I asked Jacquelyn Malone  (Mass. Poetry Advisory  Board) to contribute an article about the upcoming Mass. Poetry Festival taking place in Salem, Mass. May 3 to 5. I advise all Somerville poetry lovers and poets to attend this event!
Mass. Poetry  Festival to Feature Pulitzer Prize Winner Sharon Olds and 10 Other Headliner  Poets
By Jacquelyn Malone  (Mass. Poetry Advisory  Board)
At last year’s Massachusetts Poetry Festival J. D.  Scrimgeour, a poet and member of the festival planning  committee,  was setting up a table for the book fair. A  stranger walked by and asked if she could help. As the two positioned the table,  Scrimgeour asked her name, and she replied, “I’m nobody! Who are you?”  Scrimgeour replied, “I’m nobody, too.” And the two strangers, laughing, began to  recite alternating lines of Emily Dickenson’s famous poem before they went their  own merry ways. Not your typical stranger-in-the-street meeting.


But it is typical of the ambience of the Massachusetts  Poetry Festival. Last year over a crowded lunch table, more than one person  commented on meeting someone at the festival who could become a good  friend.


This year’s event, which runs May 3 through 5 in Salem,  Massachusetts, will not only have Pulitzer Prize champs like this year’s winner  Sharon Olds and previous winners Tracy Smith and Yusef Komunyakaa, it will have camaraderie like  that Scrimgeour experienced.


Jill  McDonough described last year’s festival, which also took place in Salem, this  way: “Shining pedestrian walkways filled with poetry, poets, people who love  poetry.” McDonough was talking about a city where store windows sported poems,  shower curtains with poems written on them, and bars of soap in paper wrappers  with snippets from poems. Like last year’s festival, this year’s will have a  poetry trolley car circling the various venues in downtown Salem with poets  reciting poems in route from one event to the next. It will have a typewriter  orchestra tapping out rhythms of symphonies – or poems. There’ll be a a small  press and literary magazine fair, and, back this year by popular demand, a  reading by Steve Almond of the winners of the annual bad poetry contest.


Many  of the participants in the Saturday session Dead Poets among the Living have ties to  Somerville and local group, Tapestry of Voices. They are Lainie Senechal,  Kathleen Spivak, Doug Holder, Kirk Etherton, Lucy Holstedt, and Harris Gardner.  They will be reading Robert Frost, e.e. cummins, John Greenleaf Whittier and  other poets no longer with us, pairing those classic poems with some of their  own. The poets will be supported by a talented jazz trio.


The  three day program includes poetry readings, workshops, panels on poetry, music,  and visual arts, including a Cinco de Mayo reading on May 5. The Peabody Essex  Museum, which provides the venue for many festival events, has a special series  of programs for families, such as Make  Your Own Magnetic Poetry.


There’ll be a session on  taboos subjects like race, sex and class. Some of the other sessions include a  panel on war and social consequences, the reading of poems about pregnancy and  motherhood, a reading of the nine Common Threads poems selected by Mass Poetry  for discussions in book clubs, libraries, senior centers, etc.. across the  state.


And  there will be slam and spoken word performances to delight young people. And  their elders.


Each  day features headliner poets:


On  Friday evening (at 7:30–9:30 p.m. in the Atrium of the Peabody Essex Museum)  poets read poems about the humor and the dysfunction of family, Michael Jackson  and the Hubble telescope.


The  poets are:
Tracy K. Smith (Life on Mars),  winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
Nick Flynn (Another Bullshit Night  in Suck City,) poet and  memoirist.
Jill McDonough (Where You  Live), who chose the poems for  Common Threads this year.


Saturday evening (at  7:30–9 p.m. in the First Universalist Church of Salem) three writers demonstrate  the extraordinary possibilities of poetry to reveal the personal and political  experiences of American life.
The  poets are:
Sharon Olds (Stag’s Leap), 2013  winner of the TS Eliot Poetry Prize and this year’s Pulitzer Prize poet.
Terrance Hayes (Lighthead), the  2010 National Book Award for Poetry winner.
Eduardo C. Corral (Slow  Lightning), whose first collection won the prestigious Yale Series of  Younger Poets competition.


Sunday afternoon (at  2:15–3:15 p.m. at PEM’s Native American Gallery)
The  poets are:
Arthur Sze (The Ginkgo Light),  Santa Fe-based poet and recent winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize.
Gail Mazur (Figures in a  Landscape), Cambridge-based poet.


Sunday afternoon (at  3:45–4:45, PEM’s East India Room)
The  poets are:
Yusef Komunyakaa (The Chameleon  Couch), 1994 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Kevin Goodan (Winter Tenor), a  poet with Massachusetts ties.
Erica Funkhouser (Earthly) ), a  poet with Massachusetts ties.


During the festival more  than 100 poets will engage with thousands of people. Admission for all weekend  events is $15 or $7 for students and seniors.


The  website http://www.masspoetry2013.crowdvine.com/ provides a complete schedule of events, a list of book stores for festival  buttons sales (your admission to events), and a social media platform for  festival goers to pre-register for events.
See you there!

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