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The Massachusetts Poetry Festival Returns May 13-16, 2021

Massachusetts Poetry Festival

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival returns to Salem (and virtually) May 13-16, 2021! This year’s festival marks its return to Salem since its 10-year anniversary event in 2018, and following next month’s events the festival will return biennially.

This year, a limited number of in-person events are taking place in Salem, with most events being available virtually. Events are open to the public and virtual events are viewable by suggested donation (or free to students) at festival.masspoetry.org.

In addition to the more than 100 poets featured across the festival’s 50+ events, headline poets include: Naomi Shihab Nye, Tyehimba Jess, Lang Leav, Martin Espada, Victoria Chang, Jos Charles, Khadijah Queen, Patricia Spears Jones, Ariana Reines, Dara Wier, and more.

The festival is made up of series of workshops, panels, poetry readings, and performances, as well as events that pair poetry with other art forms like dance, music, and yoga. The Montserrat College of Art has assisted with the festival of pairing works of art by their students with some of the poetry featured during the event, and a “shelfie” campaign will encourage poetry readers and writers to share a look at their poetry collections on social media. Additionally, workshops began in collaboration with the Peabody Essex Museum presenting poetry alongside art in the museum’s collection in the weeks leading up to the festival.

A tradition from past festivals, the Festival Student Day of Poetry is returning for 2021 with even more ways for students to engage with poetry. Participating students will be able to complete workshops with both local and headlining poets prior to the festival, and this year a record 500 students are set to attend.

Additional events for this year’s festival include:

  • Poetry and Pets, in partnership with the MSPCA with an open mic and poetry readings all about pets
  • “Called Back,” a virtual event featuring an Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk
  • 2020 Re-do, a ceremony to honor literary winners and finalists whose celebrations were cancelled or overshadowed during 2020
  • Small Press Fair, with a special focus on independent booksellers in uncertain times

To learn more and to register for this year’s events, visit festival.masspoetry.org.


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