Dodge Foundation Cancels Poetry Festival
On an aside, Paul Muldoon, a professor at Princeton University, has been extremely generous in his efforts on behalf of the campaign to save the Hill of Tara, one of Ireland's most important heritage sites, from destruction by developers and speculators. Learn more about that campaign here.
Slammed by falling financial markets, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey, has canceled its signature poetry festival for 2010 and implied the event may not return in its nationally recognized form, the Star-Ledger reports.
According to Dodge Foundation president and CEO David Grant, the poetry program had been spared the kinds of cuts made to the foundation's other grant areas since 2002. But with the foundation's assets having dropped 30 percent over the last year, from $306 million to about $216 million, the board felt it had no choice but to cut expenses. In 2006 the festival cost $1.3 million — approximately 8 percent of the foundation's $16.5 million grants budget — and expenses for last year's event were about the same, Grant said.
Held every other year since 1986, the festival has gained a national following, attracting some 140,000 individuals from across the country over that period, including tens of thousands of high school students and teachers who attended free of charge. In addition to featuring well-known poets such as Pulitzer Prize winners Paul Muldoon and Yusef Komunyakaa and U.S. poet laureates Billy Collins and Rita Dove, the festival has been the subject of five PBS specials.
Grant said the foundation will remain committed to poetry and step up its efforts to archive past festivals.
Still, many in the poetry community were heartbroken by the news. "This would be a tragedy for poetry in the U.S. and the wider world," said Muldoon, a professor at Princeton University. "Thousands of people, young and old, were willing to weather all sorts of storms, literal and metaphorical, to hear the greatest contemporary poets. It's devastating to think that tradition might be lost."
McGlone, Peggy. “N.J. Poetry Festival Organizers Cancel 2010 Event, Future Uncertain.” New Jersey Star-Ledger 1/15/09.