Keynote speaker Jacqueline Woodson, The Poetry Foundation’s 2015 Young People’s Poet Laureate, spoke about her National Book Award winner “Brown Girl Dreaming” and her experiences with writing poetry at Harvard-Westlake’s second annual poetry festival, “Wider than the Sky: A Young People’s Poetry Festival” April 16.
The festival featured keynote speakers, panels, workshops and readings in Rugby Theater. Los Angeles poet Douglas Kearney, who was featured at the festival last year, was the master of ceremonies. Kearney teaches at the California Institute of the Arts and is the author of “The Black Automaton” and “Patter.”
Students chose from 10 workshops led by renowned authors and poets, teachers and guest speakers, including Los Angeles Youth Poet Ambassador Khamal Iwuanyanwu. Attendees learned about writing style, poetic techniques and finding new sources of inspiration.
“The poetry festival broadened my knowledge on what it takes to be a master poet,” poetry festival ambassador Jack Li ’17 said. “I loved Professor Teddy Macker’s workshop on ‘axe handles,’ where we learned how to use description in poetic form.”
Poetry readings were held throughout the day, and there was a reception celebrating the 2016 edition of the upper school literary magazine Stone-cutters. Students also read poems crafted during their workshops and shared previously written poems at an open mic event. The event, which ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., was open to Los Angeles-area students. Free admission, transportation, breakfast and lunch were provided to encourage attendance.
“It was amazing to see so many professional poets perform. It really got me more interested in the impact of poetry,” Mady Madison ’17 said.