The Poetry Project

An appeal to poets, friends, and accomplices in poetry

The Poetry Project needs your support.

We know that we are one of many cultural organizations calling for contributions as this painful year comes to its close. But we also hope and believe there is a vast and dedicated community of dreamers committed to the particular and unruly spirit of what we do.

We are not a theater. We are not an academy. We are not a museum, or a gallery, or a publication, and we have none of the burnished mechanisms of support that sustain these neatly categorized models of cultural work.

We are a sometimes contentious, decidedly ungovernable, continuously original rhizome of poets and artists who again and again reject the carrot of obedience to pursue instead the new.

We are an organization which has been entirely run by working poets for more than 50 years, which means we are well practiced in precarity and the magic of finding what’s astonishing and possible within the limited means available.

Much of what we do stubbornly rejects prevailing cultural logic and legibility – something unfortunately unsavory to most conventional philanthropy. And so we must turn to other models – unconventional, ever-germinal models to sustain the iconoclasts and experimenters whose vital, radical, dangerous, and vulnerable work cannot continue without your support.

The truth is that this is an extraordinary time, and we need extraordinary support to survive it. We know the extraordinary community is here.

We are not scraping by, or getting on, or riding out the present circumstances. We are not asking you to support work that will happen upon some TBD return to “normal.” We are asking you to support the courageous and essential work poets are doing now to engage the questions, challenges, and possibilities of now.

In the last year, we’ve distributed more than $100,000 to poets, artists, teachers, curators, editors, and writers – who have presented hundreds of performances, articles, new media, and learning programs in 2020. Almost all of these offerings have been free, with more than 50,000 people around the world engaged as readers, attendees, and students in the community of The Project.

We’ve grown our fellowship program for emerging poets and have added a new fellowship program for emerging curators whose work in 2021 will address questions of transnational collectivity, Blackness and futurity, borderless pleasure, the wild imaginings of decomposition, and more.

And we have dedicated our attention and resources to the ongoing work of abolition, reparation, and material divestment. Having opened the doors of St. Mark’s this summer as an overnight sanctuary to protestors, we issued a living statement here as an articulation and compass of our unequivocal commitment to abolition.

We have tremendous events, workshops, and new writing coming in 2021. We will also be presenting new kinds of endeavors and experiments – including a series of commissioned and conceptual projects involving different object-based, spatial, and durational encounters with poetry.

And with The Poetry Project’s 50+ year archive now digitized by The Library of Congress, we turn to the work of recovering, expanding, and bringing new attention to The Project’s many histories, especially those histories, narratives, and presences whose contributions to an avant-garde have been marginalized and submerged by mainstream institutions and cultural apparatuses.

From now through the New Year’s Day Marathon – which will be presented this year as a free, 24-hour continuous broadcast – we are working to raise $200,000. These funds are essential to sustaining our home at St. Mark’s, and to equitably paying the hundreds of poets and artists connected with The Project, whose radical work has always already been imperiled by dominant and oligarchic cultural structures.

If you have connected in some way with The Project’s work, we hope you might consider a contribution to this community. If you are able to prioritize support, we hope that you will. We know that The Project’s work radiates significantly and importantly outward, and we have faith in this community’s commitment to mutuality, risk, and care.

Whatever the scale or manner of your generosity to The Project – we thank you. The essential work of this moment is not possible without you.

You can make online contributions here and we are also able to accept donations by check to The Poetry Project, 131 E 10th St, New York, NY, 10003.

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