Details for the 2019 New Hampshire Poetry Festival

Saturday, September 14, 2019
New England College
98 Bridge Street
Henniker, NH 03243

Many thanks to Gibson’s Bookstore, which will be handling sales of books by presenters at the festival.

8:00-8:45 am – Simon Center, 98 Bridge Street

Registration: Simon Center Lobby

Coffee and pastry: Simon Center, Great Room

8:45-9:00 am – Simon Center, Great Room


9:15-10:30 – CEI Building, 23 Circle Way


Poets Making History Relevant
CEI Building, Room 102

Panelists: Sydney Lea, Sara London, Daniel Tobin

Three New England poets and Four Way Books authors Sydney Lea (Here, 2019), Sara London (Upkeep, 2019), and Daniel Tobin (Blood Labors, 2018) reach readers far and wide through beautifully crafted storytelling, gaining inspiration from their own histories and the histories of humanity. The voices in their poems are reflective, grieving, hopeful, and relatable. Each poet will read from their most recent collection and will be open to discussing how they approached writing and revising these very personal yet universal poems.


The Strangeness in Ourselves
CEI Building, Room 101

Panelists: Eileen Cleary, Robbie Gamble, Regie Gibson, Kevin McLellan

In an interview with the Paris Review Mary Szybist said, “I think that a good deal of poetry and art gives us some sense of access to another’s voice, perception, texture of thought, imagination. Sometimes it gives us better access to the strangeness in ourselves.” What is this strangeness (for the reader and the writer)? How does a poet overcome silence and begin developing an authentic relationship with the reader? What does a poet need to consider when occupying a voice that is not their own? How does a poet find all the other voices? How does a poet listen to the chorus of who they are? How does a poet meet the audience? Yet what if a voice is trapped on the page, can’t transcend the page? What is the voice that can only be a voice on the page? Sigmund Freud wrote, “The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing”. We will attempt to answer these difficult questions and others, and facilitate a writing prompt.


Poems for the Planet: An Ecopoetry Panel Discussion
CEI Building, Room 110

Panelists: Carol Willette Bachofner, Elizabeth J. Coleman, JS Graustein, Betsy Sholl

This panel will include four poets discussing the potential of ecopoetics and using Here: Poems for the Planet, released on Earth Day (Copper Canyon Press, April 22, 2019, ed. Elizabeth J. Coleman) as a rich example. What role does poetry play at this crucial moment in our environmental crisis? Summoning a chorus of 128 contemporary poets, HERE is a call for hope and action, approaching our environmental crisis with urgency and vision. The contemporary poems in HERE are introduced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and followed by an activist guide written by the Union of Concerned Scientists, engaging readers to address the realities of climate change and ecological peril head-on. HERE looks at our fellow humans and animals, the beauty around us, and the daunting problems we face, and asks for a renewed sense of courage, in place of the fear that can lead to indifference and cynicism. Through the window of poetry, readers are invited to see with new eyes what the astronauts saw the first time they peered down from space at our tiny earth.


The Sound of One’s Own Breaking: An Exploration of Unity in Adrienne Rich’s Ghazals
CEI Building, Room 202

Panelists: S Stephanie, Tammi Truax

This title references the line, “I’m the sound, simply, of my own breaking,” by Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib, translated by Adrienne Rich in 1969 with William Stafford. From her study and translation work of Ghalib’s ghazals, Rich went on to explore this poetic form in her own writing in Blue Ghazels and Homage to Ghalib. These poems were criticized in academia and elsewhere for not adhering to strict form, and some even charged her with “appropriation”. Yet the poems not only survive, but continue to influence and inspire writers. One important aspect of them is their bold attempt to link the public and the personal life of the speaker through the fragmentation this form affords. Another is her brazenness (strength) to build on the form rather than acquiesce to academic definitions of it. Such a political act during her time! In these days of divisiveness, the panelists have found the study of poetic forms to be a step in learning about our differences and our connectedness if approached humbly and in good faith. It is therefore a powerful political act for poets. One that Rich embraced, and one we have a great deal to learn from. Join for an exciting conversation about Rich’s search for unity through this form, and the possibilities it opens up for our own poetic voices.


The Passionate Pursuit of Reality
CEI Building, Room 201

Panelists: Brinda Charry, Jeff Friedman, Lexi Palmer, Eva Quill, Ashley Rollend, Alexa Unger

In his book The Witness of Poetry, Czeslaw Milozs defined poetry as “the passionate pursuit of the Real.” Four young female writers, Eva Quill, Ashley Rollend, Alexa Unger, and Lexi Palmer, from the undergraduate program at Keene State College, will explore their own passionate pursuit of the real through poems that present a multiplicity of perspectives on reality and truth. Ashley Rollend’s work emerges from tale, fable, and children’s literature. Alexa Unger prose poems combine realism with fabulism. Eva Quill’s work emerges from rhythm structures in the bible and writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Rita Dove, etc. Influenced by confessional poets, Lexi Palmer’s poems utilize expressionistic images to delve into subjective experience. Each writer on the panel also writes fiction and memoir like essays, and there is an interchange between their work in various genres, which strengthens their work in each genre. The four women entered college with very little experience in creative writing, but in a few years in a program with limited resources and course offerings in writing have developed their own poetic voices and have set out on a path to really discover the meaning of “the passionate pursuit or reality.”



10:45-12:00 – Workshops

(pre-registration required)

Self-Portraits: Describing, Naming, Transforming

Instructor: Chen Chen
Lyons Center, Room 103

Chen Chen

In this workshop, we will consider how the self-portrait as form/mode in poetry can lead to surprise and discovery when working with autobiographical material. We will discuss the powers and possibilities of “self-portrait with…” and “self-portrait as…” We will investigate the border between self-portrait and persona poem. Models will include poems by Nico Amador, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Aracelis Girmay, and Eduardo Corral. Visual art will also guide and push us to reimagine what it means to describe, name, and transform a self.

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, the GLCA New Writers Award, and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. The collection was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and named one of the best of 2017 by The Brooklyn Rail, Entropy, Library Journal, and others. His work has appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Tin House, Poem-a-Day, The Best American Poetry, Bettering American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Chen earned his MFA from Syracuse University and PhD in English and Creative Writing from Texas Tech University. He lives in frequently snowy Rochester, NY with his partner, Jeff Gilbert and their pug dog, Mr. Rupert Giles. Chen is the 2018-2020 Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University.


Trying on Another Poet’s Clothes

Instructor: Patrick Donnelly
Lyons Center, Room 106

Patrick Donnelly

Sometimes trying on another poet’s “clothes”—their voice, their diction, their vocabulary, the way they make lines and sentences, even the look of the poem on the page—frees us up to write things excitingly different from what might ordinarily have occurred to us. It’s like a visit to another poetic world, and we return afterward to our own voices refreshed and invigorated. In this generative workshop, we’ll give a close reading to one of the great love poems of the 20th century, William Meredith’s “The Illiterate,” which uses a very specific rhetorical structure. Then we’ll look at two poems by other poets that perform riffs on Meredith’s poem, and finally we’ll write our own variations, exploring how wearing different clothes can take us on unexpected journeys.

Patrick Donnelly is the author of four books of poetry, Little-Known Operas (Four Way Books, 2019), Jesus Said (a chapbook from Orison Books, 2017), Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2012), and The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003, since 2009 part of Copper Canyon Press), which was a 2013 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Donnelly is director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, NH, now a center for poetry and the arts, and he has taught at Smith College and Colby College. Donnelly’s translations with Stephen D. Miller of classical Japanese poetry were awarded the 2015-2016 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. Donnelly’s other awards include a U.S./Japan Creative Artists Program Award, an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and a 2018 Amy Clampitt Residency Award.


The The Way to a Poet’s Creativity is Through The Ear

Instructor: Maudelle Driskell
Lyons Center, Room 107

Maudell Driskell

Creativity can’t be easily controlled, but it can certainly be influenced. In this generative workshop we’ll take a few tidbits from modern neuroscience and put them to good creative use. Starting with a homolinguistic translation of a short poem, we will create our canvas. We will re-work our translated poems under the influence of music and work toward a new ability harnessing factors outside ourselves to get the neurotransmitters firing in a different way. Working with our created material we will experiment with different music and auditory cues.

Maudelle Driskell, who lives in Franconia, New Hampshire, is the executive director of The Frost Place. She holds an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College and is the recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, awarded by Poetry magazine and the Modern Language Association. Her first poetry collection, Talismans, was published by Hobblebush Books in 2014. She was a featured poet at Vanderbilt University’s Millennial Gathering of the Writers of the New South. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Kenyon Review, CAIRN, New Orleans Review, All Shook Up, The Made Thing, The Cortland Review, and Inch, among others. She is a past winner of the Pablo Neruda Award for Poetry in Translation and the Agnes Scott Writer’s Festival chosen by Eavan Boland, and many others. Driskell volunteers with poetry and arts organizations and serves on several boards.


The Art of the Unsaid

Instructor: Joan Houlihan
Lyons Center, Room 109

Joan Houlihan

What is off the page in a poem is often as important as, or more important than, what is on the page. For example, in conversation, we often glean more of what is being said by noticing the unsaid: body language, tone of voice, rhetorical style, which topic is avoided or which word repeated; in other words, we read between the lines. In a poem, we also read between the lines, building an off-the-page narrative by connecting far-flung images, words and phrases, line to line, and by sifting, adding, combining and synthesizing the visible and invisible parts of each line as we read. How and why does a poem leave things out? How do we construct meaning in poems without all the information? In this workshop we will use readings and generative exercises to explore the unsaid as it relates to interpreting, enjoying, and/or making sense of a poem.

Joan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Shadow-feast (Four Way Books, 2018). Other books include Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays (2003); The Mending Worm, which received the 2006 Green Rose Award from New Issues Press; The Us (2009) which received a Must-Read distinction from the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and Ay (2014), a sequel to The Us, both from Tupelo Press. In addition to publishing in a wide array of journals, including Boston Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Arts, Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Plume and Poetry, her poems have been anthologized in The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press, 2005); The Book of Irish-American Poetry, 18th Century to Present, (University of Notre Dame, 2007); The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins, (Clemson University Press, 2016), and The Eloquent Poem: 128 Contemporary Poems and Their Making (Persea Books). She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College and Smith College, and she currently serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is Professor of Practice in Poetry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.


12:00-1:30 – Lunch

Information about area restaurants is provided in your registration materials.

1:30-2:45 – CEI Building, 23 Circle Way


NEC MFA Program Poetry Reading
CEI Building, Room 102

Panelists: Andrew Morgan, Jacob Rivers, Bonnie Shinn, Chandler Veilleux, Adam Vernon

The New England College MFA Program in Creative Writing has a long history of engaging and fostering New Hampshire poets. The enthusiastic and supportive community this program establishes is intrinsically linked–both informing and informed by–the larger poetic community within the state. This student reading will be a celebration of that connection. It will also be a recognition of the expanding resonance of poetry in the state and highlight a serious group of younger individuals who, in both their personal and professional lives, are practically engaged and dedicated to that expansion.


Challenging the Quintessential Motherhood Poem
CEI Building, Room 101

Panelists: Jennifer Martelli, Kyle Potvin, Marjorie Tesser, Cindy Veach

The earliest motherhood poems were paeans, odes often written by male poets about their mothers. Self-sacrifice, modesty, and other traditional “virtues” were lauded; mothers were discussed in highly sentimental terms, and motherhood itself deemed a time of unremitting happiness. Today’s poems about motherhood are more often written by mothers themselves. By revealing truths about motherhood, they subvert stereotypes and forge a new poetry of diverse experiences of mothering. The panel will read excellent poems, their own and others’, that discuss such subjects as physical aspects of motherhood, work of motherhood and how motherhood impacts on other work, boredom, frustration, and other negative emotions mothers were not supposed to have, and also poems that depict and celebrate the joys of mothering and mother love authentically. As is noted in Jennifer Militello’s article, “From the Maternal to the Mechanical” (APR May/June 2017), “America’s contemporary poets are now in a position where they must explore ways of writing about motherhood that can defy sentimentality and resist the cultural pressure to present motherhood mainly as a source of happiness.”


Folded Word: Exploring the World One Voice at a Time for Ten Years…and Counting
CEI Building, Room 201

Panelists: Rose Auslander, Elizabeth J. Coleman, JS Graustein, Ben Moeller-Gaa, William O’Daly, Karla Van Vliet

Most small presses founded in the early 2000’s never made it to their fifth year, let alone their tenth. Please join New Hampshire press Folded Word as we celebrate a decade of publishing books, chapbooks, and zines – a decade made possible when JS (Jessi) Graustein learned to bind chapbooks by hand in a high-desert grange hall. By combining those first hand-stitched artifacts with an existing social-media network, the press created a community of poets and writers that now spans six continents. To demonstrate the range of voice made possible by this kind of physical-digital fusion, Folded authors William O’Daly, Ben Moeller-Gaa, Elizabeth J. Coleman, and Karla Van Vliet will each read two of their own poems, plus a favorite from the press’ international archive. Graustein and Rose Auslander will then explain the basis of their relational approach to publication, as well as the press’ continued commitment to experimentation while it focuses on the interconnectedness of humans and the earth. The panel will close with an invitation for the audience to take part in Folded Word’s next ten years, including publication opportunities and events. Time will be reserved for Q&A.


Intrinsically Different: A Panel Discussion of How Being Othered in Childhood Affects One’s Writing and Publishing
CEI Building, Room 110

Panelists: Eileen Cleary, Krysten Hill, Jennifer Jean, Lisa J. Sullivan

The participants in this panel have spent time in childhood as foster children, and /or in extreme poverty, or having been abandoned. How does this “other-ment” effect what enters into their work, and does this history impose restrictions on personal authenticity and the sense of freedom/danger in publishing. How much can be revealed or must be hidden? The panel participants will read from, and discuss the influence of personal biography leaks into their works, and how this impacts their sense of belonging in the mainstream poetry community. They will read from their works, and share anecdotes.


The Chapbook: Merits of the Short Collection
CEI building, Room 202

Panelists: Lori Desrosiers, Hope Jordan, Michael McInnis, Gloria Mindock

Poetry, more than any other genre, has a long and rich history of self-publication. From Walt Whitman to Lawrence Ferlinghetti to the DIY Zine movement of the 1990s, poets whose work couldn’t find a home with established publishers have been creating books and distributing their work themselves. The advent of the Internet, easy-to-use blogging software, and eBooks have made it easy to publish work online, but there is something satisfying about holding a physical object containing your work. Many small presses are now publishing chapbooks in addition to full-length books. This panel will explore the chapbook by exploring questions such as: What makes a chapbook different from a full-length book? Is it the ability to write on a theme or with a purpose in mind? Are chapbooks as satisfying to publish as full-length books, or less, or perhaps more? How do chapbook sales reckon in the general poetry publishing world? Are chapbooks a step towards a full-length publication, or do they stand on their own? This panel is comprised of both emerging and established poets, as well as small press publishers who publish chapbooks in the New England Region, including New Hampshire and Massachusetts.


3:00-4:15 – CEI Building, 23 Circle Way


Workshop Leader Group Reading
CEI Building, Room 110

Panelists: Chen Chen, Patrick Donnelly, Maudelle Driskell, Joan Houlihan, Jennifer Militello

A reading by workshop leaders Chen Chen, Patrick Donnelly, Maudelle Driskell, and Joan Houlihan. Introduced by Jennifer Militello.


Is This the End of the Beginning? Or the Beginning of the End?
CEI Building, Room 102

Panelists: Jennifer Martelli, Dawn Paul, Marjorie Tesser, Cindy Veach

How do you get out of a poem? How do you write an ending that peels out of the driveway like a doomed lover? That drifts down like fog or gives a final firecracker pop? Is your poem linear—a narrative that tells a story with a beginning and an end? Is your poem circular—with no ending? There are many new, invented and traditional forms that lend themselves to specific line-count for endings (American Sonnet, ghazal, the “duplex”, sestina) but, how do you keep your poem from being too “tidy?” How do you guard against overwriting your ending? When is enough enough? When is enough too much? Panelists will address these questions, and more, by sharing their own techniques and craftsmanship, as well as their favorite poems with emphasis on endings. In addition, they will examine various kinds of endings and how they make the meaning and mood of the poem. This panel will end with a generous Q & A and attendees will receive a handout of prompts designed to focus on poem endings.


The 100 (Rejections) Club: Nuts and Bolts of Sending Submissions
CEI Building, Room, 101

Panelists: Hope Jordan, Julia Lattimer, Christie Towers, Megan Waring

Poets devote hours to writing and revising their work, but when it comes to sending it out, we often become stuck. While some writers barely submit their work, while others consider it part of their job as a writer. There’s so much to consider: finding time to send out submissions; budgeting for submission fees; deciding where to submit; and managing the whole process. While rejections can be dispiriting, having a thoughtful and organized submission habit can result in publishing credits that introduce your work to new audiences, flesh out your credentials, and lead to exciting opportunities.


The Long Shadow from Troy to Vietnam
CEI Building, Room 201

Panelists: Jimmy Pappas, Rodger Martin

Two Vietnam veterans trace how their poetry brought them, like Odysseus, like Siegfried Sassoon, like Brian Turner on that long journey home and pay tribute to the poets like Achilles and Wilfred Owen who never made it home. Jimmy Pappas will take the audience on a journey to get a sense of what it might have felt like to “hump the boonies” while watching out for booby traps, mines, trip wires, and the four kinds of ambushes we might face. Jimmy’s mission as “platoon leader” will be to guide participants through the world in which his poetry was developed. We will learn about what a “scream wound” is and how it becomes a metaphor for the entire Vietnam War. Martin, who served as a combat engineer from 1967 to 1968, will speak on how Homer provided a time frame and a roadmap while Wilfred Owen provided him the sound and sense to use poetry as a navigational tool to come home. Finally, they will share ideas on how to find poetry in other people’s stories as well as in their own and open the forum for audience interaction.


4:15-5:00 – Great Room, Simon Center

Wine Reception

5:00-6:00 – Headliner Reading

Ilya Kaminsky

Great Room, Simon Center

Ilya Kaminsky
Photo by Cybele Knowles

Ilya Kaminsky is the author of the widely acclaimed Deaf Republic (Graywolf, 2019), which Kevin Young, writing in The New Yorker, called a work of “profound imagination.” Poems from Deaf Republic were awarded Poetry magazine’s Levinson Prize and the Pushcart Prize. He is also the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004), and Musica Humana (Chapiteau Press, 2002). Kaminsky has won the Whiting Writer’s Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and the Foreword Magazine’s Best Poetry Book of the Year award. Recently, he was on the short-list for the Neusdadt International Literature Prize. His poems have been translated into numerous languages and his books have been published in many countries including Turkey, Holland, Russia, France, Mexico, Macedonia, Romania, Spain and China, where his poetry was awarded the Yinchuan International Poetry Prize.

About Deaf Republic

Click to read more about the book at Graywolf Press

Deaf Republic opens in an occupied country in a time of political unrest. When soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, Petya, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear—all have gone deaf, and their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. The story follows the private lives of townspeople encircled by public violence: a newly married couple, Alfonso and Sonya, expecting a child; the brash Momma Galya, instigating the insurgency from her puppet theater; and Galya’s girls, heroically teaching signs by day and by night luring soldiers one by one to their deaths behind the curtain. At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea—Ilya Kaminsky’s long-awaited Deaf Republic confronts our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.

Header photo ©2018 by Lindsay Elitharp