Arising from conversations over dinner between the poet Patricia Pruitt, her husband [poet, biographer & PVPP Board member] Christopher Sawyer Lauçanno and Edward Foster [poet editor and PVPP board member]; The Pioneer Valley Poetry Festival emerged as a proposition to bring a wide Practice of some notion of “experimental poetry” to the Pioneer Valley. What that notion of experimental means is still hotly debated within the Board as each new season of readings begins to form. But the Foundation for the would-be Festival that has taken hold can perhaps be summed up as being twofold: Poets working at the height of their capacities in a wide a variety of Forms yet each in some way working at a Boundary, well out of the main stream of contemporary epiphnal verse. It is a grand democracy wherein each board member brings their annual list of those poets whom they feel somehow to their ear, belong.
From this a Festival forms and until this past year’s now notorious interruption, has manifested in Amherst: In fact by the great generosity of the English Department, it takes place at Amherst College, with an annual fall festival, a brief walk from the homestead of Miss Dickinson, composed as it were from the mingled lists and essential arguments of the individual board members.
The Festival will return. We will all as a community sit and experience a new panel of poets come in from the Field to offer us their work at work. Until then you can find a selection of what would have been the 2020 Festival in the Readings from Home section of The Archive with short readings on video made by the poets themselves.
The site also offers foundational material from the past for your perusal: some of which will surely be familiar but hopefully there will also be a few surprises as well.
Past festivals have been recorded and those videos are linked here.
Ed Foster is the president of Pioneer Valley Poetry Productions. He has written or edited more than forty books. He lives near the northern Massachusetts border where he tends his gardens on a hill that may have been an island in a prehistoric lake.
Michael Franco is a poet, playwright and artist. For ten years he directed the Word of Mouth Reading Series in Cambridge, Ma. In the fall of 2016 he inaugurated a new series, Xit the Bear, in The Press Room at Oxford Street and he currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Pioneer Valley Poetry Festival.
He has been contributing editor for lift magazine, and a member of the poetry panel for AGNI magazine. His publications include: A Book of Measure Vol. One [The Journals of the Man who Keeps Bees], Talisman House: 2017; "from the Library of Michael Franco's A Book of Measure: The Marvels of David Leering": Pressed Wafer, 2017, The Library Of Dr Dee [a verse play] (dromenon press for Pressed Wafer, 2006), How To Live (Zoland, 1998), The Journals of the Man Who Kept Bees (lift books,1996), and many others. He lives and
works in Somerville Ma.
Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno is the author of more than a dozen books including biographies of Paul Bowles and E.E. Cummings, and a group portrait of American writers in Paris 1944-1960, The Continual Pilgrimage. He is also well-known as a translator and poet. His translations include books by Paul Eluard, Rafael Alberti, Panaït Istrati, García Lorca and the Mayan Books of Chilam Balam. His most recent books of poetry are Just Words: Homage to Roman Jakobson (Paris: Alyscamps 2019) Dix méditations sur quelques mots d’Antonin Artaud, translated by Patricia Pruitt (Paris : Alyscamps, 2018) Remission (Talisman House, 2016) and Mussoorie-Montague Miscellany (Talisman House, 2014) His memoir Becoming is currently being
serialized on-line in Witty Partition.
Lisa Bourbeau, former New Hampshire Poet Laureate, is the author of Cuttings from the Garden of Little Fears. Her poetry and criticism have appeared in numerous online and print journals, including webdelsol, Talisman: A Literary Journal, Edebiyat Ve Eleştiri, First Intensity, Zen Monster and Ploughshares.
Patrick Pritchett was born in South Bend, Indiana and came of age in Southern California. After working in the film industry, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He has taught at Harvard University, Amherst College, and Hunan Normal University in China, and currently lectures in English at the University of Connecticut-Hartford. His scholarly work focuses on post-1945 avant-garde American poetry. His books of poetry include Song X,Orphic Noise, and Refrain Series.