Massachusetts Celebrates Poetry Month in April

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Massachusetts, proud of its longstanding traditions of literature, is celebrating National Poetry Month throughout the Commonwealth in April 2017.

The Commonwealth’s poetry tradition stretches back to the 17th century when Anne Dudley Bradstreet was America’s first published poet in 1650. Phyllis Wheatley, an African slave living in Boston, published her poetry during the lead-up to the American Revolution; her first book of poetry was actually published in England though her poetry was all about Massachusetts. The muse continued through the 19th century with writers like Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Boyle O’Reilly, followed by a wealth of great poetry in the 20th century by Stanley Kunitz, Robert Lowell, E.E. Cummings, Ann Sexton, Slyvia Plath, and many others.

Massachusetts has an official state poem, called The Blue Hills of Massachusetts by Katherine E. Mullen.

Today the poetry tradition is more robust than ever. Thanks to Mass Poetry and other organizations, there are poetry events, readings and competitions throughout the year. Check out these events in the coming weeks that celebrate the written and spoken words of poetry, compiled by Paige Southworth of Emmanuel College.

Greater Boston:

Boston National Poetry Month Festival 2017
Boston Public Library- Friday (April 7)

• 13 Keynote Poets (Winners of Mass Book Award, National Book Award & Pulitzer Prize)

Saturday (April 8) /Sunday (April 9)

• 50 established/emerging poets
• Open Mic
• Panel on Craft and Publishing (Saturday Only)

Northeastern University- Thursday (April 7)
• 2nd Annual High School Poetry Slam Competition

North of Boston:
Peabody Institute Library-Wednesday (April 19)
• Get to Know the Festival Poets: Discussion Series 7-8pm

Cape Ann Museum-Saturday (April 29)
Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop: Local Poet Gayle Henry will teach participants how to write poetry using the museums artifacts as inspiration 10:30am-12pm

9th Annual 2017 Mass Poetry Festival 
Downtown Salem (May 5-7)

South of Boston:

Plymouth Center for the Arts-Sunday (April 9)
• The Art of Words: Mike Amado Memorial Series 12 -3pm

Cape Cod & the Islands:

Wellfleet Library-Saturday (April 29)
• Cape Cod Poetry Group (National Poetry Month Discussion on Change & Transition) 1-3 pm

Central Massachusetts:

Worcester State University (Student Center)-Wednesday (April 12)
• Annual Judith O’Connell Hoyer ’65 Poetry Reading 2-4pm

Western Massachusetts:

Smith College (Poetry Center)-Thursday (April 13)