2020 will mark the fifth year that directors Bill Lavender and Megan Burns have organized the New Orleans Poetry Festival. The four-day event will take place the third weekend of April, which is also National Poetry Month. If you’re a poet or affiliated with a literary journal or small press, they are actively seeking proposals for festival events and tables for their Small Press Fair, and the deadline is December 1. Anyone interested should jump on this opportunity.
What’s special about the festival is that the events are hosted outside of a university or convention hall. Attendees get a chance to truly be inside a New Orleans neighborhood while attending readings, workshops, and panel discussions at local venues around town.
Last year’s opening night featured readings by Oliver Baez Bendorf, Lee Ann Brown, Chen Chen, and Henk Rossouw. There was also a five-hour-long marathon open mic that I joined, which was electric. One night of the festival was dedicated solely to international poets and their translators, which included readings from Brazilian poet Salgado Maranhäo and translator Alexis Levitin, Uruguayan poet Martín Barea Mattos and translator Mark Statman, and fellow Uruguayan Javier Etchevarren and translator Jesse Lee Kercheval.
Of course when in New Orleans, you must have music and dancing. The Poets With Bands event highlighted poetry and music, while a traditional second line parade complete with a brass band honored poets who recently passed away.
The New Orleans Poetry Festival connects poets from all over the world to this wonderful city. Stay tuned for more details as the date approaches!Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.