Archive 7th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival

January 17-22, 2011 we were pleased to welcome participants from nearly 30 different states, from the United Kingdom, British Columbia and the Bahamas. Some of our evening events that were open to the public sold out this year! Stay tuned for news and announcements of the 8th Annual Festival, scheduled for January 16-21, 2012.

The Palm Beach Poetry Festival, is presented in partnership with Old School Square Cultural Arts Center in the heart of Delray Beach, Florida, featuring six days of reading events, craft lectures, and poetry workshops in Delray Beach, Florida. Festival lectures, readings, and public events are open to anyone who wants to experience the best of the best in the poetry world.

The 7th Annual Festival featured Stuart Dischell, Jane Hirshfield, Thomas Lux, Heather McHugh, Vijay Seshadri, Alan Shapiro, Ellen Bryant Voigt and C.D. Wright, Robert Pinsky, D. Blair and Taylor Mali. Visit our news page for coverage of the extraordinary jazz reading by Robert Pinsky and the Paul Tardiff Trio and other festival news.

All festival lectures, readings, and public events are open to anyone who wants to experience the best of the best in the poetry world. Will you be part of our audience? Will you open yourself up to a new experience of language? We promise you an experience you will never forget.

Presented in partnership with Old School Square Cultural Arts Center, The Palm Beach Poetry Festival is underwritten, in part, by

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and is generously sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, the Windler Group of Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney’s Atlanta Office, the Palm Beach County Cultural Council and the Board of Commissioners of Palm Beach County, The Palm Beach Post, WXEL TV & FM, and Murder on the Beach, Delray Beach’s independent bookseller. All events take place in the Crest Theatre and Vintage Gymnasium of Old School Square in Delray Beach.

Use this link to download a pdf of the Workshop Participant's Schedule






Update:8th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival January 16-21, 2012 updates to be posted in April.

Workshops are limited to 12 qualified participants and 3 auditors to provide a meaningful level of discussion, and careful, informed attention to your work. Beginning poets, shy about sharing their poems, should consider auditing a workshop as a great way to learn by observing and listening. Review our Application Guidelines for more details and the workshop descriptions that follow on this page. Click the following link to see our brochure in pdf format.


NOW LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE with Stuart Dischell
This intense workshop will consider the conscious and unconscious choices poets face regarding the structures and strategies of their poems. We will look closely at the way poems are made and how their crafting affects the sense they make. The pace will be fast-moving; the atmosphere lively, critical, helpful, supportive, and more than likely humorous. Bring 3 of your poems plus a poem you admire that accomplishes something you would like to do in your own work. 17 copies of each.

ENLARGING POEMS with Jane Hirshfield
The “enlarging” of this workshop’s title is not about length, but about possibility. We will stretch from familiar ground toward the new, whether 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. We will work in the spirit of “starts,” experiments, generous explorations. We will also consider one previously written poem (possibly two) by each participant over the workshop’s course. Please bring writing materials; 17 copies of two previously written poems you do not consider finished; and five poems (not your own) you find thrilling (a page or less, no copies needed).

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, seventeen copies of each, for discussion.

An Architecture of Senses with Heather McHugh
We shall examine the ways in which poems can radiate senses, and we'll pay particular attention to details of their design. Looking closely at published poems to illustrate some principles, we'll apply the same alertness to your own work. This kind of close reading for structural designs (as distinct from received forms) isn't done in a snap of the fingers: during the course of the whole festival we may be able to study only one or two poems by each workshop member--but you'll be able readily to extrapolate to your other work, and to the larger implications for art itself. You will send five poems for review and I will choose one or two for “workshop” discussion that will serve the thematic and pedagogical lines along which I’ll design the class.

THE PLOT OF THE POEM with Vijay Seshadri
Poems often are narratives. They also often have narratives within them, whether resolved or unresolved. But whether a poem is a story or a pure lyric it always has a plot—one determined either by action or emotion or both. We 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. We will workshop previously written student poems and student poems generated from exercises, and will intersperse workshopping with a close reading of canonical poems. Students should come prepared to talk and should bring 17 copies of 4 previously written poems.

with Alan Shapiro

All writing is revision. And all revision is or ought to be an opportunity for discovery and surprise. To flourish as a poet, you need to cultivate a love for play, a willingness to go against the grain of what you know and like, of everything you've maybe learned to do too well. But how do you break habits of composition? How do you follow this or that suggestion without betraying your original impulse? Since I take it as axiomatic that all poems are inexhaustibly revisable, at what point do you say, enough already, and stop fiddling, despite imperfections you can't eliminate? These are some of the questions we will consider as we examine each other's work over the course of the week. I will bring examples of work by other poets, but the majority of class time will be focused on the work you submit for class discussion. Bring 4 poems, 17 copies of each, to our first meeting.

THE CRAFT OF POETRY with Ellen Bryant Voigt
I like to choose an underlying—and lifelong—craft topic as an overall stimulus/focus to the discussion of work in progress (by YOU). This provides a lens we are collectively peering through, and helps guide us past aesthetic preference and judgment toward analysis and discovery. In order for us to create this brief seminar in craft: (1) it is imperative that you submit four pages of your work at least a week in advance of the workshop (and please also bring thirteen copies for the group), and (2) we will probably discuss in the group only one whole poem, thoroughly, by each workshop member. I will also hope to see revision of that poem during the week, have workshop members exchange revisions, and if time allows provide a response to the revision during workshop or our conference session.

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 your own 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. As W.S. Merwin put it, "Never fear there is a hair hanging by everything it is the edges of things." Bring new writing every day. Bring nothing you have written in advance of arriving. Writing will be done in and out of the workshop setting.

POETRY LAB with Dean Young
The emphasis of our meetings will be on the exploratory aspects of the work turned in. We will not try to fix or correct the poems. Instead, we will concentrate 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. Participants are encouraged to submit work that isn’t so much finished, rather indication of an on-going poetic journey. Bring 5-7 poems, (17 copies) to the first workshop.


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. Stuart Dischell is teaching a workshop titled, "Now Look What You Have Done" at this year's festival.

Read a poem by Stuart Dischell at the Academy of American Poets website or find out more about him in a feature at "From the Fishhouse.

Watch Stuart read his work at Georgia Tech:

JANE HIRSHFIELD's honors include 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. Her essay collection, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (1997), is considered a classic of its kind. Born in New York City in 1953, Hirshfield received her B.A. from Princeton University in their first graduating class to include women. 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, is due out from Knopf in August, 2011.

Find out more about Jane Hirshfield at the Academy of American Poets website:, or in an interview at the Aspen Writer's Conference on youtube.

THOMAS LUX's 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.

The Academy of American poets has an extensive page on Thomas Lux to be found at

An interview conducted by J.M. Spalding of The Cortland Review may be accessed here:

HEATHER McHUGH is the author of eight poetry collections, Upgraded to Serious (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); Eyeshot (Wesleyan University Press, 2004), which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, The Father of Predicaments (2001); Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993 (1994), a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Book Review "Notable Book of the Year," Shades (1988); To the Quick (1987); A World of Difference (Houghton Mifflin, 1981) and Dangers: Poems, (Houghton Mifflin 1977).

She is also the author of a collection of literary essays titled Broken English: Poetry and Partiality (1993), and three books of translation: Glottal Stop: Poems of Paul Celan (with Nikolai Popov, 2001), winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize; Because the Sea is Black: Poems of Blaga Dimitrova (with Niko Boris, 1989); and D'après tout: Poems by Jean Follain (1981).

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.

For a terrific interview of Heather by Matthea Harvey, in Bomb: or find out more about Heather at the Academy of American Poets:

VIJAY SESHADRI's collections of poems include James Laughlin Award winner The Long Meadow (Graywolf Press, 2005) and Wild Kingdom (1996). 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, including Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets, Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, and three issues of The Best American Poetry. 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.

Learn more about Vijay in this interview from Poets & Writers:


ALAN SHAPIRO is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has published ten books of poetry, most recently, Old War (Houghton Mifflin, 2008). He has been the winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, an LA Times Book Award, and a finalist in poetry and nonfiction for the National Books Critics Circle Award. In 2011, fall, he will publish two books: Night of the Republic, a book of poems, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Broadway Baby, a novel, from Algonquin Books. A recipient of two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, the O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Sarah Teasdale Award from Wellesley College, and an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Shapiro teaches at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he lives with his wife, Callie Warner, and their three children.

Find out more about Alan and read some of his poems at the Poetry Foundation,

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.

Follow this link for a terrific interview of Ellen by Steven Cramer in the Atlantic,

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. One With Others: a little book of her days, will be out in the fall of 2010. Wright is on the faculty at Brown University.

Find out more about C.D. Wright at the Academy of American Poets, ... and here is an interview of C.D. by Kent Johnson for Jacket:


We regret to inform you that Dean Young will not be with us at the 2011 Festival, and we welcome Alan Shapiro who will take his place.

DEAN YOUNG's books of poems 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 was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania and received his MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University. He 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.

Find out more about Dean Young and read some of his poems on the Academy of American Poets website: Also, Lee Rossi interviews Dean Young for Pedestal Magazine:


ROBERT PINSKY 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. Pinsky believed that, contrary to stereotype, poetry had a vigorous presence in the American cultural landscape. The project sought to document that presence, giving voice to the American audience for poetry. The anthology Americans' Favorite Poems, which include letters from project participants, is in its 18th printing. The most recent anthology, An Invitation to Poetry, comes with a DVD featuring 27 of the FPP video segments, as seen on PBS. In April 2009, WW Norton published Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud. 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. He is also co-translator of The Separate Notebooks, poems by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz. Pinsky's prose book, The Life of David, is a lively retelling and examination of the David stories, narrating a wealth of legend as well as scripture. Pinsky also wrote the libretto for Tod Machover's opera Death and the Powers: A Robot Pagaent, which will premier in Monaco in fall 2010.

The poetry editor for the online magazine Slate, for seven years Pinsky appeared regularly on The NewsHour 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.

Pinsky is our finest living specimen of this sadly rare breed, and the poems of Gulf Music are among the best examples we have of poetry’s ability to illuminate not only who we are as humans, but who we are—and can be—as a nation.
— The New York Times Book Review

In his poems Pinsky talks, with democratic warmth and intimacy, to the common things of this world. His extraordinary poems remind us that he has always embodied the very ideal he proposes for what a poet can do.
—Lloyd Schwarz, The Boston Phoenix



D. BLAIR is an award winning Detroit based poet and singer-songwriter. 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. BLAIR was the January 2005 HBO Def Poetry Jam Website Featured Poet. He 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. Blair 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 is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement. 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. Mali is vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, having spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math and S.A.T. test preparation. He has performed and lectured for teachers all over the world and has a goal of creating 1,000 new teachers through "poetry, persuasion, and perseverance." 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.