I see no reason why you shouldn’t plan a weekend in October around living for the culture. I know many reasons why you should. Trust me. I will leave the arrangements up to you as to where you lay your head at night as it spins with words and images. Just get here. Plan now, it’s going to be here soon!
Because in Newark in October we talk about “on years” and “off years” and what that means, dear reader, is whether North America’s largest poetry festival is in town, because it’s so big they only do it every other year. We look for it like a wonderful comet, but it’s here with us on Earth as we sit and rock back, get washed clean, get wild, get calm, with poetry. And 2018 is an “on year,” with the festival in Newark October 18 through 21. Almost six dozen poets, over four days, people like Elizabeth Alexander, Francisco Aragón, Renée Ashley, Ellen Bass, Jan Beatty, William Brewer,
Jericho Brown, Tina Chang, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Marilyn Chin, Sandra Cisneros, Henri Cole, Aaron Coleman, Kwame Dawes, Safia Elhillo, William Evans, Naomi Extra, Forrest Gander, Ross Gay, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Rigoberto González, Linda Gregerson, Juan Felipe Herrera, Brenda Hillman, David Hinton, Nicole Homer, Marie Howe, Rob Hylton, Joy Ladin, Joseph O. Legaspi, Raymond Luczak, Khaled Mattawa, Peter E. Murphy, Eileen Myles, Marilyn Nelson, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Sharon Olds, Gregory Orr, Alicia Ostriker, Gregory Pardlo, Kevin Pilkington, Khadijah Queen, Nancy Reddy, Alberto Ríos, Mary Ruefle, Christine Salvatore, Sapphire, Nicole Sealey, Ntozake Shange, Danez Smith, David St. John, Krista Tippett, J.C. Todd, BJ Ward, Rachel Wiley, Jenny Xie, David Young. Ntozake Shange, in fact, will be holding a highlight conversation. Amazing!
And there is. So. Much. More. Even earlier in October, the weekend of the 4th through the 7th, Newark’s artists and art galleries will be open all weekend for the Newark arts festival, which has been recently renamed but is still universally referred to by the people as “Open Doors.” I’ve been involved in one way or another since the festival’s founding, and continue to be inspired by how artists created a happening out of thin air and hard work.
The name refers to how artists would open their spaces to the public, visualizing like a constellation the largely invisible-to-non-artists network of old buildings where wonderful things were dreamed up and made to be shown out in a larger world. Spaces like Index Art Center, Project for Empty Space, and Gallery Aferro will have excellent exhibits up, and studio spaces will be open on Sunday. Art and brunch anyone?
Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox are working artists and cofounders of a Newark alternative arts nonprofit. Begun in 2003, Gallery Aferro offers exhibitions featuring local, national and international artists, a wide range of public events, a year-round studio residency program, educational offerings, group tours, a publication line, a gift shop and public art initiatives.