Monday, May 16, 2011

Poetry Festival: The Morning After

Yesterday was the Poetry Festival: A Celebration of Literary Journals. This is an event I began 8 years ago with the idea that it would be a one-time thing. However, the West Caldwell Library, which hosts the event, wanted to do it again the next year, and the next year, and the next. So did the poets and the editors. Me too. It's now become a tradition.

I invite the editors of 12 journals to participate. I ask them to each invite two poets to represent their journal. The event is always held on a Sunday, 1:00 - 5:00 PM, a day the library is closed to the public. However, the library opens for the event and the public is invited to come. The Assistant Director works with me during the planning stages of the event and is present throughout the day. Volunteers man the book sale area.

The editors and journals set up in the Reference area, two journals per table. Computers are turned on around the perimeter of the room so that journal websites can be displayed. Editors answer questions and provide subscription information and submission guidelines. Journals are available for purchase.

The readings are held in another room, The Community Room. I divide the afternoon into four 30-minute sessions. Three journals—6 poets—read during each session. I introduce each editor who then describes his or her journal and introduces the two poets. Each poet is asked to read two poems, totaling no more than 5 minutes. Following each reading session, there is a 20-minute break, during which time people browse the journals.

There is also a Book Sale area at the front of the library where reading poets can offer books for sale—one title per poet. Book sales were down this year which was my one regret. However, journal sales were up and that's good news as the primary function of the day is to honor the journals that make it possible for us to publish our work.

We had a really good turnout, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Here are some photos which tell their own story.

Cookies donated by the West Caldwell Shop-Rite. These and the candy added to the fun.

Adele Kenny reading for the Paterson Literary Review

Anthony Buccino reading for the Paterson Literary Review

Audience. Notice the extra chairs at the back and the people standing in the doorway and hallway. Don't all these people look happy? Imagine how happy the poets were to read for an audience like this!

Peter Murphy reading for The Literary Review

Quincy Lehr, editor of The Raintown Review. Prize for best pants.

Ray Hammond, editor of New York Quarterly

Tables with journals, crowd browsing during break

Crowd browsing. Much excitement stirred up over the brand new Stillwater Review


  1. Diane, I am really sad I missed this, but my husband was ill, so I ran home from church to baby know men :)

    Are you going to the Bill's Fig Poetry Festival this coming Saturday?

  2. Not sure about Saturday. Have to figure out how far it is from where I live. And might have date with daughter. Sorry you missed the festival. It was really good this year.

  3. Oh oh this sounds like a totally fab event - good on you, Diane!

  4. It was a fabulous day - bouquets to you, Diane!

  5. Congratulations. Sounds awesome.


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