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Unterberg Poetry Center

When Dr. William Kolodney founded the Poetry Center of 92nd Street Y in 1939, he did so in order "to give poetry 'a local habitation and a name,' to make it belong, to give it a body, to humanize it..."

92Y has been a home to poets and every other kind of literary writer ever since. The Unterberg Poetry Center has provided a showcase for established and emerging talent, a platform for literary retrospectives and a testing ground for works-in-progress. As with 92nd Street Y, the development of the Poetry Center has been organic, growing out of Dr. Kolodney's founding vision while adapting to the emerging needs of the literary community.

From its first season of eight readings, the Poetry Center has expanded to include a reading series of approximately 30 events each year, most of which are held in 92Y's 904-seat Kaufmann Concert Hall. In a separate lecture series, Books and Bagels, talks by leading biographers, critics, editors and translators are followed by a light brunch and informal conversation, and our writing program encourages writers to develop their talent and readers to deepen their appreciation of literature. Over the years, two outreach programs have been developed to make the Poetry Center readings accessible to New York City public high school students and to adult literacy students from the neighboring Union Settlement Association. The annual Discovery/Boston Review poetry contest gives new voices a chance to be heard, with publication in the Boston Review magazine and a reading at the Poetry Center.

The Poetry Center has a long history of presenting interdisciplinary events and, in particular, has been a platform for verse drama, such as the 1949 Poets' Theater presentation of Jean Genet's The Servant Girls, Dylan Thomas leading the cast of the 1953 world-premiere reading of his Under Milk Wood and the reading of poet Paul Schmidt's translation of Euripides' Medea in 2000.

The Poetry Center's reading series is one of the oldest and most revered in the country and regularly attracts the most distinguished writers of our time. The Center has presented such major modern poets as W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens and Dylan Thomas. Other Poetry Center guests have included Margaret Atwood, Saul Bellow, Joseph Brodsky, Anthony Burgess, Umberto Eco, Ralph Ellison, John Fowles, Seamus Heaney, Eugéne Ionesco, David Mamet, Arthur Miller, Octavio Paz, Harold Pinter, Philip Roth, Susan Sontag, Sir Tom Stoppard, John Updike and Tennessee Williams.

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Thanks to a generous gift from the Greenwood Family, the Poetry Center is named in honor of Bella Unterberg, one of 92nd Street Y’s founders. Thanks to a generous gift from the Amber Walker Estate in memory of Christopher Lightfoot Walker, the Poetry Center’s Schools Project has been renamed the 92Y Christopher Lightfoot Walker Literature Project.

The Unterberg Poetry Center receives public funds from the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development and the New York City Council; the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Generous support has been provided by Amber Walker in memory of Christopher Lightfoot Walker; Eva Colin Usdan and John Usdan; The Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. & Erna D. Leir; Helen S. Rubinstein; Joan L. and Dr. Julius H. Jacobson, II; Estate of James and Alice Greenwood; the Rose M. Badgeley Residuary Charitable Trust; The Hite Foundation; Random House, Inc.; John E. Greenwood; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; the Sidney E. Frank Foundation; Dorothy and Sidney Singer Fund; Jeffrey and Felecia Weiss; the Axe-Houghton Foundation; The Moses L. Parshelsky Foundation; Helen and David Jaffe; Ruth Schlesinger; the Bydale Foundation; the Doris U. Powell Memorial Fund; and Poets & Writers, Inc., among others, particularly our season Patrons Program members.

The generous support of Patrons Program members enables us to continue our calendar of literary events, writing program classes and special community programs, such as the Schools Project — which connects students from public high schools with visiting authors — and the Union Settlement Adult-Literacy Outreach Project.

Benefits include preferential seating at all Reading Series events and invitations to exclusive events with select artists. Memberships are available at the following levels:

SUBSCRIBER – $350:

  • One reserved seat for 15 Main Reading Series events of your choice
  • Invitations to private receptions and exhibition openings
  • Premium access to digital content

PATRON – $1,000 ($450 tax-deductible):

  • Two reserved seats, upon request, for all Main Reading Series events
  • Two complimentary tickets to a Books & Bagels event of your choice
  • One discounted $15 companion ticket (subject to availability) to all Main Reading Series events
  • An autographed book by one of the Poetry Center's 2015/16 authors
  • Invitations to private receptions and exhibition openings
  • Acknowledgment in all Poetry Center printed programs
  • Six complimentary tickets to 92Y Concerts of your choice: see 92Y.org/Concerts for listings

SPONSOR – $2,500 ($1,685 tax-deductible) – all of the above benefits, plus:

  • A subscription for two to the Books & Bagels series

CORNERSTONE – $5,000 ($4,125 tax-deductible) – all of the above benefits, plus:

  • Privileged underwriting for your choice of a 2015/16 Poetry Center program in Buttenwieser Hall*
  • Invitations to select rehearsals of dramatic readings
  • Additional complimentary tickets to 92Y Concerts (subject to availability)

LAUREATE – $10,000 ($6,550 tax-deductible) – all of the above benefits, plus:

  • Privileged underwriting for your choice of a 2015/16 Poetry Center program in Kaufmann Concert Hall*

MUSE – $15,000 ($11,315 tax-deductible) – all of the above benefits, plus:

  • Exclusive underwriting for your choice of a 2015/16 Poetry Center program*
  • Opportunities to meet with select authors

For more information about our Patrons Program, please contact the Poetry Center at 212.415.5760 or email.

*Underwriting privileges at the Cornerstone, Laureate and Muse Levels are limited to one event.