The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








New Hampshire Poetry Festival headliner Ellen Bryant Voigt. Photo courtesy of John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

New Hampshire Poetry Festival

Where: New Hampshire Institute of Art, 148 Concord St., Manchester
When: Saturday, Sept. 24
Admission: $120, $55 for students
Schedule of events
8-8:45 a.m.: Registration
8:45 to 9 a.m.: Welcome; coffee and pastries
9:15-10:30 a.m.: Panels (“Speaking of Max:  A Conversation on the Work of Maxine Kumin;” “Is There Anybody Out There? Knowing When to Ignore or to Cultivate Audience-Response in Poetry;” “A Panel Discussion of Poetry and Community;” “The Water Between Us: Borders, the White River and other Ley Lines;” “A Circle-of-Community”)
10:45-noon: Workshops (“The Pastoral Elegy” with Paige Ackerson-Kiely; “Engaging the Senses to Write a Poem of Place” with Wyn Cooper; “When Money Talks, Nobody Walks: Poems on Place in Time” with Cate Marvin; “Note to Self” with January Gill O’Neil)
Noon-1:30 p.m.: Lunch
1:30-2:45: Panels (“The Resurgence of the Book-Length Poem;” “Wild and Holy;” “Metaphysics and Faith in Translation;” “From Midway to Manchester: A Reading of Boston-Area Midway Journal Poets;” “Write Short and Share”)
3-4:15 p.m.: Panels (“Poetry as Raw Emotion: A Group Reading;” “Poetry and Literary Citizenship;” “The Connecticut River Valley Poets: A Group Reading;” “Terrapin Books: From Seed to First Fruit;” “Hobblebush Granite State Poetry Series Group Reading”)
5-6 p.m.: Headliner reading with Ellen Bryant Voigt, followed by Q&A

Poetry fest turns 2
Event grows in second year

By Kelly Sennott

 Last September, the inaugural New Hampshire Poetry Festival went off without a hitch. Seats at the venue — the New Hampshire Institute of Art — were full, with 150 poets, poetry teachers, students and enthusiasts in attendance. Panels were lively, workshops were thoughtful and people exchanged books, tips and ideas.

“There was a palpable energy throughout the day. People were incredibly happy, enthusiastic and almost overjoyed to be there. It really gave us the sense we were filling a need in the state,” Festival Director Jennifer Militello said via phone.
Militello had pushed the idea for the 2015 festival to the Poetry Society of New Hampshire board just months before the first event. She’d had the sense, and the nonprofit agreed, that New Hampshire was ready and eager for something like this. 
“I knew New Hampshire was a strong poetry state, and that’s one of the reasons I live here and have always wanted to live here. … But I was surprised by the degree to which people had been longing to have this kind of event available to them,” Militello said. “It was like putting a plate of food in front of a starving person.”
The second annual New Hampshire Poetry Festival, happening Saturday, Sept. 24, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., will retain a similar structure, occurring in various buildings at NHIA, which is producing the festival along with PSNH. It will feature panels and workshops that celebrate the medium and focus on craft, reading, publishing and the New Hampshire poetry community.
The difference in this year’s extravaganza is the size. Each time slot has an additional panel, and the workshops and discussions are filled with new poets, topics and themes.
One panel honors New Hampshire poet and U.S. Poet Laureate Maxine Kumin. Others address audience, literary citizenship, encountering the sacred in poetry, book-length poems or feature group readings with local organizations or publishing houses.
New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alice B. Fogel led a writing workshop in 2015, and this year, she’s part of a panel discussion about poetry and community. She said the event is a great addition to the New Hampshire poetry scene, offering a chance for people to delve into different kinds of poetry or practices they might not otherwise. It’s also inspiring, she said, and encourages attendees to feel good about investing time, energy, even money into writing, not unlike Writers’ Day, organized by the New Hampshire Writers’ Project in the spring.
“This is another opportunity to get that same kind of inspiration and re-commitment,” said Fogel.
A handful of new organizations have joined the festivities, like the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the New England Poetry Club. January Gill O’Neil, who organizes the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, will lead a workshop, “Note to Self,” about looking to oneself as a center for language, experience and inspiration.
Throughout the day, there will be live tweeting, and after the last panels, there will be a headliner reading featuring Vermont poet Ellen Bryant Voigt, a 2015 MacArthur Fellow whose collections have been finalists for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. 
This year, three PSNH members will attend the event on scholarships.
“In future years, we’re hoping we can look to sponsorships and things like that, so we can continue to reduce the rate and allow in even more people looking to attend,” PSNH member Kyle Potvin said. 

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