OPINION Lloyd Robson

NWR Issue 99

What Rhymes with Yonkers?

The New York poetry scene is an ever-changing beast.

When I first read here in 2001 poet-performers were packing out the Bowery, Cornelia Street, Louder Arts, and Nuyorican poetry clubs, and every other bar, club or restaurant staged regular poetry nights. Since then many have disappeared or changed direction. The Bowery is repositioning itself closer to cabaret in order to survive, and Steve Cannon’s A Gathering of the Tribes seems to be locked in a constant struggle against eviction. Now I live here I need to sniff out what’s about; figure how, or if, my poetry fits here.

I attend the launch of a new collection from a current big noise – a poet I have read with but never respected. The launch is in the backroom of a swanky Midtown bar. Behind the velvet curtain the lighting is subdued, the nibbles organic and the beer expensive. I’m told I can have a free drink if I buy the book. I decide I’ll buy the beer and consider buying the book after I’ve heard the reading. I’m told the poet will not be reading. Why not? ‘Because this is a book launch, not a reading.’ Well pardon fucking me...

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previous opinion: Michael Nobbs on Making a Living Online as an Artist
next opinion: Rich Text: Tyler Keevil on his Short Story collection Burrard Inlet


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