Symposium Group Reading

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, The Poetry Project held an annual symposium that featured readings, talks, panels and workshops. This spring, we are thrilled to reinvent this 3-day event and expand our mission to provide a forum and network for our literary community. Allen Ginsberg saw the Project as a place where people could articulate their relationship to the most important national and global problems of the time, and believed that the planet needed imagination and the avant-garde spirit of poetry to survive. After the thrill of the 50th Anniversary celebration last year and another energetic New Year’s Day Marathon, we’re looking forward to making the symposium an annual opportunity to bring poets together at the church.

With Anselm BerriganRin Johnson, Patricia Spears Jones, Sharon Mesmer, Lara Mimosa Montes, Trace Peterson, and sam sax.

Rin Johnson

Rin Johnson is a Brooklyn based sculptor and poet. Moving between Virtual Reality, sculpture and the printed word, Johnson has exhibited and read in Europe and the US. Johnson is the author of two books, Nobody Sleeps Better Than White People from Inpatient Press and the forthcoming VR Book, Meet in the Corner from Publishing House. Johnson founded Imperial Matters (a space for liquid poetry) with Sophia Le Fraga. Johnson is an MFA candidate in Sculpture at Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts.

Sharon Mesmer

Sharon Mesmer is a writer of poetry, fiction and essays. Her newest poetry collection, Greetings From My Girlie Leisure Place (Bloof Books, 2015), was voted “Best of 2015” by Entropy. Previous poetry collections are Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo Books, 2008), The Virgin Formica (Hanging Loose Press, 2008), Vertigo Seeks Affinities (chapbook, Belladonna Books, 2007), Half Angel, Half Lunch (Hard Press, 1998) and Crossing Second Avenue (chapbook, ABJ Press, Tokyo, 1997). Four of her poems appear in Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (second edition, 2013). She is co-editor of Flarf: An Anthology of Flarf, just published by Edge Books. Her essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, and the Brooklyn Rail, among other places. She teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs of New York University and The New School, and lives in Brooklyn.

Trace Peterson

Trace Peterson is a trans woman poet critic. Author of Since I Moved In (Chax Press) and forthcoming books of poetry, she is also Founding Editor / Publisher of EOAGH which has won 2 Lambda Literary Awards, including the first Lammy in Transgender Poetry. She is co-editor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books), and co-editor of Arrive on Wave: Collected Poems of Gil Ott (Chax Press). Her work has recently appeared in Readings in Contemporary Poetry: An Anthology (Dia Art Foundation/Yale University Press), From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice (ON Contemporary Practice), Best American Experimental Writing 2016 (Wesleyan University Press), TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and at the Academy of American Poets ( She recently taught a course in Transgender Cultural Production at Yale University. She currently teaches at the Naropa Summer Writing Program and at Hunter College, where since 2015 she has taught an innovative course in Trans and Nonbinary Poetry.

Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones is an African American poet, editor, activist, literary curator and playwright. She is the winner of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets and Writers and author of A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press, 2015) which was finalist for both the PSA’s William Carlos Williams Prize and the Patterson Poetry Prize and featured a Pushcart Prize winning poem. She also has 10 additional publications: poetry books, chapbooks and anthologies. S She is co-editor of the groundbreaking anthology Ordinary Women: An Anthology of Poetry by New York City Women (1978) and editor of Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Hat (2009). In 2015, she edited The Future Differently Imagined, an issue of About Place Journal, an online literary publication of Black Earth Institute, where she is a Senior Fellow Emeritus. Mabou Mines commissioned and produced ‘Mother’ and Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting which premiered in New York City in collaboration with composers respectively, Carter Burwell and Lisa Gutkin. She has had residencies at Yaddo, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Millay Colony and most recently a Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva. She served as Program Coordinator at The Poetry Project in the 1980s. She has taught at the Poetry Project, Poets House, the Fine Arts Work Center, CUNY campuses and Adelphi University. She is the organizer for American Poets Congress.

sam sax

sam sax is the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series and ‘Bury It’ (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, & the MacDowell Colony. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion, author of four chapbooks & winner of the Gulf Coast Prize, The Iowa Review Award, & American Literary Award. His poems have appeared in BuzzFeed, The Nation, The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Tin House + other journals. He’s newly a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University & the poetry editor at BOAAT Press.