Saturday, October 16, 2021
When Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith was appointed as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017, Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden praised the breadth and generosity of her work, writing: “With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.” Smith’s work as Poet Laureate inspired her to take poetry to rural communities across the country and to launch a daily podcast encouraging listeners to slow down and make space for poetry, all while building on her own remarkable body of work. Smith’s new book, Such Color, is the first career-spanning volume from this tremendously talented poet, pulling together selections from her prior collections as well as eighteen new poems. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly writes that Such Color “serves as a humbling and invigorating reawakening from sorrow and apathy.” Smith will be in conversation with another former Poet Laureate, Danielle Legros Georges, former Poet Laureate of the City of Boston. For this opening keynote session, slow down and make space for a vital and thoughtful conversation about the place of poetry in our lives and about the role of poetry in recovery and resistance. Sponsored by Mass Poetry, with media sponsorship by TLS.
Saturday, October 23, 2021
Our annual Saturday evening celebration of poetry might be BYOB (again) this year, but it still promises to be the literary gathering of the weekend, as we bring together a talented group of poets to share their latest work in a casual, free-flowing setting. Poets Sam Cha (The Yellow Book), Anthony Febo (Becoming an Island), Rebecca Morgan Frank (Oh You Robot Saints!), Danielle Legros Georges (Letters from Congo), and Bianca Stone (The Möbius Strip Club of Grief, What Is Otherwise Infinite) will read from their latest collections. Join us and the co-sponsors of this event, Mass Poetry, to raise a glass or two with other poetry lovers at what’s become a BBF Saturday tradition, this time emceed by Mass Poetry’s new program director, Danielle Jones.
Sunday, October 24, 2021
Blending BBF’s flash fiction (but going flash real) and Her’tazhe’s Response Theater (RT) (reference Playback Theater) this session involves the viewers in an evocative event that focuses on injustice. Books and plays that have societal inequities as a theme will be referenced and dramatized through theater, poetry, vocals and instruments. Similar to BBF’s past flash fiction sessions, three Boston residents were asked to complete a reflective writing exercise regarding an oppressive, personal experience. Together, we will see these stories and a subset of other and possibly related “drama” that occurs in BIPOC communities, enacted. The overarching message is that the “drama” of inequity must end. This session is related to a second workshop, featuring a more specific discussion of injustice and the need for equity, occurring in person, whenever possible.
Our panel of writers, teachers, and activists will discuss the elements environmental writers bring to storytelling: how to tell or teach stories that support political action, reveal or foster a better understanding of past and present environmental crises, and how writing can narrate interconnections of people and places across genres. Each contributor connects Boston-area concerns with larger geographies and histories: Inupiaq poet Joan Naviyuk Kane links her Alaskan homelands with her current home in Cambridge; Kate Brown connects distant nuclear and local plant histories; historian Tony Perry examines the relationship of enslaved peoples in the early United States with their environments; Kerri Arsenault traces pollution in the Northeast; and panel moderator Bathsheba Demuth connects histories of New England and the Arctic. Through guiding questions about genre, audience, and writing across disciplines, the panelists will discuss how the past and present can be linked through storytelling to an environmentally just future.