Besides the usual cacophony of city sounds, Newark will be infused with verse, meter, and rhyme during the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival to be held in October and which will feature many luminaries from the poetry world, organizers announced during a press conference Tuesday.
"It's the greatest poetry festival in North America," said John Schreiber, CEO of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, where the press conference was held and will serve as one of the venues in Newark. "This is one of the happy days where we welcome back the wonderful folks of the Dodge Poetry Festival," he continued.
The event, in its 14th biennial, will be held from Oct. 11 through the 14 this year, organizers said. The last time it was held in Newark was back in 2010 when it drew an estimated 13,000 to 15,000 people, according to news reports at the time.
"Response was overwhelmingly positive," said Christopher Daggett, president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which sponsors the fest.
Billed as the "largest poetry event" in America, poets appearing include U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine, Irish female poet Eavan Boland, National Book Award winner Fanny Howe, and Pulitzer prize winner C.K. Williams as well other well-known and award-winning poets, organizers said.
NJPAC will be the central venue of what event officials dub to be a "Poetry Village." Readings will be anywhere from 100 to 2,000 people and will also be held at the Newark Museum, the Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, the New Jersey Historical Society, and other places.
Newark Public Library officials also said they will serve as a venue.
Before its move to Newark, the fest was mostly hosted at Waterloo Village in Stanhope. Past participants in the event read like a who's who of the poetry world: Octavio Paz, Derek Walcott, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and others.
Mayor Cory Booker praised the festival and the art of poetry.
"I love poetry and I am grateful to the people who brought the festival here," said Booker who cited Dr. Seuss and Langston Hughes as influences in his development.
Even Booker got into the spirit of things by reading a poem he wrote, which he obliquely referenced as a jab towards Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek, with whom he's having a dispute over the Prudential Center's various costs.
"Curse me and you just made me strong. Say I can't and I will prove you wrong," Booker said.
Schreiber quipped to laughter: "I am so glad he likes this place."