The Network for New York School Studies

In 1976, New York School poet Bernadette Mayer urged her students: ‘change the language, and don’t ever get famous’.

Through intervening decades, New York School poetry has both changed the language and got famous, bringing an increasingly diverse public to a state of ‘happy awareness’ (Koch) of the open, democratic, interdisciplinary forms and styles of this multi-generational avant-garde.

To date, however, although research on New York School poetry is growing and numerous contemporary poets identify as members of the School, there is no identifiable network through which researchers and creative practitioners can connect and collaborate.

This project therefore inaugurates the Network for New York School Studies, formalising for the first time an intellectual and creative global union of academics, poets, and other cultural practitioners including curators, artists, and musicians.


Through a series of interactive, accessible, intersectional public events, including symposia, workshops, and performances, and via our new website, the Network will enable novel interactions between academics, creative practitioners, cultural organizations, and members of the public, as well as facilitating the free exchange of ideas across national borders, disciplinary boundaries, and cultural sectors. In so doing, the Network will support the development of innovative critical and creative projects, the breaking down of barriers between academia and other artforms, and the transfer of scholarly and creative outputs to audiences not usually effectively reached by academic research.

The ‘New York School’ of poetry coalesced in the 1950s, when founding members Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, James Schuyler, Barbara Guest, and Kenneth Koch discovered that they shared several key values, including a desire to avoid high seriousness in their poetry; an interest in blurring the lines between poetry and artforms such as dance, painting, and cinema; a belief in the value of collaboration; and a love for the city that brought them together.

As subsequent generations of New York School poets have followed them, a distinctive critical ethos has been cultivated around the School. In response to their aesthetics and politics, scholars of New York School poetry tend to orient their writing around four main tenets:

  1. a belief in the importance of sociability and collaboration to the production of creative work;
  2. an attentiveness to the environment out of which poetry emerges;
  3. an understanding that socially-situated poetry offers crucial sites of resistance;
  4. an advocacy of poetry as a non-hierarchical public activity that has the potential to build communities. 

Using the ethos of the School poets as its model, the Network for New York School Studies will advocate for, support, and emphasize the value of community-based public poetry initiatives by collaborating with grassroots poetry organizations, such as Poets & Critics in Paris and the Poetry Project in New York.

We aim not only to showcase and engage with the best contemporary poets whose work has been shaped by the New York School, but also to promote conversations between communities, cultures, and individuals, to create inspiring experiences, and to emphasize and demonstrate that innovative scholarship and creative practice is not the preserve of elite institutions, but, rather, an ongoing and evolving public process of discussion, exploration, and sharing of ideas, knowledge, and ways of knowing, learning, and understanding the value of culture. 


Network Founders

Principal Investigator:

The Network for New York School Studies is a cross-disciplinary project funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Networking Grant.

Logo of the UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council