Asheville will once again enjoy the voice of poetry on May 4 and 5 at Asheville Wordfest. The festival takes place this year at the Altamont Theater at 18 Church Street and explores the theme of “Home: Place and Planet.” Events include readings by local and visiting poets. “The idea of Home seems richer than ever these days so I thought it would be interesting to look at it through the lens of poetry,” says director Laura Hope-Gill. Readings such as “The Voice of Change: Poetry by Young People” and “Spirit of Place: Tracey Schmidt and James Davis” provide vantage points into how we experience the places where we live. There is also a Poetry in Translation event and an open mic for everyone. There is time built into the other readings for people to add their own voices. If you write, bring your poems. There are children’s and youth poetry events as well.
The festival begins with a reading by poets in the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA on Wednesday night at Grateful Steps followed by an open mic at Kava Bar. On Thursday evening local poets and singers Barbie Angell, Jonathan Santos, Roberto Hess and Ten Cent Poetry (Chelsea LaBate) perform at Grateful Steps.
On Friday May 4 at 7, the festival moves to Altamont Theater with an array of local voices working in spoken word, song, avant gard and formal verse. “There are many ways to make poems,” says Hope-Gill. “It is important at Wordfest that we celebrate all of them.” Throughout Saturday, more word-related performances take the stage at Altamont Theater. This year, the festival partners with storytellers Vixi Jil Glen, Connie Regan-Blake, Gwenda Ledbetter and Sheila Kay Adams to present a benefit for the Hicks Family, a dynasty of tellers, on Saturday from 3 til 5. For a full schedule, visit www.ashevillewordfest.com. All events are free. There are many more events. Visit the website for the full schedule.
Asheville Wordfest is partially funded by the North Carolina Humanities Council and relies on donations. A kickstarter campaign and sponsor-a-spot program and friendly giving make community events possible. Please visit the website to learn more and to contact director Laura Hope-Gill.
Each year, Wordfest presents nationally and internationally recognized poets. This year, the poets include American Book Award Winner Allison Adelle Hedge Coke of the Cherokee Nationa, Novelist, poet and film-maker LeAnne Howe of Choctaw Nation, Second-generation Chinese and newly-elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets Arthur Sze and Hala Maksoud Award recipient Matthew Shenoda of Egypt. The visiting poets will read on Saturday May 5. “The guest poets this year offer their stunning skill with language to further our exploration of what it means to be ‘home.’”