Last night Gothamist attended the 4th annual benefit for the Academy of American Poets at Alice Tully Hall and was reminded that reciting poetry aloud is really a wonderful thing. As the kick-off to National Poetry Month in April, a panel of celebrity readers including William Wegman, Mike Wallace, Dianne Weist, Alan Alda and Meryl Streep read a few examples each from a variety of American poets. Great poets like William Carlos Williams, Sylvia Plath, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes and Kenneth Koch were represented in the mix, with a highlight for the night coming from musician Wynton Marsalis's lyrical reading of Sterling A. Brown's "Ma Rainey -- a poem he punctuated by breaking into song a cappella during one portion.
All during the month of April there's a host of poetry events you can check out; there's a great listing on the AAP's website, Poets.org. Also, they're encouraging people to email their favorite lines of poetry to be posted on their message board called Life Lines. A New York poem Gothamist particularly likes is Walt Whitman's "Mannahatta", it's so evocative of the city we love:
The beautiful city, the city of hurried and sparkling waters! the city of spires and masts! The city nested in bays! my city! The city of such women, I am mad to be with them! I will return after death to be with them! The city of such young men, I swear I cannot live happy, without I often go talk, walk, eat, drink, sleep, with them!
Do you have a favorite poet or poem?