Sunday, December 12, 2010

Attention Somerville Poets... The Mass. Poetry Festival....May 13

By Doug Holder

I am excited to be on the Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival to be held this Spring in Salem, Mass. I have spoken several times with the Director Mike Ansara, and have attended meetings with poets from around the state about this exciting event that was previously held in Lowell, Mass. I hope to involve Endicott College, Beverly, Mass. (where I teach writing) in this state-wide venue for the art of poetry. Here is quote from the website for the festival that will provide further details.

"MassPoetry has chosen historic Salem as the location for the third Massachusetts Poetry Festival to be held on May 13 and 14, 2011. A two day festival features poetry readings, slams, workshops, a day of poetry for high school students, and a small press fair highlighting published poets. The event is coordinated by founder Michael Ansara, and by a variety of poetry partners, including Salem State University, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, Destination Salem, local businesses and poetry enthusiasts. The Massachusetts Poetry Outreach Project, also known as MassPoetry, sponsors this flagship event and also coordinates outreach programs to bring poetry into schools and communities across the Commonwealth.

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival will bring a blizzard of verbal beauty to Salem, a city with a rich literary history and vibrant writing community. It will connect generations, and it will give the city and university a leadership role in building culture in the Commonwealth,” said J.D. Scrimgeour, poet and Professor of English at Salem State University. ‘The Poetry Festival is evidence of the vitality of the fundamental, central art of poetry,” said Robert Pinsky, the former Poet Laureate of the U.S. and the Honorary Chair of the Poetry Festival.

Mayor Driscoll declared, “Salem is proud of its own unique literary tradition and offers many exciting venues for such an event. We look forward, with great enthusiasm, to hosting a successful Festival in May, 2011.” Provost Kristin Esterberg from Salem State University also commented, “Salem State has been engaged with the Massachusetts Poetry Festival since its beginning. We’re delighted to continue the tradition which began in Lowell, and we welcome the festival to Salem, another proud literary city in Massachusetts.”

Friday, the first day of the festival, is devoted to high school students and teachers with workshops at Salem State University. Among the featured readers will be Salem State Alumni, poet Tom Sexton, who has published more than 10 books of poetry and has won numerous regional and national awards for his writing. He is the former poet laureate of Alaska, where he spent much of his life since his childhood in Massachusetts. Day two of the festival will be open to the public and will include readings, workshops, performances, poetry and dance, Shakespearean sonnets, and slam poetry. These events will be held across downtown Salem’s cafes, restaurants, historic buildings, churches, museums, and Old Town Hall.

“Given its long literary traditions, Salem, the home of Hawthorne, is an appropriate site for the 2011 Poetry Festival,” Congressman John Tierney said. “Salem State University’s involvement and the Festival’s educational focus for young students will continue to foster creativity and energy across our community.” The festival brought over 1000 poetry lovers to Lowell in 2009, and the May, 2011 festival is expected to be even larger."

I hope folks from Somerville will make the relatively short trek to Salem to participate in this valuable venue for the spoken and written word.

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