The Massachusetts Poetry Festival
May 5-7, 2023
The Massachusetts Poetry Festival – a biennial celebration that showcased an all-star roster of poets from across the Commonwealth and beyond – returned to Salem, MA on May 5-7, 2023. Following a successful virtual Festival in 2021, this year’s literary fete marked the long-awaited return of an in-person Festival after the highly acclaimed 2018 edition.
Hosted by Mass Poetry, the Festival featured renowned headline poets Cameron Awkward-Rich, Andrea Cohen, Mahogany L. Browne, Franny Choi, Katie Farris, Kimiko Hahn, Ilya Kaminsky, Matthew Olzmann, January Gill O’Neil, Mosab Abu Toha, and more. The event showcased captivating poetry readings, engaging workshops, thought-provoking panels, captivating multi-genre performances, and a special and memorable performance by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.
Throughout April, National Poetry Month, attendees had the opportunity to participate in a series of virtual events on ZOOM, which were viewable by poetry enthusiasts far and wide. These events allowed participants to immerse themselves in the world of poetry and deepen their appreciation for the art form. You’ll find links to view the recordings from this series, Bridging the Gap, in the menu.
From May 5-7, the in-person Festival took center stage, featuring over 90 events and welcoming more than 150 esteemed poets. The Festival took place at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) and various other prestigious venues in Salem, all made possible through valuable partnerships with Salem State University, the City of Salem, and other key collaborators.
At the PEM, attendees were able to view the exquisite poetry quilt created by artist, activist, and poet L’Merchie Frazier. This breathtaking quilt showcased lines from over 200 poets who contributed to Mass Poetry’s inspirational “Hard Work of Hope” series. In a significant milestone, this year’s Festival introduced the first-ever Teen Poetry Track, allowing young talents to shine. The Teen Poetry Track featured a series of interactive and multi-genre events, including a collaborative mural creation, a mesmerizing poetry showcase, and an exhilarating teen slam series that featured several Massachusetts teams. The immense creativity and passion displayed by the young poets left a lasting impression on everyone.
The Massachusetts Poetry Festival 2023 was truly a remarkable celebration of the written word, uniting poets, enthusiasts, and the community at large. It created an atmosphere of inspiration and appreciation, leaving a lasting impact on all who attended. The success of this event serves as a testament to the power and enduring relevance of poetry in our lives.
For those looking to contribute to the ongoing work of Mass Poetry, please donate and help us bring the Festival back in even grander scale in 2025!