by Cathy P. Ross
Jul 9, 2013
05:30 AM
Culture Cat

Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

Billy Collins

U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003) Billy Collins declared the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival to be “a cultural phenomenon” when he performed there in 1999. Now in its 21st year, the festival is as popular as ever.

On July 10, Carolyn Forché, "poet of witness" and human rights advocate, and Sunken Garden Poetry Prize winner Mary Jo Firth Gillett will perform in the garden at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, accompanied by conga drummer Abu Alvin Carter Sr. and multi-instrumentalist Jim Mercik.

Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco will read his work on July 24 with musical accompaniment by Martin Hayes. Blanco was selected to read his work at President Obama’s inauguration this year “because the poet's deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American,” according to Inaugural committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant.

And Billy Collins returns on Aug. 7 to close the festival. He will be accompanied by jazz trio Indra.  To attend a pre-performance dinner with Collins ($100 per person, festival admission included. All proceeds support Sunken Garden Poetry programs), call 860/677-4787, ext. 134 or  email Sarah Wadsworth at

Festival events take place on Wednesday evenings. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Preludes (pre-performance lecture/discussions) take place 5 to 6 pm. Music begins at 6:15 p.m.; poetry begins at 7:15 p.m. Books and CDs available for sale 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets $10 at the gate, payable by cash or check only;  attendees 18 and under are admitted free. Parking is free. For further information, visit

Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

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Curious about Connecticut? So is associate editor Cathy Ross, who enjoys everything our state has to offer, from art galleries and museum exhibitions to fine restaurants and great shops. Explore it all right here with her!

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