The first Massachusetts Poetry Festival, which is being promoted by its organizers as “An Epic Celebration,” will take place in Lowell on October 10-12, 2008. This new event will include workshops, readings, discussions, films, “Downtown Kerouac Places”—a guided tour of the locations that were important in the life of Lowell’s best known literary resident—and a Small Press Fair on Saturday, October 11, in which upstreet will be an exhibitor.
The Massachusetts festival is being compared with the biennial four-day Dodge Poetry Festival, “the largest poetry event in North America,” the most recent of which concluded on September 28, 2008, in Stanhope, NJ. It will have a long way to go to achieve that magnitude, but the possibility is there. Most of the events will be free, but tickets will be required for the featured readings, on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening. Festival sponsors include the Massachusetts Poetry Outreach Project, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and many Merrimack Valley and Lowell business, educational, and cultural organizations.
The Merrimack Valley was chosen because of its rich literary history, which in addition to Jack Kerouac includes Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Henry David Thoreau. Some have observed that Berkshire County’s literary heritage makes it an excellent location for a future Massachusetts festival—and not just for poets!
Come visit upstreet in Lowell. Maybe some year soon we’ll be greeting you in Pittsfield.