missing the mass poetry festival 2016 - and anticipating next year!

by Jacquelyn Malone

As we leave Salem and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival each year, many of us feel exhausted—we’ve talked, we’ve walked the streets of Salem, we’ve gone bubbling from one event to the next. And we also feel a little sad, a little despondent. Many of us realize that despite out exhaustion we have been floating for a few days above our usual routine world in a land where everyone is talking excitedly about the same enthralling thing in the same almost obsessive way. A chance encounter with a stranger has suddenly bloomed into a friendship that messaging and email and texting will carry over through the weeks and months to come.

We’ve been in a magic land for a few days. And now we have come down from a tremendous exhilaration into the usual mundane world of everyday life. You don’t have to have a dull, despondent or sad life outside the poetry world to feel a little this way.

But we hope you have a few carry-overs to lessen your heartbreak—those chance-encounter friendships, that awakening to poetry coming from a poet you hadn’t known before, that new insight into your own poetry, those new books and journals you brought home. And memories of the food, the poetry circus, the typewriter orchestra, the slams, the laughter from an unexpected sidewalk encounter.

Attendees voice their thoughts about the festival

I’m not the only one who feels strongly about the festival. Here are some responses to the festival from this year’s attendees:

We all know that The Mass Poetry Festival has dynamic workshops, inspirational lectures and some of the greatest readings in any poetry universe, but what I enjoyed most about this year’s festival were the conversations I had about poetry with friends, both old and new. I felt like I was involved in a weekend long discussion about writing, reading and the state of poetry.  Sorry to see it end.
Kevin Carey – Manchester, Ma.

I loved having a chance to chat with friends, poetry colleagues and all those poetry lovers who stopped by.at the Iris Press table where Wendy Drexler and I were plunked. Only had time for the Solstice reading (it was outstanding!) and the Saturday evening features.  A great day!
Holly Guran – Boston

For me the highlight of the festival was hearing Matthew Hittinger, a young poet previously unknown to me, give a dynamite reading of his savvy and keenly observant poems. And always, too, it is a pleasure to hear Mark Doty. His engaging craft talk, “Speaking in Tongues,” proved for me once again he is as superb a professor as he is a poet.
Richard Foerster -- Cape Neddick, Maine

I am blessed to have the Mass Poetry Festival just across the bridge from my home in Beverly. It seemed like magic to listen to poets whose work I've been reading for years, and then head home to dream of them. It makes me feel that the world is made of poetry--and I guess it is.
Dawn Paul – Beverly

This weekend was a delight with the people, places, poets and memories shared, lingered over, laughed about and taken home to savor.  Inspiration was everywhere! The Mass Poetry Fest is a celebration of community in uniquely quirky, poet-y Salem.  I've attended every fest since 2008 and for me this one was the best in too many ways to count . . . what was your experience?
My thanks to all who helped create such joy!   
Karen M. Kline -- North Andover Poet Laureate

As a first time attendee and volunteer, I was so inspired by this well-organized event, its cohesive spirit of community and the celebration of creative expression. The beautiful venue was an added bonus and I learned so much about the commonalities shared by those who submit to stirrings of their inner voice. I say that because after writing in solitude all my life, I have come out of the shadows and fulfilled a need by attending this event. Meeting like-minded people was heartwarming and I realize I need to stay connected with others on this writing journey.
Edith Bazile -- Randolph