By Elizabeth Gibbs
May 17th marks the beginning of the 10th biennial Skagit River Poetry Festival run by the Skagit River Poetry Foundation, located in La Conner. The festival goes from May 17th-20th and will be hosting a diverse group of poets including Robert Pinsky, Tony Curtis, Ada Limon, and many more. Molly McNulty, executive director of the foundation, describes it as being “a love letter Skagit River Poetry Festival gives to our community.” McNulty wants to encourage all students to come and discover the power of poetry.
The festival, although open to the public, has a specific aim at students. “The biennial festival is the culmination of two years of poets visiting classrooms in eight school districts and SVC. Over 175 days every year, poets work with students K-14 who come into their classrooms for week-long residencies,” McNulty explained. Students from all over Skagit Country study many of the poets who will be attending this year’s festival. They have also met some of the poets, such as Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, who visited classrooms at SVC and had a poetry reading on the Mount Vernon campus. The goal for students is that they see poetry and poets as alive, and not just words on a page.
On the 18th, 9am-2pm, there will be a student-only day including poetry readings, workshops, an open mic, and discussions. Students get in free! McNulty suggests that all students check out Skagit River Poetry Foundation’s website and see which events interest them most. There will be conversations and workshops that will cover publishing, writing to change the world, love, humor, and much more. Go to https://www.skagitriverpoetry.orgo find out more information and to read poet bios.
McNulty describes poetry as allowing her to see the world differently and more completely. That is the power it possesses. She and her team want to remind people that without the community and the audience it brings, the festival could not work. “We are committed to bring diverse voices into our community. We look at who has something to tell us in a way that is new and can help us understand the world outside our personal view.” McNulty and her team work hard to find poets that will inspire and teach the audience. “Without our audiences we could not do this work,” she says.
If you are interested in supporting the Skagit River Poetry Foundation and discovering the power of poetry, mark your calendars for May 17th-20th. Tickets can be found at https://www.skagitriverpoetry.org/festival/festival-tickets/.