Palm Beach Poetry Festival Returns To Delray Beach In January

By: Aug. 14, 2017
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Susan R. Williamson, Director of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival (PBPF), today announced that the 14th annual festival is returning to Old School Square for six days, January 15-20, 2018. Special Guest Poet will be Coleman Barks, a major poet and the world's leading expert on 13th century poet Rumi, the founder of Sufism - as well as the likely namesake of one of the recently born twins of d and Jay Z.

Nine distinguished poets will lead poetry-writing workshops at the Festival:

Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Chard deNiord, Beth Ann Fennelly, Ross Gay, Rodney Jones, Phillis Levin, Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Tim Seibles, with individual conferences offered by nationally acclaimed poets: Lorna Knowles Blake, Sally Bliumis-Dunn and Nickole Brown. In addition, Slam Champions Elizabeth Acevedo and G Yamazawa will co-host a Sizzling Spoken Word event, and

"The Palm Beach Poetry Festival is 0nce 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," said 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."

Special Guest Poet

Coleman Barks

"Spotlighting Coleman Barks at the next Palm Beach Poetry Festival will be like featuring two incredible poets in one," says Miles A. Coon, Festival Founder & President. "Not only is Barks a great American poet in his own right, he is also one of the world's leading experts of 13th century poet, Rumi. In fact, it has been translations by Coleman Barks that have helped Rumi become one of America's best-selling poets."

Jalal Al-Din Rumi, born in 1207, was the founder of Sufism, not just a mystical offshoot of traditional Islam but actually an openhearted exploration of unity. Rumi fled from Mongol-ridden Afghanistan to come to Turkey, where he lived and taught until his death in 1273. Rumi's words offer an all-encompassing spirituality relevant to our times: being present in the moment, finding the holiness in laughter.

In fact, Coleman Barks can be heard on the "Kaleidoscope" track on the Coldplay Head Full of Dreams album reading his translation of a poem by Rumi, including these lines: "This being human is a guest house/ Every morning a new arrival./ A joy, a depression, a meanness,/ some momentary awareness comes/ as an unexpected visitor./ Welcome and entertain them all. / Be grateful for whoever comes/ because each has been sent as guide."

"The Palm Beach Poetry Festival has always honored the power of such a voice, and we are proud to bring to Delray Beach the great Coleman Barks, who brings a lifetime of work to bear on the beautiful, tragic and awe-inspiring moments of being alive," adds Coon. "If a whirling dervish from the 13th century can speak profoundly to a poet of 21st Century America, then surely we can all come together and be moved by each other's voices."

Nine Workshops for Qualified Writers of Poetry

Workshops are limited to 12 qualified participants and three auditors to provide a meaningful level of discussion, and careful, informed attention to each participant's work. Beginning poets, shy about sharing their poems, should consider auditing a workshop as a great way to learn by observing and listening.

Twelve Steps Toward Revision with Laure-Anne Bosselaar

This very interactive workshop focuses on how to strengthen and hone revision skills by systematically and individually addressing all the elements of a poem including structure, tone, line-breaks, form, syntax, sounds, and more. Mostly, this workshop should be inspiring, motivating and fun - so participants should bring a sense of humor, imagination and three poems that need work.

Laure-Anne Bosselaar is the author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf; Small Gods of Grief, which won the Isabella Gardner Prize for Poetry; and A New Hunger, selected as an ALA Notable Book for 2008. With her late husband Kurt Brown, she translated a book by Flemish poet, Herman de Coninck: The Plural of Happiness. The editor of four anthologies, and the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, she has taught at Emerson College, Sarah Lawrence College, and is part of the core faculty at the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College.

Poems for the First and Last Day of the World: A Generative and Contemplative Journey with Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Rilke says people must change their lives but what the heck does that mean? How can poems help individuals meet the great mystery of what comes next? This workshop will look at and write poems that engage, welcome, and resist moments of great change. In a mix of reading and writing, the workshop will function like a lab. Experimenting with form and structure, participants will work to generate enough poems and exercises to take them through at least a season of adventure and possibility. The workshop will explore how poetry, original or not, might help everyone find their way in seemingly inexplicable times.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart and Apocalyptic Swing, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is an Editor at Large at Los Angeles Review of Books and co-curates the multi-media maker's space Voluble. The recipient of awards and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, Civitella di Ranieri, The Paris Review, and the Rona Jaffe Foundation, among others, Calvocoressi's poems have appeared in POETRY, The New York Times, Boston Review and other magazines and journals. She sits on the poetry boards of The Rumpus and From the Fishouse. She is working on a memoir about suicide entitled, The Year I Didn't Kill Myself. Her third book, Rocket Fantastic, will be released next month.

The Transpersonal Self with Chard deNiord

This workshop will focus on reading and writing poems whose speakers place another before them, and then make charged figurative connections to what Walt Whitman called "the other I am." Participants will read each other's poems line by line, examining line breaks, poetic strategy, form, intention, imagery, tropes, verbal music, and what John Keats described as "negative capability," the ability to "exist in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."

Chard deNiord is the Poet Laureate of Vermont and author of six books of poetry, including Interstate, The Double Truth, Night Mowing, Sharp Golden Thorn, Speaking in Turn (a collaboration with Tony Sanders) and Asleep in the Fire. He teaches English and Creative Writing at Providence College, where he is a Professor of English. His book of essays and interviews with seven senior American poets titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs, Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century American Poets was published in 2011. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Antioch Review, the American Poetry Review, The American Scholar, New Ohio Review, The New Republic, and The New York Times, Best American Poetry, and The Pushcart Prize. deNiord is the co-founder and former program director of the New England College MFA Program in Poetry and a trustee of the Ruth Stone Trust.

Sound, Syntax, Stanza, Magic, Nuts and Bolts with Beth Ann Fennelly

This intensive, interactive workshop will combine craft classes with generative prompts, in-class writing, and workshopping. The goal will be to leave participants with four new drafts, one of which will be workshopped, and four poems written prior to the festival being brought to the table. Daily topics include Four Ways Poets Can Use Sound to Make Meaning; Syntax and Diction; The Line, the Stanza, the Page; The Magic of Metaphor and Nuts and Bolts.

Beth Ann Fennelly, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, teaches poetry and nonfiction writing at the University of Mississippi. Her first book of poetry, Open House, won the 2001 Kenyon Review Prize and the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award, and was a Book Sense Top Ten Poetry Pick. It was reissued by W.W. Norton in 2009. Her second poetry collection, Tender Hooks, and her third, Unmentionables, were published in 2004 and 2008. She also published a book of nonfiction, Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother in 2006. The Tilted World, the novel she co-wrote with her husband, Tom Franklin, was published in 2013.

Mystery Before Mastery with Ross Gay

This workshop takes as its central premise that the making of interesting poems requires an engagement with and a pursuit of what the poet does not know. But how do we pursue what we don't know? How do make things out of un-knowing? This workshop will be looking at a number of texts that seem to ask this very question, using them as (unfixed) models, as questions for how people might make beautiful, puzzling things.

Ross Gay received a BA in English/Art from Lafayette College, an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and a PhD in English from Temple University. He is the author of three collections of poetry: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2015 NAACP Image Awards, all in poetry categories; Bringing the Shovel Down and Against Which. Gay is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin', and an editor of the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press. His honors include fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference and the Guggenheim Foundation. He currently teaches at Indiana University and in Drew University's Low-Residency MFA Program.

Realpoetics with Rodney Jones

This workshop will focus on language fueled by necessity and the intention to characterize what is genuine. In critiques participants will study how each poem sounds, its individual noise and music. Does it speak to people? What precision, passion, and original behavior qualify it as singular? In critiques, participants should be forthright, but never neglect great stuff, and never settle for consensus. This workshop is here to encourage and to have serious fun. Aside from close critiques, each class will feature readings, writing exercises, and discussions of individual process, revision, flow, and poem generation.

Rodney Jones saw his eighth book of poetry, Salvation Blues, shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2007. Previous collections include Kingdom of the Instant: Poems; Elegy for the Southern Drawl; Things That Happen Once; Apocalyptic Narrative; Transparent Gestures; The Unborn; and The Story They Told Us of Light. He was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the winner of the 1989 National Book Critics Circle Award. His other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Peter I.B. Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a Southeast Booksellers Association Award, and a Harper Lee Award. Rodney Jones is a professor of English at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and has taught at the Warren Wilson Low-Residency MFA Program.

Voice and Vision with Phillis Levin

What gives texture, momentum, and character to a poem? This workshop will focus on drafting and revising new work while exploring key elements of the craft: dynamics of lineation, the power of syntax, realms of the stanza, the drama of rhetorical form. Participants will consider each poem as an ecosystem and critique all work in that light. Most of class time will spent discussing poems by workshop students, forces at play within: rhythm, diction, image, figure, tone. Each day's workshop will begin by reading several touchstone poems whose strategies, when internalized, spur stylistic development and open unforeseen ways of sounding/shaping/re-envisioning.

Phillis Levin, who's fifth poetry collection, Mr. Memory & Other Poems, was a finalist for the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her previous poetry collections were Temples and Fields, The Afterimage, Mercury and May Day. She is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English, and her poems have appeared in Agni, The Atlantic, Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Paris Review, Plume, Poetry, Poetry London, PN Review, The Poetry Review, Southwest Review, and Yale Review, among other magazines, and have been published in numerous anthologies, including Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (edited by Billy Collins), Poets for Life: 76 Poets Respond to AIDS and more.

Sharing Joy: Making Poems that Snap, Crackle, and Pop with Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Building upon Audre Lorde's idea that "the sharing of joy...forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference," workshop participants will generate poems that sing and celebrate the various big and small delights of this earth. Attendees will also discuss each other's poems in workshop and each day learn a new poetic practice to help keep them generating new work long after returning home.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil recently received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of three poetry collections: Lucky Fish, winner of the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books; At the Drive In Volcano, winner of the Balcones Prize; and Miracle Fruit, winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award, the Global Filipino Award and a finalist for The Glasgow Prize and the Asian American Literary Award. Her most recent chapbook is Lace & Pyrite, a collaboration of nature poems with the poet Ross Gay. She is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry series, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, and Tin House. Nezhukumatathil was the Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi's MFA program in creative writing in 2016-2017, and starting this fall, she will join the MFA program of the University of Mississippi as full professor.

Deja-Verse with Tim Seibles

Often, after writing a poem, people become a bit intoxicated by it. Their emotional investment in the developing drafts may blind them to the flaws and greater possibilities of what they have begun. This workshop will focus on revision, on the seeing again of poems. The goal is to sharpen the sense of works in progress, so that participants might compose pieces that fully engage the audience. Everything is in play as a poem takes shape: subject, imagery, lineation, tone, duration, diction, and more. Each of these facets affects what and how a poem does what it does. With closer scrutiny, attendees can maximize the power of our choices.

Tim Seibles is the author of several poetry collections including Hurdy-Gurdy, Hammerlock, and Buffalo Head Solos. His latest collection, One Turn Around the Sun has just been released. His first book, Body Moves, has just been re-released by Carnegie Mellon U. Press in their Contemporary Classics series. Fast Animal, was one of five poetry finalists for the 2012 National Book Award. A National Endowment for the Arts fellow, his poetry is featured in several anthologies: Rainbow Darkness; The Manthology; Autumn House Contemporary American Poetry; Black Nature; Evensong; Villanelles; and Sunken Garden Poetry. His poem "Allison Wolff" was included in Best American Poetry 2010 and, his poem "Sotto Voce: Othello, Unplugged" was selected for Best American Poetry 2012. He has been a workshop leader for Cave Canem, and for the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Tim is visiting faculty at the Stonecoast MFA in Writing Program of the University of Southern Maine. He is Poet Laureate of Virginia and lives in Norfolk, where teaches in the MFA in Writing program at Old Dominion University.

Individual Conferences

Participants, whose tuition is paid-in-full, may schedule a one-on-one conference with one of the Festival's experienced faculty for a full-hour session. There is an additional cost of $99 for these conferences, which will be scheduled outside workshop sessions. Manuscripts must be prepared advance of the festival. Conferences will be scheduled on a first come-first served basis. Conference faculty includes:

Laura Knowles Blake

She was born in Havana, Cuba and spent her childhood in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Puerto Rico before coming to the United States. Her collection of poems, Permanent Address, won the Richard Snyder Memorial Award from Ashland University Press. Work from a new collection has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cortland Review, Literary Imagination, Tampa Review and the Hudson Review. She serves on the editorial board at the journal Barrow Street and on the advisory committee for WCAI's Poetry Sundays radio program. She teaches creative writing in Brewster, on Cape Cod and in New Orleans.

Sally Bliumis-Dunn:

Her books include Second Skin and Talking Underwater. Her poems have appeared in BigCityLit, Lumina, New York Times, Nimrod, The Paris Review, PBS News Hour, Prairie Schooner, Poetry London, RATTLE, Rattapallax, Spoon River Poetry Review and in the Helicon Nine anthology, Chance of A Ghost. In 2008, she was invited to read in the "Love Poems Program" at the Library of Congress. In 2002, she was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize. She teaches Modern Poetry and Creative Writing at Manhattanville College.

Nickole Brown

Her books include her debut, Sister, a novel-in-poems, and Fanny Says, a biography-in-poems of her grandmother to be published by BOA Editions in May 2015. She studied at Oxford University as an English Speaking Union Scholar, received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and was an editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. She worked at the independent literary press, Sarabande Books, for 10 years and was a National Publicity Consultant for Arktoi Books. Currently, she teaches at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry.

Sizzling Spoken Word with Slam Champions

Elizabeth Acevedo and G Yamazawa

Saturday at 8 pm, January 20,

Elizabeth Acevedo

Her poetry is infused with her Dominican parents' bolero and her beloved city's tough grit. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over 12 years of performance experience, Acevedo has been a featured performer on BET and Mun2, as well as delivered several TED Talks and is well known for her poetry videos which have gone viral and been picked up by PBS, Latina Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post and Upworthy. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion and her poetry manuscript, & Other Origin Myths, was published in 2016 and her young adult novel is forthcoming.

G Yamazawa

A National Poetry Slam Champion, Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, Team Backpack Finalist, and Kundiman Fellow. Born and raised in Durham, NC, G has toured over 150 universities both domestic and internationally, including featured performances at the Sundance Film Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, TV One's Verses and Flow, and the Pentagon. His work has been featured on NBC, ABC, NPR, PBS, and Huffington Post, and he was nominated for Best New Hip Hop Artist by the 2016 Carolina Music Awards. G has toured in over 50 American cities and five European countries, and is the winner of Kollaboration DC 2012, Audience Choice Award, and recipient of the Inaugural Kollaboration Star. His poetry has been published in Beltway Quarterly, Asian Fortune Magazine, and 27 Views of Durham, and has shared stages with Sonia Sanchez, Michelle Kwan, Danny Glover, and VP Joe Biden. An advocate for youth empowerment, G also has extensive experience as a teaching artist facilitating writing/performance workshops for inner city youth in the Washington, DC public school system through Split This Rock, a nationally recognized non-profit organization with a focus in political poetry.

Thomas Lux

A Tribute to His Life, His Teaching and His Poetry

Friday, January 20 at 4 pm

"The death of Thomas Lux on February 5, 2017, has left all of us bereft," says Miles A. Coon, Festival Founder & President. "In addition to Tom's biographical history, his 14 collections of poems, his well-earned prizes, awards and accolades, his teaching and reading at every festival, his service as chair of the Poets Advisory Board, and his boundless and enduring friendship."

The 14th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival will be an homage to and a celebration of Thomas Lux, who made it all possible.

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, 2017.

Tuition for workshops is $895 and includes five three-hour workshop sessions; admission to all festival events, including a ticket to attend the Festival gala and to read at open mics at the Poetry Festival book store. Limited scholarship assistance may be available.

Tuition for Auditors is $495 and includes observation of a workshop and admittance to all Festival events except the gala. Auditing is offered for beginning poets who may be shy about sharing their poems, or non-poets, and is a great opportunity to learn by observing and listening.

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.

About the Palm Beach Poetry Festival 2018:

The 14th annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival will be held next January 15-20 at Old School Square in Delray Beach. The Festival features top poets at numerous ticketed public events, including readings, talks, interviews, panel discussions and more. Nine workshops will be offered for which applications are required.

The 2018 Palm Beach Poetry Festival is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; Morgan Stanley & The Legacy Group of Atlanta; the Cultural Council of Palm County, the Palm Beach County Tourism Development Council and the Board of Commissioners of Palm Beach County; The Palm Beach Post; Visit Florida; WLRN; and Murder on the Beach, Delray Beach's independent bookseller.

For more information about the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, please visit


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