“Luminous night, in so many ways…”

That's the subject line from one of the exuberant (and very cheering) emails we received following the launch event of our Centennial year Tuesday evening, January 5th. The exhibit includes more than 180 images of poets--oils, drawings, and photographs, many of poets in childhood, from Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, Countee Cullen, W.H.Auden, and T.S. Eliot to Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman, Jerome Rothenberg, Ron Padgett, Yusef Komunyakaa, Patti Smith, Alice Walker, Anne Waldman , and Kenny Goldsmith.

The Grand Gallery at the National Arts Club was packed, with over three hundred people ("too many to count," said Rob Casper, our indefatigable Programs Director).

The evening began with champagne and hors d'oeuvres in the front parlor rooms of the mansion—still merrily decorated for the holidays—and a half hour of milling in the exhibition space. Then we were treated to readings by Richard Howard (of poems by W.H.Auden, Howard Moss, and himself), Galway Kinnell (poems by Etheridge Knight, whom he knew and who is pictured with him in one of the images in the show, Dylan Thomas, and himself), Yusef Komunyakaa ( poems by Robert Frost, Etheridge Knight, Gwendolyn Brooks, and himself), Marie Ponsot (poems by Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, and herself), and Sapphire, who read powerfully moving new poems which she has been sharing with Marie Ponsot's workshop and another startling poem by Etheridge Knight. (His  Essential Poems  should be enjoying  a big boost today on Amazon.) Sapphire opened with a tribute to Marie for her "divine inspiration."

"The show is a stunner," wrote Ron Padgett, subject of one of the great paintings in the show, George Schneeman's portrait I'm HIM. "I assumed it would be fun, but it turned out to be a lot larger, more various, more interesting, and even more fun than I had imagined."

We are still tidying up our office, which by night's end looked a little like the childrens' room the day after Christmas. Lawrence Schwartzwald, a frequent  photographer for The New York Post, generously snapped away all night long, and sent in the pictures displayed here so that we might share some of the sense of excitement generated all night long and well into today. "Bravo!" was another subject line of an email and "Party power" another.

Holland Cotter's big piece in The New York Times on Friday, January 1st, was a huge boon to the success of the evening. Party power gains immeasurably from the receptive attention of a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer at The New York Times!

The show will be up through January 15th, weekday hours, 10-12 and 3-5 P.M.

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The packed house in the Grand Gallery of the National Arts Club as Richard Howard reads in front of George Schneeman's painting of Ted Berrigan.

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Spencer Reece, author of the collection A Clerk's Tale, relaxes before the opening of the show at six o'clock.

 

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Richard Howard echoed by himself in a photograph by the poet and photographer Mary Jo Bang, author of the new collection, The Bride of E.
 
 

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