U.S. Poet Laureate Headlines St. Louis Poetry Festival
St. Louis, Mo. – U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and Missouri Poet Laureate Aliki Barnstone will headline the 2016 St. Louis Brick City Poetry Festival, a five-day event that runs Thursday, Oct. 13 through Monday, Oct. 17. Organized by UrbArts, a local youth arts organization, the festival will be held at various locations throughout the city and is free and open to the public.
Herrera, Barnstone and St. Louis Poet Laureate Michael Castro will recite some of their works during the second annual Brick City festival. The event will also feature local spoken word artists, ceremonies that recognize outstanding poets in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and the introduction of the St. Louis poets anthology, "Crossing the Divide."
In 2015, Herrera was appointed the 21st United States Poet Laureate, the first Mexican-American to hold the position. In his statement of choice, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said Herrera’s poems “contain Whitman-esque multitudes that champion voices, traditions, and histories, as well as a cultural perspective” that serve to illuminate our larger American identity.
Herrera grew up in California as the son to migrant farmers, which he has said strongly shaped much of his work. A Washington Post article tells the story that “As a child, Herrera learned to love poetry by singing about the Mexican Revolution with his mother, a migrant farmworker in California. Inspired by her spirit, he has spent his life crossing borders, erasing boundaries and expanding the American chorus.”
During the second day of the festival, organizers will announce the first St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate as well as several youth poet ambassadors. The St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate will have the honor of representing the city at events throughout the region and will win a book deal as well as the chance to become the National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017. Teens ages 14 to 19 will be eligible to apply for this distinction.
The Warrior Poet award will be handed out on the third day of the event during a ceremony honoring its latest inductee. Past Warrior Poets include Michael Castro, Eugene B. Redmond, Shirley LeFlore and Dahveed Nelson, among others. Warrior Poets is a program administered by Word In Motion.
The Brick City festival is made possible by funding support from the Regional Arts Commission and UrbArts, as well as support from KDHX, the St. Louis Public Library, 14th Street Artist Community, River Styx, Word in Motion, Alchemy Seven, and the Gateway Writing Project.
More details can be found on the Festival Schedule.