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Timeline

The History of Poets House

1980
January 1

Early 1980s

Early 1980s
  • Betty Kray and Stanley Kunitz convene a series of meetings with poets and lovers of the art to discuss the formation of Poets House
January 15

1985

  • Poets House, Inc. is established as a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization
 
  • Stanley Kunitz becomes Poets House Board President, Rachel Bellow its first executive director
 
  • Betty and Stanley organize the Poets Advisory Committee, a diverse group of poets representing all aesthetic approaches to poetry, to advise on program initiatives
January 15

1986

1986
  • Poets House opens to the public with a core collection of 600 books from poet and critic Paul Zweig

 
  • On April 16th, Poets House presents its first public program, a reading and conversation with Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer
January 15

1987

  • Passwords, the signature Poets House program series, which features one poet reading and discussing the work of another, is developed by Didi Goldenhar, Poets House's first program director
January 15

1989

1989
 
  • Poets House appoints Lee Briccetti Executive Director
1990
January 15

1990

1990
  • Poets House moves to 72 Spring Street, a 2,200 square foot loft space
 
  • Margo Viscusi begins her long tenure as Board President
   
January 15

1992

1992
  • Poets House's first annual Poets House Showcase, then called the “Poetry Publication Showcase,” featuring new poetry books from 1991 and discussions about the future of poetry publishing.
January 15

1993

  • Axe-Houghton Multimedia Archive established
January 15

1995

1995
  • Poetry in The Branches (PITB) established in partnership with The New York Public Library; Philip Levine presents first public PITB event

  • First Summer Reading Series in Rockefeller Park in partnership with Battery Park City
January 15

1996

1996
  • First Annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge Benefit is held
January 15

1999

1999
  • Poetry in the Branches in nine metropolitan library sites
 
  • First People's Poetry Gathering co-sponsored with City Lore, exploring the relationship between oral traditions and literary texts; 8,000 attend
2000
January 15

2000

  • First Poets House website launched
January 15

2001

2001
  • Poets House expands to 4,500 square feet at 72 Spring Street
 
  • First Children's Room opens in a converted storage closet
 
  • Second People's Poetry Gathering, aligning music, poetry, and oral traditions
January 15

2003

  • Third People’s Poetry Gathering, bringing together over 30 downtown programming organizations
January 15

2004

2004
  • First poetry installation opens in Central Park Zoo
 
  • Designated by Battery Park City to receive a 11,000-square-foot space in a new green building
 
  • Capital campaign commences
January 15

2005

2005
  • Branching Out: Poetry for the 21st Century, with the Poetry Society of America, in partner libraries in five U.S. cities
 
  • Stanley Kunitz turns 100: “Immortality? It’s nothing to lose sleep over.”
January 15

2008

  • Poets House construction in Battery Park City begins
 
  • Poetry in the Zoos project begins in five US cities
 
  • The Invention of Farewell: The poetry community says farewell to 72 Spring Street
January 15

2009

2009
  • Margo Viscusi becomes President Emerita; Martín Gómez becomes Board President
 
  • September 24 – 26 Poets House Grand Opening at 10 River Terrace
2010
January 15

2010

2010
 
  • First year at 10 River Terrace features programs on ecopoetics
January 15

2011

2011
  • Attendance more than doubles at new location, reaching 50,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30th
 
  • Emily Dickinson at Poets House: Exhibit drawn from the Donald and Patricia Oresman Collection opens at Poets House, featuring rare manuscripts, books, letters, and fragments
 
  • 25th Anniversary celebration of Poets House features a year-long series of poems tracing the 3,000-year history of poetry
   
January 15

2012

January 15

2013

2013
  • Robert Kissane becomes Poets House Board President
 
  • Native Innovation: Indigenous American Poetry in the 21st Century, a conference and symposium
January 15

2014

  • A yearlong exploration of poetry in relationship to other literary genres
January 15

2016

2016
  • Nick Potter becomes Poets House Board President
 
January 15

2017

2017
 
January 15

2018

  • Field Work, a model program aligning STEM learning with poetry in diverse partner libraries
 
  • New website, blog, and digitization project launch