Underwater New York
Time: 12:30 PM
Interview with curator Nicole Haroutunian.
1. Tell us a little bit about your organization.
UNDERWATER NEW YORK is a digital journal of writing, art and music inspired by real-life objects and phenomena found in the waterways of NYC. Artists and storytellers have long drawn inspiration from our cityscape, but underneath the water’s surface is another landscape entirely, ranging from the whimsical (a runaway giraffe, a fleet of ice cream trucks, mysterious white goo) to the historical (the steamship Princess Anne, the remnants of Coney Island’s Dreamland). These objects have been discovered by divers and scientists, detectives and engineers, environmentalists and everyday city-dwellers. UNDERWATER NEW YORK is interested in the stories that these objects evoke, in whatever form the stories take. At our beginning, we were a summer writing project based on an article in New York Magazine; now UNY, edited by Nicki Pombier Berger, Helen Georgas and Nicole Haroutunian, has nearly one hundred contributors and has organized readings, explorations and exhibitions all over New York City.
2. Who is reading in your slot at the Festival and why?
Leah Umansky, Joe Fritsch and Bridget Talone are reading for us at the Festival. They’ll each share the poem they wrote specifically for UNDERWATER NEW YORK. Leah wrote a funny, beautiful poem about runaway breast implants found on the beach in Coney Island. Joe’s poem is about the horse bones that still wash up near where Barren Island once processed horses into glue. Bridget wrote about a little headless Dutch boy ceramic figurine that we plucked from Dead Horse Bay. We wanted to choose writers who had contributed stellar work to the site and yet hadn’t been featured at one of our events.
3. Who else are you looking forward to seeing at the Festival?
Uny contributing poets are all over the Festival and we are excited to see and support them! There is COUPLET curated by Leah Umansky and featuring the incomparable Victoria Redel; we were lucky to know and learn from Victoria at Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program and would take a ferry to hear her read any day. Fireside Follies is another one we’ll camp out at–the series is curated by Mike Lala and both Cate Marvin and Matthew Zingg will be reading. And the Highwaymen NYC has Danniel Schoonebeek and Dolan Morgan!
4. Did you attend the festival last year? If so, what was your favorite thing about it?
No! We missed out last year and are looking forward to rectifying the situation.
5. Why is live poetry important?
Hearing language is different than reading it–live poetry adds another dimension to words on a page. It also helps to broaden the reading audience of poets and to foster community–we met both Joe and Leah at a poetry reading!
Photo by Nate Dorr