2008 Festival Archive

The Fourth Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival was held January 21-26, 2008 and the faculty included Kim Addonizio, Claudia Emerson, Thomas Lux, Campbell McGrath, Sharon Olds, C.K. Williams, Major Jackson, Malena Morling and featured Florida Poets were Lola Haskins and Spencer Reece.  Performance Poets featured at the annual Coffee House event were Roger Bonair-Agard and Marty McConnell.  Biographies of the poets and descriptions of the workshops that were offered follow below.

Stealing Fire with Kim Addonizio

This is a workshop about taking inspiration from other writers—from their structures, ideas, syntax, subject matter—whatever will launch us into new and self-surprising territory. We will create new writing specifically based on close readings of several fine and fascinating poems, with the aim of absorbing and using the brilliance we find there. This will be a workshop to stretch your knowledge of craft and give you new insights and ideas, as well as the opportunity to share this new work aloud. We will also do one critique session on a piece you've previously written, so bring a work-in-progress with 13 copies for discussion. (This workshop is mostly generative, with some feedback on the in-class writings.)

Kim Addonizio is the author of several acclaimed poetry collections including The Philosopher's Club, Jimmy & Rita, and Tell Me, a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award, and What Is This Thing Called Love . She is also the author of two novels published by Simon & Schuster: Little Beauties, and most recently My Dreams Out in the Street, which Andre Dubus III hailed as "one of the finest American novels I've read in some time, a night-blooming flower you will not be able to put down..." She also has a story collection, In the Box Called Pleasure. With Dorianne Laux she co-wrote The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, which has been widely used in writing groups, colleges and universities. With Cheryl Dumesnil she co-edited Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos (Warner Books). A word/music CD with Susan Browne, is called "Swearing, Smoking, Drinking, & Kissing," is available from www.cdbaby.com.

Addonizio's awards include two NEA fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a Commonwealth Club Poetry Medal, and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award. She is online at www.kimaddonizio.com.

Delight To Wisdom with Claudia Emerson

A productive workshop can take a poem from delight to wisdom to borrow a phrase from Robert Frost and through close reading, we will work to give each other useful feedback. Our primary goal will be for every poet to leave the workshop eager to get back to work with a clearer sense of the poems possibilities. Id like 2 or 3 poems ahead of time, but the poets should bring enough copies for everyone in the group. (This is a critique-based workshop.)

Claudia Emerson was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book Late Wife: Poems (LSU Press, 2005). She is Professor of English and Arrington Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is also the author of the poetry collections Pharaoh, Pharaoh, and Pinion: An Elegy; all volumes published in Dave Smith's Southern Messenger Poets series. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Southern Review, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, New England Review, and other journals. Emerson is the recipient of a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. A new collection, tentatively titled The Mannequin Above the Main Street Motors is forthcoming.

Music Makes It Happen With Major Jackson

This workshop is designed for intermediate to accomplished poets interested in discovering innovative techniques of composing and revising poetry. We will critique old work and generate new poems through a variety of writing exercises and in-class reading assignments aimed at heightening our awareness of that which makes poems authentic, inventive, and permanent in our bodies. When not reading and discussing model poems, we will respond to each other's efforts at newly written poems. Throughout, we will compile a storehouse of revision ideas that stress imaginative play and originality of artful utterance, in essence, the poem's lyric dimensions. Participants should forward in advance 12 copies of three poems for discussion, yet be prepared to compose new work.

Major Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry: Hoops (Norton: 2006) and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia: 2002), winner of the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He has received critical attention in The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Parnassus, Philadelphia Inquirer, and on National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered.' His poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Callaloo, The New Yorker, Post Road, Poetry, Triquarterly, among other literary journals and anthologies. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Last year, he served as a creative arts fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and as the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Major Jackson is an Associate Professor of English at University of Vermont and a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Word By Word, Line By Line with Thomas Lux

Advanced Workshop Description: We will pay close attention, in minute detail, to all the elements that go into writing a poem. So we'll do word by word, line by line readings. Frost said that the primary way to get to the reader's heart and mind is through the reader's ear. The sound, the noise of a poem, demands our attention. We must be tough, honest and direct with each other's work and also be generous, thoughtful and never condescending or dismissive. A good workshop can do both. Bring in three or four poems, thirteen copies of each, for discussion

Thomas Lux holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry and directs the McEver Visiting Writers Program at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. His books of poetry include The Cradle Place (Houghton Mifflin, 2004); The Street of Clocks (2001); New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995 (1997), a finalist for the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Blind Swimmer: Selected Early Poems: 1970-1975 (1996); and Split Horizon (1994), winner of the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award. His distinguished teaching career includes twenty-seven years on the writing faculty and Director of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence. Lux has taught poetry writing at Emerson, Warren Wilson, and many other universities. He has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry and has received three National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A new collection, God-Particles is scheduled for publication in Spring 2008.

Poetry in Process with Campbell McGrath

What a pleasure to write and read poems in Florida in January, when the trade winds blow and the orchid trees bloom! In this workshop we will generate new poems to workshop, and share some old work brought with you to Delray Beach. We will read a few essential poems, by Elizabeth Bishop and Yusef Komunyakaa among others, and try to borrow what we can from their technical mastery. Please bring thirteen copies of two different poems to the first class, and come prepared to participate fully in the community of the workshop.

Campbell McGrath has received many of America's top literary honors for his poetry, including a MacArthur "genius" grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Kingsley Tufts Prize. He has published six books of poetry, most recently Florida Poems (Ecco Press/HarperCollins, 2002) and Pax Atomica (Ecco Press/HarperCollins, 2004); a new book, Seven Notebooks, will be out in January, 2008. McGrath's poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, the Atlantic, on the op-ed page of the New York Times, and in most of the country's significant literary journals. He teaches at Florida International University, where he is the Philip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing.

Transforming Poems with Malena Mörling

In this workshop we will read and discuss one another's poems and in the course of these critiques address issues of craft and other heartfelt concerns. We will focus on the process of writing and revision and discuss the many approaches to revise a poem. Is it possible for instance, to approach a revision the way one would approach a translation? How do you transform a poem without destroying its urgency and spirit? I would like three poems, thirteen copies of each from each student the first day and one poem from another writer from each student to share.

Malena Mörling was born in Stockholm and grew up in southern Sweden. She received an MA from New York University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is the author of two books of poetry, Ocean Avenue, selected by Philip Levine for the New Issues Press Poetry Prize in 1998 and Astoria published by Pittsburgh Press in 2006. Mörling has translated works by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, a selection of which appears in the collection, For the Living and the Dead published by Ecco Press. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times Book Review, New Republic, Washington Post Book World, Ploughshares, New England Review, Five Points and Double Take. Currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, she has taught at New York University, the University of Montana, Syracuse University and the New School. In 2007 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Generating New Work with Sharon Olds

We will be writing brand new poems, all of us together. No exercises, no assignments just each with each's brand new drafts! We'll work entirely by ear—no Xeroxes. We will also have a chance to talk about craft, and whatever else is on our mind and heart about poetry. This is a generative workshop.

Sharon Olds has been called one of the most extraordinary poets of our time. Her writing is celebrated for its candor, its eroticism and its power to move. A New York Times reviewer said, "Her work has a robust sensuality, a delight in the physical that is almost Whitmanesque. She has made the minutiae of a woman's everyday life as valid a subject for poetry as the grand abstract themes that have preoccupied other poets." Olds studied at Stanford University and Columbia University. Her first collection of poems, Satan Says (1980), received the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award. The Dead & the Living (1983), received the Lamont Poetry Selection and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other collections include Strike Sparks: Selected Poems (2004, Knopf), The Unswept Room (2002), Blood, Tin, Straw (1999), The Gold Cell (1997), The Wellspring (1995), and The Father (1992), which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her numerous honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Ploughshares, and has been anthologized in more than a hundred collections.

Re-conceiving Poems with C.K. Williams

This is a workshop in the revision and the re-conceiving of poems. Poets almost all revise, and we're quite aware we do, it's the essential of craft; the workshop will for the most part attend to that. Poets also occasionally re-conceive unfinished poems, but we often do so unsystematically, without a real sense of what we're about. The workshop will try to find ways to organize procedures of starting poems over from the beginning.

C. K. Williams is the author of nine books of poetry, the most recent of which, The Singing, won the National Book Award for 2003. His previous book, Repair, was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, as well as the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and his collection Flesh and Blood received the National Book Critics Circle Award. He published a memoir, Misgivings: My Mother, My Father, Myself, in 2000, and has published translations of Sophocles' Women of Trachis, Euripides' Bacchae, and poems of Francis Ponge, among others. A book of essays, Poetry and Consciousness, appeared in 1998. Recently he was awarded the Twentieth Annual Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, an honor given to an American poet in recognition of extraordinary accomplishment. Among his honors are awards in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Voelcker Career Achievement Award, and fellowships from the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003, and teaches in the Writing Program at Princeton University.

Florida Poets

Lola Haskins' most recent of eight poetry collections is Desire Lines, New and Selected Poems (BOA, 2004). Two prose books appeared in 2007: Not Feathers Yet: A Beginner's Guide to the Poetic Life (Backwaters Press), and Solutions Beginning with A, fables about women, with images by Maggie Taylor (Modernbook). Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, The London Review of Books, London Magazine, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, The New York Quarterly and elsewhere. Her poetry and commentary have been broadcast on BBC and NPR. Among her awards are the Iowa Poetry Prize (for Hunger, University of Iowa Press, 1993), the Emily Dickinson Prize from the PSA, and two NEAs. For more information, please see her website www.lolahaskins.com.

Spencer Reece's first book of poems The Clerk's Tale was published by Houghton Mifflin, selected by U.S. poet laureate Louise Gluck for the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize in 2003. The title poem for the book was published in The New Yorker. In 2005, he won the Whiting Award, the NEA Grant in Poetry the Guggenheim Grant and received Virginia Commonwealth University's Annual Levis Reading Prize for The Clerk's Tale. Reece is an assistant manager at Brooks Brothers in Palm Beach Gardens and lives in Lantana, Florida. He is currently training to be a chaplain at Hospice of the Palm Beaches and engaged in the discernment process for ordination in the Episcopal priesthood.

Coffee House Performance Poets

Roger Bonair-Agard weaves living, breathing tapestries out of politics and the notion of home; a native of Trinidad and Tobago, Roger has lived in Brooklyn for seventeen years. His work reflects the struggles of a voluntary exile in a conflicted 21st-century America. He is the author of Tarnish & Masquerade (Cypher Books, 2007) and co-author of Burning Down the House (Soft Skull Press, 2000). A founding member of NYC-based literary nonprofit the louderARTS Project, Roger has appeared three times on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, performed and facilitated writing and performance workshops at colleges, universities and high schools and stirred audiences from Germany to South Africa and Anchorage, Alaska. Roger's work has been widely anthologized and has been commissioned extensively through the multi-disciplinary performance troupe VisionIntoArt. His acclaimed one-man show MASQUERADE: poems of calypso and home is currently touring nationwide. Roger is a Cave Canem fellow, a Nuyorican Poets Café Fresh Poet of the Year, and a former Individual National Poetry Slam Champion.

Marty McConnell received her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and co-curates the flagship reading series of the louderARTS Project, a New York City-based literary nonprofit. She appeared on the second and fifth seasons of HBO's Def Poetry Jam, and is one-fourth of the all-female performance poetry troupe The Piper Jane Project, a branch of louderARTS LIVE. She competed in the 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006 National Poetry Slams with the NYC/louderARTS team and has performed and facilitated workshops at schools and festivals around the country, including The Dodge Poetry Festival, Connecticut Poetry Festival, Amherst College, Cornell University, the University of Utah, James Madison University, University of Connecticut, University of Arkansas, DePaul University, and more. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies including Spoken Word Revolution Redux, Women of the Bowery, Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader, Bullets and Butterflies: Queer Spoken Word Poetry, Will Work for Peace, and In Our Own Words: Poetry of Generation X, as well as magazines including Rattapallax, Fourteen Hills, Boxcar Poetry Review, Thirteenth Moon, 2River View, Lodestar Quarterly, and Blue Fifth Review.