"One steps into history, as well as into the company of legends (from Neruda to Nabokov), when walking into the 92nd Street Y. I can't think of any institution that more steadily and elegantly speaks for the power of the word, the value of tradition and the fact that, even in the age of Twitter and cell-phones, hundreds can be bound together by a poet onstage, alone, declaiming his words. A night at the Y is like no night anywhere else.” Written by Pico Iyer from 92yondemand.org.
Jennifer Schuessler wrote an article on September of 2013 in the New York Times celebrating the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center's 75th Anniversary.
Dr. William Kolodrey opened the Unterberg Poetry Center at the Y in 1939.
In Jennifer's article she explained how the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center opened it's doors in 1939 with a spectacular line up that included William Carlos Williams, W.H. Auden, Langston Hughes, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens.
Today the Unterberg Poetry Center has lectures mostly given by novelists with occasional playwrights in the mix. Yet every once in a while the podium has seen the likes of Seamus Heaney, and Octavio Paz. The stage has seen pairings like Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers. The Center has put on historic performance including in 1949 Jean Genet's "The Servant Girls" and also Dylan Thomas's "Under the Milkwood" in 1953. I would have loved to have seen this performance of "Under the Milkwood." To be invited to speak at the Y is prestigious and I could not imagine how much history has occurred behind the podium.
A peek into our creative nest.
W.H. Auden at the 92Y
Events and Happenings
Below is listed a few of the Events and Offerings at the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center:
The 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center offers a Master's in Creative Writing with a variety
of advanced poetry workshops.
It offers the "Discovery" Boston Review Poetry Contest to bring new writers to the
The Y also has outreach programs throughout NYC centering on Poetry in New York
They have a gallery at the Y that centers on archiving not only the poems but
photographs and artifacts of different poets present at the Y since 1939.
They have a large internet presence and all of the activities and performances along
with operating hours and other exhibits are located on their website. Included is an archive entitled "75 at 75" which has archived many of the lectures and poetry readings performed at the Y.
Let's Get Out There
The purpose of sharing the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center is with the hopes that those interested in poetry will have another resource. It is rare to find a place where poets can go and investigate contemporary American Poets in an archive of past recordings. A place where poets can go and examine the history of the art of poetry in America. Even though poetry in America is vast and moves far beyond the doors of the Y there is a strong taste of the poets that helped define Poetry in America.