Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis of poetry, I am emerging from the splendor that was the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. (OK, that was bad. Maybe I should stay in the chrysalis for a while.)
I don’t have any hard numbers yet, but I’m guessing nearly 1,500 people visited Salem May 12-14. We had no major glitches, the volunteers ROCKED!, and everyone seemed to have a good time. Unfortunately, I didn’t see much of the main stage acts. But one of the committee members reminded me that you can do a good job planning, and you can do a good job attending events, but you really can’t do both very well.
10 things I really enjoyed about this year’s festival.
(Well, #1 is the top thing—everything else is in no particular order.)
1. The constant collaboration between friends/members of the Salem Writers Group, Michael Ansara, and members of the planning committee. Who would have thought nine months ago we would be able to pull this off?
2. Hearing from festival-goers how big and how organized the festival was. Seriously, we were stuffing envelopes at midnight on Thursday.
3. Calling Steve Almond a ”hustler” as I introduced him for the Bad Poetry session. And by hustler, I mean someone who works hard for the money, so to speak.
4. Hanging out with poet friends Joseph Legaspi, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Susan Rich.
5. Being in the audience for the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) for the Friday Headline Event with Brian Turner, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Jericho Brown. Even though they come from different backgrounds, their work flowed seamlessly.
6. Reading with my writers’ group cohorts in our “North Shore Poets in the Round.”
7. Hearing Ravi Shankar speak during the Favorite Poem kickoff event at the Peabody Essex Museum.
8. Listening to Mark Doty and Patricia Smith read on Saturday night. Their poetry makes me want to strive for more in my own. In particular, listening to Patricia Smith read a crown of sonnets has inspired me to try this with my next project.
9. The cocktail reception—pulled off entirely with donated food, drink, and flowers—by Julie Batten.
10. Seeing the logo/festival look and feel on all of the signage, programs—even those BRIGHT green T-shirts! I had a hand in all of it.
View my photo album on Facebook.