The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








Daniel Brown, one of the instructors at the Frost Farm Poetry Conference. Courtesy photo.

Poetry at Robert Frost Farm

Where: Robert Frost Farm, 122 Rockingham Road, Derry,
Frost Farm Poetry Conference: Friday, June 16, through Sunday, June 18, with five poetry workshops led by experts, $310, which includes instruction and meals, including two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, registration deadline May 31
Hyla Brook Reading Series: Featuring Rhina P. Espaillat and Caitlyn Doyle Friday, June 16, at 7 p.m.; David R. Surette Thursday, July 13, at 6:30 p.m.; Jenna Le Thursday, Aug. 10, at 6:30 p.m.; and Meredith Bergmann Thursday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 pm.
Hyla Brook Poets’ monthly workshop: Third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. at the farm

Poetry at Robert Frost Farm
Gearing up for conference, readings and workshops

By Kelly Sennott

 Robert Frost Farm is gearing up for another season of poetry workshops, readings and events, the biggest being the three-day Frost Farm Poetry Conference starting June 16.

The conference, dedicated to the craft of metrical poetry, turns 3 this spring and is one of the few major events in the country dedicated to the form, said conference director and Derry Poet Laureate Robert Crawford. It’s how Frost, who resided in Derry, preferred to write, but today, it’s not practiced nearly as frequently as free verse — perhaps because it takes so much longer to learn.
“We felt there was a need for a conference that focused on formal poetry that had an intimacy and openness for beginners,” said A.M. Juster, who’s been teaching at the conference three years now. “Most people who come have been trying to write formal poetry on their own and have found it frustrating.”
Other instructors at this weekend-long conference, capped at 50 participants, include Daniel Brown, Rhina P. Espaillat, Midge Goldberg, Len Krisak and Deborah Warren. Each event attendee will take five workshops on various aspects of metrical poetry and sit in on readings and panels. 
Folks are traveling far — from Ohio, New Jersey, British Columbia, California — to attend or teach at the place Frost did some of his most famous work. 
“I think almost everybody is so excited to be there because it’s Robert Frost’s farm. The location is a big draw,” said Juster, who likes to conduct the workshops in Frost’s kitchen, sitting in the famous poet’s rocking chair next to a potbelly stove. “You get a feel for the man and his world, and his words; he seems to be in the barn when we’re doing the readings. … It’s nice, as a faculty member, to have such a motivated group of people.”
If you can’t make the conference, there are many other opportunities to enjoy poetry at the farm. The Hyla Brook Poets writing group meets there the third Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. for workshops (poets of all levels, styles, welcome), and about once a month it’s home to the Hyla Brook Reading Series.
The next reading, open to all, kicks off at the conference Friday, June 16, at 7 p.m., featuring poets Caitlin Doyle of Cincinnati, Ohio, winner of the 7th Annual Frost Farm Prize, and Espaillat, founder of the Powow River Poets in Newburyport, Mass., who also acts as the conference’s keynote speaker. Other featured readers this season include David R. Surette Thursday, July 13, at 6:30 p.m.; Jenna Le Thursday, Aug. 10, at 6:30 p.m.; and Meredith Bergmann Thursday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m.
Crawford said the Frost Farm Prize, open to metrical poets, saw 760 submissions, the most yet. He’s excited to see youthfulness in the submissions and this year’s readers, like Doyle and Le. 
“We’re sometimes accused of being old white guys, the only ones writing in form. I always say it’s untrue, but it’s nice we have proof of it,” Crawford said. 

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