This fall, The New York Public Library and the Academy of American Poets will present a free series of four conversations exploring how different art forms engage with poetry. These conversations will pair some of today’s most intriguing poets with accomplished artists, dancers, chefs, and actors.

The monthly series includes events with Claudia Rankine and artist Carrie Mae Weems, with a special introduction by Elizabeth Alexander (September 9); Mark Doty and choreographer Bill T. Jones (October 19); Kevin Young and chef Gabrielle Hamilton (November 19); and Sharon Olds and actress Cynthia Nixon (December 11).

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with our friends at The New York Public Library on a new series that celebrates today’s poets and other leading artists, demonstrating poetry’s impact and relevancy,” said Academy of American Poets Executive Director Jennifer Benka.

 “Teaming up with the Academy of American Poets,” said Jessica Strand, NYPL’s Associate Director of Public Programs and Events, “gives us the opportunity to present these events that challenge and enrich our our understanding of how poetry affects other genres in the arts.”

Series Schedule:

All events will take place in the Celeste Auditorium at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, located at 42nd Street at 5pm Avenue. Events are free and open to the public, but online advance registration is required.

Wednesday, September 9,  7 p.m.

Claudia Rankine and Carrie Mae Weems

Over the past thirty years Carrie Mae Weems has worked toward developing a complex body of art that has employed photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video. Her work has investigated family relationships, gender roles, the histories of racism, sexism, class, and various political systems. Weems has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships including the prestigious Prix de Roma, the Anonymous was a Woman Foundation, and a Medal of Arts Award from the U.S. State Department. In 2013, Weems was the recipient of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the MacArthur Genius award. Most recently, she was honored with the Lucie Award for Fine Art Photography, the BET Honors Visual Arts Award, and the ICP Spotlights Award from the International Center of Photography. She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Weems has been represented by Jack Shainman Gallery since 2008.

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014), which received the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2004); PLOT (Grove Press, 2001); The End of the Alphabet (Grove Press, 1998); and Nothing in Nature Is Private (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1995), which received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. Rankine has edited numerous anthologies, including American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (Wesleyan University Press, 2002) and American Poets in the TwentyFirst Century: The New Poetics (Wesleyan University Press, 2007). Her plays include Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue, commissioned by the Foundry Theatre and Existing Conditions, coauthored with Casey Llewellyn. In 2013, Rankine was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowments for the Arts. In 2005, Rankine was awarded the Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by the Academy of American Poets. She is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College.

Monday, October 19, 7 p.m.

Mark Doty and Bill T. Jones

Mark Doty is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Deep Lane (W. W. Norton, 2015); A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: A Compendium of Creatures (Prestel, 2013); Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008), which received the National Book Award; School of the Arts (HarperCollins, 2005); Source (HarperCollins, 2002); and Sweet Machine (HarperCollins, 1998). Other collections include Atlantis (HarperCollins, 1995), which received the Ambassador Book Award, the Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award; My Alexandria (University of Illinois Press, 1993), chosen by Philip Levine for the National Poetry Series, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and Britain’s T. S. Eliot Prize, and was also a National Book Award finalist; Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (D.R. Godine, 1991); and Turtle, Swan (D.R. Godine, 1987). Doty has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Whiting Foundation. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2011. He has taught at the University of Houston and is currently serving as a Distinguished Writer at Rutgers University. He currently lives in New York City.

Bill T. Jones (Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer: Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company; Artistic Director: New York Live Arts) is the recipient of the 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award; the 2013 National Medal of Arts; the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors; a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography of the critically acclaimed FELA!; a 2007 Tony Award, 2007 Obie Award, and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation CALLAWAY Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening; the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award; the 2007 USA Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship; the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the 2005 Harlem Renaissance Award; the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and the 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award. In 2010, Mr. Jones was recognized as Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, and in 2000, The Dance Heritage Coalition named Mr. Jones “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure.” Mr. Jones choreographed and performed worldwide with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982. He has created more than 140 works for his company.

Thursday, November 19, 7 p.m.

Kevin Young and Gabrielle Hamilton


Kevin Young is the author of ten books of poetry and prose, most recently Book of Hours (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011); and Dear Darkness: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008). Young’s The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2012, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and won the PEN Open Award. He is also the editor of several anthologies, including The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (Bloomsbury, 2012) and The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing (Bloomsbury, 2010). His awards and honors include a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. He is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing & English and curator of Literary Collections & the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University, and served as the Holmes Visiting Poet at Princeton University for spring 2015.

Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef/owner of PRUNE, which she opened in New York City’s East Village in October 1999. PRUNE has been recognized in all major press, both nationally and internationally, and is regularly cited in the top 100 lists of all major food magazines. Hamilton has made numerous television appearances including segments with Martha Stewart, Mark Bittman, and Mike Colameco and most notably was the victor in her Iron Chef America battle against Bobby Flay on The Food Network in 2008. Hamilton has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Food & Wine, Afar, Travel and Leisure, Elle and House Beautiful and had the 8 week Chef’s Column in The New York Times. Hamilton was nominated for Best Chef NYC in 2009 and 2010 by the James Beard Foundation and in 2011 won the category. She is the author of The New York Times bestseller Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, which has been published in six languages and won the James Beard Foundation’s award for Writing and Literature in 2012. Most recently, she wrote the New York Times bestselling cookbook, Prune, featuring 250 recipes from her East Village restaurant.

Friday, December 11, 7 p.m.

Sharon Olds and Cynthia Nixon

Sharon Olds’s numerous collections of poetry include Stag’s Leap (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize; One Secret Thing (Random House, 2008); Blood, Tin, Straw (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999); and The Father (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her first collection of poems, Satan Says (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980), received the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award. Olds’s following collection, The Dead & the Living (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), received the Lamont Poetry Selection in 1983 and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Olds held the position of New York state poet laureate from 1998 to 2000. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2006 to 2012. She currently teaches poetry workshops at New York University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program as well as a workshop at Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York.

Cynthia Nixon is a Tony, Emmy, and GRAMMY award-winning actress who has been acting professionally since the age of twelve. She is best known from the "Sex and the City" TV series and movies but has appeared in over forty plays, a dozen of them on Broadway. She has appeared in movies as diverse as "Little Darlings", "Amadeus", and "Five Flights Up". Last season she directed Tonya Pinkins and Dianne Weist in Rasheeda Speaking at the New Group. Nixon recently completed filming Terence Davies’s next film, "A Quiet Passion", in which she plays the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson. She will next be seen starring in director Josh Mond’s "James White", a film that won the Audience Award at Sundance this past year, to be released in the fall. Also this fall, she will be directing Motherstruck at The Culture Project and Steve at The New Group. She lives in the East Village with her wife Christine and their children Sam, Charlie, and Max.

Press Contacts:

Academy of American Poets: Emily Liebowitz | [email protected]

The New York Public Library: Nora Lyons | [email protected]


About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. The organization produces, the world’s largest publicly-funded website for poets and poetry; National Poetry Month; the popular Poem-a-Day series; American Poets magazine; resources for K-12 educators; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. In addition, since its founding in 1934, the Academy has awarded more money to poets than any other organization through its American Poets Prizes. For more information, visit

About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at