Festivals & Live Poetry Events
Austin International Poetry Festival
Every year for the past two decades, the Austin International Poetry Festival has brought poets from around the globe to the bookstores, bars, coffeehouses and streets of Austin, Texas. Today, this four-day, citywide, all-inclusive annual celebration of poets and poetry has grown to become “the largest non-juried poetry festival in the U.S.” Come on down!
Beall Poetry Festival
This annual spring festival, sponsored by the Baylor University English Department, brings big-name poets to Waco, Texas every year for a three-day celebration of contemporary poetry.
Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival
The Dodge Festival, source of Bill Moyers’ two PBS video series, The Language of Life and Fooling with Words, has been running in even-numbered years since 1986 and bills itself as the largest poetry event in North America. Originally held in Waterloo Village, the Festival found a new home in Newark’s Downtown Arts District in 2010 and returned to the city in 2012.
Glastonbury is the biggest and most essential annual hippified music fest in Europe and possibly the whole world, 80,000+ unwashed, happy and, well, you get the idea... with a healthy amount of West of England/Celtic legend and mysticism thrown in, King Arthur, ley lines, ancient magic, etc.... and “Poetry&Words” has always been a big part of it.
LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival)
The LEAF Festival brings artists, musicians and poets to Camp Rockmont in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains (the former home of Black Mountain College) for extended weekend jams in May and October which include the LEAF poetry slam moderated by Slammaster Jim Navé.
Ledbury Poetry Festival
Touted by former British Laureate Andrew Motion as “the best in the country,” this annual poetry festival in Ledbury, a medieval market town near the foot of the Malvern Hills in the UK, says “If you think you know what poetry is, come along and we’ll surprise you. There are live readings, performances, workshops, open mics, music, exhibitions, films, family events, street events, a slam and much more.”
National Poetry Slam, Inc.
Slam has evolved over the years into both a family and a corporation. Gary Mex Glazner, producer of the first Nationals (in San Francisco in 1990), says “The National Poetry Slam was created as a hive for poets. To let those troubadours get to know each other’s honey. To form a comb of readings. To give their voices wings. Here is your megaphone, sting poets, sting.”
People’s Poetry Gathering
Billed as “a Woodstock for Words in lower Manhattan,” the People’s Poetry Gathering highlighted the tradition of sharing poetry in performance in 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2006, boasting a stellar lineup of voices from various parts of the world and poetic traditions.
Poetry and the Public Sphere
Poetry and the Public Sphere was the title of the conference on contemporary poetry at Rutgers in spring 1997. Adrienne Rich, Robert Hass, Sonia Sanchez, Charles Bernstein, Meena Alexander, and our own Bob Holman all were there, breaking down the walls and living to write about it.
Poetry International Rotterdam
This truly international, multilingual festival is staged in the Netherlands each June, featuring poets from all over the world.
The Scream Literary Festival
If you can’t dream it, scream it. Toronto’s annual “Carnival of the Spoken Word” began as a single June 1993 evening in High Park and evolved over 18 years into a full-grown four-day festival, but closed its doors in 2011, inviting folks to send it off with a bang by creating their own events in “Wreck Our Brand: The Scream unFestival.”
StAnza, Scotland’s Poetry Festival
The annual StAnza festival in St. Andrews is the only Scottish arts festival specifically devoted to poetry. It features Scottish poets, both resident and expatriate, introcuces Scottish audiences to poets from all over the world, and makes a point of promoting readings in foreign or minority languages like Catalan, Romanian, Scots and Shetlandic.
Taos Poetry Circus and World Heavyweight Poetry Bout
The Taos Poetry Circus lit up the mountains every summer from 1982 through 2003, showcasing established and upcoming poets and hosting the annual World Heavyweight Poetry Bout. Videotapes from the bouts and other Poetry Circus events are now available from Minor Heron Press. Your Guide Bob Holman challenged Sherman Alexie in the 2000 World Heavyweight Poetry Bout, the culminating event at the week-long annual Taos Poetry Circus. See his “Boutpreppome” elsewhere on this site for poetical details.