Inspired and Inspiring: Poetry Festival Celebrates the Spoken Word

More than 200 poetry fans gathered to share, hear and celebrate the art form during the 10th Annual Westchester Poetry Festival on Saturday, April 10. 

The event, a partnership between The Masters School and The Hudson Valley Writers Center, took place virtually. The afternoon included readings from keynote poet Reginald Dwayne Betts as well as poets Aaron Coleman, Leila Chatti, Tyree Daye, Sean Singer and Hudson Valley Writers Center founder Margo Taft Stever. In her introduction of Betts, Jennifer Franklin, the Hudson Valley Writers Center’s program director and the festival’s co-curator, described him as “one of the most compelling and thought-provoking writers you will ever read.” 

Students in Masters’ spoken word poetry group Outspoken shared their original works, as did students in upper school English teacher Darren Wood’s Poetry Seminar. The festival’s co-curator, librarian Judy Murphy, was delighted with the passion and bravery the 18 upper school student poets displayed while sharing their works. This year, “I noticed a significant increase in the number of the student poets,” she said. “They displayed confidence, were broadly inclusive in their subject matter, and were truly passionate.” 

With Ms. Murphy retiring at the end of this year, the Poetry Festival will continue under the stewardship of upper school English faculty members Miriam Emery and Darren Wood. And while she is passing over the reins to others, Murphy shared that she is “delighted that the festival is 10 years strong and that it will last well into the future.” 

And it isn’t just the annual poetry celebration that will continue to grow in the coming years: Recently, to commemorate the festival’s decennial anniversary, Murphy and members of Outspoken planted a young dogwood tree near Estherwood Mansion. It has been aptly named the Poet-Tree.

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