2023 Newburyport Literary Festival Poetry Events

Saturday, April 29 Poetry Readings at the Newburyport Public Library

9:00 AM. Breakfast with the Poets—Powow River Poets Read New Work 

Join us for coffee and pastries— and some strong poetry to get you up and going. These locally based, nationally recognized poets will refresh your palate. Al Basile, Daniel Brown, Rhina Espaillat, Paulette Demers Turco, and Barbara Lydecker Crane will read from books they’ve published since last year’s festival. Owen Grey will moderate.

10:30 AM. Out of this World—A Reading from Outer Space: 100 Poems 

Throughout human history, poetry has provided stories about what people observe in the sky. Stars, planets, comets, the moon, and space travel are used as metaphors for our feelings of love, loneliness, adventurousness, and awe. Editor Midge Goldberg and contributors Liz Ahl, Robert Crawford, Michael Ferber, Deborah Warren, and Anton Yakovlev will read from the anthology Outer Space: 100 Poems, recently published by Cambridge University Press, which includes poets, astronomers, and scientists from the 12th century BCE to today, from all around the world. Midge Goldberg will moderate.

11:30 AM. The Poetry of Mary Buchinger and Alfred Nicol 

The theme of loss and the heartbreak of it, whether sudden or slow, unites recent poetry by Mary Buchinger and Alfred Nicol. In One Hundred Visions of War, Nicol, whose own poems are known for their sonorous power, has now translated the piercing WW I poems of Julien Vocance from the French into a moving series of haiku. In Virology and the forthcoming Navigating the Reach, Buchinger’s reveries on landscape and human loss move us with their supple beauty. For these poets, the encounter of keenly observing self and world yields visions sensitively drawn and superbly crafted.

1:30 PM. The Poetry of Wendy Drexler and Andrew Hudgins 

Knowing the “mess we’ve made of us. . . the mass and rush of us,” and in keen sympathy with the creaturely world, whether herring, bluebird, or screech owl, Wendy Drexler finds in the “mirrored labyrinth” of memory a profound reclamation, as experience refracts memory and memory resonates in experience. The richly entertaining characters of Andrew Hudgins’s monumental body of work derive from his singular childhood in the South. Hypnotic and musical, his poems pivot on moments of unexpected humor, capturing both woe and wonder. For both poets, time shifts the meaning of our remembrance.

2:30 PM. The Poetry of Matthew Buckley Smith and Alan Shapiro

Matthew Buckley Smith imbues his poems with the same subtle wit, knowing heart, and genial, meditative tone he sometimes deploys on his podcast Sleerickets, lending these poems of young romance, written in faultless meter and rhyme, a wry and ruminative tone. In addition to his fine poems, the Festival must also thank Matthew for bringing the poet Alan Shapiro to us this year, with his new book Proceed to Checkout, which follows on many much lauded collections. Shapiro’s poems sparkle “with formal precision and imaginative openness, social conscience and psychological savvy.”

3:30 PM. The Poetry of Aaron Poochigian and Amit Majmudar 

In the dazzling American Divine, the celebrated classicist Aaron Poochigian happens on the divine everywhere—in a passing mongrel bitch, a roadside totem, the traffic lights lavishing Christmas glory— while with flair, he notes the pretensions to the divine in himself and in certain peculiarly American sects. Add in oxycontin, and ecstasy can cross from pretension to madness, as Amit Majmudar, a diagnostic nuclear radiologist, as well as a colossus on the literary scene, shows in What He Did in Solitary. Majmudar explores the cultural nightmares that make solitary confinement a fact of our lives, while celebrating with delightful potency the perpetual becoming of the world

Jiggery-Pokery Semicentennial

The double dactyl is aptly described on the jacket of this new anthology as “a devilish amalgam of rhyme, meter, name-dropping and pure nonsense,” but editors Daniel Groves and Greg Williamson have somehow persuaded the likes of X. J. Kennedy, J. D. McClatchy, Kim Bridgford, Caki Wilkinson, Andrew Hudgins and Charles Martin to contribute their efforts to this new anthology, conceived as a follow-up to the original Jiggery-Pokery anthology compiled by the inventors of the form, Anthony Hecht and John Hollander. Also included are three of my own poems, along with several by my good friend A. M. Juster.