I have a fabulous time at the Mass Poetry Festival every year. Every year I learn something new about writing, I am bowled over by a poet (or multiple poets) whose work I hadn’t before had a chance to appreciate, I get to spend time surrounded by people who love words as much as I do, and I come away exhilarausted, which is that peculiar state of wiped out and buzzed that comes from too much inspiration in too short a time period.
As always, the headline poets were fantastic. I didn’t make it to all the headline sessions, but both the Friday and Saturday night readings were interesting, featuring Nick Flynn, Adrian Matejka, Denise Duhamel, Rita Dove, and Richard Blanco. I was especially enamored of Rita Dove’s reading, and most particularly loved her poem “Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967,” linked below:
Full text of the poem can also be found here.
Other moments that caught my imagination included the reading of marine-inspired poetry to a running background of underwater photography, the highly entertaining “Digital Age Poetics” workshop from the lovely folks at Window Cat Press, and the absolutely fabulous “Writing Sound to Sound” workshop with Moira Linehan and Mary Pinard, which focused on exercises that build sound consciousness into your writing from the very start. As someone who loves the music of language, syllable and rhythm, I found that session especially inspiring. Overall, from humorous memes and ‘flarf’ searches to dictionary page and abecedarius poetry, I came away with a ton of new writing prompts and a few promising new poem kernels.
I learned about Edna St. Vincent Millay, read aloud and listened to a great collection of winter and spring poems from my fellow long-suffering New Englanders, and had many a meal with friends old and new. Finally, I was pleased to see that PEM continued to play with words and art, featuring Mad Libs Muse prompts featuring ‘erasures’ from famous poems, paint chip poetry focused on color and brevity, and even a giant Scrabble game.
Thanks and congratulations again to Michael, Jan, and Laurin for putting together another spectacular weekend!