New Interactive Festival to Celebrate Poetry

Akwi Nji will be one of the featured performance artists during Poetry Palooza. In her work, she focuses on personal narrative storytelling through words, voice and visual art.

If you’ve never been a fan of poetry, we promise you’ll become one when you experience the city’s first Poetry Palooza April 6-8. The event will be highlighted by an all-star cast of four state poets laureate—Debra Marquart of Iowa, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg of Kansas, Christine Stewart-Nunez of South Dakota and Matt Mason of Nebraska.

The fest will kick off April 6 at Franklin Jr. High Event Center with a reception at 5 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by the Iowa Poetry Association’s poetry slam finals featuring Cedar Rapids-based performance artist Akwi Nji. Then on April 7, from 4 to 9 p.m., Mainframe Studios will host interactive activities, readings and performances by the poets laureate as well by Iowa poets, including Iowa City-based Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey, a producer, performer and author of the award-winning book “Look, Black Boy.”

On April 8 starting at 8:30 a.m., you can channel your own Mary Oliver or Clint Smith by attending workshops at Mainframe Studios. You’ll learn about metaphor and simile, performance art, ekphrastic poetry, the art of revision, lyrical essays and more. At noon, Marquart will lead a panel on how to deepen Iowa’s poetry community.

All events are free. The fest was spearheaded by Poetry&, a local nonprofit group made up of poetry enthusiasts who hope the event will inspire people to embrace the ancient yet dynamic art form. We hope so, too.

Find more details at

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