In addition to this Friday being Cinco de Mayo, there is another reason to celebrate: the 9th annual Massachusetts Poetry Festival, celebrating the state’s lively present-day poetry scene. During the first weekend of May, Salem becomes the epicenter of contemporary American poetry, offering rare opportunities to hear the nation’s best poets and discuss their work in intimate and engaging forums.
The Massachusetts Poetry Festival showcases nearly 100 poetry readings and workshops, a small press and literary fair, panels, poetry slams, visual arts, and open-air performances. Panel topics range broadly from the state of poetry, poetry and gender, book publishing, and modernism in contemporary art, to the Common Threads Reading, where contemporary poets with Massachusetts ties discuss their literary connections. More than 150 local and nationally known poets engage with thousands of New Englanders each year.
The list of 2017 headliners includes Louise Glück, Eileen Myles, Kazim Ali, Andrea Cohen, Cornelius Eady and Rough Magic, Ross Gay, Rigoberto González, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Tom Sleigh.
The event is being sponsored by Mass Poetry, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Salem State University, the Peabody Essex Museum, 90.9 WBUR, the Hawthorne Hotel, the city of Salem, Creative Salem, Montserrat College of Art, the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of America.
Additionally, Friday morning before the rest of the Mass Poetry Festival begins, Mass Poetry will host a Student Day of Poetry for students grades 8-12. Students can attend writing-generative workshops, listen to poets read and take part in a Q&A, or watch poets perform and participate in a student open-mic.