Poetry News

92nd Street Y Launches Colossal Emma Lazarus Celebration Today

By Harriet Staff
Emma Lazarus

This morning, Tablet draws our attention to a festival celebrating the voices of immigrant poets starting today, the day before Emma Lazarus's 168th birthday. It's an online festival called "The New Colossus," featuring poems and recordings through July 29, which culminates with an August 1 reading at Poets House, "where the Statue of Liberty will be seen looking on." The story begins with some interesting context about Lazarus herself: "When Emma Lazarus wrote 'Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,' she had no idea it would eventually emblazon the Statue of Liberty, and she never found out: Her poem was erected on the figure 16 years after her death." What! From there: 

She only intended for “The New Colossus” to be a fundraising effort for the pedestal of the statue. But it’s more than fitting that the words of the poet and activist were immortalized as an American trope. Lazarus worked tirelessly to make the country a refuge and home to anyone who sought it. And now, her words and work are as relevant as ever.

Launching today—the day before Lazarus’ 168th birthday—the 92nd Street Y in New York City is honoring the poet with an online festival, called “A New Colossus.” The organization will post poems and their recordings daily until July 29. The works curated “explore and challenge the themes and issues that run through ‘The New Colossus,’ ” reads the festival’s press release. Many of the poets featured are immigrants to America, including Hafizah Geter from Nigeria, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo from Mexico, and Jenny Xie from China. The festival will conclude on August 1 with a live reading at the Poets House in downtown Manhattan, where the Statue of Liberty will be seen looking on. 

Read more at Tablet.

Originally Published: July 21st, 2017