Apr 232017

Poetry is a bouquet, and just as a bouquet of flowers may be filled with colors, shapes, and scents, so to is a poem a blend of words, rhythms, and sounds. This will be evident May 5-7th when the 9th annual Massachusetts Poetry Festival welcomes many of America’s most admired poets to a celebration of Massachusetts’ lively contemporary poetry scene in historic downtown Salem, MA

The Mass Poetry Festival offers nearly 100 poetry readings and workshops, a small press and literary fair, panels, poetry slams, and open-air readings. Panel topics range broadly from The State of Poetry, poetry and gender, poetry and aging, book publishing, and children’s poetry.

Of special note, on Friday, May 5, MPF will host a “Student Day of Poetry” in which 300 high school students from across the Commonwealth study with acclaimed poets and instructors to discover their own unique voice.

Throughout the weekend, you are also invited to absorb the thoughts and expressions of acclaimed poets such as: Pulitzer-prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Louise Glück, Guggenheim fellow Eileen Myles, Kazim Ali, Andrea Cohen, Cornelius Eady and Rough Magic, Ross Gay, Rigoberto González, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Emily Pettit, Tom Sleigh, and Dara Wier.

For a full breakdown of the schedule go to the MPF site.

As example of the diversity:

Friday from 1:15- 2:15pm at Old Town Hall (second floor) 32 Derby Square, a relatively new genre of music known as Post Rock will be combined with poetry and in so doing create “Post Rock Poetry.” Grounded in 1980’s and 90’s indie rock music, it is primarily instrumental, guitar, base, drums, and keyboard, with few lyrics. Typically, post rock pieces are lengthy and may contain, “… repetitive build ups of timbre, dynamics and texture.” (Wikipedia, 9/11/2016.) Because Post Rock seldom has lyrics, it lends itself to the creation of Post Rock Poetry that can explore the quest for a peace, understanding, and rising above hostilities and misfortune. In short, it rings with hope.

Then Friday evening, two of the finest poets writing today— the award-winning Ross Gay and Aimee Nezhukumatathil— will present from 7:30–9 p.m. in the Atrium of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Saturday afternoon will feature a musical performance by Cornelius Eady and his band Rough Magic, blending poetry and music at the Peabody Essex Museum. Headline poets Andrea Cohen, Tom Sleigh, Kazim Ali, and Rigoberto González will read throughout the day at the Peabody Essex Museum, celebrating the diversity and common threads among us all.

Saturday evening will feature award-winning poet and novelist Eileen Myles, 7:30–9 p.m. at The Bridge at 211. After her reading, she will be interviewed by WBUR’s celebrated host Christopher Lydon. Eileen Myles demonstrates the extraordinary possibilities of poetry to reveal the personal and political experiences of American life.


  • Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street
  • Hawthorne Hotel, 18 Washington Square
  • Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square
  • Museum Place Mall, 1 E India Square Mall, New Liberty Charter School, Rooms 1-4 (on second floor)
  • The Bridge at 211 (Universalist Unitarian Church), 211 Bridge St
  • Howling Wolf, 76 Lafayette Street

From the beginning, the goals of Mass Poetry have been to “support poets and poetry in Massachusetts, to build new audiences for poetry, and to make poetry more accessible for those who need it most—often those who have the least access to it.” By bringing it to the streets and venues in Salem Ma, accessible to residents and visitors, the poetic bouquet of words, rhythms, and sounds can be enjoyed by so many more. You are invited to be among them.

Admission is $20, and $7 for students & seniors; an additional $10 service fee is charged for all workshops.

For additional info on The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, contact January Gill O’Neil at january@masspoetry.org.

(Photo courtesy of Creative Salem)

Apr 292016

MPF16+BannerWe understand, you worked on Friday and missed the first day of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. But fear not, ’tis more than one day in length. It will be shared among attendees on Saturday and Sunday of this weekend!

Here are a couple of links you might want to keep handy when you arrive. There is a lot going on, so be prepared to make some choices.

Not only are there many, many speakers. But they are also quite a diverse group.

Another interesting twist on a poetry festival is The Small Press and Literary Fair which takes place outside of the Peabody Essex Museum on Saturday. You will most likely find materials from literary journals, library organizations, university libraries and academic programs. Venues

And just where does this grand festival take place in Salem? Perhaps ask where it is not. Seriously…

  • Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St.
  • Salem Five Community Room, 210 Essex St.
  • Hawthorne Hotel, 18 Washington Square, W.
  • Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square
  • New Liberty Charter School, Museum Place Mall, 1 E. India Square Mall
  • The Bridge at 211, 211 Bridge St.
  • Howling Wolf, 76 Lafayette St.

For a larger version of map go to  www.masspoetry.org/venues-2016.

According to the Festival website “We encourage those who have the means, to add a donation to their button purchase to help us continue to offer the festival experience at a low price.”

It is a worthy cause.

Roger Housden, author and public speaker, has said in an edition of the Huffington Post “Poetry at its best calls forth our deep being. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind; it calls to us, like the wild geese, as Mary Oliver would say, from an open sky. It is a magical art, and always has been — a making of language spells designed to open our eyes, open our doors and welcome us into a bigger world, one of possibilities we may never have dared to dream of.”

But this weekend you may dare dream and experience. Visit Salem and you will hear and see poetry come alive at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

Apr 232016

Poetry in all its forms will be on active display April 29-May 1 as the 8th annual Massachusetts Poetry Festival presents a diverse schedule of events and speakers in various Salem venues.

Among the events will be nearly 100 poetry readings and workshops, a small press and literary fair, panels, poetry slams, visual arts, and open-air performances.

Among the participants will be Sandra Beasley, Martha Collins, Mark Doty, Edward Hirsch, Marie Howe, Ada Limón, Greg Pardlo, David Rivard, Charles Simic, and Ocean Vuong.

The Mass Poetry Festival is so vast that we can’t cover in one blog, so this time out, we thought to shine a light on the poetry activities set for JUST the Peabody Essex Museum. For the complete schedule go to Mass Poetry website.

US & THEM: Poets Read Original Works and New Translations

10:15-11:15 am at Studio 1, Create Space
US & THEM began with a group of translator/writer/poets who met at the Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference in June 2015. This reading features New England poets presenting their original work (US) and work they have translated (THEM) and explores the effects of translation on one’s own writing. Moderated by Todd Portnowitz. Speakers include Sam Bett, Maria Jose Gimenez, Pablo Medina and Lloyd Schwartz.

Writing with a Natural Poet: Workshop for Children & Parents

10:15-11:15 am at Studio 2, Create Space
When children and adults write side-by-side, something magical happens. Maybe it’s because children are natural poets. Their love of word play and sound, their quick observations of the moments we adults have come to recognize as poetry give them an advantage. Children’s authors Burleigh Muten and Jeannine Atkins provide unique, fast-paced writing prompts to spark your creativity. Poets ages 6 and older are welcome with an adult.

Headline Reading: Edward Hirsch

10:15-11:15 am at East India Marine Hall
Hear from a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry.

Panel Discussion: Common Threads

11 am-12:15 pm at Bartlett Gallery
Join Susan Donnelly, Alan Feldman, Danielle Legros Georges, Henry Lyman and Alice Kociemba as they read and discuss the poems published in Common Threads 2016. Moderated by Alice Kociemba.

Mass Poetry Fest 2016Collaborations with Chance: The Art of Dada Poetry

11 am-2 pm in the Atrium
Join multidisciplinary artist Sandra Adams for this drop-in opportunity to learn the art of Dada poetry, a practice that focuses on chance as a means to find profound meaning in the seemingly absurd. Working from a random selection of words cut out from print media, participants assemble phrases or short poems that are bound to surprise and delight.

Writing for Truth and Beauty: Using Your Photos as Poetic Inspiration

11:15 am-noon at Studio 2, Create Space
Whether they’re treasured family snapshots, polished studio portraits or cell phone images, certain pictures arrest our attention and prompt an emotional response we cannot immediately express. Writing poetry from photos allows us to express the truth of what we feel and haven’t said. (This session is full)

Youth Poetry: Publishing and Performance

11:30 am-12:30 pm at Studio 1, Create Space
Books of Hope lead a youth poetry workshop, open mic and feature, as well as a discussion around publishing for youth audiences. Moderated by Erich Haygun and Jayy Dod of Books of Hope, Youth Publishing. Speakers include Michael Jones, Andrinne Pierresaint, Briana Pierrette, Tyler Roze and Jahi Spaloss.

Headline Reading: Marie Howe

11:30 am-12:30 pm |at East India Marine Hall
Marie Howe is an American poet. Her most recent poetry collection is The Kingdom of Ordinary Time. In August 2012 she was named the State Poet for New York.

Group Reading: A Many Sided Reality

1-2 pm at East India Marine Hall
The poetic sequence has become a staple of contemporary poetry from its beginnings in the work of Whitman and Dickinson, Yeats and Eliot, and a great many others. Likewise, the book-length poem has found renewed purchase in the culture. This panel of four prominent poets – Christine Casson, Martha Collins, Steven Cramer and Daniel Tobin – discuss the subject and read from their work in these two important and dynamic sub-genres of the art. Moderated by Daniel Tobin.

Please note that Massachusetts Poetry Festival registration is required for events outside PEM. But, festival badges will be honored as museum admission during the festival.

And as we said at the outset, these are events JUST at Peabody Essex Museum! For more information (admission, reservations, whether full or available, etc.) on these PEM events, please call 978-745-9500. PEM is located at 161 Essex Street in downtown Salem Ma.

Apr 302015

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility. — William Wordsworth

Keep those words in mind as you read, hear, sample, immerse and explore the words of participants to the 7th annual Massachusetts Poetry Festival,  which takes place this weekend, May 1-3, in various venues of downtown Salem.

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival showcases nearly 100 poetry readings and workshops, a small press and literary fair, panels, poetry slams, visual arts, and open-air performances. Panel topics range broadly from the state of poetry, poetry and gender, book publishing, and modernism in contemporary art, to the Common Threads Reading, where contemporary poets with Massachusetts ties discuss their literary connections. More than 150 local and nationally known poets engage with thousands of New Englanders each year.

This year is no different, as among the scheduled are : Rita Dove, Richard Blanco, Stephen Burt, Denise Duhamel, Nick Flynn, Regie Gibson, Jorie Graham, Richard Hoffman, Adrian Matejka, Marge Piercy, and Rachel Wiley.

For a full schedule click here.

Over 1500 friends of poetry attended last year’s festival. As Robert Pinsky, a three time U.S. poet laureate and a College of Arts & Sciences professor of English has stated, poems should be spoken, not just read. The medium is the reader’s voice

Come here to hear the voices.

For more information, go to http://www.masspoetry.org/aboutthefestival/

And as a little extra… The Top Ten “Reasons” to Attend the 2015 Massachusetts Poetry Festival:

10. Richard Blanco and Rita Dove have read to America–now they’ll read to you.

9. There are many festivals, but Mass Poetry stanza lone.

8. A poetry carnival! Step right up, readers and writers!

7. Mass Poetry: Cute as a (festival) button!

6. If it’s not like something else, then what’s metaphor?

5. Poetry Smack Down: Cape Ann vs Cape Cod Poets

4. Giant Scrabble! Mad Libs! Poems about dirt!

3. If you really dig poetry, you’ll like The Golden Shovel.

2. After this winter, you deserve a little beauty.

And the #1 reason to attend the 2015 Massachusetts Poetry Festival…

Because “This is what it sounds like when Dove rhymes.”