Gurney's Inn
May 17, 2006

Seeking Village's Help For Poetry Center

Groups of poets are scattered sporadically across the North and South Forks, meeting at various locales, such as coffee shops or private homes, to share their work and encourage and teach their peers. The local poetry scene has been gaining momentum, but still its members have no formal meeting place they can call their own. Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan is looking to change that.

The Southampton poet has been approaching local officials to help her establish a resource center in town for writers and artists alike. Next Tuesday, Nuzzo-Morgan is expected to make her case before the Southampton Village Board of Trustees. She will be asking them to donate a building and the start-up funds for a Long Island Archival Center.

A proposal has already been submitted to Southampton Town Supervisor Patrick Heaney.

Morgan is the founder and president of The North Sea Poetry Scene and created a 501 (c) (3) for TNSPS six years ago, which makes it eligible for certain grants, "but because we don't have an actual building, a lot of grants don't give start-up costs." She primarily operates the corporation out of her home.

Rather than rent space, she believes a building would be more appropriate to house the multi-functional research center she envisions.

"I think it deserves its own stand-alone building," said Morgan. "And it wouldn't just be a reference library, it would also encompass music as well as art and poetry."

The library would be made up of work by poets who have lived on Long Island, video and audiotapes, photographs of poetry events on the island, as well as essays and articles about Long Island poetry and poets. Morgan would also be able to give a permanent home to the more than 500 books of local poetry she has collected from yard sales, the Internet, used bookstores, donations, and book sales. The facility would have extra space for workshops, art shows and book signings, among other artistry.

If the village could donate a building, Morgan estimates her start up costs for the first year would range between $200,000 and $400,000. Without that donation, rent, she believes, would cost her an additional $100,000 per year.

Morgan imagines the archival center would become a venerable structure on the East End much the way the Walt Whitman Interpretive Center is in West Hills on the North Shore. "We could be like an education center."

Southampton Village officials are also in need of more space for their own archives, which are currently stored in the basement and in vaults on the first floor in village hall. As part of the building's renovation project, the archives will be gradually transferred to the second floor after a state grant is secured.

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