The Monday Night Poetry Series at KGB Bar was founded 20 years ago this month. The reading series shares this milestone with the MFA in Creative Writing Program at The New School, which marks its 20th year this spring. To celebrate, Creative Writing is featuring a series of interviews and reminiscences from former hosts about their time curating the legendary series. This is the first post in a six-part series.

Monday Night Poetry has always maintained a close connection to The New School. MFA poetry coordinator David Lehman was a co-founder of the series, and all subsequent hosts have been affiliated with The New School MFA Poetry Program either as faculty members or alumni. Join us for a glimpse behind the scenes of this beloved and very New York hot spot for poetry.
- Laura Cronk, former Monday Night Poetry host, for The New School

Paul Violi and Star Black, the Monday Night Poetry Series co-founder, from The KGB Bar Book of Poems, HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. Photo: David Lehman

Paul Violi and Star Black, the Monday Night Poetry Series co-founder, from The KGB Bar Book of Poems, HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. Photo: David Lehman

Star Black is a New York based poet with a dazzling array of accomplishments. She has published six books of poems, most recently Velleity’s Shade, an artist/poet collaboration with Bill Knott, from Saturnalia Books. She is also a working photographer and collage artist. She teaches “Writing on Location” courses at The New School, bringing students to The Met, MOMA, galleries, and even out into the New York City streets to write from street art.

We are happy to kick off this series with notes from Black on how the Monday Night Poetry Series came to be during the spring of 1997 and what some of her favorite memories are from the Monday nights she spent with David Lehman bringing poets together at the remarkable little East Village bar known as KGB.

Star Black: The poetry world in New York City in the mid-1990s was humming with various energies and schools of thought, creating an Olympic Games logo of interlocking circles. Uptown there was the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center hosted by Grace Schulman and then Karl Kirchwey, hosting guest readers like Ted Hughes, and the Columbia University writing program with Richard Howard and Lucie Brock-Broido. Further north was Sarah Lawrence’s writing program with Tom Lux, Vijay Seshadri and Marie Howe. Language poetry was alive and well on the Upper West Side, where its founders, Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews, lived and entertained. Downtown was Saint Mark’s Church with Anne Waldman, Eileen Myles and Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Holman’s The Bowery Poetry Club. And, in the East Village, there was a collective of haphazard poets and artists centered around the boisterous Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe and Steve Cannon’s A Gathering of the Tribes. Steve, whose friends were the artist David Hammons, LeRoi Jones aka Amiri Baraka, and the writer John Farris, was a novelist and playwright and teacher of many years, known as “the blind professor.” Steve couldn’t see, yet he ran a cultural center, a poetry series, a publishing house and an art gallery. He also edited and published Tribes Magazine that showcased emerging visual artists, writers and his friends...

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Coming up next for the KGB Monday Night Poetry Series:
Hosted by Matthew Yeager & John Deming
KGB Bar | 85 E 4th St, NYC
February 27, 2017, 7:00 pm
Featuring: Jennifer Michael Hecht & Adrienne Su

About The Author

Founded in Greenwich Village in 1931, Creative Writing at The New School continues to promote, engender, and shape innovative literature.