All-star lineup for Sharon Springs Poetry Fest


By Patsy Nicosia

The 2019 Sharon Springs Poetry Festival is coming back bigger and better than ever with readings, workshops and discussions with poets Ellen Bass and Michael Dickman, and best-selling poet, novelist, and 1980s feminist icon Erica Jong.
Ms. Jong, who has family ties to Sharon Springs—she calls Black Cat Café owner Tony Daou her favorite nephew—will also be featured in “Erica Jong in Conversation with Jean Hanff Korelitz.”
The Poetry Festival runs from Friday, October 18-Saturday, October 19, with events at Sharon Springs Central School, the Sharon Springs Free Library, and the Roseboro Hotel.
It’s free, but those signing up for the workshops need to pre-register through Brown Paper Tickets; there’s a link to the site at both and and the spots are going fast.
This is the third year for the Klinkhart Hall Arts Center’s Poetry Festival, created and hosted by part-time Sharon Springs and Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon.
Mr. Muldoon’s wife, Jean Hanff Korelitz, is a novelist and playwright and the founder of BOOKTHEWRITER, a New York City-based pop-up book group, and it’s through that connection—not her family ties—that Ms. Jong will be in Sharon Springs.
“We’re really excited to have Erica Jong here—all of the poets really,” said Denise Kelly, who’s worked with Mr. Muldoon and others at the KHAC to put together all three of the festivals.
“The connections that Paul and Jean have…that’s one of the reasons we’re able to do this and bring poets of this caliber to Sharon Springs.
“It’s all free and they’re thrilled to do it. They’re always overwhelmed with the interest and turnout.”
The Poetry Festival will begin at SSCS Friday in the classroom during the day, when all four of the poets will work in small groups with students from not only Sharon Springs, but Canajoharie, Cooperstown, and Cobleskill-Richmondville.
Then, at 7pm, Mr. Muldoon will introduce Ms. Bass, Mr. Dickman, and Ms. Jong for a reading of their work in the SSCS auditorium.
Afterwards, those attending the reading will be able to meet the poets; their books will also be available for purchase—and autographs.
“What’s neat about involving the school is that it’s impacted the curriculum,” Ms. Kelly said, with Mr. Muldoon dropping in throughout the year to touch base with both students and their teachers.
Saturday will be three workshops at the library, all from 10am-noon; pre-registration is required and those attending need to bring their original work.
Beginning at 2pm will be a series of talks at the Roseboro Hotel.
Ms. Bass, who writes on social justice—her workshop was sold out the first day--will lead off the talks with “Strange Angels: Discovery in Poetry.”
She’ll be followed by Mr. Dickman, a Princeton professor, at 3pm with “Surprising Images and Lyric Moments in a Handful of Contemporary Poems.”
Then, at 5pm, Ms. Korelitz will lead an intimate conversation with` Ms. Jong, talking about her process and inspiration.”
Ms. Kelly said interest in the Poetry Festival continues to grow, both locally and from outside Schoharie County and though the 2019 event is still a few weeks away, the KHAC already has one poet booked for 2020 and is working on a five-year retrospective for 2021.
“One of the most important things we’ve done is make poetry accessible,” she said.
“Yes, we bring in poetry-lovers from all over, but we also show students and people here how powerful—and fun—poetry can be.”
The KHAC is working to preserve the historic Klinkhart Hall in downtown Sharon Springs and establish it as a regional arts center.
More information on those efforts and the Poetry Festival is at