Wider Than The Sky poetry festival kicks off April 10

Will Sheehy

The Wider Than The Sky Poetry Festival, organized by students and faculty, begins virtually April 10. This will be the fifth Wider Than The Sky festival, with the others being held in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018, but the first conducted entirely online. Organizer and English teacher Darcy Buck credited students, notably Felicity Phelan ’21, for bringing back the festival after a two-year hiatus.

“The big difference this year is that it’s the students who are leading the charge; in fact, the festival was revived this year because [Phelan], who attended the last festival we produced in April 2018 when they were a freshman, decided it had to happen — and made it happen!” Buck said. “I think that’s what I’m most excited about this year: it’s now a festival that’s not just for young poets, but one organized and run almost entirely by young poets. It’s really inspiring.”

In past years, with the support of the Poetry Foundation, hundreds of students and faculty from across Los Angeles were provided with free transportation to attend the two-day festival, held at the Upper School. Similarly to past years, this year’s festival is free of cost to attend.

The event is primarily intended for those in middle and high school, however interested adults can attend reading and discussion events with the festival’s featured poet as well as discussions with teachers and activists about how poetry can be taught in a manner that empowers the youth, fosters creativity and community, and amplifies traditionally marginalized voices.

Events will run from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, including open mics, workshops, speakers, readings and games. This year’s guest poets include Kaveh Akbah, Arlene Campa, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Kara Jackson, and Natalie Scenters-Zapico.

Organizer Olivia Sparks ’22 said she hopes those who attend the festival will discover more about themselves and feel like a part of the poetry community.

“I hope students who attend the festival leave with a proud sense of their identity, their work as a means of expression, and feeling like they connected with others and now have a strong sense of community among student poets,” Sparks said.

Students interested in attending must fill out this form before April 8, and adults must fill out this form.