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NINE TO WATCH IN '09 | New festival planned

The embers of the Burning Word poetry festival at Greenbank Farm have been smothered.

But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Brave New Words, Whidbey Island’s very own festival, will take flight in April.

With the Washington Poets Association’s decision to move Burning Word back to its original location in Seattle after four years on Whidbey, former festival director Victory Schouten was despondent.

“I understand their decision and wish them all the best,” Schouten said. “But Whidbey loved the festival and its moving left a gap in the cultural fabric of the island. The written and spoken word is a vital element of the thriving arts community we have on Whidbey.”

Schouten was not alone in her commiseration about not having a yearly event at which local poets, guest poets and young students of poetry could gather for a day of workshops, performances and general poetic hobnobbing.

Several community members expressed an interest in Schouten’s idea to produce a new poetry festival on the island and have offered to help.

“I spoke with Tom Baenen, then president of the Greenbank Farm Management Group, and he was very glad to hear we wanted to create a new poetry festival at the farm,” Schouten said.

Baenen, along with the farm’s board of directors, approved of the group’s request that Brave New Words be allowed to operate under the auspices of Greenbank Farm, a nonprofit organization. Brave New Words will launch its inaugural all-day festival on Saturday, April 18 at Greenbank Farm.

The day will feature award-winning poets, youth poets, multilingual poetry, an inspiring poetry workshop, poetry/art installations and live music.

Schouten has been named as festival director and has already started the ball rolling by inviting a number of exciting and respected regional poets to perform.

Brave New Word organizers are seeking people who are interested in building support for the festival through donations, services and volunteer help.

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