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It Might Look Like Spring, but It's Poetry Season

By Gail Hairston

(April 23, 2015) — As April gradually slides into May, trees are growing their cloaks of green, flowers are daubing the landscape with bright colors, and Lexington’s imagination turns poetic as the city and the University of Kentucky celebrate National Poetry Month.

“Why not a festival of poetry?”thought Julia Johnson, poet and associate professor and director of the new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of English.

“I thought it would be fantastic to have a week dedicated to poetry in Lexington as part of National Poetry Month. I also like the idea of a ‘festival.’ With so many poetry-related events already happening in Lexington during the last week of April, it was an easy idea to pull off,” Johnson said.

“We're lucky that way,” she said. “We've added a few events (to the community calendar), including the UK visits of poets Dara Wier and Emily Pettit wrapping up this year's Visiting Writers Series, but we're also riding on the coattails of other events and helping to promote them at the same time. It's a win-win.

“There is a long and rich history of poetry at UK and in Kentucky. It's always been here. We're just dreaming up more events and more opportunities to showcase the work that is being created here.”

The 2015 Kentucky Poetry Festival schedule includes:

Off the Ground Featuring Bianca Spriggs

Friday, April 24, 7:30 p.m.

Common Grounds on High Street

Affrilachian poet and Cave Canem Fellow, Bianca Lynne Spriggs, is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Lexington. She is the author of “Kaffir Lily,” “How Swallowtails Become Dragons” and the forthcoming titles, “Call Her By Her Name,” “The Galaxy is a Dance Floor” and “Circe's Lament: An Anthology of Wild Women.” Her work may be found in numerous journals and anthologies. Attendees can read at the open mic following her reading.  

KFP College Showcase

Saturday, April 25, 2 p.m.

James F. Hardymon Theater, Davis Marksbury Building, 329 Rose St.

Creative writing college students from around Kentucky will read their poetry.

A Reading by Louisville Poets, featuring Jeremy Clark, Adam Day, Lynnell Edwards, Michael Estes and Martha Greenwald

Saturday, April 25, 7 p.m.

James F. Hardymon Theater, Davis Marksbury Building

Verse in Type

Sunday, April 26, 3 p.m.

Clark Art & Antiques, 801 Winchester Road

Reception for the winners of the King Library Broadside Contest. Broadside printed by the UK Libraries King Library Press will be on display. 

King Library Spring Seminar

Tuesday, April 28, 7 p.m.

Boone Center, UK campus

Dara Wier will give a lecture for the King Library as the Keynote Speaker. Broadside Contest Award winners will read.

Waxing Gastronomic: Food Poetry Open Mic

Wednesday, April 29, 4-5 p.m.

Donut Days on Southland Drive

Readings by the poets Dara Wier and Emily Pettit, Visiting Writers Series

Wednesday, April 29, 7 p.m.

Art Museum at UK

Dara Wier is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including "You Good Thing" (Wave Books, 2013); "Selected Poems" (2009); "Remnants of Hannah" (2006); "Reverse Rapture" (2005) and many others. She teaches workshops and form and theory seminars and directs the M.F.A. program for poets and writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she lives with her husband, the poet James Tate. Emily Pettit is the author of Goat in the Snow (Birds LLC), and two chapbooks How (Octopus Books) and What Happened to Limbo (Pilot Books). She is an editor for notnostrums ( and Factory Hollow Press. 

Holler 83, featuring Normandi Ellis, Roger Bonair-Agard, AlexandersSings

Wednesday, April 29, 8 p.m.

Al’s Bar, North Limestone

Open mic sign up starts at 7:30 p.m.

Celebrate national poetry month with the return of Normandi Ellis, author of “Words on Water,” and the debut of two-time National Poetry Slam Champion, Roger Bonair-Agard, his latest “Bury My Clothes,” a long list finalist for the National Book Award. Music by AlexanderSings. Open mic opens and closes the show.

Write or Die Poetry Slam Presented by Bianca Spriggs/Hosted by the Raven House

Thursday, April 30, 8:30 p.m., doors open at 8 p.m.

Raven House, 3229 Raven Circle

Eight poets from around the state and region will compete in a three-round elimination spoken word competition for a first prize of $500 and a second prize of $300. The feature and celebrity judge for the night is award-winning poet, Roger Bonair-Agard. Opening musical performances by Designer Flow and J. Cannon. DJ Warren Peace will be on the one's and two's. Thomas Kirkland, veteran slam emcee, will be dusting off his mic for the occasion. Admission is $20. Capacity is 80 attendees. A portion of the proceeds go towards each of the performers that night as well as the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.

Roger Bonair-Agard Reading / Radio Interview

Thursday, April 30, 5:30 p.m.

William T. Young Library Auditorium

Poet and spoken-word artist Roger Bonair-Agard was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the United States in 1987. His collections of poetry include “Tarnish and Masquerade,” “Gully” and “Bury My Clothes,” which was a long-list finalist for a National Book Award. A Cave Canem fellow, Bonair-Agard performs his work and leads workshops internationally. He is the co-founder and artistic director of the louderARTS Project and teaches poetry at the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Facility in Chicago.

Ekphrastic Poetry Prize 

The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky and the MFA Program in Creative Writing present The Kentucky Poetry Festival’s Ekphrastic Poetry Prize. First prize is $100. Deadline is May 1. Entries must pertain to the permanent collection, or a current or past exhibit at The Art Museum at UK. Please indicate the name of the work and the artist’s name with entry. Contest is open to all poets, excluding current MFA poetry students at UK. Entrants may submit up to three poems as a single attached file with the format firstname_lastname2015 to: kpfpoetrycontest@gmail.comFor . For more information, contact

Poetry in the Greenhouses

Friday, May 1, 5:30 p.m.

Michler's Florist, Greenhouses & Garden Design, 417 E. Maxwell St.

Readings by Lexington poets. Open mic to follow. Winners of the Ekphrastic poetry contest, will be announced.

For more about UK’s celebration of poetry, visit .