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Black Tie International: Palm Beach Poetry Festival



                   at Old School Square in Delray Beach  



Special Featured Poet:







Stuart Dischell, Jane Hirshfield, Thomas Lux, Heather McHugh,

Vijay Seshadri, Ellen Bryant Voigt, C.D. Wright, Dean Young

Applications due by November 2, 2010



·        Poetry readings, talks, panel discussion by workshop faculty

·        Robert Pinsky, former United States Poet Laureate, will read his poems solo, and accompanied by local jazz musicians, January 19. 

·        Slam champions D. Blair & Taylor Mali will perform at late night coffee house, January 22. 

·        Two Workshop participant readings Free:  January 20 & 21.

Tickets on sale, October 15, 2010



(Delray Beach, FL – August 13, 2010)  Miles Coon, Director of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival (PBPF) announced today that the seventh annual festival will be presented again in partnership with Old School Square in Delray Beach for six days, January 17-22, 2011.


“Eight critically acclaimed poets, all revered teachers, will come to Delray Beach to teach poetry workshops for qualified writers. This is a terrific learning opportunity for local poets and for poets from around the globe,” said Coon. 


“And for members of the public, we have eleven events including enthralling readings, engaging daily talks, and a panel discussion by the faculty poets, as well as  performances by  D. Blair & Taylor Mali, two of America’s greatest spoken word artists.” 


“I am especially thrilled to announce that Robert Pinsky, the United States Poet Laureate from 1997-2000, will read his poems, both solo and accompanied by local jazz musicians on January 19.   Mr. Pinsky, in addition to being a world-renowned poet, was a featured character on the Simpsons!  His appearance will be a unique event, like none other.” 


“In addition to serving the writing community through our professional workshops, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival will once again offer numerous opportunities for the public to hear truly great poetry, written from and for our time, read by poets who engage and enthrall the audience,” added Coon. “They are a diverse group, ethnically, demographically and aesthetically.  When people hear them, they will hear America singing.”


+ Featured Readings

The festival will host daily talks about how poems are made at 2 pm and featured poets’ readings at 8 p.m, January 18-22.   Special guest Robert Pinsky will give a reading January 19 at 8 p.m.with live jazz music, following the Palm Beach Poetry Festival Annual Gala.


Special Featured Poet:


United States Poet Laureate (1997–2000)

Translator, Essayist, and Teacher

Robert Pinsky's first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism, and such national enthusiasm in response, that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry's place in the world. As Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky became a public ambassador for poetry, founding the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans – of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state – shared their favorite poems.

Elegant and tough, vividly imaginative, Pinsky's poems have earned praise for their wild musical energy and ambitious range. Gulf Music (FSG, fall 2007) is his most recent volume of poetry. His The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and received the Lenore Marshall Award and the Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union. Pinsky's Tanner Lectures at Princeton University were published as Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry (Princeton University Press, 2002). His other books about poetry include Poetry and the World, nominated for the National Book Critics' Circle Award, and The Sounds of Poetry, a brief guide treasured by many young poets. Robert Pinsky's landmark, best-selling translation of The Inferno of Dante received the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry and the Howard Morton Landon Prize for translation.

The poetry editor for the online magazine Slate, for seven years Pinsky appeared regularly on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. He writes the weekly Poet's Choice column for the Washington Post. He was elected in 1999 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Pinsky’s poems appear in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Threepenny Review, American Poetry Review, and frequently in The Best American Poetry anthologies. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. Robert Pinsky is also the winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Lenore Marshall, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture's 2006 Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Literary Arts, and the 2008 Theodore M. Roethke Memorial Poetry Award. He is one of the few members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have appeared on The Simpsons

Coffeehouse Performance Poetry:

(Late Saturday Night, January 22)

D. Blair

An award winning Detroit based poet and singer-songwriter, D. Blair is a 2010 Callaloo Fellow and a National Poetry Slam Champion.  His first book of poetry, Moonwalking was recently released by Penmanship Books. His band The Boyfriends released The Line on Repeatable Silence Records in June 2009. In the words of Metro Times journalist Melissa Giannini, BLAIR focuses his work on the hope that rises from the ashes of despair. Blair has performed on bills with Stevie Wonder, Oscar winner Michael Moore, Mike Doughty, Bitch and Animal, Justin Bond, members of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Richie Havens, The Butchies, Tribe 8, Wilco, Cat Power and others. He was the January 2005 HBO Def Poetry Jam Website Featured Poet, and has been nominated for 7 Detroit Music Awards, including a 2007 nod for Outstanding Acoustic Artist and The Metro Times Best Urban Folk Poet. Blair has toured the United States and Europe and performed in South Africa both solo and as part of Walk & Squawk's The Walking Project of which he is a co-writer and cast member. He's performed at New York's historic CBGBs, The Knitting Factory, The San Francisco Public Library, at Miyagi's on L.A.s Sunset Strip, Detroit's Hart Plaza and Magic Stick and with a string section at the home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He teaches poetry and music classes in Detroit Public Schools, Hannan House Senior Center, the YMCA and lectures at universities, colleges and high schools across the country.

Taylor Mali

One of the most well known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement, Taylor Mali was recently featured on CNN. He is one of the few people in the world to have no job other than that of "poet." Articulate, accessible, passionate, and downright funny, Mali studied drama in Oxford with members of The Royal Shakespeare Company and puts those skills of presentation to work in all his performances. He was one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and was the "Armani-clad villain" of Paul Devlin's 1997 documentary film SlamNation.

Born in New York City into a family some of whose members have lived there since the early 1600s, Taylor Mali is an unapologetic WASP, making him a rare entity in spoken word, which is often considered to be an art form influenced by the inner city and dominated either by poets of color or otherwise imbued with the spirit of hip-hop. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Last Time As We Are (Write Bloody Books 2009) and What Learning Leaves (Hanover 2002), and four CDs of spoken word. He received a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in 2001 to develop "Teacher! Teacher!" a one-man show about poetry, teaching, and math, which won the jury, prize for best solo performance at the 2001 U. S. Comedy Arts Festival. Formerly president of Poetry Slam Incorporated, the non-profit organization that oversees all poetry slams in North America, Taylor Mali makes his living entirely as a spoken-word and voiceover artist these days, traveling around the country performing and teaching workshops as well as doing occasional commercial voiceover work.


Eight Workshops for Qualified Writers of Poetry:

Workshops, limited to 12 qualified participants and three auditors, provide a meaningful level of discussion, and careful, informed attention to everyone’s work. Beginning poets, shy about sharing their poems, should consider auditing a workshop as a great way to learn by observing and listening.

NOW LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE  with Stuart Dischell

This intense and fast-moving workshop will consider the conscious and unconscious choices poets face regarding the structures and strategies of their poems.

Stuart Dischell is the author of Good Hope Road, a National Poetry Series Selection (Viking, 1993), Evenings & Avenues (Penguin, 1996), Dig Safe (Penguin, 2003), and Backwards Days (Penguin, 2007). His poems have been widely published in journals such as The Atlantic, The New Republic, Ploughshares, Slate, and The Kenyon Review. A recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Dischell has taught at Boston University, New Mexico State University, the Sarah Lawrence Summer Seminar for Writers, and Low Residency Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He currently teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at UNC Greensboro.

ENLARGING POEMS  with Jane Hirshfield

The “enlarging” of this workshop’s title is not about length, but about possibility, stretching from familiar ground toward new reaches of language, of voice, of subject, or of self. The workshop will be devoted primarily to writing new poems, each day bringing a different set of energies, craft strategies, and approaches to that task.

Jane Hirshfield has won many honors, including the Poetry Center Book Award, fellowships from the NEA, Guggenheim, and Rockefeller Foundations, the California Poetry Medal, and the 70th Academy Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement from The Academy of American Poets. Her six books of poetry include After (HarperCollins, 2006), named a best book of 2006 by The Washington Post, The S.F. Chronicle, and England’s Financial Times and Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has taught at UC Berkeley, Bennington College, and elsewhere. Her poems appear in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and five editions of The Best American Poems. Her new collection of poems (Come, Thief) will be published next year.


This workshop will pay close attention, in minute detail, to all the ele-ments that go into writing a poem with word-by-word, line-by-line readings.

Thomas Lux is a long-time friend of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. His latest collection is God Particles (Houghton Mifflin 2008). Other books include The Cradle Place; The Street of Clocks; New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995, a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Blind Swimmer: Selected Early Poems: 1970-1975; and Split Horizon, winner of the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award. His distinguished teaching career includes twenty-seven years on the writing faculty and as Director of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence. He has taught at Emerson College, Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers, and other universities. A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry and recipient of three NEA grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Lux holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry and directs the McEver Visiting Writers Program at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.


This workshop will examine the ways in which poems can radiate senses, paying particular attention to details of their design. Looking closely at published poems to illustrate some principles, participants will apply the same alertness to their own work.

Heather McHugh is the author of eight poetry collections, a collection of literary essays and three books of translation. Her honors include two NEA grants, a Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Award, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, and one of the first United States Artists awards. She has served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009, she was awarded the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant." She serves as a visiting faculty in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and is Milliman Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington in Seattle.

THE PLOT OF THE POEM with Vijay Seshadri

This workshop will look at the plots of narrative poems, dramatic poems driven by a persona, and pure lyrics, to determine the ways in which plot, richly and broadly conceived as the proper arrangement of action both real and symbolic, creates meaning intended and unintended in a poem while simultaneously creating the vessel in which such meaning abides.

Vijay Seshadri won the James Laughlin Award for his collection of poems The Long Meadow. His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in AGNI, The American Scholar, Antaeus, Bomb, Boulevard, Lumina, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Shenandoah, The Threepenny Review, Verse, The Yale Review, the Times Book Review, the Philadelphia Enquirer, Bomb, The San Diego Reader, and TriQuarterly, and in many anthologies. Seshadri’s honors include grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation; The Paris Review's Bernard F. Conners Long Poem Prize; and the MacDowell Colony's Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement. He was educated at Oberlin College and Columbia University, and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

THE CRAFT OF POETRY  with  Ellen Bryant Voigt

The overall stimulus and focus of this workshop will provide a lens through which the participants go past aesthetic preference and judgment toward analysis and discovery.

Ellen Bryant Voigt has published seven volumes of poetry – Claiming Kin (1976), The Forces of Plenty (1983), The Lotus Flowers (1987), Two Trees (1992), Kyrie (1995), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Shadow of Heaven (2002), a finalist for the National Book Award, and Messenger: New and Selected Poems (2007), a finalist for both the NBA and the Pulitzer. She co-edited an anthology of essays, Poets Teaching Poets, and collected her own essays on craft in The Flexible Lyric. Most recently, The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song, was published in the Graywolf Press series of “little books” on craft. Her honors include the Emily Clark Balch Award, Hanes Poetry Award, Teasdale Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, three Pushcart Prizes, inclusion in Scribner's Best American Poetry, the Academy of American Poets’ Fellowship, and grants from the NEA, Guggenheim Foundation, and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. Voigt designed and directed the first low-residency MFA Writing Program, and now teaches in its reincarnation at Warren Wilson College. A former Vermont State Poet, she has been inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers and served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.


Being fierce, strange, calamitous, glowing, erroneous, blameless, side-splitting, starless, right-brained, formidable and unsure--now is the time to find the language compatible with the poet’s condition. Whether one is writing to make amends, to get even, to fill the void, to impress the father, or just to pay off a few parking tickets – there are words for those motives and there is a shape for those words.

C.D. Wright is the author of more than a dozen books, most recently, Rising, Falling, Hovering which won the 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize. Wright is recipient of fellowships and awards from numerous institutions. With photographer Deborah Luster, she published One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana. The project won the Lange-Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. On a fellowship for writers from the Wallace Foundation, she curated a “Walk-in Book of Arkansas,” a multi-media exhibition that toured throughout her native state for two years. In 2004 she was named a MacArthur Fellow. In 2005 she was given the Robert Creeley Award and elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Wright is on the faculty at Brown University.

POETRY LAB with Dean Young

The emphasis will be on the exploratory aspects of the work turned in – not trying to fix or correct the poems, but concentrating on identifying the important choices each work illustrates, the implications of those choices in terms of relation to other poems as well as that individual poem's aims and accomplishments.

Dean Young’s books of poetry include Primitive Mentor (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008); Embryoyo (McSweeney's, 2007); Ready-Made Bouquet (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Skid (2002), a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize; First Course in Turbulence (1999); Strike Anywhere (University Press of Colorado, 1995), which won the Colorado Poetry Prize; Beloved Infidel (Wesleyan, 1992); and Design with X (1988). The Art of Recklessness, A Prose Exploration of Poetry, was published by Graywolf Press in 2010. Young's honors include a Stegner fellowship from Stanford University, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has also received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His poems have appeared eight times in The Best American Poetry series. Young received his MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University, and has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, in the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and at Loyola University, in Chicago. He is currently the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas, in Austin.


How to Apply for PBPF Workshops:

Each PBPF workshop is limited to 12 qualified participants and three auditors, who must apply for admission and submit three poems that will be reviewed by an independent reader with a graduate degree and editorial experience. The admission process insures that all participants will make meaningful contributions to discussions.  In addition, the workshops will help improve editing skills and/or stimulate the writing of new poems.


Application forms are available on-line at, where detailed workshop descriptions and faculty biographies can be found.  The deadline for this quick and convenient application process is November 2, 2010.


Tuition for workshops is $725 and includes five two-and-a-half hour workshop sessions; a one-on-one conference; admission to all festival events, including invitations to attend the festival gala and to read at a free public event.  Limited scholarship assistance may be available.  Auditor’s tuition for advanced workshops is $350.  Auditors fees include observation of the workshop and attendance at all festival events except for the festival gala.”



Additional PBPF Events:

+ High School Poetry Contest

Open to Palm Beach County public and private high school students (grades 9-12), the sixth annual poetry contest will once again be judged by Dr. Jeff Morgan, professor of English at Lynn University.  Dr. Blaise Allen, contest coordinator, will visit numerous high schools to encourage students to participate.  In addition to cash prizes, the winner and four runners up will receive free tickets to festival events and will have an opportunity to meet the festival’s featured faculty and performance poets and to pose for photos with them. All prize winning poems will be published on the festival website.  Entries must be submitted by December 1, 2010.

+  Performance Poets in the Schools

D. Blair and Taylor Mali will visit two high schools on Friday, January 22 where they will perform and take questions from the audience. 


About the Palm Beach Poetry Festival 2011:  

Eight faculty poets, a special guest poet and two performance poets will be featured at eleven ticketed public events, January 17-22, 2011 including readings, talks and a lively panel discussion.  In addition, the workshop participants will give two afternoon readings, free to the public.  For a complete list of the public events, refer to


Tickets will go on sale October 15, 2010 through the festival website and at the Crest Theatre Box Office at Old School Square.  General Admission ticket prices per event are $12/adult, $10/senior and $8/student.  Special student group rates are available.


Presented in partnership with Old School Square, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival is sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, the Palm Beach County Cultural Council, The Palm Beach Post, WXEL TV & FM and Murder by the Sea, Delray Beach’s independent bookseller. Robert Pinsky’s appearance is presented in partnership with the Jazz Art Music Society of Palm Beach.   All events will take place in the Crest Theatre and Vintage Gymnasium of Old School Square in Delray Beach.


For more information about the Palm Beach Poetry Festival 2011, please visit


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