WordXWord Festival 2012 Boasts Over 40 Events

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – The annual WordXWord Festival celebrating written, spoken and sung words kicks off on Saturday, August 11, 2012, with its popular rooftop party and will feature over 40 events over the course of the following week, including participation by such nationally known writers and spoken-word performers as Derrick C. Brown, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz and Taylor Mali.

The core of the festival will feature spoken-word performers, including local participants and nine featured visiting artists: Derrick C. Brown, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Anis Mojgani, Robbie Q. Telfer, Thuli Zuma, Taylor Mali, Jon Sands, Jeanann Verlee and Megan Falley. Each evening of the festival will include at least one spoken-word event, including a Feature Night on Thursday, August 16, and the Poetry Olympics on Saturday, August 18 – an event that pits poetry teams against each other in a series of grueling challenges with often humorous results.

New to the festival this year are two evenings of film presentation in partnership with Berkshire Museum. Monday evening, August 13, will include the area premiere of the award winning film Louder Than A Bomb – a moving, highly entertaining look at the first and still largest high school poetry slam, which takes place annually across the entire Chicago school system. The second evening of films on Wednesday, August 15, will include a range of short films including a documentary – You Belong Everywhere – that chronicles poet Derrick C. Brown’s experience on tour with the indie rock band Cold War Kids.

Derrick C Brown

Young wordsmiths will have the chance to step up to the mic in the Head-To-Head Haiku Challenge on Sunday afternoon, August 12. Head-To-Head Haiku is a fun, fast paced twist on the poetry slam concept. In addition, young (and old) will have the opportunity to test their word mastery in a day-long Scrabble Challenge hosted by the Berkshire Athenaeum on Thursday, Aug 16..

Another new element this year is a series of workshops addressing challenges faced by authors and aspiring authors. Workshops, each with a different host and theme, are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

A slate of innovative songwriters will be presented at the Lantern on North Street, including the quirky and unpredictable Mieka Pauley on Monday, August 13, John Brodeur with a soulful blend of alt-pop and straightforward rock on Tuesday, August 14, the duo Tall Heights on Wednesday, August 15, a double bill of Justin Hillman and Justin Allen on Thursday, August 16, and multi-instrumentalist Leo Crandall on Friday, August 17.

One of the most popular events at WordXWord is the annual four-day poetry slam at Shawn’s Barbershop, with preliminary rounds on Wednesday and Thursday, semifinals on Friday and finals on Saturday. The slam, limited to the first 16 to register, is open to all who dare take the challenge. Local favorite and last year’s champion, Curtis Asch is expected to defend his title.

Audiences will have the opportunity to peek in on new work being created as WAM Theatre is in residence all week, at Spice Upstairs, making a new theatre piece like/unlike. Under the direction of Leigh Strimbeck, this work looks at the influence of social media on the lives of women. The work-in-progress will be presented in performance on Friday evening, August 17.

Taylor Mali (by Peter Dressell)

Feature Night on Thursday, August 16, will bring together a half dozen of the genuine masters of spoken word poetry. Friday night’s Encyclopedia Show will bring together many of the same poets in the entirely different context of a themed performance. The festival wraps up Saturday evening with the Poetry Olympics which pits 4 teams including Team USA, Team New York and a local Berkshire team against each other in a series of events – ranging from an Erotic Poetry Contest to a Cracker Haiku Battle, the Jalapeno Pepper Sonnet Face Melt to the Bardostical Super Challenge – for fun and prizes.

All WordXWord events are free to the public.




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