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PoetryLife 2023: Celebrating Heritage

Updated: 5 days ago


Each year since 2012 PoetryLife, a project of Bookstore1Sarasota, has been bringing the best of the world’s poets to Sarasota. PoetryLife 2023 features renowned poets Martín Espada and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, along with poet Philip Terman and Sarasota Youth Poet Laureate Haley Peace. Join us at Florida Studio Theatre for a celebration of heritage and poetry.


Our Featured Poets:

Martín Espada:

Martín Espada has published more than twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest book of poems is called Floaters, winner of the 2021 National Book Award and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Other books of poems include Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016), The Trouble Ball (2011), The Republic of Poetry (2006), Albanza (2003) and Imagine the Angels of Bread(1996). He is the editor of What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (2019). He has received the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the PEN/Revson Fellowship, a Letras Boricuas Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem of his collection Albanza, about 9/11, has been widely anthologized and performed. His book of essays and poems, Zapata's Disciple (1998), was outlawed by the state of Arizona. A former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Read more about Martín Espada here.

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley:

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is an anti-war/human rights activist and a survivor of the First Liberian Civil War, immigrating to the US with her husband and small children in 1991. She is the author of six critically acclaimed books of poetry, including Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems (2020), When the Wanderers Come Home (2016), Where the Road Turns (2010) and The River is Rising (2007). She has published her poems, memoir articles and short stories in anthologies and literary magazines such as the Harvard Review, Prairie Schooner, The New York Times Magazine and Transition. Her poetry has been translated into several languages. Jabbeh Wesley has won several literary awards, including the 2023 Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize; the 2022 Levinson Poetry Prize from Poetry Magazine for her two poems, "Black Woman Selling Her Home in America" and "Healing will Come: Elegy After Natural Disaster;" the Prairie Schooner 2022 Edward Stanley Prize for her poem, "My Name is Dawanyeno;" the Crab Orchard Award (2022); the Wise Women Award for Literary Arts (2016); and a Barack Obama Award from NAACP of Blair county, PA. Her newest publication, Breaking the Silence: Anthology of Liberian Poetry, is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in 2023. Jabbeh Wesley, whose funnier son says she needs to get "a real job," is Professor of English, Creative Writing and African Literature at Penn State-Altoona. Read more about Patricia Jabbeh Wesley here.


PoetryLife Events 2023 at Florida Studio Theatre: 1241 North Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236


Afternoon Conversation & Coffee with Award-Winning Poets

Featuring Martín Espada and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley with Philip Terman,

moderated by Kate Alexander

3:00 - 4:30 pm March 13th at Florida Studio Theatre’s Court Cabaret

Enjoy an afternoon coffee in Court Cabaret while engaging in conversation with Bookstore1's featured poets for PoetryLife 2023. Focusing on the theme of "Celebrating Heritage," the discussion will focus on the richness brought to poetry by poets from different ethnic backgrounds.


$40 ticket includes three books—one by each featured poet.

Martín Espada’s Vivas to Those Who Have Failed

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s When the Wanderers Come Home Philip Terman’s This Crazy Devotion




Books included with your ticket:

Evening Reading by Award-Winning Poets

featuring Martín Espada & Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, with special guest appearance by Sarasota’s first Youth Poet Laureate

7:00 pm March 13th at Florida Studio Theatre’s Keating Theatre

Two of our nation's award-winning poets are sure to move you with poetry that focuses on "Celebrating Heritage" - the theme of Bookstore1's PoetryLife 2023. Richard Blanco has commented, "Espada's poems continue to define the role of the poet as an emotional historian. Like Whitman, Espada stirs in us an undeniable social consciousness and connectedness." Wesley has said, "what I try to do in my poetry is to show that the artist does not exist in isolation from his surroundings." A book signing will follow the evening's readings.


$40 ticket includes two books—one by each featured poet

Martín Espada’s Floaters

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s Praise Song for My Children




Books Included with your ticket:

Poetry Writing Workshops









Interested in participating in an exclusive, small-group workshop with either Martín Espada ("Poetry Like Bread") or Patricia Jabbeh Wesley ("Finding Healing") from Saturday, March 11 through Monday, March 13? Click here! Tickets to both of Bookstore1's PoetryLife 2023 events taking place at Florida Studio Theatre are included.


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