June 28, 2008
Sometime in early 2007, I decided that Albuquerque needed a poetry festival again. Having worked on four poetry festivals in the 1990′s and produced one interdisciplinary festival in 2001, I knew how great a festival can be in terms of fostering the local literary community. Festivals celebrate and revitalize the poetry scene and have a cascade of positive impacts on audience and writers. Knowing the cornucopia of perks, I was also aware of what kind of work and organizational powers a festival requires: a lot.
That’s when I realized Albuquerque has this kind of work-horse potential: I’d been awed, frankly and truly, by the way Albuquerque hosted the National Slams in 2005. Not only was I blown away by the performances and influx of all the national poets, I was impressed profoundly by the structural aspects of the slam and by the beauty of the local community that pulled off such a magnificent sequence of events. (They sold out the Kiva–2300 seats for poetry!!!)
So, remembering the slam and wanting a festival but knowing I couldn’t hack one alone, I approached Susan McAllister of the Harwood Art Center. Her experience on the National Poetry Slam would be invaluable to planning a new poetry festival in Albuquerque and her long history of supporting poetry endeavors ranging from performance to print anthologies has always been inspiring to me.
I asked if she’d like to see another poetry festival happen and she said yes.
So here we are, a year and a half later with a festival in the works.
And I’m grateful and astonished and hopeful.