, Salem, MA


May 5, 2011

Massachusetts Poetry Festival to illuminate Salem next weekend

SALEM — The stress will be on the festivities at next weekend's Massachusetts Poetry Festival, which moved to Salem after being held in Lowell its first two years.

"The festival is not just for poets by any means," said J.D. Scrimgeour, coordinator of the creative writing program at Salem State University, who will participate in a North Shore Poets in the Round program. "There will be food, and it's for the community."

The festival will open next Thursday night and continue through Saturday, May 14. Events will be held at Old Town Hall, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem State and The Salem Athenaeum, among other sites around town.

There will be a trolley carrying people to and from festival events, and visitors from Boston can travel to Salem on a special train in which poets will be reading.

Scrimgeour called attention to presentations at the Main Stage at Derby Square that will blend poetry with performance, which are intended to appeal to a wide audience.

"It will be exciting, with all sorts of music and poetry and things like the Boston Typewriter Orchestra," he said.

Other events with a dramatic streak will include an intercollegiate poetry slam at Gulu-Gulu Cafe, Rhina Espaillat reciting Federico Garcia Lorca to the accompaniment of a classical guitarist, and a reading by Patricia Smith, whom Scrimgeour described as "an amazing performer."

Another program that will mix music and words on the main stage is "Fishwife Tales," a sequence of lyrics by poet Jennifer Jean, who also teaches at Salem State.

Jean's poems will be recited to a variety of tunes, from rock 'n' roll to art songs, which were written by musician and composer Sarah Eide.

"It's about a shape-shifter marine creature, a female, who comes out of the water to marry a fisherman," Jean said.

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