The Second Annual Magic City Poetry Festival

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A year of unexpected magic

This year’s Magic City Poetry Festival continues in its mission to strengthen community around poetry and artistic expression.

By featuring local nonprofits alongside local artisans and poets, we hope to nurture those connections in a way that strengthens Birmingham’s future. Our partnerships with local businesses and social entrepreneurs allows us to continue encouraging tight networks between the arts, the written word, and the activists that make magic, including:

  • Naming the first annual Magic City Eco-Poet whose year-long fellowship focuses on cultivating a strong relationship with a local environmental resource. The Eco-Poet will use their voice to “speak for” the resource being threatened or silenced by human action. The 2019 Eco-Poet will partner with a local nonprofit, the Cahaba River Society, to increase awareness about threats to local waterways while training young persons to use the power of poetry to defend and honor local ecologies.

  • Hosting a March Quilts sewing session with the Bib & Tucker Sew-Op to honor our Keynote Speaker and Birmingham native, Sonia Sanchez. Since this year marks the beginning of celebrations of Alabama's Bicentennial, The March Quilts will honor, recognize and celebrate the state's unsung heroines: women who have, or are shaping the state's (and nation's) future. Our friends at Bib & Tucker Sew-Op will provide materials and instruction for community members to add their own quilt square that highlights an aspect of Sonia Sanchez’s character and life.

  • Paying a local artisan to create a unique award-piece (or sculpture) to honor the year’s Eco-Poet, thus encouraging a conversation across the visual and written arts.

  • Co-hosting a documentary screening of BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez at a local Birmingham library to prepare for our explosive keynote event and to show how the documentary form speaks into the space of narrative history

  • Partnering with UAB Media Studies Program to craft a lived history of the 2019 MCPF as experienced by UAB students cultivating a career in documentary media and storytelling


Experiments and New Forms

We believe that new forms are needed to both create and express the space in which we find ourselves as a community and individuals.

We are not afraid to “fail”, since knowledge is the story of how we learn from the past, and community is the shape which emerges from participating in the making of knowledge for the future.

This year, we are experimenting with the following innovations:

  1. Celebrating community and poetry with a block party to follow the first Woodlawn Street Market of the year. We’ll read down the sun and dance the night away

  2. Visual artist and poet Travis Craig is creating a unique sculpture to honor our 2019 Eco-Poet

  3. Local craftsman Russell Hehn will build a Little Free Library to enrich the relationship between books, sensory environment, and physical presence on the sidewalks of Birmingham

  4. Honoring the ways in which poets whose first language is not English enrich our communities at a reading conducted completely in those other languages

  5. Dynamic keynote reading event featuring Birmingham native and legendary poet and activist, Sonia Sanchez.

  6. Putting a little spirit in poetry with handcrafted poetry cocktails and events at which you can taste them.