IN OCTOBER 2014, poet Mark Doty stood onstage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark — the same place where pop stars ranging from Aretha Franklin to Britney Spears have performed — and looked out at a packed house during the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.
“I can’t tell you how inspiriting it is,” he said, choosing his words carefully (a non-poet would probably have used the more mundane inspiring), “to see so many people, devoted to this art, give their time here … to focus on what is so central to us and so often invisible.”
Poetry, perhaps the most private of all art forms, goes public in a big way at this biennial festival, whose 30th anniversary edition takes place Oct. 20 to 23 in Newark. It is North America’s biggest poetry event, by far, with prominent poets by the dozen. In 2004, The New York Times gave it the nickname “Wordstock.”
The 2014 festival drew about 12,000 people over its four days, according to poetry director Martin Farawell. Some of the readings took place at NJPAC’s Prudential Hall, which seats 2,868.