New Hampshire Poetry Fest Schedule



a great day of poetry

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The New Hampshire Institute of Art
148 Concord Street
Manchester, NH 03104-4858 

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

Register Now


8:00-8:45 am - Registration

French Building, 148 Concord Street, Art Gallery/Lobby 
Coffee and pastry

8:45-9:00 am - Welcome 

French Building Auditorium
Coffee and pastry

9:15-10:30 - Panels

Lowell Building, 88 Lowell Street


From the Mothership: 
Mom Egg Review
15th Anniversary Reading

Lowell Building, Room 101                                       

Panelists: Jennifer Jean, Jennifer Martelli, January Gill O’Neil, Kyle Potvin, Marjorie Tesser, Cindy Veach

“From the Mothership” is a poetry reading celebrating fifteen years of Mom Egg Review, a literary journal focused on motherhood.  MER writers employ varied perspectives, voices, and creative strategies to write about mothering—pregnancy, the body, nurture—and its interplay with other roles: woman, worker, artist, member of families, cultures and communities.The readers, MER contributing poets and editors, will read works that explore diverse experiences of motherhood.


Squaring the Circle: The Prose Poem                 

Lowell Building, Room 102

Panelists: Chard deNiord, Jeff Friedman, Peter Johnson, and Dzvinia Orlowsky

According to Charles Simic, “the prose poem is the result of two contradictory impulses, prose and poetry, and therefore cannot exist, but it does.” The four award-winning poets on this reading panel have navigated the blurry boundary between poetry and prose, charting their own individual relationships with the paradox that is the prose poem. Orlowsky, Johnson, deNiord and Friedman represent four different visions of the prose poem today with poems that are personal and political, autobiographical and mythic, dark and funny, precisely crafted and improvisational—above all, wildly imaginative.


Old Media Poetics:
On Writing through Collaboration and Technologies

Lowell Building, Room 201                                                   

Panelists: Aimee Harrison, Kevin McLellan, Ralph Pennel, Travis A. Sharp, and Adam Tedesco

“Poetry liberates language from ordinary constraints. Media poetry is a paramount agent in pushing language into a new and exciting domain of human experience,” writes Eduardo Kac in the introduction to the critical collection Media Poetry. This panel seeks to open a discussion on the ways collaborations between poets and musicians, book designers, and visual artists generate complexity and accessibility in cross-genre projects. Each speaker will present excerpts from a current media collaboration alongside a brief poetics statement reflecting the influence twentieth century media has had on the content and form of their work. The panelist will then engage in a question and answer between themselves, before opening up the conversation to the audience. 

Vermont Poets Who Have Enlarged the Poetry Communities Around Themselves

Lowell Building, Room 202

Panelists: Partridge Boswell, Tim Mayo, April Ossmann, Verandah Porche 

This group reading brings together four Vermont Poets whose poetic styles are as diverse as their life-styles. Three have been major contributors/organizers to some of Vermont’s and New England’s most important annual literary events: The Brattleboro Literary Festival, Bookstock, the Poetry Program for the Vermont’s Governor’s Institute on the Arts and the fourth was a former executive director of one the most important small poetry presses in New England, Alice James.

10:45-12:00 Workshops

Lowell Building, 88 Lowell Street
Workshops (pre-registration required)


Oliver de la Paz

Poetic Obsession


Poets, like painters, try to capture experience and place it on the page.  Imagine Van Gogh painting--trying to capture the explosions in the stars for his Starry Night. Now imagine the poet's attempt at capturing the essence of a lived moment. It can be daunting and can pursue the poet during every moment away from the page.  There is no failing this moment.  For, the pursuit of reliving the moment is only as good as the moment you face the page . . . or rather, only as good as the moments you're willing to face the page.  And so we come to the essence of this workshop.  The poetic obsession's purpose is to take you back to a life lived and translate the lived life into the imagined life.  Our job, out of all this, will be simple.  Our plan will be to find the secret door to our experience and open it.  Perhaps it's a door you've passed everyday and were afraid to open.  Perhaps it's an empty storefront you've seen as you've driven through your neighborhood.  Yet you've imagined yourself opening that door.  You've seen yourself taking a step and walking in and that image of yourself in relation to that door has obsessed you.  We will not be looking for ways out, but for ways in. Through a series of prompts, exercises, and examples I will demonstrate ways writers can reinvigorate their own writing by looking closer at singular obsessions.

Oliver de la Paz is the author of four collections of poetry: Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby, Requiem for the Orchard, and Post Subject: A Fable. He also co-edited A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. A founding member, Oliver serves as the co-chair of the Kundiman advisory board. Additionally he serves on the Executive Board of Trustees for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. His work has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as American Poetry Review, Tin House, The Southern Review, and Poetry. He teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at PLU.


Michael Dumanis

LINE & LINE-BREAK: An Experiment in Radical Revision


For this revision workshop, we will start with the assumption that every time we put a word on a page or break a line, we are making a choice which has profound consequences for the poem as a whole, and that we could have just as easily made any other choice and had a different poem. This session encourages us to free ourselves from the original intentions that caused us to sit down and write our first draft. We will try reshaping our poem in wildly new directions, imagining new possibilities while engaged in the act of creation. We will also ask ourselves, what makes for a good line of poetry, and generate a series of new lines that we could use in any poem.  All participants should bring two copies of an old poem from ten to thirty lines in length that they would like to radically reimagine.

Michael Dumanis is the author of the poetry collection My Soviet Union (University of Massachusetts Press), which won the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and coeditor, with poet Cate Marvin, of the anthology Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (Sarabande). His recent work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day Project, The Believer, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, The Iowa Review, LitHub, and Ploughshares, He is a professor at Bennington College, where he teaches literature and creative writing, and serves as Editor of the print literary journal Bennington Review.

Rebecca Morgan Frank

Ekphrastic Poetry: Writing to and from Art


In this introduction to ekphrastic poetry writing, you will have the opportunity to read and write poetry in response to works of art. The Greek word ekphrasis means description, but ekphrastic poetry can also tell stories, explore emotions or ideas, serve as a catalyst for self-exploration, or catapult you into artist freedom. Through a set of writing exercises, we’ll explore ekphrastic poetry’s possibilities as a cure for writer’s block, an avenue to richer imagery, and a path to new topics and ways of seeing in your poetry. A variety of art postcards will be provided for this generative workshop.

Rebecca Morgan Frank is the author of three collections of poetry: Little Murders Everywhere (Salmon 2012), a finalist for the 2013 Kate Tufts Discovery Award; The Spokes of Venus (Carnegie Mellon 2016); and Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country, forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon in Fall 2017. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, Guernica, and elsewhere. Co-founder and editor-in-chief of the online literary magazine Memorious, she is the Jacob Ziskind Poet in Residence at Brandeis University.


Elizabeth Powell

Freeing the Inner Poet from Witness Protection: Deep Journaling for Better, Truer Poems


The writer/poet Sarah Manguso in her book “Ongoingness: The End of a Diary” observes that experience itself wasn’t enough. She says her “diary was my best defense against waking up at the end of my life and realizing I had missed it. The journal was an amulet against the passage of time.” 

I don’t think we realize we can be asleep to ourselves for decades, in a sort of self-imposed witness protection program for our true self. 

The great fact is that we have this great question as artists that we all must answer in our own way: Does art reflect life or life reflect art? And we don’t ever have to totally answer it, but we do have to say: What are we running from? What images swirl in our heads that we don’t understand? Do we even know what honesty is in relation to ourselves and our writing even if we are writing in the third person? How do we have faith in our creative choices? How long do we want to silence the inner voice that has the key to our creativity and poetry? How do we get our most authentic voice into our work? As poets, we often have much of our truest, creative self in a sort of self-imposed witness protection program.

For writers of all genres, journaling is and can be an act of creative discovery. In this session we’ll explore myriad types of journaling particularly fruitful in encourage new shoots and growths for our poems. We will work through examples and exercises, including: sketching with words, dream and travel journals, dialoguing with the known and unknown through journaling, using fragment and observation for poetic journaling, pastiche and pillow book journaling, morning pages, spiritual journaling, among others. We will look at how different methods of journaling can help us get our exiled self out of the witness protection program and onto the page. Come begin the lifelong cultivation of the truth through journaling whether you’ve been keeping a diary all along or never, this workshop will have something that speaks to you.

Author of the New Yorker 2016 "Books We Love", "Willy Loman's Reckless Daughter", Elizabeth A. I. Powell is also the author of “The Republic of Self” a New Issue First Book Prize winner, selected by C.K. Williams. Winner of the Robert Dana Prize in Poetry in 2016, Powell also won a 2013 Pushcart Prize. Powell has also received a Vermont Council on the Arts grants and a Yaddo fellowship. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, Harvard Review, Handsome, Hobart, Indiana Review, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Slope, Sugarhouse Review, Ploughshares, Post Road, and elsewhere. She is Editor of Green Mountains Review, and Associate Professor of Writing and Literature at Johnson State College. She also serves on the faculty of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing and Publishing. Her website is:

12:00-1:30 - Lunch

Information about area restaurants is provided in your registration materials.

1:30-2:45 - Panels

Lowell Building, 88 Lowell Street   

Up to No Good: Performative Power in Portraiture and Personae

Lowell Building, Room 101

Panelists: Anna Ross, Natalie Shapero, Heather Treseler

“O tell us more about your dad, / or why your second wife went mad / … [or how] you dropped your cell phone in the toilet,” Don Paterson’s sonnet satire “Requests” begins, parodying the personal questions often posed to a poet during a public reading. Since Ginsberg howled and Wordsworth warbled, poets have conflated—or distanced—the person of the poet from the persona in the poem, shuttling between Modernism’s ideal of impersonality and Confessionalism’s fetish of the secret.

On this panel, three Boston poets share poems that engage with personae, portraiture, or autobiographical conceits and offer, additionally, brief reflections on writing from a skein of voices, a plurality of selves, a murky combination of history and invention, witness and imagination. As Eve Sedgwick has noted, the problem of lyric authority is the same one confronted by a precocious child: “the insuperable problem of as whom or as what one can say anything.”

How does the poet catch her shadow, falling across the page, and how does she engage with audiences who interpret poetry as an extension of memoir? How might we reframe that perennial assumption? And how do the perceived boundaries (and boundedness) of identity inflect lyric authority?


Poetry of Witness

Lowell Building, Room 102

Panelists: Eileen Cleary, Robbie Gamble, Barbara Helfgott Hyett, and Richard Waring

The panel seeks to explore poetry of witness; panelists share a passion for writing about injustice and as witness; and, have come to this form from different perspectives. They will each discuss our own process, how they’ve come to their present understanding of what to means to witness, and what they are still trying to figure out. They will share poetry of witness in the context of what elevates witness to art, and encourage questions and conversation about the process and product of witness genre.


The Line: Have We Crossed It?

Lowell Building, Room 201

Panelists: Jennifer Jean, Jennifer Martelli, Kevin McLellan, J.D. Scrimgeour, Cindy Veach

We write in exciting times! With the rise of “hybrid” forms—prose poem, listicle, flash—what is the function of the line? If a line of free-verse poetry is “arbitrary,” what does this say about poetry? Is the line more for visual or aural effect? What about white space as a communicative pause? Is the poetic line expelled breath? Can the line be a physical movement? Can it be sexy? Panelists will address these questions, and more, by examining their own techniques and craftsmanship, as well as their favorite poems. This panel will end with a generous Q&A.


Obsession and Poetic Forms

Lowell Building, Room 202  

Panelists: Midge Goldberg, Jean L. Kreiling, Marybeth Rua-Larsen, Deborah Warren

Using examples from their own work, four New England poets demonstrate how they address a variety of obsessions using traditional poetic forms. Each poet will focus on a particular topic to illustrate how patterns of rhyme and meter, often considered restrictive, paradoxically open up imaginative possibilities.


Alternative Facts and Poetic License: Truth in Poetry

Lowell Building, Room 002

Panelists: Duncan Campbell, Holly Painter, William Stratton

This has been a year of alternative facts, fake news, and poetic license, the last of which derives from the idea that poetry is not meant to be taken literally. And yet, many people read poetry with the assumption that it springs from either real events or the poet’s inner life.

So we ask: What makes a poem true? What makes it authentic? How important is it to get the facts rights, to write a poem’s narrative as it actually happened? Is there a tacit agreement between poet and reader regarding truth telling, and what would constitute a breach of that? Can a poem that is intentionally vague or ambiguous allow the reader to read into it his or her own experiences? Can poetry express truth without telling a true story?

Duncan Campbell, Holly Painter, and William Stratton each write poems that begin with true experiences but stick to the facts to very different degrees. They will read from their work and discuss how they approach the process of turning real-life experience into poetry and what responsibility they may or may not have to readers to tell the truth.


3:00-4:15 - Panels

Lowell Building, 88 Lowell Street

Workshop Leader Group Reading

Lowell Building, Room 101

Panelists: Oliver de la Paz, Michael Dumanis, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Jennifer Militello, and Elizabeth Powell

A reading by workshop leaders Oliver de la Paz, Michael Dumanis, Rebecca Morgan Frank, and Elizabeth Powell. Introduced by Jennifer Militello


Women from Away

Lowell Building, Room 102

Panelists: Liz Ahl, Jenna Le, Suzanne Rogier Marshall

Not only does New Hampshire provide a nourishing home for poets born in the state, but it also has a long history of welcoming poets who moved from far away, for reasons related to work, family, and/or the search for artistic inspiration. Poets who relocated from the American Midwest, South, and elsewhere enrich the diversity and vitality of our state’s literary community. Not only do they bring unique new perspectives, often including perspectives reflecting struggles against otherization and marginalization, but the trajectory of their development as writers paints an edifying picture of how a person’s sense of self, of home, of rootedness and belonging can radically change across the years. Seeing New Hampshire through the shifting gaze of a present or former “outsider” poet can teach us important new things about the harsh yet beautiful New Hampshire landscape, its uncanny affinities with other landscapes, and, ultimately, what it means to be a New Hampshirite. In this panel, three women poets who moved to New Hampshire 1, 7, and 16 years ago respectively will read their poems of place and discuss how their poetic practices as well as the representations of New Hampshire in their poetry have evolved over time.


Laboratory of the Imagination: The Poetic Image

Lowell Building, Room 201

Panelists: David Banach, Hannah Larrabee

This panel will focus on the uniqueness of the poetic image, both philosophically and in practice within poems. A laboratory creates a space where natural form can exhibit itself apart from this messy world we all inhabit, and the poetic image creates a space in which we find that form comes alive -- exhibiting its energy and transcending its temporary situation in the world. We are interested in this poetics of space, as reader and writer alike can be transported (where?) by a particularly striking image.

We envision an informal discussion exploring philosophy that has examined the creative imagination (Heidegger and Bachelard, for example), and how it ties to particular poems and images. Our imaginations have evolved to become transcendent form detectors with conditions as delicate and rare as those inside a particle collider -- wherein we can see the world and ourselves with clarity. We’ll explore poems that employ unique images and engage with this poetics of space. David Banach will focus on the work of Rilke, Kay Ryan, and Jane Hirschfield. Hannah Larrabee will focus on Franz Wright, Stephen Dunn, and other contemporaries.


An Introduction to the Epic

Lowell Building, Room 202

Panelists: Sarah Cummings, Patricia Frisella, Sebastian Lockwood, Rodger Martin

An epic is first of all a poem using the devices poets use: word choice, verse, meter, alliteration, etc. Secondly it is a long narrative, originally derived from ancient oral tradition. At the beginning the narrator petitions the gods or muses to look favorably on this work and states a theme for this story. There is a sense of a distant past that has brought the story to this point of beginning. The setting is vast: the nation, the world, the universe, the cosmos. Epithets from kennings to choruses in the form of repeated phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, are a hallmark of the epic as are long lists or catalogues, sometimes outlining the genealogy of the hero, often back to his divine ancestor. There may be long and formal speeches. There may be gods or other supernatural entities that meddle for good or ill in the lives of the characters, who may themselves possess supernatural powers. The hero will go to hell at least once. And the behavior of the hero will be seen as a model of behavior for all men. We will introduce the audience to three epics through brief presentations from Paradise Lost, Gilgamesh and the Kalevala.


All the New Thinking is about Loss

Lowell Building, Room 002

Panelists: Karin Gottshall, Cindy Hunter Morgan, Karla Van Vliet

For Vermont poets Karla Van Vliet and Karin Gottshall and Michigan poet Cindy Hunter Morgan, the particulars of loss create poetic exigencies that find expression in a wide variety of registers. Through Van Vliet’s precise, elegiac verse, Gottshall’s intimate and sometimes funny lyrics, and Morgan’s compelling narrative poems about Great Lakes shipwrecks, they will show just a few of the infinite tonal palettes available to poets who take on loss and grief as subjects. After reading from their work, they will allow plenty of time for discussion and Q&A.


4:15-5:00 - Wine Reception                                                 

French Building Auditorium


5:00-6:00 - Headliner Reading

French Building Auditorium

Photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Gregory Pardlo's collection Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is also the author of Air Traffic, a memoir in essays forthcoming from Knopf. Pardlo is a faculty member of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at Rutgers University-Camden. He lives with his family in Brooklyn.

6:15-8:00 pm - Closing Meet-Up