At the heart of the Festival are the series of readings that remind us poetry is historically an oral/aural art. Principal among this series are the half-hour readings by Festival Poets, which occur on the Main Stage of NJPAC’s Prudential Hall every evening and during weekend afternoons.

These featured readings, sometimes punctuated by live music, are complemented by a range of midday readings by Festival Poets at venues throughout the Festival village.

The Festival offers an Open Mic reading at the New Jersey Historical Society during the four days. 


The Festival provides almost infinite opportunities for conversation – with Festival Poets, teachers, students, friends, and other members of the poetry community who come to share the common ground they’ve found at the Festival.

More formally, the Festival offers Poets on Poetry sessions in which individual Festival Poets discuss their own relationship to poetry by presenting and discussing poems (by others and by themselves) which are important to them.

Conversations: On the Life of the Poet bring together two to four poets to talk with each other and the audience about their lives and their art.

Other Conversations with panels of Festival Poets have included specific topics, which in the past have included “The Mysterious Life Within Translation,” “Poetry and Jazz,” “Poetry and the Dignity of the Ordinary,” and “Going Public with Private Feelings,” among many others.

The Festival offers the public the chance to talk with accomplished poets in Conversations on Craft, which include discussions of work patterns and work habits as well as specific matters of poetic craft.