Photos from the 2014 Festival

Outdoor performance

Outdoor performance

Feeling a little sad that the Festival is over, and it will be a whole year till you can experience it again? Well, bring back memories of the 2014 Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

The first set of photos below was produced by Social Palates. The second set is by Valerie Lawson. Thanks to both of you! [Read more...]

Attendees and Volunteers Review the Festival: Part 2

festival collage 2Here are four more reviews of the Festival by attendees Jill Alexander and Vera Kroms, and volunteers Amy Wicks  and Joey Gould.

Add your own review in the Comments section, if you’d like. [Read more...]

Audio or Videos or the Written Word About the 2014 Festival

Spivack and Clawson

Spivack and Clawson


Doug Holder, Moderator of the Poets in the Asylum” panel at this year’s Festival, provides us with a direct link to a MP3 audio file of Kathleen Spivack as she speaks of her experiences with Robert Lowell, and Bob Clawson talks about his experiences with Anne Sexton. Both poets spent time at McLean’s Hospital. Here’s the clip.

Kim A


Timothy Gager picked Kim Addonizio up at the airport and brought her to the Festival. On the way he interviewed er. Here on YouTube is the video.


Lloyd SchwartzAnd here’s another clip of Lloyd Schwartz reading his poem “The Conductor.” Lloyd, who is a Pulitzer Prize wining critic, conducted a session called “…That rarest category of talents: a poet-critic.” Here is his poem, which is based on an earlier prose review.

Stories and schedule of the 2014 Festival

Here are all the stories you have seen on this site about the 2014 Festival. And here is a link to the Festival schedule.

Attendees Review the Festival: Part One

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival this weekend was a rousing success. People flooded the streets of beautiful Salem, talking and laughing Festival collagewith complete strangers, sharing with each other the common bond of loving language andparticipating in a sudden cheerful intimacy unimaginable in the ordinary world.  We asked a few of them to give us their thoughts. In this edition, read what Evelyn McKay, Claire Keyes, Globiana, and Kristina England have to say. And be on the lookout for the comments by other attendees.

[Read more...]

The Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Massachusetts Poetry Festival

January O’Neil, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, gives you 10 good reasons to attend the Festival:

10. To see how many poets it takes to break a line.

9. To find out if you’re featured in “Poets in the Asylum.” [Read more...]

Line Break: A Poetry Installation for the MPF

 by Colleen Michaels

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 2-4 10am – 5pm
Line Break InstallationPeabody Essex Museum, (1st Floor, Spiral Staircase and 3rd Floor, Taj Mahal Gallery)

Playing with the idea of a writing retreat, artist Lillian Harden and poet Colleen Michaels have created a reflective space within the Mass Poetry Festival. Participants are invited to spend time in the installation, reclining on soft seating under dim lights. There is a hammock above, reminiscent of smocked clothing; the sound of an old slide projector and its slow offering of words; a basket of handmade blank books within reach. This piece invites you to shift your posture, adjust your eyes, and bring your voice down to a whisper. This is your time out. Write or don’t write (the books are yours to take), and enjoy the space created in Line Break. [Read more...]

Getting to Know C. D. Wright

C. D. WrightThere are two kinds of brilliant talkers in the South: those with a gift for beating so far around the bush that what you end up caring about is the scenery. And those with a knack for nailing it so hard it’s engraved in granite. C.D. Wright’s speech is the latter.

But as a poet Wright, a headliner at this year’s Massachusetts Poetry Festival, can write poetry that ranges from forthright to lyrical to unpredictable.  Her poems have been described as socially conscious, erotic, experimental, elliptical, and Southern, and at various periods of her writing you can make a case for all those definitions. She decries poetic movements. In an interview with Kent Johnson, she says in her gentle but direct voice, “I just never liked anyone telling me what to do or what to like. Or ‘versa vice.’ If the poetries I like cancel one another out at the polls, so be it. I’ll vote as many times as I please.” Nailed!

But Wright’s poems aren’t always so direct. It all depends on how she’s voting. We’ll look at both her elliptical style and at her direct, socially conscious style. [Read more...]

Programs the PEM Is Offering at the MPF


Meg Winikates

Meg Winikates

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival will have programs for many interests and for the whole family. What better person to create or run many of those versatile programs than someone who calls her own creativity blog “Brain Popcorn.” Meg Winikates, a poet as well as the Art & Nature Programs Coordinator at the Peabody Essex Museum, describes creativity this way:

Have you ever had an idea, which reminded you of something you learned in high school, which reminded you of a movie you saw recently, which reminded you of the last trip you took, which reminded you of your oldest friend, which reminded you of a book you’ve been meaning to read? That’s brain popcorn. [Read more...]

Getting to Know — Cornelius Eady

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 a part of the series introducing Festival-goers to some of 2014’s featured readers:  Phil Levine, Rhina Espaillat, Carol Ann Duffy, Li-Young Lee, and Cornelius Eady.

Cornelius EadyMany of my, absolutely, favorite contemporary writers (such as: Yona Harvey, Ross Gay, Tyehimba Jess , Tara Betts, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, and John Murillo—to name just a few) happen to be former fellows of Cave Canem—a writers “affinity group” for African Americans, co-founded by Cornelius Eady and Toi Derricotte. Every year, several Cave Canem fellows trek in for a Mass Poetry Festival group reading—and their reading always rocks! This year’s offering, at 2:45pm on May 3rd, has another stellar line-up: Jamaal May, Nicole Terez Dutton, January O’Neil — and Eady, who’s considered an “elder” in the community. [Read more...]

A Look at Philip Levine: A Massachusetts Poetry Festival Feature Poet

levine3Massachusetts Poetry Festival feature poet Philip Levine a Pulitzer Prize winner, a National Book Award winner, and a former US Poet Laureate.  We at Mass Poetry are honored to have such a distinguished poet joining our incredible lineup for the 2014 festival!  Levine’s work is focused, direct, urgent, and intense, conveying much in even the shortest lines. This tradition seems to continue in Levine’s answers to our interview questions below, which are just as pointed and evocative as his poetry. [Read more...]


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