Friday, April 15, 2011

Regrets On Missing the 2011 Plunkett Festival

Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival 2011

OWL's Review of the 2010 Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival

I deeply regret with true sorrow that I cannot attend the Plunkett Festival this year. The reason is that my travelling money has already been spent on a couple of trips to protest the removal of Judy Taylor’s mural from the Dept. of Labor. During one press conference, I gave a speech, which you can find here, if you like:

My Press Conference Speech--Put It Back!

Anyway, the Festival this year has every indication of avoiding all the shortcomings that hampered last year's presentation. In my review, I had three main criticisms (and a number of compliments as well): (a) the poetry presented was spread out among too many community poets, resulting in mediocrity and a lack of focus on excellent invited individuals, (b) the panel discussion was depressing and demoralizing, (c) the Administrator who started off the Festival didn’t seem to take poetry seriously as a deep and evocative art.

Looking over the schedule this year, I see that Friday night has one featured poet (Ira Sadoff); statements by the Plunkett family; and a welcome by UMA President Allyson Hughes Handley. This seems like a good recipe for a memorable and magical evening. Last year, in contrast, four poets read on Friday night--too much, too weak. And the Administrator spent a lot of time telling one-liners and presenting a portrait to a retiring colleague.

Also I am very hopeful that President Handley will confer on the Festival an aura of importance and grace. The Friday program retains the presenting of awards to student poets, one of the best features of last year’s festival.

It is probably going to be a great night, and I am most sorry I won’t be there!

On Saturday, the Schedule is very different from before. First off, the emcee is Ellen Taylor. She did a great job last year and is sure to please again.

Second, the horde of community poets is gone, replaced by a select number of individuals. The Panel topic is Poetry and Communication In the Digital Age, which should produce positive feelings and motivate, given that the Internet has seen a proliferation of high quality sites.

Indeed, the art of poetry has burgeoned and spread in response to the freedoms provided by social media. Great outlets are everywhere. Not only that, poets can now easily start their own lit journal, or display their work on a web page. I only know one of the panel members, and only as a distant acquaintance; but I predict a lively, engaging discussion that encourages rather than dowses the struggling artist.

This year's Festival has every indication of excellence. It's going to be a wonderful gathering, a celebration of the aesthetic sorcery of words. Will someone write a review?? I will be happy to re-post it here.

Best To All and Keep Writing!


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