A story on the festival in the Friday May 20 edition of the Raleigh News & Observer
Copyright 2005 The News and Observer
The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)
May 20, 2005 Friday
SECTION: WHAT'S UP; Pg. WUP24
LENGTH: 514 words
HEADLINE: Carrboro to be a poet magnet
BYLINE: Martin L. Johnson, Correspondent
Patrick Herron wants everyone to know that there's more to North Carolina poetry than pastoral memories and confessionals.
A widely published poet and the poet laureate of Carrboro, Herron started the Carrboro Poetry Festival last year. The festival returns this weekend at the Century Center for a two-day showcase of an eclectic group of local, national and international poets.
"There are sound poets, language poets, post-language and post-avant poets," he said. "It's all over the place in terms of styles, sentiments and content."
Andrea Selch, who lives in Hillsborough and has written everything from "safer-sex" poetry to a series about primate conservation, said the festival opens up a new space in North Carolina for poetry. Unlike other poetry events, the Carrboro festival isn't sponsored by a university or a statewide writers organization.
"Patrick didn't choose to showcase the 'usual suspects' of North Carolina poetry," she said. "Instead, he focused on experimental writers and the more edgy, political and young writers among us."
Herron said he has scheduled the festival so audiences will be exposed to a wide diversity of poets at each reading, which will include four poets allotted 15 minutes apiece. Forty poets are scheduled to read.
"By really mixing up the readers and reading, I'm able to get across this broad range of poetry," he said. "There's a chance that it might make poetry more entertaining than people assume it is."
It also allows for what Herron calls "cross-pollination," with poets who might ordinarily only be exposed to work like their own hearing something quite different.
Murat Nemet-Nejat, a poet and translator of Turkish poetry and prose who lives in New Jersey, will return for this year's festival. He said it was unusual for a poetry festival to cast its net so widely and to get poets and audiences in conversation.
"In a place like New York, you go to a poetry reading and you leave," he said. "Last year [in Carrboro], people stayed for hours to listen to the poets. This creates an openness that is wonderful and unique."
Nemet-Nejat said poetry is not as popular in the United States as it is in his native Turkey, where he said poets are treated like rock stars.
"In America, poetry is not central to the culture," he said. "Poets have to struggle with this situation. They're practicing an art that a majority of people would prefer not to pay attention to."
Herron said he hopes the festival exposes both poets and those in the audience to new forms of poetry.
"It's a matter of framing and attention," he said of how he plans to change the appreciation for poetry in the state. "The festival changes that by having writers that are from all over the continent that write in many other modes. But, more importantly, it focuses on local writers who hadn't gotten attention in the past because they were not writing in the dominant mode."
What: Carrboro Poetry Festival.
When: noon-9 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Century Center, 100 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro.
Details: www.carrboro poetryfestival.org.
LOAD-DATE: May 20, 2005