11th Annual Westchester Poetry Festival at The Masters School featuring Afaa Michael Weaver

Please join us in person on the campus of The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry for the 11th annual Westchester Poetry Festival. We are thrilled to welcome seven exceptional poets as they read from their most recent work. This year’s festival will take place outside in response to the continuing pandemic. (A tent will be available in the event of rain.) This event is free and open to the public. Please register, in advance, for your free ticket. 1-4pm eastern time.

Afaa M. Weaver 尉雅風, previously known as Michael S. Weaver, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1951 to parents from southern Virginia.  Afaa completed his B.A (1986) at the University of the State of New York, and his M.A. (1987) at Brown University. Spirit Boxing is his most recent book of poetry, and he also has written several plays, some short fiction, journalism, and essays. His awards include multiple Pushcarts, the Kingsley Tufts, the Phillis Wheatley Book Award, and the PDI Award in playwriting. He is also a Fulbright Alum (2002) and Guggenheim fellow (2017).  His work in translation and scholarship projects with Chinese poets earned him the Gold Friendship Medal from the Beijing Writers Association (2005). In 2019 he received both the St. Botolph Club Distinguished Artist Award, and the 96th Medal from Taiwan’s Writers and Artists Association. In a 2007 article written for the Taipei Times by Ron Brownlow, Afaa is described by Ed Ochester as “…the African American successor to Walt Whitman.” Red Hen will publish his sixteenth collection of poetry, A Fire in the Hills, in 2023. He is currently at work on a memoir. Afaa is Professsor Emeritus at Simmons University, and a member of the MFA faculty at Sarah Lawrence. In 1997, he was a member of the first faculty at Cave Canem, and in the following year he was named the first Elder of the Cave Canem Organization. Afaa and his wife, Kristen Skedgell, live in an old farmhouse in the mid-Hudson Valley. They share a love of  writing, horses, donkeys, goats, dogs, cats, birds, fish, and ice cream. Afaa likes Station Eleven. Kristen not so much. Visit them at: www.magichorses.org

B.K. Fischer is the author of Ceive (BOA, 2021, a finalist for the National Books Critic Circle Award in Poetry) as well as four previous books of poetry: Radioapocrypha (Mad Creek Books, 2018), which won the 2018 The Journal/Wheeler Prize; My Lover’s Discourse (Tinderbox, 2018); St. Rage’s Vault (The Word Works, 2013), which won the Washington Prize; and Mutiny Gallery (Truman State University Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 T.S. Eliot Prize. She is also the author of the critical study Museum Mediations: Reframing Ekphrasis in Contemporary American Poetry (Routledge, 2006). Her poems and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, Jacket2, FIELD, WSQ, Ninth Letter, Blackbird, Los Angeles Review of Books, Modern Language Studies, and elsewhere. Fischer holds a BA from the Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University, an MFA in poetry from Columbia University, and a PhD in English and American Literature from New York University. A former poetry editor of Boston Review, she teaches The Comma Sutra, a course on grammar and syntax for creative practice, in the School of the Arts at Columbia University. She lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York with her husband and three children.

John Okrent is a poet and a family doctor. He works at a community health center in Tacoma, WA, where he lives with his wife and two young children in a hundred year old fishing cabin built on stilts above the Puget Sound. His hinged sonnets were among the first poems to be published during the early days of the pandemic. His poems have been published in American Literary Review, Field, Love’s Executive Order, Painted Bride Quarterly, Ploughshares, Plume, Poetry Northwest, Sixth Finch, Tupelo Quarterly, and Together in a Sudden Strangeness (Knopf, 2020), edited by Alice Quinn. His debut collection was written the midst of the Covid pandemic. As a medical doctor, he chose to express the depth of what he was encountering through forty-nine magnificently crafted sonnets. John Okrent’s This Costly Season (Arrowsmith Books, 2022) examines what it was like to be on the front lines of the loss of others, as well as encountering his own grief, while holding on to the preciousness of life and the beauty of our world.

Iain Haley Pollock is the author of two poetry collections, Ghost, Like a Place (Alice James Books, 2018), which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and Spit Back a Boy, winner of the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Individual poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Baffler, and The New York Times Magazine. Pollock teaches English at Rye Country Day School in Rye, NY, and is a member of the poetry faculty at the Solstice MFA program of Pine Manor College. He also serves as poetry editor at Solstice Literary Magazine.

Yerra Sugarman is the author of Aunt Bird (Four Way Books, 2022) and Forms of Gone (Sheep Meadow Press, 2002), which won PEN American Center’s PEN / Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, and The Bag of Broken Glass (Sheep Meadow Press, 2008), poems from which received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her other honors include a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, a Canada Council for the Arts Grant for Creative Writers, the Poetry Society of America’s George Bogin Memorial Award and Cecil Hemley Memorial Award, a Chicago Literary Award, and a “Discovery”/The Nation Poetry Award. She earned an MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University, and a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. Born in Toronto, she lives in New York City.

Brian Tierney is the author of Rise and Float, which was selected by Randall Mann as the winner of the 20-2021 Jake Adam York Prize. His poetry and prose have appeared in or are forthcoming in Paris ReviewAGNIKenyon ReviewNERThe Adroit Journal, and others. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, he is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford and winner of The Poetry Society of America’s 2018 George Bogin Memorial Award. He grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and currently lives in Oakland, CA, where he teaches poetry at The Writing Salon.

Mark Wunderlich was born in Winona, Minnesota and grew up in rural Fountain City, Wisconsin. He attended Concordia College’s Institut für Deutsche Studien, and later the University of Wisconsin from which he received a BA in German Literature and English. Wunderlich earned a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Wunderlich’s first book, The Anchorage, was published in 1999 by the University of Massachusetts Press, and received the Lambda Literary Award. His second book, Voluntary Servitude, was published by Graywolf Press in 2004. A third volume of poems titled The Earth Avails, was published in 2014 and received the 2015 Rilke Prize from the University of North Texas and was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award. Since 2003 he has been a member of the Literature Faculty at Bennington College in Vermont. In 2017 he was appointed the Director of the Bennington Writing Seminars graduate writing program. Wunderlich is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, two fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Amy Lowell Trust. In 2012 he received an Editor’s Prize from the Missouri Review and was also selected for a residency at the Arteles Creativity Center in Hämeenkyrö, Finland. In 2014 he was a fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and in 2017 he was the spring Writer in Residence at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut. Wunderlich lives in a 300 year old stone house in New York’s Hudson Valley near the village of Catskill.