2017 PoetryLife

April 21 & 22, 2017 is PoetryLife weekend, which brings together nationally-recognized poets, students, teachers and community members all in one place to celebrate poetry. This weekend spans two days with a series of events to recognize students, to enjoy the poetry that is part of the fabric of our lives and to inspire us all. Tickets can be purchased by calling the FST Box Office at (941) 366-9000 or by clicking the events below.

Schedule of Events

Coffee & Conversation: Speaking the Truth Through Poetry
Friday, April 21st at 11:00 am
in Bowne’s Lab Theatre

Poetry is a genre that has long been known for its ability to speak the heart’s truth. But other truths are also revealed through the poetic voice, whether related to biography, contemporary experience or the truth inherent in nature. Our featured poets will engage with the audience in a discussion of how poets use their art to show truth to the world, and how those truths may enhance our lives.
Tickets: $20 (includes coffee/tea and scrumptious sweets)

Community Favorite Poem Reading
Friday, April 21st at 2:00 pm
in Bowne’s Lab Theatre

Join us in the audience as members of our community come together to read the poems they love best—those with special meaning to them. Local readers will be joined on stage by our special guest poets, Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Edward Hirsch.
Tickets: $20

Young Voices Poetry Reading
Saturday, April 22nd at 1:00 pm
 in the Bowne's Lab Theatre

Each year young poets—ages 12 – 18—are encouraged to submit work to our poetry writing contest. Entries are judged by MFA candidates in the Creative Writing Program at Vanderbilt University and the winners are invited to read their work at the Young Voices Reading. You will be astounded at the sophistication and sensitivity exhibited by these students. Our featured guest poets, Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Edward Hirsch, will take the stage following the reading to engage in a discussion with students, teachers, parents and others.
Tickets: $5

Live on Stage: Edward Hirsch and Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Saturday, April 22nd at 7:00 pm
in the Keating Theatre

Our featured guest poets will read their own work. Hirsch’s poetry has been characterized by Jhumpa Lahiri as being “tender without being sentimental... [able] to witness life without flinching.” The Academy of American Poets says of Nezhukumatathil,: “Bright and accessible, Nezhukumatathil’s poems are full of colors, foods, and landscapes plucked from each of her cultural influences and are tinged with joy.” More information on the poets is available on the poets tab or by visiting www.poetrylife.org.
Tickets: $30

Edward Hirsch, a MacArthur Fellow, has published nine books of poems, including The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (2010), which brings together thirty-five years of work.  His book-length elegy, Gabriel: A Poem (2014), which The New Yorker calls “a masterpiece of sorrow,” won the National Jewish Book Award for poetry.  He has also published five books of prose, among them, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999), a national bestseller, and A Poet’s Glossary (2014), a full compendium of poetic terms.  A condensed version will appear as The Essential Poet’s Glossary (2017).  He is the editor of The Best American Poetry 2016.  He taught for seventeen years in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston and now serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in New York.


Born to a Filipino mother and Malayali Indian father, Aimee Nezhukumatathil (neh-ZOO / koo-mah / tah-TILL) is the author of three books of poetry: Lucky Fish (2011), winner of the Hoffer Grand Prize for Prose and Independent Books; At the Drive-In Volcano (2007); and Miracle Fruit (2003), all from Tupelo Press. With Ross Gay, she co-authored Lace & Pyrite, a chapbook of nature poems (Organic Weapon Arts, 2014). Lucky Fish won the gold medal in Poetry for the Independent Publishers Book Awards and was featured in the New York Times and on the PBS NewsHour ArtsBeat. Poems from this collection were also awarded an NEA Fellowship in poetry, the Glenna Luschia Prize from Prairie Schooner, and the Angoff Award from The Literary Review for the best poems appearing that volume year.