By Chris Ricci
On the heels of an extraordinary sixth year in 2014, the Massachusetts Poetry Festival is returning this weekend with one of its most diversified lineups yet. The festival has been bringing poetry to the people since 2009, and continues to inspire current and future lovers of the written and spoken word. Over the course of three days, the festival will host a wide array of poetry-themed activities such as readings and panel discussions, writing and poetry workshops, and performances to name a few. There’s really something for everybody at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.
This year, there will be eleven headlining speakers that bring a diversity of talent and reputation to this fascinating event. The headliners include former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, 2013 inaugural poet Richard Blanco, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Jorie Graham, and NAACP Image Award finalist Adrian Matejka. The headliners are just the tip of the iceberg, as there will be dozens of poets speaking throughout the weekend who will be discussing many topics such as the creation of poetry in the digital age, poetry and comedy, and poetry as a form of witness testimony.
Of course, outside of speaking events and workshops, there will be a number of additional activities that use poetry and word-play as a back-drop. The Peabody Essex Museum will be hosting various large-scale word games and activities, including Paint Chip Poetry sessions, Mad-Libs, and a giant Scrabble game. On Saturday, there will be a small press and literary fair outside of the museum featuring various independent press’ including Adastra Press, Bottle Rocket Press, Human Error Publishing, Zephyr Press. Many more events are still being announced daily in the final moments leading up to the festival.
As with the previous years, the entire downtown area will play as host for these events. Hotspots include the Peabody Essex Museum, the Museum Place Mall, the Hawthorne Hotel, and the Old Town Hall. There’s a complete map located on the Mass Poetry website.
Last year, the festival attracted a diverse 1,500+ crowd of poetry fans, writers, and students over the course of its three day run. The events, produced by nearly 200 authors and artists, were assisted by a dedicated stream of volunteers and local establishments that not only helped the crowds, but also helped the event skyrocket. In the end, the Massachusetts Poetry Festival is a fantastic display of a community coming together for the sake of art, and on its seventh year, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Click here for a full listing of Mass Poetry Festival Events!