Divided into more than 150 blips of performance (poems, prose, and music), the Poetry Project’s New Year’s Day Marathon Reading features a steady parade of local artists, including Eileen Myles, Philip Glass, Daniel Nester, and Patti Smith. A fine alternative to dejectedly mourning the passage of time (with pulsing hangover), this 31-year-old party of a reading encourages communal literary A.D.D.—artists are given about five minutes to read/sing/scream whatever they please. About 10 blocks due south, the Alternative Spoken Word/Performance Extravaganza offers a similar glissando of readings, this one for lesser-known artists with a “greater surprise element,” as the event coordinator puts it. Organizers will enforce the year’s theme, “Total Eclipse,” by turning the lights off on any performer who exceeds the allotted three minutes (a recorded montage of oozy swamp noises accompanies the sudden darkness). Although beer will be served throughout all 10-plus hours of the event, people here seem to be in the mood for fighting, not creating, a hangover. Performers like Guillermo Castro, Janine Avril, Bingo Gazingo, and Edgar Oliver will provide a series of peaceful, bite-size distractions from that deathly first day of the year.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 21, 2004