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The City That Never Sleeps
Poems of New York
The City That Never Sleeps
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Shawkat M. Toorawa - Editor
Anne Pierson Wiese - Foreword by
Excelsior Editions
Price: $32.95 
Hardcover - 185 pages
Release Date: April 2015
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5615-7


Summary Read First Chapter image missing

An eclectic collection of poems about New York City.

“New York, the city that never sleeps, contains more light than all the myriad heavens conceived of by its denizens of every possible race, religion, culture, color, and creed combined. All poets are besotted with light: it is the most transformative of all phenomena and we are permanently drunk on it—moon mad, sun blind, star struck.” — from the Foreword by Anne Pierson Wiese

As Shawkat M. Toorawa writes in his preface, “Not every poet loves New York, but each and every one is mesmerized by it.” Indeed, with its protean mix of cultures, languages, natives, transplants, and exiles, New York City seems to exert a special hold over the poetic imagination. The sixty-one poems, extracts of poems, and song lyrics collected here reflect a wide range of responses to New York, both positive and negative, insider and outsider. Arranged in four sections—Morning, Day, Evening, and Night—the collection not only gives the reader the opportunity to experience twenty-four hours in New York through poetry, but also puts poems and poets in conversation, debate, and even occasionally in conflict with one another.

Rather than attempting to be exhaustive or definitive, this volume juxtaposes well-known poets and lyricists such as Maya Angelou, Bob Dylan, Denise Levertov, and Walt Whitman with important and emerging voices such as Valzhyna Mort, Purvi Shah, and Melanie Rehak, as well as poets less frequently included in such anthologies, such as Mahmoud Darwish, Anna Margolin, and Nicanor Parra. The result is a collection of poems that vary in their aesthetics, tone, mood, and subject, and thereby reflect the vexed and manifold nature of their subject—New York, the city that never sleeps.

“Shawkat Toorawa has selected a thrilling chorus of voices, familiar and new, formal and slangy, immigrant and native. A perfect companion for your day or night on the town.” — Robyn Creswell, poetry editor of The Paris Review 

“A strength of this collection is its rich mix of female and male poets, and its wide range of demographic, racial, linguistic, aesthetic, and other multicultural perspectives across a period of time ranging from the late nineteenth century to our own decade. The poems are as various and full of élan as the city itself.” — Lisa Russ Spaar, editor of All That Mighty Heart: London Poems

“There are almost as many anthologies of New York poems as there are skyscrapers, but in terms of sheer reading pleasure The City That Never Sleeps towers over them all.” — Don Share, Editor, Poetry magazine

Shawkat M. Toorawa is Associate Professor of Arabic Literature at Cornell University. He has written, edited, and translated many books, including the collection of Adonis’s poetry A Time Between Ashes and Roses: Poems.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Anne Pierson Wise

Shawkat M. Toorawa

New York
Valzhyna Mort


Awaking in New York
Maya Angelou

Dawn in New York
Claude McKay

New York at Sunrise
Anna Hempstead Branch

Manhattan Dawn (1945)
Donald Justice

From “A Grave for New York”
Adonis (‘Ali Ahmad Sa‘id)

New York (Office and Denunciation)
Federico García Lorca

The morning
James Schuyler

Early Morning in July
Charles Simic

Sunday Morning
Kenneth McClane

West Side Story
Sasha Skenderija

Stephanie Krueger

Sonnet XXXVI
Ted Berrigan

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
Paul Simon

The Lower East Side of Manhattan
Victor Hernández Cruz


From “The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World”
Galway Kinnell

From “As Fate Would Have It”
Mahmoud Darwish

A Step Away from Them
Frank O’Hara

Why I Hate New York
Meredith Shepard

August Walk
Luis Cabalquinto

Made in India, Immigrant Song #3
Purvi Shah

Nicanor Parra

“at the ferocious phenomenon”
e. e. cummings

I Had This Dream/the city of shadows
Shokry Eldaly

David Semanki

Central Park
Robert Lowell

From “Peacocks on Broadway”
Durs Grünbein

Summer Solstice, New York City
Sharon Olds

The Mexican Cabdriver’s Poem for His Wife, Who Has Left Him
Martín Espada


The New Yorkers
Nikki Giovanni

MacDougal Street
Edna St. Vincent Millay

From “Mugging”
Allen Ginsberg

From “New York”
John Hollander

February Evening in New York
Denise Levertov

Body Elite
Anne Pierson Wiese

Tomas Tranströmer

Wiseguy Type
Herman Spector

Latin Music in New York
Jessica Hagedorn

Carl Sandburg

A Rhyme about an Electrical Advertising Sign
Vachel Lindsay

September 1, 1939
W. H. Auden

To Brooklyn Bridge
Hart Crane

123rd Street Rap
Willie Perdomo


When I Heard at the Close at the Close of Day
Walt Whitman

Evening on Fifth Avenue
Anna Margolin

Street Lamps in Early Spring
Gwendolyn Bennett

From “New York American Spell, 2001”
Tom Sleigh

Autobiography: New York
Melanie Rehak

Fay Chiang

Season of Death
Edwin Rolfe

From the Woolworth Tower
Sara Teasdale

From “Twenty-One Love Poems”
Adrienne Rich

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Derek Walcott

Arriving in the City
Franz Wright

City Lyrics
Nathaniel Parker Willis

Maria’s Journey
Alberto O. Cappas

New York at Night
Amy Lowell

From “Desolation Row”
Bob Dylan

To New York
Léopold Sédar Senghor

Juke Box Love Song
Langston Hughes

These Ever Just So Six Million New York Hearts and Dorothy
Robert Clairmont

Further Reading
Biographical Details
Chronology of Poems
Index of First Lines
Index of Titles
Index of Poets

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