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Dodge Poetry

Dodge Poetry – a new collaboration with NJPAC that celebrates poetry as a catalyst for communities to advance social change. 

The Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) launched Dodge Poetry – a new collaboration that celebrates poetry as a catalyst for communities to advance social change. 

Read the full announcement.

Through this initiative, Dodge Poetry will expand beyond the biennial festival to include year-long programming in Newark. Dodge Poetry events will have three goals to:  

  1. Mobilize communities and fuel movements for social change; 
  2. Amplify poet activists who challenge and reframe existing narratives and norms; and  
  3. Create spaces for empathy, healing, and repair for individuals who have experienced systemic racism.  

Building on 40 years of poetry programming, the new collaboration between NJPAC and the Dodge Foundation will extend the footprint of Dodge Poetry across the entire city of Newark. The series of events are designed to engage and activate residents, young people, and community partners, and to highlight the intersection of poetry and social justice. In 2024, Dodge Poetry will culminate with the 20th celebration of the Dodge Poetry Festival, an event that has to-date engaged more than 150,000 people including 45,000 high school students, on Oct 17-19, 2024.   

To help shape and guide the events and strategy over the year, Dodge Poetry has convened an advisory committee of award-winning poets and activists: Sean Battle, CEO and Founder of EvoluCulture Ventures, a Newark-based integrated arts organization that holds space for artists and art lovers; Tamiko Beyer, a social justice communications writer and strategist with roots in radical queer organizing, racial justice organizing, and art activism; Noami Extra, a poet, writer, cartoonist, and scholar with a PhD in American Studies from Rutgers Newark; Willie Perdomo, a two-time New York Foundation of the Arts Poetry Fellow and former NY state Poet Laureate;  and Vincent Toro, an award-winning Puerto Rican poet, playwright, stage performer, author of two poetry collections, and full time professor at Rider University.  

Other events during the year will include:   

  • Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (January 26, 2024) — A celebration of the centennial of Max Roach – drummer, bebop pioneer, and civil rights activist – who explored social justice issues and racial inequality through the lens of jazz and poetry, featuring Nasheet Waits (of Max’s percussion ensemble M’Boom), vocalist Cassandra Wilson, poets Sonia Sanchez and Saul Williams, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, and bassist Eric Revis. Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka performed, including poems by his father, Amiri Baraka (a long time Max Roach collaborator) as well as his own spoken word. The event also included a performance by the Last Poets and Advisory Committee member and past Festival Poet, Vincent Toro.  
  • A special screening of Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, included a discussion with the filmmaker, Michèle Stephenson (March 27, 2024).
  • Nuyorican Poets Cafe @ Dodge Poetry – Celebrate the legacy of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe for a two part event. An all-star poetic lineup will explore it’s history and begin to take a look in the future. (July 20, 2024)
  • Young People and Community Engagement: Rutgers University-Newark PartnershipA project with local Newark partners and community, along with well-known and emerging poets, to provide a forum for young people to address social justice issues. Dates to be announced.  
  • Activist Poets (streamed nationally) – Two programs will be streamed nationally to support the development of poets and communities using poetry for change. Poets and artists will address critical issues through learning, open conversations, and discussions with audiences. Dates to be announced.  
  • Sounds of the CityThe popular, outdoor performance series is coming back in the summer of 2024, and for the first time will include free Dodge Poetry performances for community members. Dates to be announced.  
  • Dodge Poetry Festival – Welcoming poets and artists from all around the world, the Festival returns October 17-19, 2024 with performances, readings, and special programs designed to build a community of poets and communities mobilizing for racial and social justice, repair, and healing. 
  • More events to be announced! 

More information about Dodge Poetry, upcoming shows, and events can be found at: njpac.org/dodgepoetry. You can also sign up at njpac.org to receive updates and announcements by selecting “poetry, spoken word.” The Dodge Poetry Festival does have an open submission process, and applications will be accepted for performance consideration beginning in mid-February.

Dodge Poetry will continue to be guided by the core values that have been part of our work for decades. We are committed to uplifting underrepresented poets, ensuring fair compensation and economic resilience for them, and fostering deep partnerships to make poetry accessible and inclusive to all.