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...]

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...]

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...]

A Look at Susan Rich: A Massachusetts Poetry Festival Feature Poet

Susan_LaughingSusan Rich is a prolific poet with the energy to pursue both her creative and her humanitarian impulses. But the poetry in Rich’s life, as she explains below in her own words, was almost cut short by professors who advised her to try “something else.” Rich set poetry aside for a time, but, lucky enough for all of us, she returned to her craft after twelve long years away. [Read more...]

A Look at Oliver de la Paz: A Massachusetts Poetry Festival Feature Poet

oliverdelapazOliver de la Paz is the next in our series of featured Festival poets, and we’re thrilled to have him speak at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in May!  He was born in the Philippines and raised in Ontario, Oregon, and he earned both a BA in English and a BS in biology from Loyola Marymount University, followed by an MFA from Arizona State University.  He is the author of four collections of poetry, Names Above Houses (SIU Press 2001), Furious Lullaby (SIU Press 2007), Requiem for the Orchard (U. of Akron Press 2010) and the forthcoming Post Subject: A Fable (U. of Akron Press 2014).  Requiem for the Orchard was chosen for the Akron Prize by notable award-winning poet Martín Espada. [Read more...]

Getting to Know: Carol Ann Duffy

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

carol Ann DuffyMaybe you, American, know that Carol Anne Duffy is the first female—and first Scottish—poet laureate of England. Maybe. But did you know she’s a celebrated children’s author? When Duffy comes to read at the Mass Poetry Festival in May, I’ll be picking up one of her twenty-plus poetry collections (I’m thinking of getting The Bees  to see if her interest in Sylvia Plath plays out beyond the one included poem that I know, called “Ariel”). But, I’ll also be choosing from one of her twenty-plus children’s books and anthologies (I’m thinking of getting  101 Poems for Children  so my kids have a good chance of finding lots of poems on butts and boogers…but more on that later. [Read more...]

A Look at Kim Addonizio: A Featured Poet at the Mass Poetry Festival, 2014

Kim AddonzioThe Poetry Foundation’s web site says that Kim Addonizio’s poetry is “known for its gritty, street-wise narrators and a wicked sense of wit.”  But don’t misunderstand — there is nothing swaggering about the poems. In fact the same article  declares her work to be wise and crafty, and quotes from a Daniela Gioseffi, who contends,  that Addonizio “is most profound when she’s philosophizing about the transient quality of life and its central realization of mortality.” [Read more...]

A Look at David Ferry: A Featured Poet at Mass Poetry Festival, 2014

David FerryDavid Ferry, one of this year’s featured poet at the May 2-4 Massachusetts Poetry Festival, is both poet and translator, and in both areas his work is acclaimed as of major importance. As a poet he is praised for his vision, his craft, his modesty, his fly-by urbanity, his simplicity, and a dozen other adjectives that come to other poets when confronted by someone of Ferry’s unassuming brilliance. His translations of Gilgamesh, of Virgil and of Horace are considered standards in giving life to these honored classics.

In 2012, when Ferry won the National Book Award for Bewilderment, the reviews were admiring and ardent. In an essay in The New Yorker Dan Chaisson said of the book “This is one of the great books of poetry of this young century.” W.S. Merwin described Ferry’s work as having an “assured quiet tone” that communicates “complexities of feeling with unfailing proportion and grace.” [Read more...]

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