Kalamazoo Poetry Festival Press Releases

April 4, 2016KPF-Logo-wide

For Immediate Release

Kalamazoo Poetry Festival


Stacy Nowicki

(269) 767-8229 


Marsha Meyer, Program Committee Co-Chair

329-4542 ext. 710

Marion Boyer, Program Committee Co-Chair

(269) 668-7612


Second Kalamazoo Poetry Festival to highlight local and nationally known poets

Kalamazoo, Mich. — Kalamazoo Poetry Festival announces its second full festival will take place April 15-16, 2016, featuring nationally acclaimed poets Natalie Diaz and Jamaal May. During the weekend the festival will offer readings, craft talks, and workshops led by some of the region’s most celebrated writers.

“We are fortunate to find among us a thriving community of writers who contribute to our area’s rich cultural fabric,” said Kalamazoo Poetry Festival board chair Stacy Nowicki. “The festival celebrates this talent and the creative energy that inspires us to read, perform, and write poetry. “

The event is scheduled in April to coincide with National Poetry Month. As part of the 2016 festival, the number of workshops have been increased from three offerings two years ago to eight in 2016.

Leading the workshops are Jennifer Clark, Margaret DeRitter, Jane Huffman, Fable The Poet (Marcel Price), Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Gail Martin, Preacher C (Cornelius Shaw), and McKenzie Lynn Tozan. A craft talk with Natalie Diaz and Jamaal May will be moderated by Diane Seuss, author of the 2015 poetry collection “Four Legged Girl.”

A reading by workshop leaders, an open mic, and a reading by the guest poets all will be featured.

“It has been exciting to see how the community has responded to our first two events—our first festival in 2014 and the Celebration of Community Poets in 2015,” said Nowicki. “We wanted to provide a showcase for the many talented local poets that we knew were working and writing in this area. The quality of the work presented and the acceptance by the community has been everything we hoped for.”

About the Kalamazoo Poetry Festival

The Kalamazoo Poetry Festival Steering Committee was formed in November 2012 to initiate a new way to celebrate the area’s many poets. In 2014 it became a nonprofit arts organization. The Festival is possible thanks to the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, its primary funder. Additional support comes from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural  Affairs, many individuals and other corporate and organizational supporters.

Artists bios

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. After playing professional basketball for four years in Europe and Asia, Diaz returned to the states to complete her MFA at Old Dominion University. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press.  She is a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellow and a 2012 Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. In 2014, she was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, as well as the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, and a U.S. Artists Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Residency MFA program and lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she directs the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program, working with the last remaining Mojave speakers at Fort Mojave to teach and revitalize the Mojave language.

Jamaal May’s book Hum has won the Beatrice Hawley Award, the ALA Notable Book Award, and was a finalist for the NAACP Image award. His second collection is The Big Book of Exit Strategies and he has also published two chapbooks, The God Engine and The Whetting of Teeth. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, The Believer, Ploughshares, New England Review and The Kenyon Review. He has also been a recipient of the Kenyon Review Fellowship at Kenyon College, Bread Loaf, Callaloo and the Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. He is the series editor, graphic designer and filmmaker for the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series.

Friday, April 15

1 – 2 p.m.

Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Arcadia Commons Campus, Downtown


• Give Us This Day Our Daily Poetry — Reading And Writing Poems As Spiritual Practice with Margaret DeRitter and Jennifer Clark

• The Poetry of Jamaal May and Natalie Diaz with Jane Huffman

2:30 – 4 p.m

Kalamazoo Valley Community College – Arcadia Commons Campus, Downtown


• This Is My Letter to the World: Writing Epistolary Poems with Gail Martin

• You Are The Poem Yet Written: Performing Poetry with Preacher

6 p.m.

Wellspring Theater at the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Downtown 

Reading: Kalamazoo Poetry Festival Workshop Leaders Live

8-9 p.m.

FIRE, 1249 Portage Road, Kalamazoo

Your Turn: Open Mic with Preacher

Saturday April 16

9:30 – 11 a.m.

Kalamazoo College, Upjohn Library Commons

• Your Teeth Feel Like a Road: Writing With Children, in the Classroom and Out with Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Room 305

• Poetry and (Work)Place: Inviting Your Vocation into Your Poetry, with Mckenzie Lynn Tozan, Room 306

• Wanna Get Published? with Kathleen McGookey, Room 308

12:30 – 2 p.m.

Kalamazoo College, Upjohn Library Commons

• Community Building through Local Open Mic Showcases with Fable The Poet, Room 305

• The Poetry of Jamaal May and Natalie Diaz with Jane Huffman, Room 306

• Unlocking the Poet Within: A Workshop for Teens with Jennifer Clark, Room 308

2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College

Craft Talk and Q&A with Natalie Diaz and Jamaal May, led by Diane Seuss

7 p.m.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo

Craft Talk and Q&A with Natalie Diaz and Jamaal May, led by Diane Seuss

The Kalamazoo Poetry Festival is made possible through the generous contributions of the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the John E. Fetzer Institute Trust Fund through the Kalamazoo Community Foundation,  Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the arts.  Institutional support comes from Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Public Library, WMUK and many individual supporters from across the community.