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Sierra Poetry Festival returns with new format

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What: Sierra Poetry Festival

When: Saturday, April 18, 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Virtual and live

Who: Nevada County Arts Council

Admission: Free

More info: SierraPoetryFestival.org

Nevada County Arts Council will present the 4th annual Sierra Poetry Festival on Saturday, April 18 in a new format – live, online and available to all to experience. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Nevada County Arts Council made the decision to move the popular festival – which features international, national and regional poets and performers – to an online format that can be publicly accessed via the non-profit’s website http://www.sierrapoetryfestival.org or on their Facebook page and Instagram.

Sierra Poetry Festival coincides with National Poetry Month and, from the rolling foothills of California’s Gold Country to the rugged High Sierra, has traditionally brought our rich literary community together to celebrate the spoken word and reach out to brand new audiences in fresh ways. The festival’s signature events include keynote readings, workshops, open mics, youth competitions and much more.

This year’s festival will feature live and recorded readings by speakers Coleman Barks – a poet and one of the foremost interpreters of Rumi – and award-winning poet Ellen Bass, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Bass’s most recent collection, Indigo, published just last week, and, among many accolades, is credited with coediting the first major anthology of women’s poetry, No More Masks.

“Our literary committee has worked tirelessly to organize the festival, and this year’s lineup is an exceptional one,” explains Nevada County Arts Council Executive Director, Eliza Tudor. “We didn’t want that hard work be lost, nor lose the momentum of previous years, so we are transforming our physical event into a rich and entertaining virtual festival, online. We are looking at all that Sierra Poetry Festival might achieve during these times of isolation for so many.”

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Also attending this year is the Executive Editor of the prestigious journal, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Boris Dralyuk, as well as the Poetry Editor for the award-winning The Offing Magazine, Paul Tran. Tran is the recipient of the Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Their work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Good Morning America, and elsewhere, including the movie Love Beats Rhymes with Azealia Banks, Common, and Jill Scott.

Over a dozen of this year’s festival poets will be giving live and recorded readings from their homes and studios. People can go to http://www.sierrapoetryfestival.org for the day’s lineup of events and to watch the livestream. Viewers are also encouraged to choose from among seven live workshops and a community open mic, to help make the festival truly interactive. The festival is free, but donations are welcomed, and go directly to Sierra Poetry Festival.

Says Tudor: “If we had asked ourselves – and our poets, community partners and sponsors – six weeks ago what we thought about hosting a virtual event, we’d have all thought it impossible. Yet here we are. Poets and presenters video conferencing in live from five different time-zones, three different countries and two continents. We are so grateful for this opportunity to serve both our own community and the wider world – it’s going to be great.”


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