The inaugural Astor Poetry Jam brought together sixteen poets, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Strangers Project and the Academy of American Poets for a day of poetry and music, raising the curtain on a series of events to celebrate fifty years of the Alamo sculpture and National Poetry Month.
From under heavy gray skies, there emerged powerful soaring voices, carrying poignant and electrifying poetry through Astor Place. The sheer potency of these voices banished the chill breezes, inducing a collective sense of warmth, color, and uplifting spirits. Audiences gathered, passersby paused and the normally bustling nexus of Astor Place paused to become a sanctuary of free expression, poetry and creativity.
Danielle Rouse, James Larkin and Thomas Hill from the St. John’s University Poetry Society opened the festival with readings of their own work, setting high standards for an afternoon of compelling poetry.
East Village poetry legend, Bob Holman, and Nathan Granger, then took the stage to host Bowery Poetry’s PoetNY Open Mic sessions, welcoming to the stage exceptional raw talent, as poets and writers shared their poetry and stories. They were joined by Bowery Poetry Club members Ashley August, Taylor Steele and Sam O’Hana who mesmerized the audience, and stalled passersby with poetry that was candid, often humorous and always captivating.
Then followed native New York Poets Phyllis Capello, Ilke Scobie and David Mills each giving select readings from their published works, providing a thought provoking and eclectic synthesis of style and subject.
Talented vocalist, poet and rising star Indigo Moon (Kate Hess) then lit up Astor Place with an enchanting performance of spoken word, rhythm and beats drawn from her first soundscapes EP, “Lucid Earth”.
The eagerly anticipated final performance came from the Bowery Slam team, whose members Ashley August, Timothy DuWhite, Joel Francois and Sean “Mega” Desvignes gave an exceptionally powerful, often moving and emotional performance, reminding us why they’re frequently recognized as one of the country’s best slam teams.
Off stage, “Professor Poets” from the Bowery Poetry Club hosted poetry workshops, attended by aspiring writers, poets and the curious. Skilled writers came seeking critique of their own works, sitting alongside others, who for the first time in their lives wrote poetry. Others simply took the time to debate and converse with others, exchanging ideas and sharing inspiration.
The constant tap, tap and clatter, clatter of four busy typewriters signaled the creation of Haiku poetry, as visitors paused for their personal Haiku poem, while poets with their own typewriters descended and joined the Astor Poetry Jam Haiku collective!
People sharing their personal stories was a recurring theme of the Astor Poetry Jam and hundreds paused to write their own or read those of others with the Strangers Project.
Through shared poetry, stories and expression there emerged thoughts and ideas left to linger…until the next Astor Poetry Jam.