The Greenfield Prize line-up of events (read here) isn’t the only cultural celebration going on this weekend. Poetry lovers are gathering at Florida Studio Theatre for the sixth annual PoetryLife weekend, which brings together nationally recognized poets, students, teachers and community members to pay tribute to the art of the written word.
Event organizer Georgia Court, owner of Bookstore1Sarasota, has been the driving force behind the annual weekend, and teaming with FST and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, this year she welcomes poets Edward Hirsch and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, who will read from their work live onstage at 7 p.m. April 22 at the Keating Theatre. Hirsch, a MacArthur Fellow, has published nine books of poems including The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems, which collects 35 years of his work. A more recent book, Gabriel: A Poem, deals with the tragic loss of his son Gabriel and has been acclaimed by The New Yorker as “a masterpiece of sorrow.” It also won the National Jewish Book Award for poetry. He has also published five books of prose, among them How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry.
Nezhukumatathil is the author of three books of poetry: Lucky Fish, featured in The New York Times and on the PBS NewsHour Arts Beat; At the Drive-In Volcano and Miracle Fruit. Lucky Fish also won the gold medal in poetry for the Independent Publishers Book Awards.
But works by established poets are not the only focus of PoetryLife. The weekend also centers on the visions of students writing their own poetry (with a Young Voices Poetry Reading at 1 p.m. April 22 at the Keating); on the educators who teach them; and on anyone in the community who reads, write and cares about poetry. To that end, a Coffee & Conversation event: “Speaking the Truth About Poetry,” takes place April 21, and the Community Favorite Poem Reading (which offers selected locals the chance to read aloud their personal picks) is set for 2 p.m. that same day. Both are at FST’s Bowne’s Lab.
Ticket prices vary; you can find out more by calling FST at 366-9000 or online at floridastudiotheatre.org. You can also visit sarasotapoetry.com to learn more about the weekend, which benefits The PoetryLife Fund, a support for educators teaching poetry in the area.