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...]

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...]

State Proposes Drastic Cut to Arts Funding — What You Can Do

What you can do? — Call or email your state representative immediately and say “No!”

MCC logoHere’s the extent of the issue according to a bulletin from the website of the Massachusetts Cultural Council:

(4/9/14) – Earlier today the House Committee on Ways and Means released a state budget proposal for the coming fiscal year that recommends just over $5 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). That would represent a 54 percent reduction in state support for the arts, humanities, and sciences. (Read their full report.)
[Read more...]

Why We Chose a New Platform for the Festival Scheduling

DSCN0701This year we changed to a new platform for exploring offerings at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival on May 2-4. It took us a lot of work – at least it took January O’Neil and our interns a lot of work! And it will take you one more step than it took you last year if you signed up for the Festival. You will have to request an invitation to the site. No problem! You’ll be granted that invitation right away, and if you created a profile last year, you’ll see it in the new system.

Why did we go to this trouble and put you through one more step? The first reason is that this platform is not an open public site; it does not make you more susceptible to spam or invasion of your privacy by the world at large. You can safely include your biography to a community of poets and talk behind the closed doors of this software system to your friends. Another reason is that Pathable, the new system, provides a robust service system in case we run into technical problems. [Read more...]

Mary Ruefle Wins the Robert Creeley Award

Mary Ruefle photoMary Ruefle will be presented with the 14th Annual Robert Creeley Award on Wednesday, April 16, and on that evening she will read for an audience that, if it lives up to its earlier Creeley award winner readings, may include close to one thousand people — a fantastic audience for a poetry reading. The audience size is only one of the reasons this yearly event is called the premier event of National Poetry Month. [Read more...]

A Concert of Hope and Peace, Featuring Richard Hoffman

Richard Hoffman

Richard Hoffman

Last year on April 15 Boston experienced one of its most devastating events — the Marathon bombings. This year, as the first anniversary approaches, many plan to commemorate the event, including organizations such as BostonBetter,  a project of Boston museums, libraries, and archives.

One of the planned events is “A Concert of Hope and Peace,” featuring the Hawthorne String Quartet and Richard Hoffman, who will read his poetry.

Hoffman’s work, which Molly Peacock describes as “moments when civilization dissolves, not superficially, but at its emotional roots,” is a wise choice for city-wide meditation. concert of Hope and PeaceHis clear and visionary intensity grounds justice and humanity in words that are both powerful and simple. [Read more...]


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