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Poet Galway Kinnell, who died in 2014, speaks during Poets House's 17th Annual Poetry Walk Across The Brooklyn Bridge in June 2012. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Beloved arts facility Poets House suspends operations

NEW YORK — One of the country's leading literary community and educational centers, Poets House, is suspending operations because of "challenges presented" by the coronavirus pandemic.

The nonprofit Manhattan facility, which contains tens of thousands of books and has hosted readings by everyone from W.S. Merwin to Bill Murray, hopes to reopen by the end of 2021. Arts institutions around the country have been forced to close or cut back since the pandemic began.

"The diminishment of emergency funds and a difficult fundraising environment have necessitated this hiatus and a staff layoff" according to a statement on the Poets House web site, "The Board has chosen to act before our limited reserves are depleted so that we can offer staff severance packages and vacation pay."

Many writers expressed shock at the news, including Jessica Jacobs, who tweeted Monday: "Poets House was essential in me coming back to myself as a writer & has introduced me to so many poets I admire, on & off the page. I'll be hoping for the announcement of your reopening soon."

Poets House was cofounded in the mid-1980s by poet Stanley Kunitz and arts administrator Elizabeth Kray.

READ MORE: Why poems can be safe spaces during the pandemic

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