Fifteen of the nation's top poets will attend the Palm Beach Poetry Festival when it takes place Jan. 16-21 at Old School Square in Delray Beach.
"One of the keys to our success is that we are featuring truly America's most extraordinary poets," festival director Susan R. Williamson says. "We try to pick the poets that ... first of all, we love their works and, second of all, they are some of the most award-winning poets."
For the 13th annual event — which includes readings, talks, interviews, panel discussions and workshops — the festival's special guest is Charles Simic, winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the U.S. poet laureate in 2007.
"I get choked up when I talk about Charles Simic, because I heard him read years ago, before I got serious about writing, and his reading was one of the things that got me to be serious," Williamson recalls. "He has a quirky and unusual way of capturing what he sees in the world. He has a very wry sense of humor. [His collection of poems titled] 'The Voice at 3:00 A.M.' — it's just different than everything and anyone else. He grew up in Yugoslavia when it was war-torn. His first language isn't English, but it became the language that he uses, and he's just brilliant with it. Just brilliant."
Poets leading writing workshops include David Baker, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Tina Chang, Lynn Emanuel, Daisy Fried, Terrance Hayes, Dorianne Laux, Carl Phillips and Martha Rhodes. Conferences will be offered with the likes of Sally Bliumis-Dunn, Nickole Brown and Ginger Murchison.
The festival will close with a spoken-word performance by the Mayhem Poets, Mason Granger and Scott Raven.
Afternoon and evening events that are open to the public will be held in the Crest Theatre on the campus of Old School Square, except for Saturday night's "Sizzling Spoken Word," which will take place in the Fieldhouse.
Palm Beach Poetry Festival runs Jan. 16-21 at Old School Square, 51 Swinton Ave., in Delray Beach. Times vary. General-admission tickets cost $18 for individual events, $15 for seniors and $12 for students. To order, call 561-243-7922, ext. 1 or go to PalmBeachPoetryFestival.org.