Palm Beach is embracing the spoken word for the twelfth annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Taking form at Oldschool Square from January 18-23, the weeklong festival will include workshops, readings, panel discussions with renowned poets, and performance poet stagings. For poets, wordsmiths, and the literati alike, the Poetry Festival creates a unique opportunity to hear some of the finest American poets read and discuss their work, while a select few will conduct workshops.
“Fourteen of America’s most engaging and gifted poets are coming to Delray Beach to share their love of poetry and the written word,” said Festival Director, Susan Williamson. “In addition to serving the writing community through our professional workshops, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival will once again offer numerous opportunities for the public to hear truly great poetry written by some of our nation’s finest and most engaging poets. Once again, the Festival is presenting a very diverse group of poets, ethnically, demographically and aesthetically, but what they all have in common is extraordinary insight and the ability to express it so beautifully.”
By Stephen Brown
Adrift, a pod bobs looking for hold.
Crowns of calcite jut and small crustaceans cling, claiming the slick green stalk for their own;
a domain for wanderers at sea.
Biting into salty muck, the spider trees grow and creep, spreading a canopy over tangled, twisted legs.
Dappled sunlight paints the murk, a croaking jungle of evolutionary delight,
while submerged life holds its breath when roots lift from the sea, the lunar weight pulling bark bare.
The tides wash and they drown.
We watch from our place—
it’s a quiet flood
but a good one.
Through lectures and poetry readings, the festival’s poets will delve into the world of simile and metaphor, the use of sound, line break and various poem structures, among other topics, allowing poetry fans and the unaccustomed alike the opportunity to peer into the inner workings of poetry. Highlights of the festival will certainly include a special interview (January 19, 4-5:30 p.m.), and reading (January 20, 8-9:30 p.m.) with Robert Hass. Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship fellow, U.S. Poet Laureate from 1995-1997, and twice the recipient of the National Book Critics’ Circle Award (1984, 1997), Hass is one of America’s greatest poetic voices.
The culmination of the festival’s weeklong series of events will take place on Saturday, when all eight faculty poets discuss the poems that have influenced their work, followed by the final faculty readings of the festival. To close the festival, Oldschool Square’s Filed House (Vintage Gymnasium) will host a closing party, complete with spoken word performances by Dominique Christina and Marc Kelly Smith. Party goers will enjoy drinks, bites, music, and can experience poetry in an original dialogue that bucks most people’s preconceived notions of the boundaries of poetry.
- The Palm Beach Poetry Festival opens its doors to the public Monday, January 18 and continues through Saturday, January 22. Event tickets cost $15 adult, $12 senior, and $10 student. For more information, visit palmbeachpoetryfestival.org.
For a complete listing of public events, head to page two.
Here’s a look at the public offerings at this year’s festival:
- The festival begins with the High School Poetry Contest Awards ceremony at the Crest Theatre from 5-5:45 p.m.
- From 2-3:30 p.m., two “Craft Talk” lectures will take place at Crest Theatre. First, poet Mary Szybist will discuss “Repetition & Resonance,” followed by Kevin Young’s “Throw Your Voice.” Each poet will give a half-hour discussion on his or her topic; followed by an audience Q&A. Admission costs $15.
- From 4-5:30 p.m., the audience can sit in on an interview with Special Guest Poet, Robert Hass, by Carol Frost in the Crest Theatre. The interview will range in topic, from poetry and literacy, to environmental issues. Admission costs $15.
- From 8-9:30 p.m., the festival gets underway in earnest with an “Evening Kick Off Reading” with poets Denise Duhamel, Thomas Lux, and Alan Shapiro in the Crest Theatre. Admission costs $15.
- From 2-3:30 p.m., two “Craft Talk” lectures will take place at Crest Theatre. First, poet Carl Dennis will discuss “Four Virtues,” followed by Laure-Anne Bosselaar’s lecture, “Conveying Emotion Through Imagery, Address, Personification, and Pathetic Fallacy (A Close Read of “Two Trees” by Larry Levis).” Each poet will give a half-hour discussion on his or her topic; followed by an audience Q&A. Admission costs $15.
- From 8-9:30 p.m., special guest poet, Robert Hass, will take the stage for the “Gala Reading.” Admission costs $15.
- From 2-3:30 p.m., two “Craft Talk” lectures will take place at Crest Theatre. First, poet Denise Duhamel will discuss “It Takes Two: Collaborative Poetry,” followed by Tom Sleigh’s lecture, “From the Top Down and From Side to Side: Line/Syntax/Stanza.” Each poet will give a half-hour discussion on his or her topic; followed by an audience Q&A. Admission costs $15.
- From 4-5:30 p.m. and 10-11 p.m., join the festival participants for an Open Mic at the Festival Bookstore in the Ocean Breeze Room. This is a free event.
- From 8-9:30 p.m., the festival will hold a “Mid-Week Reading” with poets Laure-Anne Bosselaar and Kevin Young in the Crest Theatre. Admission costs $15.
- From 2-3:30 p.m., two “Craft Talk” lectures will take place at Crest Theatre. First, poet Carol Frost will discuss “The Imperative in ‘The Emperor of Ice Cream’,” followed by Thomas Lux’s lecture, “Two Sonnets by Bill Knott.” Each poet will give a half-hour discussion on his or her topic; followed by an audience Q&A. Admission costs $15.
- From 4-5:30 p.m., join the festival participants for an Open Mic at the Festival Bookstore in the Ocean Breeze Room. This is a free event.
- From 8-9:30 p.m., poets Carl Dennis and Mary Szybist will take to the Crest Theatre for the “TGIF Reading.” Admission costs $15.
- From 10-11 p.m., join Sally Bliumis Dunn, Nickole Brown, and Ginger Murchsion for a reading in the Music Room. Admission is free.
- From 2-3:30 p.m., the festival’s faculty poets (Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Carl Dennis, Denise Duhamel, Carol Frost, Thomas Lux, Tom Sleigh, Mary Szybist, Kevin Young, and Alan Shapiro) will lead a panel discussion about the poems that have been influential in their own lives and writing. Admission costs $15.
- From 7-9 p.m., the Reading Finales will take place in the Crest Theatre. Join Carol Frost and Tom Sleigh for the final reading the festival. Admission costs $15.
- The festival comes to a close with “Sizzling Spoken Word at JAMnasium” from 9 p.m.-12 a.m. Join spoken word artists Dominique Christina and Marc Kelly Smith at the Field House (Vintage Gymnasium) for an evening of food, drink, music, and spoken word performances. Admission costs $15.