Hill-Stead Museum Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

Farmington, CT (March 12, 2012)     –    Hill-Stead Museum will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival with a line-up of top tier American poets, including U.S. Poets Laureate/ Pulitzer Prize winners, and publication of an anniversary anthology, Sunken Garden Poetry, 1992-2011. One of the premier poetry events in America, the summer performance series has drawn tens of thousands of poetry lovers to Hill-Stead, each year featuring major poets as well as emerging and student writers, along with a diverse program of live music.  All events are held on the grounds of Hill-Stead Museum, 35 Mountain Road, Farmington, CT.

Summer 2012 Schedule:

Opening Weekend June, 1-3

Poetry readings, featuring Richard Wilbur, live music, Connecticut Young Poets Day, workshops, poet talks, house tours, Poetry on the Trails nature walks (details below)

Wednesday Evening Performances: gates open at 4:30 p.m. for picnicking on the grounds, pre- performance talks at 5:00 p.m., music at 6:15 p.m., and poetry at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 13

Dana Gioia, poet and former chairman, National Endowment for the Arts, with music by Eight to the Bar

Wednesday, June 27

Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and 1st place Sunken Garden Poetry Prize winner, Marilyn Annucci, with music by Liz Queler & Seth Farber

Wednesday, July 11

Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, and 2nd place Sunken Garden Poetry Prize winner, Sue Burton, with music by Rani and Daisy Mayhem

Wednesday, July 25

Donald Hall, former U.S. Poet Laureate, with music by Brass City Brass

Wednesday, August 1

Tony Hoagland, award-winning poet, with music by Ed Fast and Conga Bop

ALSO: July 30-August 1 - Three-day Workshop, Five Powers of Poetry: Reading, Writing, and Teaching Contemporary Poetry, led by Tony Hoagland. Fivepowerspoetry.com.

General festival information/detailed information about all artists available on hillstead.org/activities/poetry or contact us at poetry@hillstead.org or 860-677-4787 x134.

Detailed Schedule of June 1-3 Kick-Off Weekend Activities (see hillstead.org for list of times):

Friday, June 1, 4:00-9:00 p.m.: The opening reading will feature award-winning poet, Suji Kwock Kim.  The evening will also include a reading of Freedom Journeys in Four Voices by poet Bessy Reyna (in collaboration with the New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas) and the film Poetry of Resilience by Katja Esson, Alison Granucci, and Jan Warner.  Poetry of Resilience is a finalist for the prestigious human rights award, the Cinema and Peace Award for the Most Valuable Documentary of the Year at the Berlin Film Festival.

Saturday, June 2, 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.: Hill-Stead presents Connecticut Young Poets Day, featuring select high school- and college-age readers/winners of eight state writing programs, including: Hill-Stead’s Fresh Voices Competition and Hartford Student Poetry Outreach, Connecticut Poetry Circuit, Poetry Out Loud, Connecticut Young Writers Trust, Connecticut State University Poetry Competition, New Haven Free Public Library Poetry Contest, and ASAP’s Celebration of Young Writers.  The 21-year-old slam poet and international hip hop star, B. Yung, will give a student workshop and a performance in the afternoon, while the evening’s featured poet will be former U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Wilbur.  “Poetry in Perspective” talks will be led by poets Steve Madsen, Dennis Barone, and former festival director, Rennie McQuilkin. The days concerts represent a spectrum of musical genres: Earth Mass, created by the Paul Winter Consort, will be performed by the choirs of Joyful Noise choirs and gospel legend, Theresa Thomason; and MetaFour brings together Andy Wrba from Barefoot Truth and guitar virtuoso Jeff Howard to create one of the best up-and-coming young bands in the state.

Sunday, June 3, 8:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m.: The day includes Ten for Ten, a reading by ten Connecticut poets from the festival’s first decade, featuring Doug Anderson, Robert Cording, Margaret Gibson, Gray Jacobik, Rennie McQuilkin, Marilyn Nelson, Pit Pinegar, Vivian Shipley, Steve Straight, and Sue Ellen Thompson.  Poet/ story teller Minton Sparks brings her wildly original show to the Sunken Garden alongside world-class musician, guitarist John Jackson, followed by poet Toi Derricotte, winner of numerous literary awards and co-founder of the Cave Canem Foundation for African-American writers.  The evening concludes with a community dance on the estate’s west lawn, with music by Ten Penny Bit and caller Jim Gregory.

Anniversary anthology: Hill-Stead’s anthology, Sunken Garden Poetry, 1992-2011, published by Wesleyan University Press and funded by the Connecticut Humanities Council, will be for sale on the opening weekend.

General information

Venue: All performances at Hill-Stead Museum, rain or shine, under tents during inclement weather.

Opening weekend: June 1, gates open at 4:00 pm; June 2 and June 3, gates open at 8:30 am.  See full schedule on website for event times.

Wednesday evenings: Gates open at 4:30 pm. Prelude pre-performance talks are at 5:00 pm; music begins at 6:15 pm; poetry begins at 7:30 pm.

Admission: *Please note changes for 2012* OPENING WEEKEND, June 1–3: $10 per person, per day, or $25 per person for the weekend. Parking is free. WEDNESDAY NIGHTS, June 13 & 27, July 11 & 25, and August 1: $5 per person, children ages 12 and under free. Parking is free.Seating: Bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating in and around the garden.

Food: Al fresco dining is allowed on the grounds  Participants are welcome to bring their own picnic suppers or purchase food/beverages on site from Epicurean Caterers (www.theepicureancaterers.com).

Opening weekend reservations/pre-registration: Registration and payment are required for guided nature walks ($5 members/$8 members-to-be) and writing workshops ($20 members/$25 members-to-be/$15 high school and college students). Please contact Sarah Wadsworth, Poetry Program Coordinator, at 860.677.4787 ext. 134 or poetry@hillstead.org.

Hill-Stead is noted for its 1901 33,000-square-foot house filled with art and antiques. Pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle designed the grand house, set on 152 hilltop acres, to showcase the Impressionist masterpieces amassed by her father, Alfred A. Pope.  Collections include original furnishings, paintings by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, James M. Whistler and Mary Cassatt.  Stately trees, seasonal gardens, meadows, over three miles of stone walls and blazed hiking trails accent the grounds.  A centerpiece of the property is the circa 1920 sunken garden designed by Beatrix Farrand, today the site of the renowned Sunken Garden Poetry Festival.

For more information, contact:

Mimi Madden, Artistic Director, Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

Hill-Stead Museum

35 Mountain Road

Farmington, CT 06032


860.677.4787, ext. 133