Getting to Know: Li-Young Lee

The Peabody Institute Library will be hosting a six week lecture series called “Get to know the Festival Poets!” which will run March 25th to April 29 and will be presented by poet Jennifer Jean. The following essay is the first in a five-part series introducing Festival-goers to some of 2014’s featured readers:  Phil Levine, Rhina Espaillat, Carol Ann Duffy, Li-Young Li, and Cornelius Eady.

Li-Young LeeLi-Young Lee once said that every poem is “a descendent of God.” An unnamed interviewer in Poets & Writers  refers to an unspecified, other interview source for this quote and asks Lee, “What about failed, or flawed poems?” Whoa—wait a second! Descendent. Of God. I could not get past this notion so easily. It’s what made this the most difficult “Getting to Know” essay yet. It’s what made my “Getting to Know” presentation on Lee the only one conveyed with flustered passion. [Read more...]

Poet and Translator Nina Cassian Has Died


Nina Cassian by Jim O'Connor

Nina Cassian by Jim O’Connor

Nina Cassian, the exiled Romanian poet who sought refuge in the United States after her poems satirizing the regime of President Nicolae Ceausescu fell into the hands of his secret police, died last week at the age of 89.

Cassian published more than 50 books of poetry, at least two of which were in English after she settled here.  [Read more...]

Four Poets: Many Reasons to Attend the Festival

Festival logo 2014We asked four people who plan to attend the Massachusetts Poetry Festival to talk about what event they were most excited about. Check out their responses, and, if you’ve never attended a festival, you’ll discover reasons to come and why people keep coming back year after year. Our guests are Lee Sharkey, Alice Kociemba, Ann Taylor and Ben Berman, and we thank them all for their responses.  

[Read more...]

Meet our April Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Janae Johnson

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry.

Highlighted by The Lizard Lounge Poetry Jam

Janae JohnsonJanae Johnson is a queer, black, Stevie Wonder-loving, Jamba Juice-sipping, slam poet, educator, and activist in the Boston area. With a jock’s mentality and a poet’s heart, Janae brings all sports and no games to poetry slam. Inspired by uncomfortable silences and midnight bus rides, Janae uses her poetry to shed light on issues of racial inequality, homophobia, and the nuances of love. Truly believing that language is power, she wishes to inspire others to find and embrace the strength in their voices. Janae ranked 5th at the Women of the World Poetry Slam (2014), was the grand slam champion of the 2014 Boston Poetry Slam Team and the 2013 Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam Team. She is currently working on a CD entitled “Black in the Sun,” as well as a chapbook, and she is the coach and adviser for the nationally ranked Simmons College (Speaks) Poetry Slam team. [Read more...]

Some Festival Events by Category

small festival logoNeed some help in negotiating the schedule of events at this year’s Festival? Here are some of our programs by these categories:

  • Where we are: Place & Travel
  • The Body: Discussing the Physical
  • Sexual Identity
  • Who We Are and How We Get There
  • Beyond the Realm of Reality

[Read more...]

A Look at Rafael Campo: A Massachusetts Poetry Festival Feature Poet

rafael campoMany poets are Jacks—and Jills—of-all-trades, but the argument can be made that Rafael Campo has some of the absolute best time management skills of any poet alive. Campo is the “Physician Poet,” a prolific poet and essayist who is also a practicing physician. He currently teaches at Harvard Medical School, practices internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and instructs in the Lesley University Creative Writing MFA program. What drives Campo to pursue each of his drastically different loves? [Read more...]

January O’Neil Gives Us an Inside Scoop on the Mass Poetry Festival

January O'Neil

January O’Neil

In the last month or so there have been few people busier than our own January O’Neil, Executive Director of Massachusetts Poetry Festival, as she has been involved making and solidifying plans for the event. But she took time to answer some questions that give us her unique point-of-view on the May 2 through  4 event in Salem.  As you’ll see from her answers,  she is one of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival’s most ardent fans! [Read more...]


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