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Tuesday, 05 April 2016 11:03

Kalamazoo Poetry Festival Returns

Written by  Eric Mitts
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Nationally-recognized poet Natalie Diaz appears at the Kalamazoo Poetry Festival this month. Nationally-recognized poet Natalie Diaz appears at the Kalamazoo Poetry Festival this month.

The Kalamazoo Poetry Festival returns this month with more than just a showcase for West Michigan’s budding Ginsbergs and Plaths. 

The second-year festival, coinciding with National Poetry Month, celebrates the creation, presentation and appreciation of written art in all its forms — whether they wish to listen, to learn, or to share their experience of poetry with others.

“It is the goal of Kalamazoo Poetry Festival that everyone in Kalamazoo has a voice, and poetry is a marvelous and unique vehicle for expression,” said KPF program committee co-chair Marion Boyer. “Poetry comes to us in childhood verse, in the lyrics of our songs. It can move us, spin stories, contain humor, evoke memories, images, persuade and inform us with precise language and compact form.” 

Following the inaugural Kalamazoo Poetry Festival held in 2014, and the Celebration of Community Poets last year, this year’s festival features nationally-recognized poets Natalie Diaz and Jamaal May. Both will join a craft talk on April 16, moderated by Kalamazoo College’s Diane Seuss (author of the 2015 poetry collection Four Legged Girl) and also perform at a reading held later that evening at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (315 S. Park St.).

Kalamazoo Poetry Festival
Multiple locations, Kalamazoo
April 15–16, FREE!
Workshops require registration, space is limited
kalamazoopoetryfestival.com

In addition, the KPF offers other free readings and workshops during its two-day event, including sessions for spoken word, youth and teen poets, all led by local poets and creative writing instructors. 

“Workshops provide a forum for people interested in listening to and learning more about poetry, or who read and write poetry and wish to meet and share with others passionate about poetry,” Boyer said. 

Leading this year’s ten workshops are Jennifer Clark, Margaret DeRitter, Jane Huffman, Fable The Poet (aka Marcel Price), Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Gail Martin, Preacher (aka Cornelius Shaw) and McKenzie Lynn Tozan. 

An open-mic session also takes place April 15 at FIRE Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative, located at 1249 Portage Rd. 

The Kalamazoo Poetry Festival plans to present its multi-day festival every other year, and in the intervening years present at least one event highlighting local poets and poetry in the community. 

“West Michigan is enormously rich in lovers of poetry, talented writers and generous mentors,” Boyer said. “If you aspire to be a poet or if you are interested in hearing poetry, opportunities abound in our area for learning and gaining support. Simply reach out and investigate the events you see posted on the KPF website.”

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