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Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

"It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there." The sentiments of William Carlos Williams notwithstanding, we'll make it a little easier for you to get your news and your poetry this Summer.
Sunken Garden Poetry Festival logo
Courtesy Hill-Stead Museum

Weekend Edition Saturday gives you a front row seat at the tenth anniversary season of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in Farmington, Connecticut. Nestled in a hollow on the grounds of the Hill-Stead Museum, the Sunken Garden provides a venue for some of America's finest poets. Invite them into your homes. (They promise not to eat the plums in your icebox!)

Edgar Gabriel Silex
July 28, 2001

The poetry of Edgar Gabriel Silex has been described this way: "There are mountains, colors, dirt, sky and music in (his) poems. There appears to be an ancestral hand feeding him the words." Widely anthologized, Silex is the author of two volumes of poetry, Through all the Displacements and Even the Dead Have Memories. He says he writes because "forgiveness is our highest form of love, awe is our only muse ... displacement is our human inheritance, passion is our only freedom ... and poetry is our most constant state."

"There appears to be an ancestral hand feeding him the words."

Luis Rodriguez
on Edgar Gabriel Silex

Edgar Gabriel Silex teaches at St. Mary's College. He reads his poem The Planting of the Blue Corn.

Read or Listen

Linda McCarriston
July 14, 2001

Linda McCarriston grew up in a family of first-generation Americans in the working-class city of Lynn, on the Massachusetts shore, north of Boston. This place and its people inform a poetry that is able, in the words of writer Josephine Jacobson, to "fuse knowledge of waste and sadness and the savage possibilities of nostalgia with a fresh and buoyant strength."

"a wise, unillusioned vitality of joy."

Josephine Jacobson
On Linda McCarriston

McCarriston has published three collections of poetry: Talking Soft Dutch, Little River and Eva-Mary, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is a Professor of Creative Writing and Literary Arts at the University of Alaska. Linda McCarriston reads her poem Birthday Girl: 1950.

Read or Listen

Rennie McQuilkin
June 30, 2001

Rennie McQuilkin is the author of North Northeast; We All Fall Down, which won the Swallow Tale's Poetry Prize; and An Astonishment and an Hissing, for which he won the Texas Review Poetry Award. He is the recipient of the Ruth Fox Award, and has received a poetry fellowship from the NEA and numerous fellowships from the CT Commission on the Arts. His poetry appears in many journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, The Yale Review, and Poetry.

"...pungently exact about the properties of the real world."

Richard Wilbur on
Rennie McQuilkin

David Bottoms writes, "Rennie McQuilkin is a poet with an extraordinary eye. He looks at the hard questions of the world, never flinching, and translates them with a clarity that is rare in American poetry today." McQuilkin reads his poem Skunk Cabbage.

Read or Listen

Sonia Sanchez
June 16, 2001

The festival began with the poetry of Sonia Sanchez, the 2001 recipient of the Frost Medal, awarded for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry.

Read or Listen

"Only a poet with an innocent heart can exorcize so much pain with so much beauty."

Isabel Allende on
Sonia Sanchez

Her collections include: Wounded in the House of a Friend; I've Been a Woman; A Sound Investment; Does Your House Have Lions?; Under a Soprano Sky; Homegirls and Handgrenades; Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums; and Shake Loose My Skin

Sunken Garden Poetry Festival Web site

Next at the festival...
A Night of Fresh Voices
August 11, 2001

The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival is recorded and produced by Phyllis Joffe and David Budries.