May 3, 2023

5 Things to Do at Mass Poetry Festival 2023

by kati.creativecollective

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Mass Poetry Festival returns, in-person, to Salem, MA this weekend! Over 90 events through the weekend May 5 – 7, at venues focused inside the Peabody Essex Museum, the Salem Common, Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and great community partners like the Gulu-Gulu Cafe and retail shop Die with Your Boots on.

Tickets are on sale now! Grab yours and check out the FULL SCHEDULE of events.

“With more than 90 events planned in and around Salem over a three-day weekend, the Witch City will fall under a spell of another kind — the enchantment of our shared language.”  – Boston Globe


1. Headline Reading w/Andrea Cohen & January Gill O’Neil, featuring the Boston Typewriter Orchestra and the Winner of the First Poem Contest – Please join us for the opening headline event of the Festival! This reading will feature poets Andrea Cohen and January Gill O’Neil. The event will open with a special performance by The Boston Typewriter Orchestra and a reading by the winner of Mass Poetry’s First Poem Contest. Friday, May 5 @ 7:00pm

2. The “House of Hope” Poetry Quilt – Mass Poetry is pleased to present “House of Hope,” a quilt made by multimedia visual artist, activist, and poet L’Merchie Frazier. Made of nylon, organza, and silk, the quilt excerpts lines from 200 poems published by Mass Poetry during the pandemic as part of “The Hard Work of Hope” poetry series during the pandemic. The series asked poets to pay witness to what was happening in their world in an unprecedented time in America—the horrible and the beautiful, the quiet and the revolutionary—and featured poems by BIPOC, disabled, and Queer poets. The quilt will be on view Friday, May 5th to Sunday, May 7th at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts as part of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.You can meet the artist on Friday, May 5, 7:30 PM at the headline reading, or be part of her “Hope Story Scrolls” Workshop on Sunday, May 7, 2-3 PM. (This event will be capped at 20, and the first 20 to arrive will be admitted)

3. Poetry Slam (In Partnership with the Boston Poetry Slam)   – This is an individual slam competition featuring the Boston Poetry Slam at Die with Your Boots on  Friday, May 5 @ 8:45pm

4.  The Poetry Brothel at Gulu-Gulu Cafe – The Poetry Brothel is an immersive literary cabaret that fuses poetry, activism, vaudeville, burlesque, circus, live music, visual art, magic, mysticism, and private one-on-one readings. You really have to experience it for yourself, darling!Note: Your Festival button gets you in free and grants you one token for a poetry reading.  Additional tokens for readings and tarot can be purchased at the event, with all money going directly to the artists. Saturday, May 6 @ 8:45pm

5.  Poetry & Yoga with Kirsty Yetter – How often does a poem turn into a meditation? How often does a meditation turn into a poem? Could this happen more often?In this workshop we will explore how breath, yoga, and meditation can help create the soft space from where a poem emerges. Or maybe a simple word or meditation creates the soft space from where meditation and yoga emerges. Come experience this beautiful interplay of word and breath with nothing but a yoga mat and open heart. Saturday, May 6 @ 9:00am

and Just a few more from our poet friends The Thursday Poets:

State of Poetry Panel  with Jennifer Jean Saturday, May 6 @ 4:30pm 

Memory & Desire: Poetry of Mid-life with Jennifer Martelli Friday, May 5 @ 2:15pm 

Writing from Your Life without Being Self-Centered. The “I” poem. with Kevin Carey Sunday, May 7 @ 11:30am


The Massachusetts Poetry Festival – a biennial celebration that showcases an all-star roster of poets from across the Commonwealth and beyond- returns to Salem, MA on May 5-7, 2023. Following a virtual festival in 2021, this year’s literary fete marks the first in-person Festival since 2018.

Hosted by Mass Poetry, this year’s Festival will feature headline poets Cameron Awkward-Rich, Andrea Cohen, Mahogany L. Browne, Franny Choi, Katie Farris, Kimiko Hahn, Ilya Kaminsky, Matthew Olzmann, January Gill O’Neil, Mosab Abu Toha, and more. The Festival will offer poetry readings, workshops, panels, multi-genre performances, and a special performance by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.

During April, National Poetry Month, we invite you to join a series of virtual events on ZOOM, which will be viewable by attendees, far and wide. Learn more here.

From May 5-7th, this year’s in-person Festival will feature more than 75 events and 150 poets. The Festival will stake place at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) and a host of other Salem venues in partnership with Salem State University, the City of Salem, and other key partners.

At the PEM, we will display a poetry quilt created by artist, activist and poet L’Merchie Frazier. L’Merchie’s quilt will feature lines from more than 200 poets, who contributed to Mass Poetry’s “Hard Work of Hope” series. This year’s Festival will host a first-ever Teen Poetry Track. This will include several interactive and multigenre events, such as creating a mural, as well as a poetry showcase and a teen slam series featuring several Massachusetts teams. View the full calendar of events on Sched.

Registration is open now at Tickets can also be purchased in-person at the Festival headquarters at the Peabody Essex Museum. Want to get involved? Have questions? Email Want to support our work? Please donate here