, Newburyport, MA


May 1, 2014

'Connected to being human'

Massachusetts Poetry Festival celebrates its fifth year


“You create communities with people and check out things you weren’t sure about,” Jean said. “I can speak to my own experience: We’re having for the first time ever a Cape Verdean reading, and I have that background from my father’s side.

“You want to know how to talk about certain experiences, and sometimes we need support in know how to talk about it,” she said. “It’s very fluid. Most people are not stuck on one thing.”

While Mass Poetry presents an abundance of programs at its festival, the organization also brings poetry to the public throughout the year.

It brings poets to schools, and this April, it launched Poetry on the T, which allows commuters in Boston to read poems in trolley cars instead of advertisements.

Returning to the festival this year is Common Threads, a program in which 10 poems by Massachusetts poets are read in schools throughout the state in April, then discussed at the festival in May.

“We’re trying different things,” O’Neil said. “We want to resonate and grow and support a sense of community in the state.”

If you go

What: Massachusetts Poetry Festival

When: Tomorrow through Sunday

Where: Peabody Essex Museum, Hawthorne Hotel, Old Town Hall and other Salem venues

How much: Entry to all events requires a festival button: $15 general admission, $7 seniors and students. A $5 workshop fee allows visitors to sign up for as many workshops as they like. Purchase buttons online at

More information:

Tannery Series at the festival

Newburyport’s Tannery Series will return to the Peabody Essex Museum to present “Parts Unknown: The Challenges of Writing Across Worlds” on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. The program is a behind-the-scenes look at how four poets address the pitfalls and politics of depicting worlds that seem foreign or distant and features Martha Collins, Kirun Kapur, Li-Young Lee and Vivek Narayanan.

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