On April 29, 2018, the American Poets Congress gave a reading at Poets House in NYC. This nascent group began to take shape shortly after the election of Donald Trump. On December 20, 2016, Patricia Spears Jones reached out to a handful of poets with the idea of starting “a new way of thinking about poetry and connecting it with politics.” The idea was to confront a demagogic president whose alternate facts sought to undermine the common good. American Poets Congress are a growing number of writers who are uniting to preserve and protect the spoken and the written word from conniving hate speech that divides people and doesn’t build them up. When lies become the truth, we’re lost.

The whole reading, which was introduced by Poets House executive director, Lee Bricetti, follows at the end of this post, below the individual readings of the poets that I’ve edited from the original, which was filmed by Alystyre Julian. Enjoy.

Amanda DEUTCH is the author of Surf Avenue and 29th Street (Propolis Press, 2018) and director of Parachute Literary Arts.

Anne WALDMAN is the author of Voice’s Daughter of A Heart Yet To be Born, Trickster Feminism from Penguin, and a founder and director of Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School.

Cecilia VICUŇA is a New York City-based poet and artist born in Chile, her New and Selected Poetry was just published by Kelsey Street Press.

Cynthia KRAMAN is the author of four books of poetry including Taking on the Local Color (Wesleyan) and The Touch (Bowery Books). She is singer/songwriter of Chinas Comidas whose 2018 vinyl release is from Take the City Records, Madrid.

David HENDERSON notes De Mayor of Harlem and Neo-California are his best-known books of poetry, “Love in Outerspace,” is his best-known jazz lyric, and the Jimi Hendrix bio, ‘Scuse me, while I kiss the sky’, The Life of Jimi Hendrix, his widely-acclaimed prose work.

Edwin TORRES is the author of 9 books, most recently, “Xoeteox: the infinite word object” from Wave Books, and editor of “The Body In Language: An Anthology” from Counterpath Press.

Erica HUNT is the author of 4 books of poetry and is in Best American Experimental Poetry 2017. With Dawn Lundy Martin, she is the editor of Letters to the Future: Black Women, Radical Writing, published in June 2018.

James SHERRY is the author of 13 books, most recently The Oligarch from Palgrave. He is editor of Roof Books and began Segue Foundation in NYC in 1977 which hosts the Segue Reading Series.

Michael BRODER is author This Life Now, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. He is the founding publisher and managing editor of Indolent Books that publishes innovative and provocative poetry addressing racial, social, and economic justice themes.

Patricia SPEARS JONES is author of A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems and 9 other poetry collections and anthologies. She is the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize winner, an anthologist, literary curator, and organizer of American Poets Congress.

Pierre JORISmost recently published The Book of U (poems), The Agony of I.B. (a play), Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012 and Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan.

Purvi SHAH is the author of Terrain Tracks and won the inaugural SONY South Asian Social Service Excellence Award for her leadership fighting violence against women. Her second book, Miracle Marks, is out in June 2019.

Tai ALLEN is multi-disciplined artist, creative strategist & (happy) dad. Tai loves basketball, beer & wine festivals (esp. his own), veggie rotis & his poetry project No Jewels (book + soundtrack).

Tan LIN is the author of over twelve books, including 7 Controlled Vocabularies, Obituary, 2004, and The Joy of Cooking (Wesleyan UP).

Vincent KATZ is co-author, with Anne Waldman, of Fantastic Caryatids(BlazeVOX Books, 2017) and editor of Readings in Contemporary Poetry: An Anthology (Dia Art Foundation, 2017).

The reading, introduced by Poets House executive director, Lee Bricetti, follows. If you want to know more about Poets House, here is the link:

And here is the reading:


Amanda Deutch

Anne Waldman

Cecilia Vicuña

Cynthia Kraman

David Henderson

Edwin Torres

Erica Hunt

James Sherry

Michael Broder

Patricia Spears Jones

Pierre Joris

Purvi Shah

Tai Allen

Tan Lin

Vincent Katz

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