Day: March 31st, 2007

All these words

Saturday, March 31st, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Books, Events

After powering through the final week of 7 train detours, I stopped by the Strand Bookstore for a quick hello with the Deadline Club boys who were browsing through the shop’s much touted “18 miles of books.” The bookstore, one of the city’s few remaining independent booksellers, opened in 1927, and although my memory doesn’t extend quite that far back, I do recall when the store lay claim to 8, and not 18, miles of books. The number refers presumably not to floor space but to all the new, used, rare and out-of-print books laid end-to-end.

Since opening the 4,000 square foot shop on New York’s once-fertile Book Row five decades ago, the owners have expanded their stock to encompass five floors (of the eleven-story building they now own), and an annex on Fulton Street in the financial district.

Downtown, The Poets House in SoHo was hosting the opening reception of their impressive showcase exhibit featuring all of the poetry published in the United States over the last year. (On view through April 30, 2007.) Several of the writers were in attendance that evening to mingle in the packed house among like-minded literary types (and fellow YoCos.)

I Know A Man

Poets House

All of which seems to rebut the assertion made in an infamous opinion piece that appeared in Newsweek in May 2003: “Poetry Is Dead, Does Anybody Really Care?” According to the author, Bruce Wexler, “[p]oetry is designed for an era when people valued the written word and had the time and inclination to possess it in its highest form.” The passion of the responses that appeared after that essay was published would indicate otherwise… as would the countless MFA programs and weekly poetry slams that proliferate through the towns across America like Starbucks. (And I mean that in a good way.) Is poetry “the only art form where the number of people creating it is far greater than the number of people appreciating it,” as Wexler asserts? Poetry may be far from dead, but is it relevant in the Internet age of fast-paced media?

I hope so. The Academy of American Poets declared April National Poetry Month in 1996 to encourage more people to acknowledge and appreciate poetry — one of the world’s richest literary traditions.

To end my night: a series of one-act plays at the New School. Bite-sized pieces of drama, none longer than the average sitcom, including one by Obie-award winning, Tony-nominated and 2006 Pulitzer finalist Christopher Durang: an absurdist take-off of A Streetcar Named Desire, with some Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Iceman Cometh thrown into the mix.

Random Acts

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