Hosting Poetry, Be a Guest at the Fest

This Friday, April 15 the entirely student run 8th Annual Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival (or, PoFest 2011) will commence. The Festival features a long list of invited readers (some professors, some alumnae, some unaffiliated, all poets) alongside graduate and undergraduate readers. MFA students Jillian Buckley and Ryan Biracree are the organizers behind this year’s festival.

What is there to be excited about for this year’s festival? Well, quite a lot. “This festival is the largest free poetry festival in New York State, and people are coming from all over the country (and Canada) to be a part of it. Students here would be crazy not to pop into Heimbold at some point during the weekend to check out a reading, the book fair, some live music or the poetry brothel, even if they’ve never attended a poetry event before,” Jillian Buckley says. Moreover, “nearly the entire line-up for this festival consists of people making exciting, ground-breaking work, and I foresee more than a few moments of hilarity and confusion unfolding this weekend. I’m excited for that too. We hope the rest of SLC will join us, and as Heather Christle [a reader at this year’s festival] writes in one of her poems, ‘you have pudding all over your beard,/ you look a downright ass. Darlings!/ You are here at my invitation and/ for that I am totally confused.'”

PoFest 2011 offers a few new attractions. For students interested in learning about the world of small presses (it’s a world bigger than one might think), the book fair will provide an ideal opportunity. The Poetry Brothel transports poetry readings off the stage to a more intimate bordello setting. The SLC Improv Ensemble and the Friendly Strangers will make musical appearances.

Of the poets, Buckley says “Instead of talking about boring things like muses or truth, the poets on our panels will be discussing robots, the death of cities, and their favorite TV shows. In fact, a few of the panelists plan to fashion their interaction in homage to The View.”

Readings take place in Heimbold Auditorium

6:30pm High School Poetry Contest Winners

7:30pm Vanessa Place
Lisa Ballard (graduate student)
Liam O’Brien (undergraduate student)

8:45pm Thomas Sayers Ellis (SLC Faculty)
Adam Chambers (graduate)
Shannon Vayo (undergraduate)


Book fair: 1pm – 7pm.

1:00pm Douglas Kearney & Cathy Park Hong (SLC Faculty)
Lane Falcon (graduate)
Matt Alberswerth (undergraduate)

2:30pm Paul Guest
Kyla Marshell (graduate)
Hans Kulla-Mader (undergraduate)

2:30 (concurrently) PANEL: The Future of Poetry/Poetry of the Future, with panelists Douglas Kearney, K. Silem Mohammad, Vanessa Place, and Christian Bök, moderated by Ryan Biracree

3:35pm Paul Legault & K. Silem Mohammad
Jillian Quinn Buckley (graduate)
Alberto Sandoval (undergraduate)

3:35pm (concurrently) Campbell Corner Poetry Award reading, featuring Holly Welker, Julie Marie Wade, Sandra Stone, and Susan B.A. Somers-Willett

7:30pm Christian Bök
Ryan Biracree (graduate)
Nicholas Moore (undergraduate)

8:30pm D.A. Powell & Ann Lauterbach
Amanda Veale (graduate)
Rickey McGhee (undergraduate)


1:00pm Jeffrey McDaniel (SLC Faculty) & Kazim Ali
Lauren Hilger (graduate)
Nicole Testa (undergraduate)

2:30pm Patrick Rosal (SLC MFA Alumna)
Saundra Norton (graduate)
Saratoga Rahe (undergraduate)

2:30pm (concurrently) PANEL: Our Poetic Moment, with panelists Heather Christle, Paul Legault, and Kazim Ali, moderated by Ryan Biracree

3:35pm Heather Christle & Khadijah Queen
SarahKai Neal (graduate)
Stephen Ira (undergraduate)

Photo courtesy of Anna Quinlan

Nina Sparling (Editor, “What’s Up”) is a bi-coastal aspiring bread baker frustrated with the current food system. Originally from Berkeley, she moved to New York, complaining most of the way, until she found the Met and figured out the subway (but still has serious envy for Bay Area vegetables). Currently a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence, Nina studies languages, political ecology, and geography and tries to figure out how they all relate.

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