Thursday, June 23, 2016








New Jersey Transit Special $10.50 Round-trip Fare Encourages Use of Public Transportation to Help "Green" the Festival

This marks the Festival's 30th anniversary since its debut at New Jersey's Waterloo Village in 1986 and the fourth time the Festival will be held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) as well as other venues in Newark's Downtown Arts District, all within easy walking distance of NJPAC.

"We need poetry now more than ever," said Martin Farawell, Poetry Director, "These days, we don't have to look very far to be bombarded with language that is ugly and thoughtless. Just spend a few minutes searching the internet or watching television: someone or some group is always insulting or bullying another. Poetry reminds us our incredible gift of speech is also there to connect us. Poets invite us, complete strangers, inside their most private thoughts. I have never witnessed people experiencing this more powerfully than at the Dodge Poetry Festival."

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, an initiative of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation held biennially in even-numbered years since 1986, is a celebration of poetry that immerses participants in four days of readings, performances, and conversations. In its 30-year history, the Dodge Poetry Festival has involved nearly 600 poets, including Nobel Laureate and U.S. Poet Laureates; Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners; Guggenheim, Fulbright, MacArthur and NEA fellows; and an unparalleled array of much-published and award-winning poets.

The Dodge Poetry Festival is the largest poetry event in North America. Called "Wordstock" by The New York Times, audience members have the opportunity to hear performances from and interact with dozens of the world's foremost poets with an extraordinarily wide range of backgrounds and styles. Two-Day and Four-Day Passes are on sale now at and at the NJPAC Box Office. Single Day tickets go on sale August 15.

This 30th Anniversary Dodge Poetry Festival inaugurates an historic collaboration with the renowned Academy of American Poets that will fully integrate their annual Poets Forum into the Festival. The Poets Forum, previously held in New York City, brings together the Academy's Board of Chancellors for readings and conversations. Members of the Board of Chancellors who will participate in the Poets Forum as well as other events at the Festival, include: Juan Felipe Herrera, recently appointed by the Library of Congress to a second term as U.S. Poet Laureate; Elizabeth Alexander, a Pulitzer Prize finalist who was the official "inaugural poet" at President Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009; National Book Award winner Mark Doty; Linda Gregerson, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, Marilyn Nelson, Alberto Ríos and Arthur Sze, all of whom received Guggenheim Fellowships among other honors; National Book Award finalist Alicia Ostriker; NEA Fellowship recipients Claudia Rankine and Anne Waldman; and Khaled Mattawa, recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.

Poets who will be giving Featured Readings from the stage of NJPAC's Prudential Hall during the Festival include former U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins, Kay Ryan and Robert Hass; Pulitzer Prize winners Gary Snyder and Vijay Seshadri; National Book Award winner Robin Coste Lewis and National Book Award finalist Tim Seibles; NEA Fellowship recipients Marilyn Chin and Katha Pollitt; and Guggenheim Fellowship recipients Martín Espada and Li-Young Lee. Academy Chancellors who will offer Featured Readings in Prudential Hall are U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield and Claudia Rankine. Parkington Sisters, who participated in the 2014 Festival, will return to be among the musical artists presented during the Festival.

Poets from several significant area and national poetry and writing organizations will offer special readings during the Festival, including: Kundiman, dedicated to the cultivation of Asian American creative writing; Cave Canem, a writers center with a focus on African American poets and writers; CantoMundo, a national organization devoted to Latina/o poets. Special readings will also include Warrior Writers, which provides a creative community for the artistic expression of veterans, and Brick City Voices, featuring some of Newark's brightest emerging poets.

The Festival will also feature, for the first time, readings by the winners of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. The Fellowship recipients are the winners of a national competition sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. Established in 1989 by the Indianapolis philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the fellowships are awarded to U.S. citizens or residents between the ages of 21 and 31 and are intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry.

Highlights of the Festival include:

  • THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS CHANCELLORS READING Opening the 2016 Festival's evening events on Thursday, October 20.
  • POETRY SAMPLER A celebration of the diverse poetry community in which twenty-five leading poets offer short, back-to-back readings.
  • MAIN-STAGE READINGS IN PRUDENTIAL HALL These late afternoon and evening programs of half-hour readings on the main stage have been a central feature of every Dodge Poetry Festival since 1986. For the third time, they will take place in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center's beautiful and acoustically splendid Prudential Hall.
  • FESTIVAL POET READINGS Festival Poet Readings provide excellent opportunities to experience more sustained readings by some newly discovered voices and some old favorites. During the daytime hours, Festival Poets give a series of readings from multiple stages throughout the Festival site. Typically, these are one-hour readings shared by several poets, who each read for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • THE WORK TO BE DONE: POETRY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE Taking its title from the closing words of Gwendolyn Brooks' "to the Diaspora," with its reminder of the work that remains "to be done to be done to be done," this special event includes a discussion with Martín Espada, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Katha Pollitt, Claudia Rankine and a guest moderator, followed by a powerful performance including poetry, music and hip hop.
  • SILENCE IS BECOME SPEECH: THE EMERGENCE OF WOMEN'S VOICES "Silence is become speech," Muriel Rukeyser wrote in "The Speed of Darkness," one of her groundbreaking poems. Compare the number of women poets in any turn-of-the-19th-century anthology with that of a collection published today and the emergence of women's voices in the century is dramatic. What has this shift meant to poetry in general? How has it affected what we, as readers, expect or accept from poetry? How has it changed the poems that men write? That women write? What does it mean for women to have a sense of community within the poetry community?
  • MASKS AND MASCULINITY: POETRY AND THE RITUALS OF MEN Our cliché notions about the "poetic" personality and the "masculine" one may seem completely at odds, yet many poems have been written that celebrate the rituals of men, their rites of passage, the behaviors that society overtly or tacitly accepts as validating masculinity. Some of these poems, although once part of the "official" canon, are now viewed as misogynistic or celebrating self-defeating, even self-destructive behaviors. How does poetry help men navigate societal demands regarding masculinity? What masks does it offer to hide behind? What opportunities to question them?
  • WHO IS IT CAN TELL ME WHO I AM: POETRY AND IDENTITY Having lost all the trappings that secured his identity, King Lear asks, half mad with desperation, "Who is it can tell me who I am?" Poetry, like all the arts, invites us to ask who we are. How we explore, discover, express, define and challenge who we are through poetry will be the focus of this conversation.
  • TRIBUTE TO GALWAY KINNELL An event celebrating the life and work of poet Galway Kinnell, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner and long-time Festival favorite, who passed away shortly after the 2014 Festival.
  • CELEBRATION OF AMIRI BARAKA A celebration of Amiri Baraka (1934-2014), the Newark-based poet and founding father of the Black Arts movement, and a participant in numerous Dodge Poetry Festivals, including the first two in Newark, will take place the first weekend of October 2016 at Newark Symphony Hall to mark the start of Newark's October Poetry Month.
  • POETRY AND STORYTELLING Many of the first poems told stories. For millennia the boundary between bard and storyteller was indistinct. Our ancient epics all encompass grand narratives. Some have asserted that the rise of prose fiction has negated the need for poetry to continue to tell stories. So how and why do narrative poems continue to have a powerful hold on many readers and listeners, and appeal to so many contemporary poets? How does poetry tell stories in a way no other kind of writing can?
  • POETICS OF WAR: WRITING THE MILITARY EXPERIENCE Veterans who have participated in Warrior Writers and Combat Paper NJ workshops share their work and discuss the importance of opening a dialogue between veterans and their communities. Panelists talk about how both organizations provide a supportive network and outlet for communicating their military experiences honestly, helping challenge the "silent veteran" stereotype.
  • POETRY AND PRIDE From Sappho to Whitman to Ginsberg to Rich, poetry as we know it would not exist without the contributions of the LGBTQ community. No doubt members of this community have found and forged some of their sense of identity and kinship through the shared experiences and feelings communicated through poetry. Festival Poets will discuss how personal pride is discovered and fostered through poetry and the poetry community.
  • QUIET SPACES Comfortable, quiet places will be designated for whenever attendees might need a moment for retreat or contemplation. Some will feature silent, prompted opportunities to contribute to group poems.

Anchored by events at NJPAC, the Festival will transform Newark's Downtown Arts District into a "Poetry Village," with many of the performances and readings occurring at multiple venues and cultural destinations in the city, all within easy walking distance of NJPAC. At times during the Festival ten or more separate stages will offer events simultaneously for audiences from 100 to 2,000 people, including at the Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, NJPAC's Center for Arts Education, First Peddie Baptist Memorial Church, the New Jersey Historical Society, the Newark Museum, Newark Symphony Hall, North Star Academy, and Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral. Each evening and Sunday afternoon all readings will take place in NJPAC's magnificent Prudential Hall.

"From the very first day of the first Festival held in Newark in 2010 we knew that the city and the various venues at NJPAC and in the Downtown Arts District were great places to experience poetry," said Chris Daggett, President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. "The board and staff of the Foundation are thrilled to return to NJPAC and the City of Newark and we look forward to offering audiences the opportunity to see and hear some of the icons of the age as well as newer voices in poetry. From Poets Laureate to slam champions, there's something for everyone, even people who don't yet know how powerfully poetry can speak to them."

"We are delighted to welcome back the Dodge Foundation and join with them and the City of Newark in hosting the largest Poetry Festival in the country," said John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC. "The Dodge Poetry Festivals have brought thousands to Downtown Newark, including students from across the country, to experience the power and poignancy of the world's greatest poets in addition to the myriad cultural and culinary offerings in our hometown. We look forward to anchoring the Festival's 'Poetry Village' again in 2016."

"Poetry in our country benefits from having multiple organizations championing its importance, and our organizations benefit when we share resources and opportunities. We're thrilled that the Dodge Poetry Festival has invited our Chancellors to be a part of their 30th anniversary gathering. And we're especially excited to present programming in Newark, a city led by a poet, Ras Baraka," said Jennifer Benka, Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets.

Known for its tremendous ethnic and cultural diversity, downtown Newark is located three miles from Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the largest international airports in the United States. Downtown Newark is easily accessible by public transportation via Amtrak, New Jersey Transit (NJ TRANSIT), and PATH trains, and is located at the center of the New York metropolitan area. Once again, as a key component of the Dodge Foundation's commitment to a healthier environment, the Festival will partner with NJ TRANSIT to make public transportation more affordable for Festival-goers. NJ TRANSIT will offer $10.50 ticket vouchers for Festival participants for a round-trip ticket from any NJ TRANSIT rail station to Newark Penn Station or Newark Broad Street Station. The voucher will also be honored on the Newark Light Rail once riders arrive in Newark. Vouchers can be purchased with Festival tickets online, over the phone, or at the NJPAC Box Office.

*TICKETS: Festival Passes offering Two-Day or Four-Day admission are available now. Prices for a Weekend Pass (Saturday and Sunday admission) are $60 with discounted admission available at $54 for seniors and teachers with ID, and $30 for students and Newark residents. Four Day Passes providing entry to all events at the Festival, Thursday through Sunday, are $100 with discounted admission for seniors and teachers at $88 and students and Newark residents at $50. Tickets are available at the NJPAC Box Office, 1 Center Street, Newark NJ, online at or by phone at 1-888-GO-NJPAC.

For regularly updated information about the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival, visit and join the Poetry Program's e-mail list. Find the Festival on social media:

About the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival was the first large-scale event to put poetry itself at its center and to invite poets and audiences from a wide base of the culture. Poets who have participated in the Festival have included Nobel Laureates Octavio Paz and Derek Walcott as well as U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Donald Hall, Robert Hass, Ted Kooser, Maxine Kumin, Stanley Kunitz, W.S. Merwin, Robert Pinsky, Charles Simic, Philip Levine, Mark Strand and Natasha Trethewey. Gwendolyn Brooks, Stephen Dunn, Jorie Graham, Galway Kinnell, Carolyn Kizer, Yusef Komunyakaa, W.S. Merwin, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Richard Wilbur, C.K. Williams and Franz Wright are among the Pulitzer Prize winners who have been featured at past Festivals. The remarkable diversity of voices and styles has also included Yehuda Amichai, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Richard Blanco, Lucille Clifton, Kwame Dawes, Mark Doty, Martín Espada, Joy Harjo, Juan Felipe Herrera, Ko Un, Li-Young Lee, Dunya Mikhail, Patricia Smith, Sekou Sundiata and Arthur Sze.

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's Poetry Program operates throughout the school year, sending poets into classrooms across New Jersey and offering poetry discussion groups for teachers. During each Festival, thousands of students and teachers explore the intimate connection between poets and poetry and develop a greater understanding of the art form and of the power of self-expression by hearing poetry performed by its creators. Over the years the Festival has welcomed nearly 50,000 high school students, all of whom attend free of charge, from as far away as Florida, Maine, Minnesota, and California. Nearly 19,000 teachers have participated in special programs offered at the Festival and have had the opportunity to receive professional development credits.

The Dodge Poetry Festival has been featured extensively in five PBS television series, including Bill Moyers' Emmy-winning, multi-part series The Language of Life and Fooling with Words. Excerpts of readings from the Festival are routinely aired on PBS through the series Poetry Everywhere with Garrison Keillor and over 60 short readings can be seen on Dodge's YouTube channel. To read the Poetry Program's popular Poetry Fridays blog and find more information about the Festival visit

About the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was established in 1974 through the foresight and generosity of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, daughter of William and Almira Rockefeller. For more than 40 years, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has nurtured leaders, ideas, and institutions which transcend self interest and promote a sustainable future. We focus on issues critical to our home state of New Jersey, and organizations that have a direct and meaningful impact here. We believe that philanthropy includes not only providing resources, but also connecting leaders across sectors, sharing expertise, and promoting collaboration to help build movements for change around important issues. We fund Arts, Education, Environment and Informed Communities initiatives that are innovative and promote collaboration and community-driven decision making. We listen to the needs of the nonprofit sector by offering sustained and comprehensive technical assistance, and we pay careful attention to the public policy environment in which our grantees operate. We work with nonprofit, community, government, and business leaders to imagine a better New Jersey. Christopher Daggett has been the Foundation's President and CEO since 2010. Visit at


New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey - where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state's and the world's best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 10 million visitors (including over 1.5 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents. NJPAC is a proud partner of Newark Celebration 350.

Follow NJPAC

Location and Directions:

NJPAC is located at 1 Center Street, Newark, New Jersey; a short walk from the Newark Penn Station stop by Newark-bound PATH Train or Amtrak.

Detailed instructions on approaching the venue by car, by bus, by foot or by rail:

For additional information and up-to-the-minute updates, call 1-888-GO-NJPAC (888-466-5722)