May 9, 2023

Registration Now Open for WCU's Annual Poetry and Creative Arts FestivalPoetry Festival

June 9 – 11, 2023

Students, teachers, poets, and all who are interested in poetry from around the world, are invited to attend West Chester University’s Poetry and Creative Arts Festival from June 9 – 11, 2023. This is the first time in four years that attendees can attend the event in-person and board in West Chester University Residence Halls. All workshops take place in the University’s new Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons (SECC). Registration and full schedule of events found here:

The theme for the 2023 festival is Will’s Survival: Shakespeare’s Legacy. Poetry workshops are offered on a variety of topics related to Shakespeare and hosted by workshop leaders who are all published poets of national and international renown. Examples include a Master Class with Mark Jarman titled Sonnet as Lyric Paradigm and Organic Form, and a workshop with Natalie Gerber titled Elevating the Language of the People, from Shakespeare to Miranda.

Director of the Poetry Center Cherise Pollard says, "There is truly something for everyone at this year's festival. You can choose to take one workshop, participate in a day's worth of workshops, readings and panels, or take advantage of the full three-day package that includes all events, housing and meals for just $300."

Pollard adds, “In April, West Chester University celebrated the 400th Anniversary of the publication of William Shakespeare’s First Folio (of which West Chester University owns a rare and valuable copy.) That was the inspiration for this year’s theme, and we look forward to taking a deep dive into Shakespeare’s work and influence.”

Other highlights of the festival include the annual Iris N. Spencer Poetry Awards ceremony, made possible by Kean W. Spencer, to be held on Friday, June 9 at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, June 10 at 8 p.m., poet and songwriter JD Debris will perform. Debris was the winner of 2022 Donald Justice Poetry Prize for his manuscript, The Scorpion’s Question Mark, published by Autumn House Press.

Mark JarmanKeynote Speaker Mark Jarman is the author of 12 books of poetry: North Sea (Cleveland State University Poetry Center); The Rote Walker and Far and Away (Carnegie Mellon University Press); The Black Riviera (Wesleyan University Press); Questions for Ecclesiastes, Unholy Sonnets, and the book-length narrative poem Iris (Story Line Press); To the Green Man, Epistles, Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems, The Heronry (Sarabande Books) and Zeno’s Eternity (Paul Dry Books). He has published three books of essays and reviews: The Secret of Poetry (Story Line Press), Body and Soul: Essays on Poetry (University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry Series), and Dailiness: Essays on Poetry (Paul Dry Books).  With Robert McDowell, he co-authored The Reaper Essays (Story Line Press), a collection of essays they wrote for their magazine The Reaper during the 1980s. He co-edited Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism (Story Line Press) with David Mason. His awards and honors include a Joseph Henry Jackson Literary Award, the Poets’ Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Balcones Poetry Prize, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, and a Chancellor’s Research Award from Vanderbilt University where he is Centennial Professor of English, Emeritus.

The West Chester University Poetry Center offers a variety of programs and activities that help expand its mission of bringing poetry to an ever-widening audience. Since its inception in 2000, the goals of the Poetry Center have remained consistent: furthering the study and appreciation of poetry, providing the nation's finest instruction in the diverse traditional techniques of poetry, providing an international forum for the discussion of poetic form and prosody, training teachers in the art of teaching poetry and poetic form, and fostering the necessary dialogue between practicing poets and critics in a culture that too often separates them. The Poetry Center also recognizes poetic achievement through the Iris N. Spencer Awards, which celebrate emerging poets at the undergraduate level, and through the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, which goes to an unpublished book-length collection of poems.



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