Mountain Area Information Network

Pulitzer Prize-winner Galway Kinnell
among poets reading April 24-27
at inaugural Asheville WordFest

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell is one of more than 20 poets featured in the inaugural Asheville WordFest poetry festival April 24-27.

Kinnell is the author of 10 books of poetry, including “Selected Poems,” which won the National Book Award in 1980.

Asheville WordFest features an array of readings, workshops, and children's activities to celebrate the power of poetry in an increasingly manufactured media environment, said WordFest director, Laura Hope-Gill.

“Asheville WordFest is a cutting-edge event to feed the deep hunger we all have for authentic experience, at a time when so much of our experience is manufactured by corporations with something to sell, rather than something to tell,” said Hope-Gill, a leader in Asheville's thriving performance-poetry scene in the 1990s.

“Poets like Galway Kinnell share with us their gift for 'taking life by the throat,’ as Robert Frost, another great American poet, once said. All of our WordFest poets do just that,” she said. WordFest events are free and open to the public.

Asheville WordFest kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24 in UNC-Asheville's Humanities Lecture Hall with readings by four-time National Slam Poetry champion Patricia Smith and Rick Chess, author of three books of poetry and director of creative writing at UNCA.

Other main events at UNCA's Humanities Lecture Hall include readings at 7 p.m. Friday, April 25 by Simon Ortiz, MariJo Moore, and N.C. Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer.

New Mexico poet Ortiz is the winner of the Pushcart Prize and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Returning the Gift Festival of Native American Writers.

Moore is the author of five books of poetry and is a two-time winner of the Wordcrafter of the Year award from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

Byer is a former writer-in-residence at Western Carolina University and author of four books of poetry, including “Wildwood Flower,” the 1992 Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets.

WordFest's readings at UNCA conclude at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26 with Galway Kinnell and Iranian poet Fatemah Keshavarz, professor of Persian and comparative literature at Washington University in St. Louis, and Director of the Center for the Study of Islamic Societies and Civilizations.

[PLEASE NOTE: WPVM-103.5 FM will broadcast the 7 p.m. readings live from UNC-Asheville on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 24-26.]

Keshavarz is also the author of three books on Persian poetry, including the recently published “Jasmine and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran.”

WordFest evening events at UNCA will be webcast live via the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) at Podcasts will be available via MAIN's radio station, WPVM, 103.5 FM or

Other WordFest events include:

  • “Re-Opening the Green Door: A Retrospective of Asheville's Performance Poetry Scene” at 10 p.m. Friday, April 25 at Malaprops bookstore.
  • Rumi translator and poet Coleman Barks with bassist Eliot Wadopian at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at the Fine Arts Theater.
  • WordFest reception and booksigning at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at Malaprops bookstore.
  • Poetix Lounge at 10 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at Bobo Gallery on Lexington Avenue.
  • Flood Gallery Reading by Glenis Redmond, Sebastian Matthews, Laura Hope-Gill, Rose McLarney, and Mark Prudowsky at 12 noon Sunday, April 27, corner of Clingman and Roberts in the river district.
  • “This History Isn’t Closed: A Protospective of The Black Mountain College Legacy” by Lee Ann Brown and Cathy Wagner at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27 at Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center, 56 Broadway, downtown Asheville. Donation requested.
  • “WordFest Local” with Jeff Davis, David Hopes, Laura Hope-Gill, Gary Copeland Lilley, Thomas Rain Crowe, Allan Wolf, Keith Flynn, and Lee Ann Brown at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 27 at Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center, 56 Broadway, downtown Asheville.

Asheville WordFest is sponsored by MAIN via a grant from the N.C. Humanities Council. Additional support is provided by Asheville BookWorks, Rivendell Journal, UNCA, Malaprops, and Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center.

For more information, visit END