Grolier Poetry Festival June 2, 2018 Reading, Workshop & Performance

unnamedIt was a day that poetry poured out of the old Grolier Poetry Bookshop and filled Plympton Street with new and vibrant sounds. Celebrating its 90th anniversary, the bookshop held the Grolier Poetry Festival, a day full of readings by great poets like Kathleen Spivack, David Ferry, Lloyd Schwartz, Gail Mazur, Sajed Kamal, XJ Kennedy, Kevin McLellan and Ruth Lepson. I was honored to perform in the festival alongside these strong voices that mean so much to the art of poetry today.  The outdoor stage also showcased musicians and dancers. It rained in pockets, the sudden showers typical of New England spring, but people kept reading and playing music, and listening. The harpist Audrey Harrer and I (seen below) almost performed under a tree that provided shelter from the rain, but the kind stage manager, James Fraser, offered to hold umbrellas during our performance. You can see a segment of our performance in the videoclip. Afterwards, I gave a writing workshop inside the poetry bookshop on writing credos, using the book I edited with Rita Banerjee CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing.  In all, there were about 15 attendees of the workshop, and I was inspired by the energy everyone was sharing to create, write, tell stories, proclaim their truth, etc. In the evening, I had the privilege to perform with my longtime partner and collaborator, Dennis Shafer as part of Sounds in Bloom.

 

The entire day was a love song to poetry and its relevance, its vibrant life today! I am grateful to Ifyeani & Carol Menkiti, Elizabeth Doran, the entire Grolier staff, and Francine LaChance, who organized the festival. Here was the schedule:

Grolier Poetry Festival
A 90th Anniversary Celebration

HEARTFELT THANKS TO ALL WHO PERFORMED IN OUR FESTIVAL ON Saturday, June 2, 2018, 12noon–8pm.
 .
 
12 noon–12:55pm 
CHILDREN’S PROGRAM
 
12noon-12:05pm         
Welcome 
Lloyd Schwartz, Poet and Board Member, Grolier
 
12:05pm–12:35pm    
​Scene selections from “Romeo and Juliet,” performed by the The Young Company at Greater Boston Stage Company
 
12:35–12:55 pm           
Poetry Reading for Children, X.J. Kennedy reads his poems, and poems written by Grolier Poetry friends 
​X. J. Kennedy will talk about the importance of poetry to children, read his poems, and poems by the poet friends of the Grolier.
 
    WORKSHOP, off stage, 1–3pm: Susan Roney-O’Brien, poet & teacher; 
    writing workshop for children of all ages.  

12:55-1:00pm                
Welcome and Opening Remarks, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Proprietor, Director, Grolier Poetry Book Shop
 
1:00-2:00pm
Poets Read
David Ferry • Kathleen Spivack • Lloyd Schwartz • Lillian Yvonne Bertram  • Gail Mazur
 
2:00–2:20pm             
Michael Mack, Performs from Hearing Voices, Speaking in Tongues 
 
2:20–2:40pm             
Jim Vrabel, performs from John Berryman’s The Dream Songs
 
2:40–3:35pm    
Poets Read
Sajed Kamal, translating from Bengali to English • Harris Gardner • Patrick Sylvain • Ruth Lepson • Daniel Tobin • Monique-Adelle Callahan
Cambridge Writer’s Workshop Group: Diana Norma Szokolyai, accompanied by Audrey Harrer, Harpist • Kevin McLellan
 
    WORKSHOP, off stage, 3:35-4:15pm 
    Diana Norma Szokolyai will lead a workshop based on 
CREDO:  Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing that she and Rita Banerjee edited. This newly released book will be available for purchase.

3:40–4:10pm            
Ifeanyi Menkiti Reads
Ifeanyi reads from Of Altair, the Bright Light.
 
4:10–5:00pm          
Grolier Poetry Press 
Ifeanyi Menkiti, Remarks on the Grolier Press,  including author Tino Villanueva who is on a book tour in Florence and Venice for the Italian translation of his Grolier Press book So Spoke Penelope. Faye George will read excerpts from So Spoke Penelope. Select Grolier Poetry Press poets will read.
Grolier Poetry Press Poets: Keith O’Shaughnessy • X.J.Kennedy • Spring Berman • Fred Feirstein • Partridge Boswell
 
5:00–5:45pm    
Poets Read 
Gloria Mindock • Steven Cramer • Elizabeth McKim •  Joyce Peseroff  • Tomas O’Leary, reading and playing his accordion • Carol Weston
 
5:45–6:20pm        
Translation Poets
Beatriz Alba del Rio translating from Spanish to English• Jana Kiely translating from Czech to English
 
6:20–6:40pm        
Sounds in Bloom: Dennis Shafer, saxophone and woodwind player will perform while Diana Norma Szokolyai reads her poetry.
 
6:40-7:00pm        
Dance and Poetry
Joe Burgio, Ensemble Inedit: Poetry, Song and Dance Dancers and musicians will perform to poems by the poets Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, and Todros Abulafia. Dancers: Katerine Gagnon, Ofri Rieger.  Musicians: John Voigt and Walter Wright.​
 
7:00–7:15pm 
90 on 90: Presentation of Donald Hall’s book A Carnival of Losses: 
Notes Nearing Ninety
An homage to our dear and long-time friend, Donald Hall. Lloyd Schwartz and Joyce Peseroff will read excerpts from Donald Hall’s essays and poems, and poems by his late wife Jane Kenyon.
 
7:15–7:25pm        
Concluding Remarks, Ifeanyi Menkiti

​7:15–7:25pm
Our Final Act
We will leave you with a video presentation of a musical setting of Ifeanyi Menkiti’s poem “Before a Common Soil,” an original composition by George Emlen, Music Director of Revels for over 30 years, now retired, performed by the Revels chorus and musicians.

Whiskey Radish, who has worked at Ryles for over 20 years, will sketch and will take photographs throughout the day. ​

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