Elizabeth Gunto, staff writer
From April 30 to May 3, WordFest, Asheville’s poetry festival, will be taking place downtown. The evening readings will also be broadcast by webcam from 7-9 p.m. on the website www.ashevillewordfest.org.
“This is all in hopes of getting Wordfest to people who can’t get to the readings–they might be sick, they might not have childcare, they may be unable to drive at night or they might be in jail or shelters,” said Laura Hope-Gill, who is running the poetry workshop with Sebastian Matthews and Keith Flynn.
On Friday, Thomas Rain Crowe and special guest Coleman Barks will perform at the Bo Bo gallery.
“Three poets will read at each reading this year–which means three different groups, voices and perspectives at each reading. We’re going for critical mass of ideas—tension and transformation,” Hope-Gill said.
The festival features a wide array of poets.
“Each reading presents a variety of cultures and aesthetics because the poets who dreamed this up wanted a festival that truly s about diversity in all directions–male, female, cultural, racial, physical ability, tradition and context–anything that can be attached to is, at Wordfest, moved through into something else,” said Hope-Gill. “I’m thrilled to have Li-Young Lee and Quincy Troupe and Valzhyna Mort coming – each of these poets could easily headline three separate festivals. We have all of them.”
One of the poets at Wordfest is Gary Copeland Lilley, who used to teach and work at Warren Wilson.
Thomas Rain Crowe, another poet at WordFest, is a North Carolina native. He lived in Europe in the 1970′s and returned to the United States, specifically San Francisco, to become the editor of Beatitude magazine and press. Besides writing poetry, he has worked as a publisher, editor, translator and recording artist. He is also the author of 12 books. He was one of the founders and editors of Katuah Journal: A Bioregional Journal of the Southern Appalachians.
Keith Flynn is a graduate of Mars Hill College and the University of North Carolina in Asheville. Flynn helped to found the UNCA student newspaper, the Blue Banner. He won the Sandburg Prize for poetry in 1985. In 1987, he founded the rock band The Crystal Zoo.
Li-Young Lee has written four books of poetry. He has received awards from American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University.
“Li-Young Lee’s most recent collection examines the impact of his father’s exile from China (he was Mao’s physician) and political imprisonment on Lee’s own private life,” said Hope-Gill.
“The essential purpose is to bring people together from many different communities. We present a poet line-up that reflects the real population, from twenty different cultural and aesthetic backgrounds,” said Hope-Gill. “Poetry is integral to society because it is about telling the truth. We need more of that. Everywhere.”