The bi-annual Dodge Poetry Festival started in 1986 thanks to funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. The first festival drew less than 5,000 people. As word spread that number grew to about 20,000.
The biggest names in poetry took part: Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Robert Bly, Lucille Clifton, Jorie Graham, Coleman Barks and Gwendolyn Brooks, just to name a few.
Just like any good party, there was food, music and great conversation. Poetry fans got the inside scoop on what it’s like to create poems, how to read poetry and the lives of poets from the poets themselves.
There were numerous venues where poetry lovers could share their own poems, take workshops or listen to music throughout the day.
But the highlight of each day happened in the main tent—a tent that could accommodate 2,000 people. Under its big top, the most amazing, logic-defying feats were pulled off.
Only in this tent would it make sense for the ultimate hip hop group The Roots to be the warm-up act for a 96-year-old man who had no props, but the podium and his cane.
In the winter of 2009, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation cut funding for the festival. It was also reported that Haba resigned.