Chloë Sevigny and Cory Kennedy Honor the Downtown Poets – The New York Times


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The Poetry Project held an eclectic gala in the East Village.
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Phantoms from a vanishing downtown were summoned to St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery last Friday for the Poetry Project’s 55th anniversary gala. The organization is an enduring harborage for New York City poets, and the event brought several generations of the creative community under one steeple to celebrate the spoken word.
Attendees in suits, gowns, indoor beanies and sleeveless turtlenecks chatted in the side aisles during the cocktail hour. Some wondered if this quasi-formal affair, with $500 seats and a step-and-repeat, squared with the Poetry Project’s bohemian past and its association with penniless bards.
“There’s a little grumbling about, ‘How can poets charge money for this kind of thing?’” said Anne Waldman, who was the group’s director from 1968 to 1978. “I say we need to keep this place going, and we have to grow up and join the culture.”
The eclectic list of writers, musicians, actors and designers reflected that outreach. Daniel Lopatin, the experimental electronic music producer who performs as Oneohtrix Point Never, said his favorite poet was Clark Coolidge. “The words are almost nonsense,” Mr. Lopatin said. “It’s very much rooted in his jazz practice, and I worship him.”
Next to him was Cory Kennedy, an embodiment of the “indie sleaze” era of the mid-late-aughts, who wore a gauzy tee and pencil skirt, both Calvin Klein. She joked that she was a fan of a contemporary warrior-poet. “Zelensky’s not bad,” she said.
Dinner was served in the nave. A long table near the stage included Chloë Sevigny, Zac Posen, Nate Lowman, Andrew VanWyngarden and Arden Wohl. Leek vinaigrette arrived with mozzarella di bufala and speakers toasted the poetic contributions of Rene Ricard and Patricia Spears Jones.
“I think honoring the upsetters is important,” said Ms. Sevigny, who wore a pink, black and gray ball gown by All-In, which had the confectionary sheen of a raspberry-glazed doughnut. “There’s a very cool generation that are now our elders,” she said.
Dasha Nekrasova, an actress and podcaster, sat a few tables away. She wore a black dress from Brock Collection and darted outside to smoke with a cadre of seatmates.
Elsewhere, Paul Slovak, an editor at Penguin Books, sprinkled lore over roast chicken with fava beans. He was in this same room for a 1997 recital of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and Allen Ginsberg’s live recording of “Wichita Vortex Sutra” in 1994. “I think it’s a very golden moment for poetry,” he said. “There are many, many supremely talented young poets.”
The after-party was held in the back of the church and guests spilled out into a garden patio. Telfar Clemens, the designer, and Juliana Huxtable, the artist, were on hand for theatrical poetry performances and a D.J. spinning dance music.
Mr. Posen, the fashion designer, was asked if poetry might be having a fashion moment. After all, Demna Gvasalia read a poem by Oleksandr Oles at the Balenciaga show in Paris, Loewe cited the poetry of Sylvia Plath as an inspiration for its latest show, and brands like Valentino and Tory Burch recently collaborated with writers.
“Clothing can be poetry if worn by the right person,” Mr. Posen said, “or the wrong one.”
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