With the annual New York City Poetry Festival coming up on July 25 and 26, we are checking in with some of the groups that are participating. The Poetry Brothel is returning to Governors Island and bringing the poetry whores to Building 407 on Brick Row, an 1894 officers’ quarters. We spoke to co-founder Stephanie Berger about what to expect in her house of ill-fame. Don’t forget to bring cash to have a poem read to you.
What is the history of The Poetry Brothel and how did it start? What is your mission?
Nicholas Adamski and I started The Poetry Brothel in late 2007/early 2008 to revitalize the concept of a “poetry reading.” We found academic poetry readings too stale and slams a bit too full of bravado and pretension. The mission of The Poetry Brothel was and is to root poetry in the human body and teach both poets and the general public that poetry is valuable by providing an intimate, sensual, and uniquely human experience.
What are your activities on Governors Island?
On Governors Island, The Poetry Brothel will inhabit Building 407. Poetry whores don’t like to come out in the daytime, so we’ll be turning the house into a Midnight Manor.
Tell me about the programs in your house. Who participates?
The Poetry Brothel is the only program in the house this year. The regular cast of poets will participate.
Why do you like being on Governors Island?
Governors Island is amazing because it is so uninhabited. In a city with so many people and a topography that is kind of constantly changing, it is amazing to have a place like Governors Island that has been nearly untouched for decades.
What can visitors expect to see at The Poetry Brothel?
In The Poetry Brothel, poets, acting as their alter egos, offer private poetry readings in intimate spaces…for money. Our installation this year on the island is kind of a surprise. I can’t tell you too much, or the illusion will be spoiled!
What dates will you be on the island?
The Poetry Brothel will be open at the New York City Poetry Festival on July 25th and 26th from 1:30pm-5:30pm.