Volume 74, Number 25 | Octuber 20 - 26 , 2004

In the main space of the Poets House in Hudson Sq.

Poetry in motion: Spring St. archives to relocate to B.P.C.

By Ronda Kaysen

The Poets House, the largest poetry center and archive of its kind in the United States, is about to get a whole lot bigger. Poets House will soon relocate from its Spring St. digs to a loftier location in Battery Park City.

The nonprofit archive of 45,000 volumes of poetry will occupy a 10,000-sq.-ft. space on the first two floors of what is now Site 16/17, the last undeveloped waterfront site in Battery Park City. It will share the public space with a 12,000-sq.-ft. branch of the New York Public Library and a 4,000-sq.-ft. World Hunger Learning Center, an educational center about hunger.

“This is a dream come true for us,” said Lee Briccetti, executive director of the Poets House. For the past 13 years, the center has leased a 4,600-sq.-ft. space on the second floor of a building on Spring and Crosby Sts. Before that, it had a rent-free space at the High School for the Humanities in Chelsea. The new site is twice as large, permanent and rent-free. Poets House has plans to double the size of its children’s room, which Briccetti describes as “charming.” “We’ve come a long way,” said Briccetti.

Founded in 1985 by Elizabeth Kray and former U.S. Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz — who “is in his 100th year of life and is determined to see this project completed,” said Briccetti — Poets House is one of only five of its kind worldwide. Free and open to the public, the library includes books, journals, chapbooks, audiotapes, videos and electronic media.

Poets House is committed to making poetry accessible to the community, said Briccetti. Its stacks are open to the public and it offers myriad classes, seminars and workshops for adults and children.

The three public amenities will fill the first two floors of a 30-story Polshek Partnership-designed “green” residential tower with more than 300 residential units. With ground yet to be broken on the condo project, no date has been set for Poets House’s relocation. For now, wordsmiths can visit the vast poetry collection at the 72 Spring St. location.

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