponsored by the Poets House, a nonprofit poetry library that will soon move to the neighborhood. The events drew several hundred people, both longtime Poets House fans from around the city and Battery Park City residents who wandered out to see what was happening in their backyard.
“Outdoor programming makes it possible for people to bump into poetry, and then they can have an experience they weren’t expecting,” said Lee Briccetti, executive director of Poets House, after the event. “There is no ‘Keep out’ sign. There is something here for everybody that can say something to their inner lives.”
Many Battery Park City residents came to Rockefeller Park Saturday to walk to their dogs along the esplanade, gather in the shade for picnics or toss a Frisbee across the lawn. Some paused and inched closer as the reading began, but many simply caught a few words of poetry as they ambled past.
The Poets House will open in late spring 2009 in the Sheldrake Organization’s Riverhouse condo building in northern B.P.C. several blocks from Saturday’s reading. The nonprofit Poets House is getting the 11,000-square-foot space rent-free from the Battery Park City Authority and will use it to host its 50,000-volume poetry library along with public readings and workshops.
The ground floor of the new space has a garage door that opens up into Teardrop Park, creating the possibility for outdoor-indoor readings with room for more people.