September 25, 2017

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts presents biennial Princeton Poetry Festival

International roster of poets to present readings and panels

Opens a four-day Festival of the Arts celebrating the opening of the new Lewis Arts complex

poetry fest poster

The 2017 Princeton Poetry Festival, a two-day biennial event, kicks off Princeton University’s celebration of the opening of the new Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts complex on October 5 and 6 in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center. The poetry festival is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

This international poetry festival, which is free and open to the public, is a unique event which will showcase poets from Canada, China, Cuba, Iceland, Macedonia, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Serbia, and the U.S. in a series of readings and panel discussions organized by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Princeton faculty member, and founding chair of the Lewis Center, Paul Muldoon, and is part of the Lewis Center’s Performance Central series.

This year’s twelve poets represent three continents. Four poets from the United States include Ellen Bass, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets; Amal Kassir, a 2012 Brave New Voices International Slam Champion; three-time U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky (with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood); and poet and translator Jacquelyn Pope.

amal kassir

Syrian-American spoken word artist Amal Kassir, a 2012 Brave New Voices International Slam Champion. Photo courtesy Amal Kassir.

International poets include Chinese poet Zang Di, Dutch poet Hester Knibbe, Irish poet Michael Longley, Macedonian poet Nikola Madzirov, Serbian poet Ana Ristović, Cuban poet Víctor Rodríguez-Núñez, Icelandic poet Sjón, and Canadian poet Karen Solie.

“We are pleased to bring some of the best poets in the world to Princeton,” notes Muldoon, the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities, “and to provide this venue for sharing their diverse work with our students and the wider community.”

The panel discussions will explore “verse and adversity,” which Muldoon notes will examine the ways in which poets from around the world deal with crisis.


The Festival opens on Thursday, October 5 at 12:00 p.m. with a Gala Opening Reading featuring all twelve poets with an introduction by Paul Muldoon. The day continues at 1:30 p.m. with a panel entitled Verse and Adversity, moderated by Paul Muldoon with Ellen Bass, Zang Di, Amal Kassir, Michael Longley, Ana Ristović, and Sjón.

nikola madzirov

Macedonian poet Nikola Madzirov. Photo by Thomas Kierok.

A reading at 3:00 p.m. featuring Hester Knibbe, Jacquelyn Pope, Nikola Madzirov, Víctor Rodríguez-Núñez and Karen Solie is set for 3:00 p.m. Susan Wheeler, Professor of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, will introduce the reading.

The day concludes at 4:30 p.m. with PoemJazz, an innovative dialogue between poetry and music with Robert Pinsky, one of America’s foremost poets, and Grammy-winning jazz pianist Laurence Hobgood. Michael Dickman, Lecturer in Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, will introduce the program.


Friday’s schedule begins at 2:00 p.m. with a reading featuring poets Jacquelyn Pope, Ana Ristović, and Sjón. This reading will be introduced by Monica Youn, Lecturer in Creative Writing, chair of the Lewis Center’s Committee on Race and the Arts, and a Princeton alumna.

At 3:00 p.m., Paul Muldoon returns to moderate the second Verse and Adversity panel with Hester Knibbe, Nicola Madzirov, Robert Pinsky, Jacquelyn Pope, Víctor Rodríguez-Núñez and Karen Solie.

zang di

Chinese poet Zang Di. Photo courtesy Zang Di.

The 2017 Princeton Poetry Festival concludes with a reading with Ellen Bass, Zang Di, Amal Kassir, and Michael Longley. U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor of the Humanities and Director and Professor of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, will introduce the reading.


Princeton University has a longstanding tradition of nurturing poets. From Revolutionary War poet Philip Morin Freneau, class of 1771, to major post-war poets William Ralph Meredith ’40, Galway Kinnell ’48, and W.S. Merwin ’48, to acclaimed poet Emily Moore ’99, hundreds of renowned graduates have studied poetry and creative writing at Princeton. Today, poetry continues to thrive at Princeton under the direction of such renowned poets and professors as Michael Dickman, Paul Muldoon, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, Susan Wheeler and Monica Youn.

The multi-day Festival of the Arts is presented by Princeton’s Department of Music and the Lewis Center for the Arts and is produced by Mara Isaacs of Octopus Theatricals. For a comprehensive listing of the more than 100 Festival events, most of them free, as well as a detailed schedule of the Princeton Poetry Festival and information on the poets, visit

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