The Hippo


May 30, 2020








Poetry at Robert Frost Farm

Frost Farm Poetry Conference: Friday, June 17, through Sunday, June 19, $285, includes workshops and meals (two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners)
Hyla Brook Reading Series: Featuring appearances by Timothy Steele June 17; New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alice Fogel July 14; Melissa  Balmain Aug. 11; and Johnny Longfellow Sept. 8, free and open to public, followed by open-mike reading
Hyla Brook Poets’ monthly writing workshop: Meets the third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. this summer at the farm, free
Where: Robert Frost Farm, 122 Rockingham Road, Derry, 432-3091

Poetic landmark
Frost Farm ready for conference, readings, workshops

By Kelly Sennott

 It’s been more than 100 years since Robert Frost left his farm in Derry, but poets local and from afar still find inspiration there.

They find inspiration in his kitchen, where the Hyla Brook Poets workshop meets monthly during the summer, and they find it in his barn, where the same group presents regular poetry readings with notable guest writers. Previous visitors include Maxine Kumin, Richard Blanco, Sharon Olds and David Ferry. 
The group’s been meeting, reading and writing at the farm since March 2009, but last spring it brought in a whole new crowd of poets and poetry-lovers through the inaugural Frost Farm Poetry Conference. Members are now gearing up for another one, happening Friday, June 17, through Sunday, June 19.
The conference is two days of intense instruction by award-winning poets Timothy Steele, Midge Goldberg, A.M. Juster, Deborah Warren and Alfred Nicol. Workshops are designed to immerse participants in the art of formal, metrical poetry writing, with focus on rhyme, sonnets, repetition and meter.
The 2016 event will be a little larger than the first, said Robert Crawford, conference director, during an interview at the farm. They’ve added an extra tent, another instructor and a new class. Of the 50 slots available — up from the 40 in 2015 — more than half are filled. People travel from as far as British Columbia to attend, with others trekking over from Pennsylvania, New York and D.C. Many 2015 participants are returning.
“In fact, that’s one of our problems, if you call it a problem. A lot of people are returning, but they want different classes, they want more advanced classes,” Crawford said.
Workshops will be held in the barn, on the grounds under tents or near the apple trees, flower gardens or walking trails, and in the kitchen, Crawford’s favorite room.
“This is where Frost wrote his poems,” Crawford said, unlocking the front door and gesturing to the kitchen table, which held a Blickensderfer typewriter — the same kind Frost used. 
That morning, Crawford was prepping the place for a field trip of Phillips Exeter Academy students, so he walked to the barn and heaved open the large sliding doors. Inside were benches, stackable chairs and tables with books about and by Frost. Hanging on the walls were posters and text panels detailing his life. 
If all goes as planned, Crawford continued, it will be a busy season at the farm. That week, he also needed to prep for the first Hyla Brook reading and workshop of the season, and the next week, the farm would see 150 kids from Lowell for a field trip. The Frost Farm Prize, a national metrical poetry contest Crawford helps coordinate, had 650 entries this year from around the world. The winner, James Najarian of Auburndale, Mass., will read his work at the conference June 17.
“The mission of the Hyla Brook Poets is to promote poetry, but with an emphasis on metrical poetry. … And I think we’ve succeeded in our mission,” Crawford said. 

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