Arts & Entertainment

Poetic License (and Leases)

by Mallory Passuite, 02/15/2012

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  • New York has served as home and inspiration to some of the greatest poets of all time. The range spans from Walt Whitman, who declared his first sight of the Brooklyn Bridge, under construction in 1878, "the best, most effective medicine my soul has yet partaken" to the surrealist New York School of poets of the 1960s—including names like Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara, who began writing poetry while employed at The Museum of Modern Art's front desk.

    Many of the former homes, favorite haunts and significant sites of these poets still stand in the City today. Pass by the former residence of 1920s Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes (20 E. 127th St.) and visit the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where his ashes rest beneath an inscription in the foyer floor: "My soul has grown deep like the rivers." Catch a show at Cherry Lane Theatre, New York's longest continuously running Off-Broadway theater, which was founded by Edna St. Vincent Millay. And see the home she moved to in 1923 (75 1/2 Bedford St.), which, at 9 1/2 feet wide, happens to be the City's narrowest building. Read on to find out where you can eat like Allen Ginsberg; hear Taylor Mead, one of the last-living Andy Warhol superstars, read his poetry live; or have a drink where Dylan Thomas had his last.

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