“Wordstock” draws a large flock

By Megan Pendagast

In 2010, the Dodge Poetry Festival relocated because of expansion.

From its humble beginnings in Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey in 1986, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival has blossomed into the largest poetry event in North America bar none.

This four-day celebration of poetry takes place every two years, moving to Newark in 2010 where it remains today. The 14th festival kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 11 and runs until the 14th.

The event is widely acknowledged and was dubbed “Wordstock” by The New York Times since it brings droves of people together with a mutual passion much like the Woodstock Music & Art Fair before it.

Creative writing professor Dr. Roberta Clipper has attended the festival since its inception.

“[Waterloo Village] couldn’t sustain it,” Clipper said. “The last festival was such a great success, I hope it can stay there.”

The event combines poets and audiences alike, featuring more than 60 acclaimed poets who read, workshop and lead discussion according to Clipper.

“Friday is high school student day and acclaimed poets teach them,” she said. “Every year there are people from the community attending and famous poets. My favorite is Philip Levine and Dorianne Laux, she’s a great poet.”

Robert Hass, the1995 American Poet Laureate, said that the festival is “poetry heaven.”

According to Clipper the event is instrumental in uniting poets and poem lovers from all walks of life.

“Leading New Jersey poets attend, as well as acclaimed and widely published poets from all over,” she said. “My friend Emari DiGiorgio from Stockton is reading this year.”

According to dodgepoetry.org, the festival’s official website, it is held in memory of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, who donated $85 million to establish a foundation in her name.

New Jersey Transit is offering discounts to attendees to encourage people to attend. Tickets are for a single full day and the general admission is $40, the senior citizen and teacher price is $36 and students and Newark residents can attend for $20.

Contact this writer at pendagastm@theridernews.com

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