What to Expect at the NYC Poetry Festival

With poetry from all five boroughs, there’s a lot to see this July at the NYC Poetry Festival. Each summer, a wide array of poetry organizations and collectives are invited to the festival grounds to showcase their unique perspectives, exciting formats, and groundbreaking poetry. This event is one of the largest of its kind in the country, so here’s what to expect if you plan on attending this July 29-30. 


Expect to register. 


First things first—registration is required. The base ticket is free, but you can also register for drink tickets, or even select VIP registration which includes  an annual membership to The Poetry Society of New York. Click here to view pricing and register. 


Expect an idyllic setting. 


Hosted on Colonels Row, Governors Island (located off the southern end of Manhattan), the festival grounds are ringed by breathtaking Victorian houses and tucked beneath a green canopy of massive hickory, oak, and chestnut trees. The island is known for its stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, and Statue of Liberty. Tucked away in New York Harbor, it provides a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.


Expect the foremost headliners. 


Danez Smith, Franny Choi, Saeed Jones, and Torrin A. Greathouse are among this year’s biggest names at the fest. 


Smith is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (2017), and Homie (2020). They are a finalist for the National Book Award—among many other accolades. Smith is also a co-host of VS, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. 


Choi’s most recent book is The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On (2022), which was named an NPR 2022 Books We Love and Goodreads Readers Choice Award Semifinalist. She is a co-host of VS with Smith.


Jones is the author of the memoir How We Fight for Our Lives (2019), which won the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. His earlier poetry collection Prelude to Bruise (2015), won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry in 2015. 


Greathouse’s debut poetry collection, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound (2020) was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, CLMP Firecracker Award, and winner of the 2022 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. 


Each of these writers will share their work and join in with the community of poets throughout the weekend. 


Expect visual art, too. 


While poetry is the festival’s focus, the organizers simultaneously emphasize visual arts. Hundreds of visual and performance artists will collaborate with festival organizers to create show-stopping installations throughout the grounds. Understanding the intersection between the visual and the written, the festival’s goal is to help bring exciting work to new audiences while facilitating collaborations between poets and creators of other mediums. 


Expect to bring your appetite. 


Don’t think you’ll spend a whole weekend on the grounds without a bite to eat. A mouth-watering array of food truck vendors will be parked on the island, ready to serve sweet and savory treats all day long. From crêpes, sorbets, and vegan chocolate to massive sandwiches, artisanal empanadas, and Malaysian delicacies, there’s something for every eater. 


Register ASAP to see all the exciting events at the New York City Poetry Festival firsthand and to be entered to win free copies of the headliner’s books. The last day to register is July 30!