The Poetry Project’s Half-Century of Dissent


“February 10, 1971, on a Wednesday night in the East Village, a full moon glowed in the wintry sky over St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. Inside, a group of New York’s most cutting-edge scene-makers gathered at the Poetry Project to hear a reading by poet and Warhol aide-de-camp Gerard Malanga. Andy was there, as was Lou Reed, along with poets Gregory Corso, John Giorno, Joe Brainard, and Bernadette Mayer. First up that night was a dark-eyed, lanky young poetess by the name of Patti Smith. An up-and-coming playwright named Sam Shepard, with whom she’d recently become involved, was there in support, as was her closest friend and collaborator, Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith knew she didn’t just want to read that night; rather, she wanted to electrify the audience with poems that possessed the power of rock ‘n’ roll. She invited the guitarist Lenny Kaye to play while she recited, and she decided to sing a few songs as well, including a cover of ‘Mack the Knife,’ in honor of Bertolt Brecht’s birthday. …”
Voice

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