Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rutgers-Newark Reading at Dodge Poetry Festival

Established in 1986 and formerly taking place in suburban Morristown, New Jersey, the biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival has moved to Newark, with most of the festival events occuring at the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts (NJPAC). I have not been able to attend since the late 1990s, but now that I'm back in the area I did attend one of the events yesterday, a reading by some of the graduate student poets in Rutgers-Newark's MFA program in writing. The event was held at the Aljira Gallery on Broad Street in Newark, and like the festival, I hadn't been in the space in a few years, though I have remained on its mailing list.

Among the students reading I'd only heard one, Maurice Decaul, perform his work, a few weeks back, as part of a superlative event with poet Mike Ladd and pianist and composer Vijay Iyer, Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dream Project, a multimedia cantata addressing memories and dreams among recent US military veterans of color, at Harlemstage, so each reading served as an introduction to the poets and the program. Their reading and performing styles were diverse, the poetry drawing on a wide range of influences, from the high Modernists to spoken-word, and very little of it showed any of the influence of the Language or Conceptual schools of writing. One of the students in my graduate literature course on postmodernism, transhumanism and posthumanism, playwright and teacher Vincent Toro, performed, or should I say embodied, a poem about bodies directly in conversation with the themes and topics we've been discussing in class, so I may ask him to reprise it at some point for those who weren't able to attend.

The reading was not just a fine introduction to the graduate poetry students, but to the Dodge Festival and Newark, a city with far more treasures than people acknowledge. The Aljira Gallery is one of them.

Grisel (Toro)
Grisel, the poetry event's MC
Vincent Toro
Vincent Toro
Maurice Decaul
Maurice Decaul
Rutgers MFA student Ines Lopes
Ines Lopes
Dana J. Catlett
Dana J. Catlett
Aaron Michael Klein
Aaron Michael Klein
Sean Battle
Sean Battle

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment