Poetry : Summer poetry festival
It's a who's who of American poetry at Featherstone Center for the Arts this summer, with former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins making his way back to the Island for a program Sunday, August 2, an encore of his sold-out 2007 performance.
"Reading on the Vineyard two summers ago was part of an eye-opening experience," Mr. Collins says. "It was my first visit to the Island, and I was struck by its natural, unspoiled beauty."
In addition to Mr. Collins, nationally recognized poets Naomi Shalib Nye, Fanny Howe, and Honor Moore will be joined by Island poets Fan Ogilvie, Justen Ahren, Donald Nitchie and John Maloney in a series of five evening readings, beginning tonight, Thursday, June 18.
Festival of Poetry 2009 is a collaboration between Featherstone, West Tisbury Poet Laureate Fan Ogilvie, and the Martha's Vineyard Writers Residency, a program founded in 2007 that offers established and emerging writers time and space to create poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in the quiet Island environment.
"We've invited poets with good, strong voices," Ms. Ogilvie says. "We're hoping the Festival of Poetry will illustrate the huge variety of voices in contemporary poetry today."
Island poets Justen Ahren (co-founder of the Martha's Vineyard Writers Residency with Ms. Ogilvie) and John Maloney will open the festival tonight, with a joint reading and discussion. Mr. Ahren writes of various subjects in different styles. His work complements Mr. Maloney's poems that depict the soil, stones, and earth he works with in his profession as a stonemason. Of Mr. Maloney. Ms. Ogilvie says, "His strong, muscular language conveys the joys and pains of his everyday labor."
On Thursday, July 16, Fanny Howe and Ms. Ogilvie will take the stage under the large tent set up for the occasion. Ms. Howe, a West Tisbury resident, recently earned the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious and largest awards given to American poets. The $100,000 prize is awarded annually for lifetime accomplishment. Known for her intense, interior voice in poetry, Ms. Howe has authored more than 20 books, including poetry, short stories, full-length adult and young adult fiction, as well as literary essays.
Ms. Ogilvie brings with her a lifetime of poetry writing, teaching and organizing of events both here and in Washington, D.C., New Haven, Conn., and New York City. A widely published poet herself, she was also the founder of the Folger Shakespeare Library's Poetry Board and served as its chairman from 1986 to 1995 in the nation's capital.