Burn, burn, burn at the festival of words

When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

Anne Waldman reads a poem with her signature dynamic performance style. She headlines this year’s Burning Word poetry festival.

Burning Word: Festival of Poetic Fire

When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

Where: Greenbank Farm.

Info: Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for ages 18 and under. Go to www.burningword.org.

It’s that time of year again for inspiring words and metaphors you wish you thought of.

The fifth annual “Burning Word: The Festival of Poetic Fire” returns to Greenbank Farm from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

Burning Word organizers have lined up a long list of headliners who will share the stages with Washington State poet laureate Samuel Green and other Washington poets including Jim Bertolino, Paul Hunter, David Ossman and Teri Zipf.

Leading the program will be headliner Anne Waldman, co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Colorado’s Naropa University, a noted performer, teacher and author of more than 40 books and small-press editions of poetry.

“Anne Waldman represents three of the most important strains of post-World War II — new American poetry, the New York School and the Beat movement,” said Paul Nelson, president of the Washington Poets Association.

“We believe Northwest poets and readers will agree that we’re very fortunate to feature Waldman at the 2008 Burning Word festival.”

Joining Waldman as headliners will be Cuban-born poet José Kozer; Canadian poet, essayist and professor Lionel Kearns; and poet, filmmaker, translator and poetry editor Mark Weiss of New York City.

Kozer is one of the lights of the neobarroco movement in Latin American poetry and the leading Cuban poet of his generation. His work has been translated into numerous languages and studied in many university literature programs. His book “No Buscan Reflejarse” was the first poetry collection by a living Cuban exile to be published in Havana.

Kearns’s work ranges from the traditional to experimental forms of poetry.

A professor at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University, Kearns was the original writer-in-electronic-residence in the Wired Writers Project in Canadian schools.

When speaking about poetry, Kearns said, “There has to be something compelling there, something unique, something useful. That is the challenge. That is what we poets try to do; tricking language into patterns so memorable that they stay with you forever.”

Weiss has wide-ranging creative interests, combining poetry, filmmaking and social sciences. He has founded and directed many poetry series in New York City and founded Junction Press.

Weiss is a respected editor and translator of poetry, working with Kozer. Weiss’ anthology, “The Whole Island: Six Decades of Cuban Poetry,” is forthcoming in 2009 from University of California Press.

“With performances and workshops all day, there is something to excite and inspire everyone,” said Victory Lee Schouten, one of the founders of the festival.

The festival also includes an open mic, workshops, a small-press book fair, a variety of food vendors and wine tastings.

The Burning Word poetry festival has had a successful four-year history at Whidbey’s scenic Greenbank Farm and has built a reputation as a vibrant festival representing the wide range of poetic interests in the Northwest.

“Burning Word has shown increased attendance every year and in 2008, we expect a large crowd to experience Anne Waldman, who is known for her dynamic performances and commitment to social justice,” Nelson said.

“I’m proud to be one of the founders,” added Schouten. “And I hope to see the festival continue to make Whidbey proud for many years to come. This year’s festival is a “don’t miss!””

Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for ages 18 and under.

For information, go to www.burning


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