Seeing that the Modern Language Association was scheduled to meet in D.C. in December of 1989, Rod Smith seized the opportunity to organize a literary event featuring visiting writers. Hosted by Bick's Books in Adams Morgan, the evening showcased readings of poetry by Charles Bernstein, Bob Perelman and me, followed by a critical paper read by Marjorie Perloff. Thus began a new tradition, growing into an annual reading held away from the MLA hotel and typically presenting more than fifty local and visiting poets. You can hear a recording of that 1989 reading at the Penn Sound site, here. And you can hear this reading by visiting this URL.
This year the MLA recognized that twenty years of marathon poetics with an on-site mini-version reuniting all the poets from that first event, along with poets who have organized some of the readings and poets who have appeared in them. Readers for this occasion included Elizabeth Willis, Tyrone Williams, Rodrigo Toscano, Rod Smith, Evie Shockley, Jennifer Scappetone, Bob Perelman, Laura Moriarty, Patrick Durgin and Charles Bernstein.