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About Us

The W.B. Yeats Society of N.Y. was founded June 13, 1990, on the poet’s 125th birthday, by Andrew McGowan, who is currently president. It quickly became one of New York’s largest and most ambitious organizations dedicated to the life and work of a particular writer. The Society sponsors an international poetry competition, shares links to other Yeats-related sites, informs Americans about the Yeats International Summer School in Ireland, and assists in establishing other Yeats societies in the U.S.

 

ADVISORY: The COVID 19 situation has caused delays in our programming and communications. What follows is an overview of our activities. Updates and program details will be published as they become available. Your understanding and cooperation are deeply appreciated. 

 

Every fall, the Society announces a series of annual programs through the next spring. Included are:
 

  • The Society’s annual poetry competition, with the first prize of $500, second prize of $250, and honorable mentions, draws some 200 entries.  Past judges include Eamon Grennan, L.S. Asekoff, Campbell McGrath, Billy Collins, Grace Schulman, Paul Muldoon, Marie Ponsot, Alice Quin, Jessica Greenbaum, Bill Zavatzky, and Alfred Korn.  The annual deadline for submissions is February 1st.

  • A kick-off of National Poetry Month at Barnes and Noble Union Square with readings, and presentation of the Society’s poetry awards. 

  • An annual calendar that includes a series of weekday evening programs, usually at the National Arts Club. Past calendars have included joint meetings with the Joyce, Shaw, Shelley, Jung, and Theosophical societies; lectures by biographers  Nancy Cardozo, Roy Foster, Brenda Maddox, and William M. Murphy, critic Helen Vendler, and poet and former U.S. Senator, the late Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota, Democrat presidential candidate in 1968; and “Evenings with” Yeats scholars at which they receive the society’s award for contributions to Yeats studies, now named for its first recipient, the late literary critic, and poet M.L. Rosenthal.
     

  • “A Taste of the Yeats Summer School,” an all-day Saturday event in April or May, often including a Yeats-related video, dramatic presentation, several talks by scholars who have lectured at the summer school, and an evening social that also serves as a reunion of school alumni. Information on the school, which takes place in Sligo, Ireland, in late July and early August. https://www.yeatssociety.com/yeats-summer-school

The Society also sends e-mailings and special website entries to members, and has produced two videos: a 39-minute documentary about Michael Quirke, Sligo woodcarver-storyteller who is an entertaining part of the summer school experience, and a 7-minute music video setting with pictures of the "WB" from infancy to old age set to a song by The Waterboys based on his poem “The Stolen Child.”

For many years, the Society presented a program called "Poet Pass By!" Described as a Yeatsian vaudeville show, it explored the limits of poetic interpretation with film and television clips, song, dance, and dramatic readings. Performers included such notables as Barbara Feldon, Tammy Grimes, Pete Hamill, Jared Harris, Charles Keating, Frank and Malachy McCourt, Paul Muldoon, Milo O’Shea, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. 

The Society has taken a particular interest in John Butler Yeats (b.1839), raconteur, painter, and father of the poet. He lived in New York City from 1908 until he died in 1922.  Besides conducting walking tours of “John Butler Yeats’s New York,” the Society placed a plaque at one of his residences. Another Society favorite is the New York lawyer John Quinn (1870-1924), a patron to W.B. Yeats and his father, as well as numerous other writers and artists.

Our Objectives

 

The W.B. Yeats Society of New York is a literary society with the following objectives:
 

  • To act as an educational forum, primarily through lectures and events, for the exchange of information about William Butler Yeats, his legacy and literary work, and the people, places, events, and ideas that shaped his life and work.

  • To stimulate awareness of and interest in WB Yeats's life and work.

  • To provide information about Yeats events and organizations, particularly the Yeats International Summer School in Ireland and its sponsor, the Sligo-based Yeats Society, and other Yeats societies that, like ours, grew out of the summer school and Sligo society.

Executive Board

The Society is run by volunteers. 

 

Andrew McGowan, President

Dr. Alison Armstrong          

Don Bates, Emeritus Trustee

Dr. John J. Casey       

Erskine Childers                 

Emily Dunlap                   

Kate Gill                    

Helen Glickman                    

Will Linden, Webmaster

Doris Marie Meyer           

Dr. Carolyn McGuire

Dr. Maureen O. Murphy        

Eddie Vega, Digital Spec & Poetry Prize Admin

Our Home

 

William Butler Yeats spoke at, slept at, and visited the National Arts Club a number of times. His father, John Butler Yeats, spoke to its members on at least one occasion and was preparing a talk there when he died.

The National Arts Club is a private club in Gramercy Park, Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in 1898 by Charles DeKay, an art and literary critic of the New York Times, to "stimulate, foster, and promote public interest in the arts and to educate the American people in the fine arts."

Located in the Gramercy Park Historic District, the National Arts Club offers a variety of shows, educational programs, and awards in theater, visual arts, film, literature, and music. Its mansion headquarters was designated a New York City landmark in 1966 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. 

Since 1906, the organization has occupied the Samuel J. Tilden House, a landmark Victorian Gothic Revival brownstone at 15 Gramercy Park, next door to the Players Club, founded in 1888 by the famous actor Edwin Booth as an association of artists and art lovers drawn from stage and screen, the visual arts, music, and literature. 

See Our Past Events