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Bridgewater College to host International Poetry Festival

bridgewater collegePoets and publishers from around the world will converge upon Bridgewater College May 15-19 to celebrate poetry, creativity and the global exchange of ideas.

The Bridgewater International Poetry Festival, which premiered at Bridgewater College in 2013, is designed first as a performance venue, but will also feature workshops and informal gatherings among the community of writers and other participants for discussion and networking. More than 50 registered poets will have 20 minutes each to present their work. This year’s gathering will include presentations, some virtual, from Canada, Egypt, England, Israel, Jamaica and Zimbabwe, and 13 states.

The keynote speaker, Dorianne Laux, an internationally renowned poet from North Carolina, will read from her work at 8 p.m. Friday, May 17, in the Concert Hall in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Her most recent collection, Only as the Day is Long, was published by Norton earlier this year. This event (and others below) is free and open to the public.

Other notable speakers include Paul Nelson, a veteran poet and interviewer from Seattle; Lauren Camp, Arab American poet and host on Sante Fe Public Radio; Tami Haaland, Poet Laureate of Montana (2013-2015); Linda Nemec Foster, award-winning author of 11 poetry collections, most recently The Lake Michigan Mermaid; and Stephen Corey, editor of the Georgia Review for more than 40 years.

While attendance at the entire festival requires admission of $35 (for four days), or single-day admission of $15, several evening events, in addition to Laux’s presentation, are free and open to the public.

Corey will present “How to Be an Editor in X Easy/Difficult Steps” at 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 15, in the Boitnott Room. At 7 p.m., around the Stone Village barbecue pit, there will be a pre-release reading from a Walt Whitman tribute anthology entitled Endlessly Rocking, followed by an open mic.

Nelson will interview Canadian poet Shirley Camia, regarding the release of her newest book, Mercy, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, in the Concert Hall of the Carter Center.

A finale performance will feature approximately 15 readers selected from the course of the festival to reprise their work at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in the Concert Hall of the Carter Center.

Stanley A. Galloway, director of the festival, has created this event in conjunction with a May Term class at Bridgewater. Galloway said, “If we can’t take the students to the larger world, then we can bring the world to them.”

“Meeting so many practicing writers is overwhelming for our students sometimes,” said Nicole Yurcaba, assistant director of the festival, “but it’s the good kind of overwhelming.”

“We want students to realize that these poets are real people,” said Galloway, “and not just names in a book.”

Additional festival information can be found at Galloway

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Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,900 undergraduate students.