Final Project Showcase: Poetry and the City

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Joining the likes of Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and Bob Dylan, Duke in New Yorker Liliana Costa is writing a series of NYC-inspired poems as part of her final project.   Beyond writing her own poetry, Lili has been researching New York City poetry past and present. 

Dylan1As part of her portfolio, Lili faciliated the creation of a collaborative group poem entitled "Our First New York Moment".  Here’s a word from Lili, plus the collaborative poem.  Check it out!:

Whitman
"Some of my influences and inspirations are Li-Young Lee, Sara Teasdale, Langston Hughes, and Federico Garcia Lorca.  Some of my favorite poems include "The City in Which I Loved You" by Li Young-Lee, "Travel Log" by John Kelly, "Dawn" by Federico Garcia Lorca, "Lives of Rain" by Nathalie Handall, and "Union Square" by Sara Teasdale.   If you’re interested, a great place to find poetry readings in the City is at: http://www.poetz.com/calendar/

I came up with the idea to create a collaborative poem when I came across a poem written about 9/11 that contains 110 verses, each written by a different person (the World Trade Center was 110 stories high).  This poem can be found at: http://www.peoplespoetry.org/pg_spotlighttwr.html

The collaborative poem was a great way to include the class in my project.  The idea to theme the poem around "Our First New York Moment" came from a monologue in Jose Riviera’s Sonnets for an Old Century.  The Riviera monologue is also themed around "the first time", and I felt it was very appropriate given that it is our first time living in the City.   The collaborative poem came out great.   It’s funny, and I think it really captures great moments when we experienced truly being a New Yorker".

Our First New York Moment
The first time someone yelled at me in the
airport.
The first time I navigated the bus system.
The first time I stepped out of the subway onto
a street of historic cast-iron apartments.
The first time I worked in an office.
The first time I yelled at someone for walking
too slow.
The first time I saw the tree at Rockefeller
Center.
The first time I knew what Madison Square Park
was.
The first time I fell and was lifted up by a
colorful new friend.
The first time I ate New York style pizza at
2am from the open air pizzeria on the corner.
The first time I attended a brilliant
theatrical reading in a tucked away church basement on the upper west
side.
The first time I realized I went to the theater
five times in seven days.
The first time I counted walking around as
exercise.
The first time I ate at a papaya-hot dog stand.
The first time I went up three escalators at a
K-mart—so many floors!
The first time I had brunch outside with a
great friend on the upper west side, watching the baby carriages go by.
The first time a crazy woman threw a hot dog at
my face.
The first time I collided into somebody and I
didn’t feel sorry.
The first time a jackhammer kept me awake.
The first time I gave directions.
The first time I gave directions to a tourist.
The first time that a tourist asked me for
directions and I could actually tell them where to go.
The first time someone on the street asked me
for directions and I could tell them how to arrive at their desired location.
The first time I gave a tourist wrong
directions, just for fun.
The first time I felt the sense of belonging.
The first time I truly experienced New York as
my home.

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