Monday, March 30, 2015

Boston National Poetry Month Festival, 2015 April 9 -12 (Boston Public Library & Fisher College)

By Kirk Etherton   

Denise Provost/Somerville Poet/State Legislator

Somerville is home to so many fine writers, chances are good you may be one them. Even if you aren't on the "official program," perhaps you'll recite a poem at the Open Mic.

The Festival is celebrating its 15th year; 2015 promises to be more diverse and exciting than ever. It begins Thursday evening with a program of Poetry, Music & Dance (produced by Somerville resident & Berklee prof. Lucy Holstedt). Participants include various members of the Berklee community, and electric bassist Ethan Mackler.

Friday afternoon features 13 great "Keynote Poets." Included are Somerville resident & Pulitzer Prize winner Lloyd Schwartz, David Ferry (National Book Award), Kathleen Spivack, Charles Coe, and Diana Der-Hovanessian (recipient of the Barcelona Peace Prize—plus countless other accolades).

Friday evening, it's the Festival's first "High School Slam Poetry Competition." Six teams will compete. The event is hosted by well-known slam poetry organizer "Mr. Hip"; teams represent schools from Brookline, various areas of Boston, plus the North Shore.

I should mention that poet Harris Gardner—who co-founded this annual event— resides here in Somerville. Denise Provost, one of the fine "Featured Poets" on Saturday, lives here as well; of course, she is also a highly regarded State Representative. On Sunday, you won't want to miss award-winning poet Ifeanyi Menkiti (Somerville resident and owner of the world-famous Grolier Poetry Book Shop).

Somerville's Doug Holder, who kindly suggested I write this week's column, is another exceptional poet you'll want to hear on Sunday. Doug's neighbor Bert Stern, a profoundly talented writer, is reading Sunday as well.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that I, too, am a "Somervillen"! (I'll be hosting some events, and also performing.)

NOTE: this is a FREE event, and all are welcome. One reason it's free is the generosity of various excellent area businesses. In Somerville, many thanks to The Norton Group (real estate), Master Printing & Signs, Blue Cloud Gallery, and Sweet Ginger Thai Cuisine. Thanks also to Union Square's fantastic Market Basket, for helping with publicity.

In what I call "Greater Somerville," which includes Cambridge and Boston, special thanks also to Harvard Book Store, boloco, and the Middle East & ZuZu Restaurants and Nightclubs.

I can't begin to mention everything and everyone this Festival has to offer (a panel discussion on "Craft & Publishing," a reading by Boston's new Poet Laureate, book tables, etc.), so you should really check out the Festival's website.

It's easy to learn more—including how to sign up for the Open Mic I mentioned at the beginning, plus where and when everything is taking place. Go to:

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