Last night, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival returned to Delray Beach for its eighth year, kicking off a week's worth of events with a double-header public reading at the Crest Theatre in Old School Square. After introductions by organizer Laura McDermott Matheric and poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Kim Addonizio took thestage. With a mop of unruly brown hair topping her rakish frame, the Bay Area poet launched into a series of works old and new, accompanied by music ranging from classical to ambient to blues. The work "Storm Catechism," from her new collection, "Lucifer at the Starlite," referenced the award-winning poet and novelist's Catholic upbringing, discussing food and divinity with equal weight. "The waters will be rising soon," she warned. Doses of wry humor (e.g., "Penis Blues") and a live harmonica performance rounded out the reading, showing Addonizio's range of talent and, perhaps, a perspective gained with age.
Next, critically acclaimed poet Cornelius Eady greeted the audience almost shyly, his dreadlocks hanging down his back, but he soon proved accurate Bosselaar's introductory statement—that he's "soft-spoken but with a big voice." His reading consisted of equal parts banter, poetry and recorded music, starting with "The White Couch," a funny-but-so-true work about marriage and staking a claim in a world constantly in flux. "All this moving, this is living, this is life," a third party tells him in conclusion. He then went on to a series of poems about another of his greatest loves—jazz—with pieces discussing legends such as Billie Holiday, Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus. Wrapping up his set with an excerpt from his memoir, Eady seemed almost reluctant to leave the stage.
Both poets were available for book signings afterward, with a selection of works for sale by Murder on the Beach bookstore. The rest of the week will include craft talks, public readings, private workshops, a panel discussion and more, featuring the likes of Charles Wright, Thomas Lux, Eleanor Wilner, David Kirby and Claudia Emerson. For tickets and more information, visit palmbeachpoetryfestival.org.