Vox Populi

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Joan E. Bauer: Great Art is for Everyone

Papp was a communist, raven-haired, charismatic,
His mission: free Shakespeare for the people. 

He borrowed lights & props, scrounged for costumes. 
Even his wife didn’t know Yussef Papirovsky

began as a tough street kid in Brooklyn. Only after
rabbis opposed his Merchant of Venice, 

did he reveal his past. For Colored Girls, Hair,  
The Normal Heart, A Chorus Line, super-charged

Shakespeare. Meryl Streep, Colleen Dewhurst,
Kevin Kline, George C. Scott, James Earl Jones.

People crowded the Central Park bleachers.
many seeing THEATER for the first time.

Relentless & visionary, beloved & prickly.
Always hustling. He’d die of cancer at 70 

just months after his son died of AIDS.
Even at the end, he was impatient: 

Can’t you see I’m trying to die here. 
What’s the problem? 

Copyright 2023 Joan E. Bauer

Joan E. Bauer is the author of three full-length poetry collections, The Almost Sound of Drowning (Main Street Rag, 2008), The Camera Artist (Turning Point, 2021) and the forthcoming Fig Season (Turning Point, 2023). She divides her time between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

Conceived and founded by Joseph Papp, The Public Theater has been a summer tradition in Central Park for almost 60 years.

7 comments on “Joan E. Bauer: Great Art is for Everyone

  1. jbauer103waolcom
    February 10, 2023

    Thank you so much, as always, Michael
    for your generous support of my work!
    Joan B.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      February 10, 2023

      You’re welcome, Joan. I feel honored to bring your poems to the Vox Populi community.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob Triggs
    February 8, 2023

    Joe Papp was one of the kindest, smartest, funniest people who I have ever known. A true “Mensch.”


    • Vox Populi
      February 8, 2023

      Thanks, Bob. I wish I’d known him. His contribution to American culture is incalculable.


  3. Susan Tyler
    February 8, 2023

    2/8Good Morning Nic–I think you will like this piece about Joseph Papp & Shakespeare in the Park. A very colourfuldescription of a man w/obsessed  w/his plan.xo  love Mom  


  4. Sean Sexton
    February 8, 2023

    She, Joan, is as clear as her subject in this poem and together they combine into a Spring of truth, rare as the watery kind in our thirsty land.


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