Skip to main content Skip to footer site map



Susan R. Williamson, Director of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival (PBPF), today announced that the 16th annual festival is returning to Old School Square for six days of literary workshops and public events, including readings, talks, interviews, panel discussions and more, January 20-25, 2020.

Special Guest Poet 2020: Joy Harjo

Recently selected as United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo is an award-winning Native American poet and musician from Oklahoma, who has also been named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poet. Her books of poetry include Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, and She Had Some Horses. Her memoir Crazy Brave won several awards, including the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the American Book Award. Her ninth book of poetry, An American Sunrise, will be published later this year.

She is the recipient of the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation for Lifetime Achievement, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets for proven mastery in the art of poetry; a Guggenheim Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the United States Artist Fellowship. In 2014 Harjo was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.

A renowned musician, Harjo performs with her saxophone nationally and internationally, both solo and with her band, the Arrow Dynamics. She has five award-winning CDs of music including the award-winning album Red Dreams, A Trail Beyond Tears and Winding Through the Milky Way, which won a Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year in 2009. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

During the Palm Beach Poetry Festival 2020, Joy Harjo will be interviewed by faculty poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar, and will deliver the annual Thomas Lux Memorial Reading following the festival gala.

Poet At Large 2020: Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art, winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize. Her other books include Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist; Gotta Go, Gotta Flow, a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson; as well as the poetry volumes Teahouse of the Almighty, Close to Death, Big Towns Big Talk, Life According to Motown; the children's book Janna and the Kings, and the history Africans in America, a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. She is a Guggenheim fellow, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition's history.

During the Palm Beach Poetry Festival 2020, Patricia Smith will appear for a special evening reading on January 24, and will present to high school students throughout Palm Beach County during festival week.

Faculty Poets 2020

"The Palm Beach Poetry Festival is once again offering a nationally recognized, world-class learning opportunity with more than a dozen of America's most engaging and award-winning poets in Delray Beach," says Ms. Williamson. "In addition to our workshops, the Festival brings the voices of America's most beloved living poets to the Crest Theatre stage. We work hard to present a diverse group of poetic voices, each expressing in their poems what we sometimes find inexpressible."

The Workshop Faculty and topics of the 2020 Palm Beach Poetry Festival will include:

+ Laure-Anne Bosselaar / Wait... Let Me Rephrase This

The most recent poetry collection by Laure-Anne Bosselaar is These Many Rooms. She also is the author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf and Small Gods of Grief, which was awarded the Isabella Gardner Prize for Poetry. Her third poetry collection, A New Hunger, was selected as an ALA Notable Book in 2008. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, and her poems have appeared in The Washington Post, Georgia Review, Ploughshares, AGNI, Askew, Miramar, and many others. The editor of four anthologies, she taught poetry at Emerson College, at the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Sarah Lawrence College, and at many conferences.

+ Nickole Brown & Jessica Jacobs / Poetry as Practice of Awareness

After receiving her MFA from Vermont College, Nickole Brown studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She worked at Sarabande Books for 10 years, and is the author of Sister, first published in 2007 with a new edition reissued in 2018. Her second book, Fanny Says, won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry in 2015. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches at the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program and the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA.

Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You're Going, and Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of Georgia O'Keeffe, winner of the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her chapbook In Whatever Light Left to Us was published by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2016. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Crazyhorse, The Missouri Review, New England Review, Orion, and Guernica, and she is currently the Associate Editor of Beloit Poetry Journal.

+ Reginald Gibbons / Digging with the Pen

Born and raised in Houston, Reginald Gibbons earned his BA in Spanish and Portuguese from Princeton University, and both his MA in English and creative writing and his PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University. Gibbons is the author of Last Lake, Slow Trains Overhead: Chicago Poems and Stories, and Creatures of a Day: Poems. He is the Frances Hooper Professor of Arts and Humanities at Northwestern University

+ Major Jackson / Saying the Unsayable: A Generative Workshop

Major Jackson is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently The Absurd Man and Roll Deep, winner of the 2016 Vermont Book Award and hailed in the New York Times Book Review as "a remixed Odyssey." He is the editor of Best American Poetry 2019, The Library of America's Countee Cullen: Collected Poems and Renga for Obama: An Occasional Poem. A recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, he has been awarded a Cave Canem Book Prize, a Whiting Writers' Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Jackson is the Richard A. Dennis Professor of English at the University of Vermont, and serves as the poetry editor of The Harvard Review.

+ Ilya Kaminsky / Craft & Voice

A Russian-American poet, critic, translator and professor, Ilya Kaminsky began to write poetry seriously as a teenager in Odessa, publishing a chapbook in Russian entitled The Blessed City. His first published poetry collection in English was a chapbook, Musica Humana , followed by Dancing in Odessa, which earned him a 2005 Whiting Writers' Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Metcalf Award, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and the Dorset Prize, and was named the 2005 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year in Poetry. In 2008, he was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship. His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including The Kenyon Review, New Republic, Harvard Review, and Poetry. His latest book is Deaf Republic.

+ Dana Levin / Poetry and the Unconscious

The most recent book of poetry by Dana Levin is the remarkable Banana Palace. Her first book, In the Surgical Theatre, won the 1999 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize and went on to receive nearly every award available to first books and emerging poets. Later books include Wedding Day and Sky Burial. Her poetry and essays have appeared in many anthologies and magazines, including The Best American Poetry 2015, The Arcadia Project: North American Post-Modern Pastoral, The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Boston Review, The American Poetry Review, and Poetry. Her work has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN, the Library of Congress, and the Rona Jaffe, Whiting and Guggenheim Foundations. A teacher of poetry for over 20 years, Levin splits her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Maryville University in St. Louis, where she serves as Distinguished Writer in Residence.

+ Adrian Matejka / The Masks We Want: Persona & Poetry & Possibility

Born in Germany and raised in Indiana, Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil's Garden, which won the New York / New England Award, and Mixology, a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. His third collection, The Big Smoke, focuses on Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion of the world. It was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Among Matejka's other honors are the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, the Julia Peterkin Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Bellagio Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington and is Poet Laureate of Indiana.

+ Maggie Smith / Making It & Breaking It: Line, Syntax & Stanza

Maggie Smith is the author of three award-winning books of poetry: Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (2012 Dorset Prize, selected by Kimiko Hahn, and the 2016 Gold Medal in Poetry for the Independent Publishers Book Awards) and Lamp of the Body, which won the 2003 Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press. The collection was also a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Montaigne Medal. Smith is also the author of three chapbooks: Disasterology, The List of Dangers and Nesting Dolls. A freelance writer and editor, and a Consulting Editor for the Kenyon Review, she has taught creative writing at Gettysburg College, in the MFA program at The Ohio State University, and at various conferences and nonprofits around the country.

One-on-One Conference Faculty includes Lorna Blake, Sally Bliumis-Dunn, and Angela Narciso Torres.

How to Apply for PBPF Workshops

Each Palm Beach Poetry Festival workshop is limited to 12 qualified participants and three auditors, who must apply for admission and submit three poems that will be reviewed by an independent reader with a graduate degree and editorial experience. The admission process insures that all participants will make meaningful contributions to discussions. In addition, the workshops will help improve editing skills and/or stimulate the writing of new poems.

Application forms are available online at, where detailed workshop descriptions and faculty biographies can be found. The deadline for this quick and convenient application process is November 10, 2019.

Tuition for workshops is $950 and includes 16 hours of workshop instruction; admission to all festival events, including a ticket to attend the festival gala. Applicants may reserve an optional one-hour, one-on-one conference to be confirmed upon notification of acceptance.

Tuition for Auditors is $550 and includes observation of a workshop and receive all handouts under discussion. While auditors can attend all workshops sessions and events, except the gala, they may not comment or share their own poems in a workshop.

The cost for an optional One-on-One Conference is $99, and will be scheduled after acceptance.

Applications require a $25 non-refundable application fee plus a $225 tuition deposit. Tuition balances are due upon acceptance to a workshop.

Regional Awards

More Hot Stories For You

African Heritage Cultural Arts Center Presents THE OPPONENTAfrican Heritage Cultural Arts Center Presents THE OPPONENT
September 26, 2022

 The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center presents “The Opponent,' written by Brett Neveu. Performances will run three weekends for 10 shows: Thursday, Oct. 6 through Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, at the Center's Wendell A. Narcisse Performing Arts Theater at 6161 N.W. 22nd Avenue, Miami, Florida 33142.

Actor's Workshop and Repertory Company to Present HANDS UP! in OctoberActor's Workshop and Repertory Company to Present HANDS UP! in October
September 25, 2022

The Actor’s Workshop & Repertory Co. will present HANDS UP! The New Black Fest’s Hands Up! 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments on Friday, October 7, Saturday 8 at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, October 9 at 2:00 p.m. Friday, October 14, Saturday, 15 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, October 16 at 2:00 p.m.

Anthony Nunziata To Perform With South Florida Symphony Orchestra On October 10Anthony Nunziata To Perform With South Florida Symphony Orchestra On October 10
September 23, 2022

Dubbed “America's new romantic singing sensation,” Brooklyn-born, Nashville-based tenor Anthony Nunziata will join the South Florida Symphony Orchestra to kick off the John Knox Village Symphony Pops Series on Monday, October 10, at 7 pm.

Slow Burn Theatre Opens Season with LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORSSlow Burn Theatre Opens Season with LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
September 23, 2022

In an early Halloween treat, the Slow Burn Theatre 2022/2023 season presented by American National Bank begins with Little Shop of Horrors Saturday, October 15- Sunday, October 30 in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. 

Maplewood Playhouse Presents YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN (revised) at Stage West at The Duncan TheatreMaplewood Playhouse Presents YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN (revised) at Stage West at The Duncan Theatre
September 23, 2022

Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang will take the stage at the Stage West Theater in Lake Worth when Maplewood Playhouse presents You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (revised) at Stage West at the Duncan Theatre on October 7th and 8th.