Smart Bets: Wordfest

“April is the cruelest month for poetry,” Charles Berstein wrote in his essay/polemic, “Against National Poetry Month As Such.” “National Poetry Month is about making poetry safe for readers by promoting examples of the art form at its most bland and its most morally ‘positive.’” Asheville Wordfest, started in 2007 by Laura Hope-Gill, was not founded as counter-programming for National Poetry Month, but the event’s character does relieve Bernstein’s discomfort with limiting the acts of poetry — words, speech — to a kind of long holiday, an art form within quote marks. Wordfest recognizes the vitality and value of poetry (and prose and performance), no matter what month it is. This year’s participants include Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Cornelius Eady, John Lane, Keith Flynn, Evie Shockley (pictured) and N.C. Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti. Asheville Wordfest, May 3-4 at Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies, 36 Montford Ave. See http://www.ashevillewordfest.com for programs and more info. Jaye Bartell

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