Bob Holman’s poetry has traversed genres, styles and media since the 1970’s, when he began directing Poets Theater productions by Mayakovsky, Artaud, O'Hara and others at St. Marks Church.

It was also at St. Mark's where Holman began his career as an arts administrator, serving at the Poetry Project as Coordinator, host, and workshop leader for six years, 1978-84. The first of Holman’s sixteen poetry collections, Tear To Open, was published by Power Mad Press in 1979. In 1985, Holman served as the host of “Lines,” a radio series for the Detroit Institute for the Arts. While serving as co-director of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe from 1988-96, Holman continued to explore the intersection of poetry and performance, originating and hosting the Cafe’s historic Poetry Slam series. Through Holman’s involvement at the Nuyorican, he became an instrumental figure in the popularization of performance poetry movements around the world. He won a Bessie (Off-Broadway) Award for Performance Excellence in 1992 for his work at the Nuyorican, and in 1993, the Cafe presented Holman with its Legends Award.

In 1993, Holman became a professor of writing at The New School For Social Research, where he taught "Exploding Text: Poetry Performance" for three years. That year, and again in 2001, Holman was a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow.

Holman co-edited Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, an anthology of Nuyorican poetry which received the 1994 Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award. In his June, 1995 New Yorker profile, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. described Holman as “The postmodern promoter who has done more to bring poetry to cafes and bars than anyone since Ferlinghetti.”

At the forefront of the intersection of poetry and film, Holman’s work in television began in 1987 when he became producer and host of WNYC-TV’s short film series “Poetry Spots.” Over six seasons, Holman produced fifty-five “Poetry Spots,” and won Emmy Awards for Local Arts Programming and Editing in 1988 and 1992. From 1990-92, Holman produced and performed in “Words in Your Face” for PBS, and appeared in MTV’s “Spoken Word Unplugged” and “Smokin Word.”

In 1995 Holman pushed poetry further beyond the page when he founded the world’s first spoken word poetry record label, Mouth Almighty/Mercury Records, where he served as Vice President of Artistic Development until 1999. To ensure a permanent home for the arts in Lower Manhattan, in 1995 Holman founded Bowery Arts and Science, the non-profit arts organization where he served as Executive Director until 2005, and currently serves as Artistic Director.

As creator and producer of the award winning, five-part PBS television series “The United States of Poetry,” Holman released his first long-form intersectional work in 1996. Featured at the Sundance and San Francisco Film Festivals, “USOP” won the 1996 International Public Television Award (INPUT). Holman’s poetry films have won awards at Berlin’s Zebra International Poetry Film Festival in 2002, 2004, and 2010. His experience melding poetry and media informed his professorship at Bard College, where from 1998 to 2002, he served as Visiting Professor of Writing and Integrated Arts. From 2007 to 2010, Holman was Visiting Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and he is currently on leave from the Columbia University School of the Arts.

In 2001, Holman founded the Bowery Poetry Club, which continues to play host to much of the programming from Bowery Arts and Science. For his decades of work in service to the arts community in New York and beyond, Holman has received numerous community awards, including the Poets & Writers Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award in 2003, NYU’s Community Citizen of the Year award in 2005, the Elizabeth Kray Poetry award from Poets House in 2006, Zebra Film Festival’s “Founder of Poetry Video” award in 2010, the 2011 Hearing Our Voices Award from Voices Unbroken Incarcerated Youth Program, the 2011 Villager Award from Greenwich Village Historical Preservation Society, and the 2012 Urban Word Champion Award.

Holman began his current work with the poetry of endangered languages while tracing the lineage of performance poetry to its root in orality and the world’s oral traditions—particularly those of West African griots—a quest captured in the 2010 LinkTV documentary film, “On the Road with Bob Holman.” While traveling from West Africa to Israel and the West Bank for “On the Road,” Holman became dedicated to protecting and preserving the world’s endangered languages. In 2010, he co-founded the Endangered Language Alliance, where he currently serves as co-director.

West African oral traditions play an influential role in Holman’s recent poetic work. Holman explored the griot tradition of praise poetry in his artistic collaboration with photographer Chuck Close in their 2006 publication, A Couple Ways of Doing Something, where Holman’s praise poems serve as concrete analogues to Close’s daguerreotype portraits. Sing This One Back To Me, Holman’s 2013 collection from Coffee House Press, builds on Holman’s transcription of poems sung to him by his friend and mentor, West African griot Papa Susso. Holman’s forthcoming collection, Unspoken, to be published in 2015 by Coffee House Press, also contains a section of praise poems in the oral tradition.

While the New York arts community, to which much of Holman’s career has been devoted, remains a primary focus of his, Holman now shifts his lens to the global community of language. “Language Matters with Bob Holman,” a documentary exploring the endangered language crisis, will air nationally on PBS in January, 2015. Filmed around the world, “Language Matters” takes viewers to a remote island off the Australian coast, where four hundred Aboriginal people speak ten distinct indigenous languages, all at risk; to Wales, where Welsh, once endangered, has recovered; and to Hawaii, where Hawaiians are fighting to save their native tongue.

Employment

· 2015: Host, “Word Up! Language Matters,” PBS Special (in production, David Grubin Productions)
· 2010- Co-Director, Endangered Language Alliance
· 2010: Artistic Director, POEMobile: “A White Wing Brushing the Building,” poetry projections, Rockefeller Foundation
· 2010: Host, “On the Road w/ Bob Holman” 3-part series, LinkTV
· 2009: Core Executive Committee, Idea City, New Museum
· 2008- Host/MC, Music Under New York Auditions for subway performers, Grand
 Central station
· 2008- Chief Curator, “Khonsay: Poem of Many Tongues"
· 2007-10: Visiting Professor, NYU, Art and Public Policy, Tisch School of Arts
· 2006- : Originating and touring cast member, Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell
· 2005-7 : Artistic Director, Study Abroad on the Bowery
· 2004-5: Poet-in Residence, WNYC, New York Public radio
· 2003- : Visiting Professor of Writing, Columbia University School of the Arts
· 2002: Artistic Director, Bowery Arts & Science
· 2001- : Proprietor, Bowery Poetry Club
· 1998-2002: Visiting Professor of Writing and Integrated Arts, Bard College
· 1998-9: Poetry commentator, “Anthem,” NPR
· 1998-9: Spoken Word Director, Cductive Interactive
· 1997-06: Chief Curator, the Peoples Poetry Gathering
· 1995-10: Executive Director, Bowery Arts & Science, Ltd (formerly Washington Square Arts)
· 1995-9: Founder/Vice-President, Artist Development, Mouth Almighty/Mercury Records
· 1995- : Guide, poetry.About.com
· 1995-6: On-line Host for Spoken Word site, iGuide Internet Server
· 1995-6: Curator/Host “Off the Beat’n Path” poetry series, Whitney Museum
· 1993-9: Organizer/Host, “rAP mEETS pOETRY” at Fez, S.O.B’s, Knitting Factory
· 1993-6: Professor of Writing, The New School for Social Research
· 1993-6 Executive/Artistic Director, Nuyorican Poets Cafe Live! Touring Company
· 1993: Curator, “The Melting Point of Ice” poetry series, The Whitney Museum
· 1992-6: Creator/Producer, “The United States of Poetry,” 5-part series, PBS
· 1990-2: Producer/performer, “Smokin Word,” “Words in Your Face,” “Spoken Word Unplugged,” other poetry videos for PBS and MTV
· 1990-1: Organizer and Host, “Public Poetry,” Joseph Papp Public Theatre
· 1988-96: Co-Director, Poetry Slam Host, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
· 1988-9: Organizer and Co-Host, “Poets in the Bars: A Celebration of the Oral Tradition”
· 1987-95: Producer/Host of “Poetry Spots,” WNYC-TV
· 1987: Organizer, “US Poets Invade Nicaragua” Tour (Ginsberg, Cardenal, et al)
· 1986-8: Poet, Poetry/Video Learning Project, NYC Board of Ed Anti-Dropout Program
· 1985: Host, “Lines” Radio Series, Detroit Institute for the Arts
· 1978-84: Coordinator/Host/Workshop Leader, Poetry Project at St. Marks Church
· 1977-80: Poet, CETA Artist Project
· 1977-80: Founding Editor, NYC Poetry Calendar
· 1974- : Director, Poets Theater, NYC

 

Books Written/Edited

Sing This One Back To Me, Coffee House Press, 2013
Crossing State Lines: An American Renga, co-edited, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011
Picasso in Barcelona, Paper Kite Press, 2011
BOX, a performance book, Purgatory Pie Press, 2009
A Couple of Ways of Doing Something, a collaboration with Chuck Close, Art of this Century/Pace Editions, 2003. Aperture, 2006.
The Book of Sana’a : Poetry of Abd Al-aziz Al-maqalih, co-translated, Yemen Translation Series, Number 4, 2006
Carved Water, poems by Zhang Er, translated Holman, Tinfish, 2003
Beach Simplifies Horizon, drawings by Bob Moskowitz,The Grenfell Press: NY, 1998
The United States of Poetry, an anthology co-edited and with an Introduction by, accompanying the Public Television series, Abrams: NY, March, 1996
Bob Holman’s The Collect Call of the Wild: poems, Henry Holt: NY, 1995
ALOUD! Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, an anthology co-edited by, Henry Holt:NY, 1994
Cupid’s Cashbox, poems, drawings by Elizabeth Murray, Jordan Davies: NY, 1990
PANIC*DJ: Performance Text, VRI Theater Library: Imperial Beach, CA, 1987; 2nd edition, University Arts Resources:NYC, 1990
SWEAT&SEX&POLITICS!, Peeka Boo Press: Teaticket, MA, 1986
8 Chinese Poems, Peeka Boo Press: Teaticket, MA, 1981
Tear To Open, Power Mad Press: NY, 1979
The Rainbow Raises Its Shoulder/When A Flower Grows, Chinatown Planning Council: NY, 1979
Bicentennial Suicide, a novel to be performed, Frontward Books: NY, 1976

Anthologies (Selected List)

Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992, NYU Press, 2009
Intro to:Bullets & Butterflies: queer spoken word poetry: ed. Emmanuel Xavier, Suspect Thought, 2005
Spoken Word Revolution ed. Eleveld & Smith, Sourcebooks, 2003
Bum Rush the Page ed. Medina Rivera, MTV/Penguin,2002
Short Fuse: Global Anthology ed. Swift & Norton, Rattapallax, 2002
Poetry Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance, ed. Glazner, Manic D, 2000
Intro to: Poetry Nation: North American Anthology of Fusion Poetry ed: Cabico & Swift, Vehicule: 1999
Thus Spake the Corpse: Exquisite Corpse Reader, ed. Codrescu, Black Sparrow, 1999
American Poets Say Good-bye to the 20th Century, ed. Codrescu, 4 Walls 8 Windows: NY, 1996
Intro to: Song of the Siren: Dana Bryant (Boulevard ), 1995
Out of This World, ed. Anne Waldman, Crown:NY, 1990
Up Late: American Poetry Since 1970, ed. Andrei Codrescu, 4 Walls 8 Windows: NY, 1988,1991

 

Writing Workshops (selected list)

Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne 2013
Calgary Spoken Word Festival, 2013
Edmonton Poetry Festival, 2012
Stony Brook Writing Program, Turkana Basin, Kenya, 2012
USC, “Page Meets Stage,” w/ Karamo Susso, 2012
International Iowa Writers Program, Nepal, UAE, 2011
US Poets in Mexico, Merida, 2009
Center for Creative Arts, Santa Fe, 2007
Warsaw, Poland: New Poetry 2004
Literaturhaus/Writers Room, Hamburg, 1997
University of Kentucky, 1996
Arizona State University, 1996
Gathering of the Tribes, “The Stoop,” 1990-96
Banff Centre for the Arts, 1994, 2000, 2008, 20010
Bennington July Program, 1993-5
The Loft/Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1993
Rochester Institute of Technology, 1992
Naropa Institute, Summer, 1991, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2012
Cleveland Art Institute, 1991,1994
Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1990
Intersection for the Arts (San Francisco), 1989

 

Video/Film (Selected List)

Language Matters with Bob Holman, Grubin Productions, PBS, 2015
DeAf Jam, documentary of ASL Poetry, Judy Lieff, Direcor, 2012
On the Road: three documentaries on Endangered Languages, LinkTV 2011
On the Griot Trail, host, Rattapallax Films 2008
Ginsberg’s Karma, host/performer/poet, Rattapallax Films, trailer
The World of Poetry: Poetries of Endangered Languages media project, creator/host, in production
We Are the Dinosaur, performer, Shoot the Poem PoVideo Festival, directed by Charles Dennis 2005
Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam, performer, HBO, 2004
Whatever I Was Thinking Of, Lower East Side Short Film Festival selection, 2003
Slam, Poetry slam host, Sundance award-winning film, major release, directed by Marc Levin, 1998
The United States of Poetry, 5-part PBS series, creator/producer, 1996
Word Up!, performer, three spots for “Much Music,” Canadian MTV, 1994
Spoken Word Unplugged, performer/consultant, MTV, 1993
Words in Your Face, producer/performer, “Alive from Off Center,” PBS, 1991
Smokin’ Word, MTV spoken word pilot, producer/performer, 1990
Panic*DJ! Bob Holman Live at the Club LaMama, full-length feature, 5/4 Video, 1990
We Interrupt This Program, “Poetry Spots,” WNYC-TV, New York, 1988

 

Audio (Selected List)

"Twll tyllu" ("Digging Hole"), on Bethel CD, Gai Toms, 2012
The Awesome Whatever, CD, produced by Vito Ricci, Bowery Records, 2007
WNYC Radio “Poet Laureate,” 2004-5
In with the Out Crowd, solo CD, produced by Hal Willner, Mouth Almighty Records, 1998
Poetry in Motion II, Performer, Voyager CD-ROM, 1996
Flippin the Script: Rap Meets Poetry, Performer/Host, Mouth Almighty/Mercury, 1996
Poemfone: New Word Order, Performer, Tomato Records, 1996
Wild Words, Performer, Cups Records, 1995
Word Up, Performer, Virgin EMI Records, 1995
Grand Slam: Best of the San Francisco National Slam, Producer, NuYo Records, 1994
Nuyorican Symphony: A Spoken Word Compilation, Producer/Performer, Knitting Factory Rec's, 1994
"1990," on Knitting Factory IV, A & M Records, NYC, 1990
“Mouth Almighty: The Poets Label,” “Fresh Air,” 1997
"Dark Star Crew at BAM," National Public Radio, "All Things Considered," Sept. 2, 1990
"Poets in the Bars," National Public Radio, "All Things Considered," 4/29/89
"Bob Holman, the Plain White Rapper," National Public Radio "Morning Edition," 2/7/89
"Rap It Up" on Sugar, Alcohol, and Meat, Giorno’s Dial-A-Poet, 1980
"An Oral History of the Poetry Project," recorded in 1979, unreleased

Theater Direction (Selected List)

The Cause of Gravity/The Whore of the Alpines/Bicentennial Suicide by Bob Rosenthal & Bob Holman, St. Marks Church, Woods Hole Theater Festival et al
The Gas Heart by Tristan Tzara and Jet of Blood by Antonin Artaud, St. Marks Church/ Ward-Nasse Gallery (NYC)
UBU Roi, Ubu Chained Up, Various Ubi, sets/costumes: Jeff Way. St Mark’s, La MaMa
Mayakovsky, A Tragedy, Vladimir Mayakovsky, St. Marks
Clear the Range, from Ted Berrigan’s novel, adapted Rosenthal/Holman St. Clement’s
4 Plays by Edwin Denby, sets Elizabeth Murray, costumes Judith Shea, Eye & Ear
The White Snake by Ed Friedman sets Robert Kushner, Eye & Ear Theater
Paid on Both Sides by W.H. Auden, sets David Hockney, Eye and Ear Theater
EAT ROCKS by Pedro Pietri, New Dramatists NYC
She Is in Tangiers: Life and Work of Jane Bowles by Millicent Dillon, St. Marks
Stop At Nothing, D. Zhonzinsky, The Kitchen
Girls on the Run, John Ashbery (adapted/directed), Bard College
SemiCento, commissioned by the Grakfurt Book Fair on its 50th Anniversarey
SUDDEN EKPHRASIS!: The Poetry of Robert Kelly, (adapted/directed), Bard College
A Night at the Rebel Café by Ed Sanders, Bowery Poetry Club
Sunjata!, The Kitchen

Education

Columbia College, AB, English, 1970 (Studied with Kenneth Koch, Eric Bentley, Michael Goldman, Michael Wood)

St. Marks Poetry Project, 1974-78 (Studied with Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, Bernadette Mayer)

 

Awards (Selected List)

Urban Word Champions Award, 2012
Villager Award, Greenwich Village Historical Preservation Society, 2011
Hearing Our Voices Award, Voices Unbroken Incarcerated Youth Program 2011
Zebra Film Festival, “Founder of Poetry Video” Presentation, 2010
Elizabeth Kray Poetry Award from Poets House, 2006
NYU “Community Citizen of the Year,” 2005
Greenwich Village Historical Society, Preservation Award for Bowery Poetry Club, 2004
Zebra Poetry Film Festival, US selection, 2004
New York Public Library Minerva Award, 2003
Downtown Short Film Festival, selected screening, 2003
Poets & Writers Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, 2003
Zebra First International Poetry Film Festival, “Bob Holman Special,” Berlin, 2002
National Arts Award, Anderson Ranch, 2002
Curbstone Press, “Honored Poet Award,” 2000
National Poetry Slam Championship, Mouth Almighty Team coach, 1997-98
XXth Biennales Internationales de Poesie, Liege, 1996
Input (International Public Television Award), 1996
Sundance Film Festival, 1996
San Francisco Film Festival, 1995
Before Columbus American Book Award, 1994
New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow, 1993, 2001
Legend Award, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 1993
Bessie Award, Performance Excellence, 1992
Emmy for Local Programming, “Poetry Spots II,” 1992
Input (International Public Television) 1992
Chicago Poetry Video Festival, Featured Artist, 1992, 1995
Emmys for Local Arts Programming and Editing, “Poetry Spots,” 1988

Boards and Panels

Big Vision, Empty Wallet, Advisory 2011-
CUNY Poetics Nationa Board 2010-
City Lore, 2009-
Opium Magazine, 2008-
Ugly Duckling Press, Advisory, 2006-
HOWL! Festival, 2005-
Federation of East Village Artists, Board of Directors, 2005-08
National Poetry Series Panel, 2004
National Book Award, Poetry Panel, 2002
Yaddo, 2001-ongoing
Cave Canem, Advisory, since 1999
Atlantic Center for the Arts, National Council, since 1998
Youth Speaks, since 1998
Poets House, Board of Directors, 1997-2000
A Gathering of the Tribes, 1994-2000
New York State Council on the Arts Literary Panel, 1996-1999, 2007-8
New York Foundation for the Arts Literature Panel, 1992
Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Inc., 1989-1996
St. Marks Poetry Project, 1980-84