42nd Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Benefit Reading, The Poetry Project, New York, NY
The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church
131 E. 10th Street, New York, NY 10003
There are three things to consider when the New Year’s Day Poetry Marathon sweeps you into its gracefully uncouth embrace — what it is, what it was, and who you will be when it’s over. An untamed gathering of the heart’s secret, wild nobility — over 140 poets together revealing not just that a better life could exist, but that it already does, sexy and wise, rancorous and sweet, big hearted and mad as hell. An avenging engine of resistance and eager vehicle of the nascent year. The Marathon measures its success through insurrectionist reframings of the universe, an in-it-together courage that crafts a community out of the riot of lineages and traditions we all emerge from. This collective effort also helps fund as many as 85 additional events every year — not to mention The Poetry Project Newsletter, The Recluse and legendary workshops. It’s our largest fundraiser of the year, and arguably the most inspired ongoing literary event in the city.
Since Anne Waldman gathered 31 poets at the very first marathon on January 2, 1974, countless forward-facing luminaries have thrown their voices into the cauldron — among them Eric Bogosian, William S. Burroughs, Spalding Gray, Jackson Mac Low, Ed Sanders, Pedro Pietri, Helen Adam, John Cage, Joe Ceravolo, John Giorno, Ted Berrigan, Yoko Ono, Amiri Baraka, Gordon Matta Clark, Jim Carroll, Bernadette Mayer, Alice Notley, Steve Cannon, Hannah Weiner, Kathy Acker, Arthur Russell, Gerard Malanga, Suzanne Vega, Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, and Philip Glass. The list grows every year, as does the roster small press publishers and local restaurants who donate deliciousness in the form of astounding books, journals and food. We’re not so secretly in love with them all — and with the 75 selfless volunteers too who keep the Marathon running.
Whether you stay for a little while or for the long haul, whether you’re part of the standing room only experience at sunset or with the handful of diehards as the final poet reads her last word in the predawn sanctuary, you will be transformed for the year to come. Your presence helps launch a great flare into the otherwise impenetrable darkness of the 21st century night. And in that flash, you will become what you were always meant to be, eager practitioner of the infinite, uncommodifiable, uncategorizable, rough around the elegant edges and ready for the world to hit you with its best shot. Get lost, end times — our calendar is all opening days. Come on in, new year, we’d like to introduce you to your own gigantic possibilities.