Professional Bio

Stephanie Berger is a poet, experience creator, & entrepreneur. She is the co-founder & CEO of The Poetry Society of New York & co-creator with Nicholas Adamski of The Poetry BrothelThe New York City Poetry Festival, & The Typewriter Project. She is the author of IN THE MADAME’S HAT BOX (Dancing Girl Press, 2011) & co-author with Carina Finn of THE GREY BIRD: THIRTEEN EMOJI POEMS IN TRANSLATION (Coconut Books, 2014). With Jackie Braje, she founded Milk Press, a publisher & nurturer of poetic collaborations. Her work is largely collaborative, interactive, & community-oriented; & it straddles the worlds of literature, immersive theatre, & public art. Stephanie earned a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Southern California, received an M.F.A. in Poetry from the New School, & taught in the English Department at Pace University.  

©  Ty Cole

Selected Online Publications

  • EVERYTHING IS MOVING, BREATHING, SEETHING, AND I, THE ROBOT MOP, ALONE IN THE KITCHEN and CONVERSATION: PAWN'S EYE VIEW in Coconut.

THE GREY BIRD: THIRTEEN EMOJI POEMS IN TRANSLATION

According to Dazed Digital, “‘Emoji poetry’ initially sounds like a post-ironic gimmick, but in the collaborative chapbook The Grey Bird out from Coconut Books in April, poets Finn and Berger have turned their involved ideogrammatical communication into richly unsettling reflections on love, travel, alienation, etc. Balancing the inherently modern with the timelessly lyric, Berger takes the emoji compositions from Finn and translates them into poems, most of which centre around the enigmatic ‘grey bird’.” Read more about the Emoji poems in Poetry MagazineBustleRefinery 29, and Paper Magazine, and buy the book at Coconut Books.

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IN THE MADAME'S HAT BOX

IN THE MADAME’S HAT BOX, published in 2011 by Dancing Girl Press, is a noir, scrappy and surreal portrait of woman in grief. The poems blur the lines between subject and object, reality and representation, between the living and inanimate. Is a shadow animate? Can one fall in love with an absence?

THE POETRY BROTHEL IS AN IMMERSIVE LITERARY CABARET THAT FUSES POETRY, BURLESQUE, LIVE MUSIC, VAUDEVILLE, VISUAL ART, MAGIC, MYSTICISM, AND PRIVATE, ONE-ON-ONE POETRY EXPERIENCES. 

Inspired by the turn-of-the-century brothels in New Orleans, Paris, and Buenos Aires, many of which functioned as permissive spaces where marginalized, fringe, and avant-garde artists could experiment and perform their work, The Poetry Brothel presents a rotating cast of poets, each operating within carefully constructed characters, who share their work through staged public performances, spontaneous immersive eruptions, and, most distinctly, as purveyors of intimate poetic experiences in private spaces. Central to the experience is the creation of character, which for each artist functions as a disguise and freeing device, enabling The Poetry Brothel to be a place of uninhibited creative expression in which poets and audience members alike can communicate more authentically.

In addition to its poets, The Poetry Brothel presents artists and activists working in a variety of mediums both on stage and through its ever-changing array of intimate, interactive, and creative services. Artists performing with the Brothel are male, female, faeries, sea creatures, witches, aliens, POC, straight, queer, emerging, established, local, international, virgins, whores, and everything in between. The Poetry Brothel recognizes that not everyone can take the mask of being a “whore” off at the end of the night and therefore uses its platform to support sex workers and to teach the public that sex work is real work. Sex work and poetry are two of the oldest professions - both feed the human need for intimacy, fantasy, and desire. By entwining these elements into a seamless, immersive experience, The Poetry Brothel promotes empowered sexuality practices and progressive artistic expression by exhibiting radical inclusion, consensual intimacy, conscious communication, and the inherent value of beauty in all its forms. 

Every year on the last weekend in July, The New York City Poetry Festival unites a vast and diverse community of New Yorkers on the idyllic summer paradise of Governors Island.

The festival invites poetry organizations and collectives of all shapes and sizes to bring their unique formats, aesthetics, and personalities to the festival grounds, which are ringed with a collection of beautiful Victorian houses and tucked beneath the wide, green canopies of dozens of century old trees. The purpose of the New York City Poetry Festival is to liberate New York poets and their work from the dark corners of bars, bookstores, and universities. By uniting the largest community of poets in the country and offering a unique setting for literary activity, the New York City Poetry Festival electrifies arts and literature and brings poetry to new light in the public eye. 

“FROM A DISTANCE, THE SMALL, NARROW BOOTH RESEMBLES A CONFESSIONAL.”

-THE NEW YORK TIMES

The Typewriter Project is a series of site-specific installations which invite passersby to join in a communal, poetic exchange that exists in both analog and digital forms.

These typewriter booths are each outfitted with a vintage typewriter, 100-foot long paper scroll, and a custom-built USB Typewriter™ kit, which allows every keystroke to be collected, stored, and posted online for users to read, share, and comment upon. The project is largely inspired by the idea of an Exquisite Corpse, a surrealist writing game in which several authors contribute to one poem. Obviously each entry in The Typewriter Project can be its own distinct lyric, but we hope that users will also be influenced by what was written before them on the scroll. By creating a new and unique form of public dialogue, this project hopes to capture something of the sound, narrative, and nuance of specific corners of the city. The Typewriter Project’s mission is to investigate, document, and preserve the poetic subconscious of the city while providing a fun and interactive means for the public to engage with the written word.

Milk Press

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Launched in 2018, Milk Press merges the poetry and visual art worlds by cultivating and presenting exclusively collaborative works. Milk publishes poems and visual art both in print and online and hosts multi-disciplinary Happenings. Milk projects are fluid, nourishing, embodied; spilt and split-open.

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Brothel Books

Brothel Books was the short-lived publishing arm of The Poetry Brothel. The Poetry Brothel has long been a proponent of bringing poetry to the masses–-exclusively, and with absolute discretion. Likewise, Brothel Books, published the most intimate, most charming, and most crafted works by The Poetry Brothel’s poets across the globe. Below is the list of titles, all of which are still available for purchase.

 

TWO GENIUS HUSBANDS

TWO GENIUS HUSBANDS is a play by Carina Finn that premiered at Dixon Place, edited & produced by Stephanie Berger. A queer & experimental farce, TWO GENIUS HUSBANDS investigates the possibility of genius and the simultaneous impossibility of geniuses. In Two Genius Husbands, Q & Q, a pair of genius husbands, are rewriting Aeschylus’ lost tragedy, Callisto. A queer take on Beckettian theater and Greek tragedy, this is the play that dares to ask: what is the difference between desire and domesticity? What is the difference between a bear and the mother of a bear? The premiere of TWO GENIUS HUSBANDS was directed by Kate Attwell, and starred Ceci Fernandez, Monique Barbee, Molly Bernard, and Mitchell Winter. 

 

YOLO

YOLO was a conceptual photo-poetry book collaboration between Brandon Johnson, Sean Patrick Cain, Carina Finn, and Stephanie Berger on the short-lived #wtfislongsdrugspress. The project investigates the phrase "You Only Live Once" in contrast to its carpe diem contemporary pop usage as an ultra-conventional moment mori literary trope presented in the unconventional literary medium of a photographic series. Featuring an inscribed granite headstone positioned in public locations through the city of New York, it’s Charles Baudelaire x Ed Ruscha. Antediluvian literary motif presented through photo-based conceptualism. Ye Olde Grandfather Literature gone meme. In memoriam. #YOLO

The "book" consisted of a series of 27 5x7" photos in a disposable-style hand-made paper packaging stamped with silver ink and sealed with a wax fleur-de-lis.