Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Dodge Poetry Festival 2012

The 2012 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival was held this past weekend, October 11-14, in Newark, NJ. This was the second time that Newark hosted the event. For many years the biannual event had been held at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, NJ. Two very different settings—one urban, the other country. This year's festival in Newark was bigger than the one in 2010 and offered a larger number of poets and one additional day.

As I did last time, I worked as part of the Dodge staff. However, this year the assignments changed, largely because Dodge was sponsoring the book tent on its own since Borders has gone out of business. So I had one 3-hour book tent assignment. Not my favorite, and between that and a 2-hour assignment on Sunday at the Information table, I got to hear less poetry than in the past. Still, I had a good time and enjoyed running into lots of friends I hadn't seen in a long time.

My favorite assignment of the weekend was hosting the Adrienne Rich tribute reading on Saturday. This was held in Aljira, a really cool art gallery. About 50 people turned up and many of them were very willing to come up onto the stage and read a favorite poem.

On Sunday one of my assignments was Storytelling with Queen Nur and Dwight James backing her up with music. Now, to be honest, I would never ever have chosen to attend that event. After all, I was there for poetry. However, it turned out to be really quite wonderful. Queen Nur sings, tells stories, talks, and adds just a bit of dancing. Dwight plays a wide variety of African instruments, mostly drums. His music is unobtrusive, always enhancing, never overwhelming the stories.

My camera work was not at its best and halfway through Saturday my battery went dead. But I managed to get a handful. I hope they give you a sense of the festival.

 Friday was Students Day—tons of students. They swarmed the book tent and bought lots of books. That was truly a beautiful thing to see. Praise to all the teachers who brought their students to the Festival! For many students this was an experience they will always remember. You, Teachers, gave it to them.
 Students browsing the books. This picture was taken during a performance segment so really does not give a good idea of how many kids were there.
 Oh! Look at this. Whose books could these be? Hm.
 This is the Main Stage in the Performing Arts Center. On Friday this was filled to capacity. The balconies were overflowing. I had to go up three floors to find a seat.
 Kahlil Murrill introducing Joseph Millar
John Murillo in a reading with Rachel McKibbens and Joseph Millar
 Queen Nur doing her thing
 Dwight James with his instruments
Queen Nur feeling the story


  1. Thanks for bringing parts of the Festival to me, Diane. Loved the photos!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Diana. It's nice to travel through your photographs for a bit.

  3. I miss the Dodge festival! I moved from Yonkers NY in 1999 and haven't been back since. :-( I used to love the Dodge festival and write about it in an old zine Ape Culture.

    Thanks for the post. I feel like I was there in memory.

    Mary McCray

  4. Mary--I wish I'd been able to get more photos, but glad that these brought back memories. Next one will be in 2014. Maybe a trip in from Yonkers?


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