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Walt Whitman Coming Your Way: 2019 Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

In celebration of Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday—he was born on May 31, 1819!—we look forward to an annual Poets House event that honors the spirit of the poet’s ambling, expansive meditations on the life and urban landscape of New York City: Poets House’s Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge.

On Monday, June 10, 2019, hundreds of poetry lovers will gather to walk the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and, along the way, listen to the poetry of Walt Whitman, Jayne Cortez, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, and other essential poets who have paid tribute to New York City, as read aloud by important poets of today. Poets House’s annual ode to the city begins at 6pm in Manhattan, passes through the famous arches of the Brooklyn Bridge, and ends with a celebratory dinner and more readings at a historic foundry. One of the highlights of the annual procession is a reading from Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” at Fulton Ferry Landing on the Brooklyn side of the Bridge—an evocative backdrop against which to hear this dramatic poem read aloud. This year will be especially significant, in light of the bicentennial of Whitman’s birth.

The 2019 Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge features readings by Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate; Rosamond S. King, the 2018 Lambda winner; Gregory Pardlo, 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner; and Jenny Xie, recently shortlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry. We are also thrilled to honor renowned poet Anne Waldman—a founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, and a founder and former director of The Poetry Project—with our Elizabeth Kray Award for outstanding service to poetry.

The Elizabeth Kray Award, or more familiarly known as “The Betty,” is offered in remembrance of Elizabeth “Betty” Kray, who co-founded Poets House with poet Stanley Kunitz and was an ardent advocate for poetry. Before initiating Poets House, she served as director of the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y and the Academy of American Poets, creating reading series, the first poets-in-the-schools programs, and poetry walking tours. She developed new ways of bringing poetry to the public, and her poetry walking tours provided a model for the annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge, which started back in 1996. We are proud to present this award to Anne Waldman who has established essential alternative spaces for poetry and continues to be a cultural activist.

This year also marks the 10th Anniversary of Poets House’s home at 10 River Terrace. Over the course of more than 30 years, Poets House has presented diverse poetry programs and offered a free poetry library to the public. The Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge supports this place for poetry and our many free services, including access to our 70,000-volume poetry library, exhibitions, and children’s and youth programs. We invite you to find out our more about the Poetry Walk, and we hope that you will join us!

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