The 1455 Summer Literary Festival is a celebration of writers, readers, creativity, and community, happening VIRTUALLY over three days in July, 2020. 1455 is a new writing center in Winchester, Virginia, a place where writers gather to work, unite and inspire. 1455’s mission is to advance the art and craft of the written word to build a dynamic, innovative community. 1455 hosts an annual summer literary festival, a celebration of writers, readers, creativity, and community, this year happening July 16 – 18. We encourage you to attend, and Day Eight poets are featured in the festival Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon.
On the festival’s opening night, winners of the DC Poet Project will give a shared reading, and on Saturday afternoon poet educators in our in-school program will give a shared performance and lead discussion about poetry in education.
Read below for full details of each event.
A Reading by Winners of the DC Poet Project: Susan Meehan, John Johnson, Kevin Wiggins, and Mecca Verdell
Thursday, July 16 7:00 – 8:30pm
Join DC Poet Project competition-winning poets Susan Meehan, John Johnson, Kevin Wiggins, and Mecca Verdell for a shared reading and discussion with attendees. The DC Poet Project is an annual open-to-all poetry competition designed to surface exceptional poets. The winner’s manuscript is published by the non-profit Day Eight.
2017 Poet Project winner Susan Meehan is the author of Talking to the Night. National book award winner Terence Winch wrote, “Talking to the Night is populated with works that grab your attention with their clarity and fierce honesty.” Anne Becker described, “Meehan knows where the mythic, the deeper significance of human experience, hides under the familiar, the familial.” Susan is currently editing an interfaith poetry anthology on the topic of consolation and loss.
2018 Poet Project winner John Johnson is a theater director, actor, and public radio contributor. His debut collection, Love for Her, equally documents love relationships and black life today. Maryland Poet Laureate Grace Cavalieri described Love for Her, “A real find!” and E. Ethelbert Miller wrote “These poems are filled with wit and wisdom.”
2019 Poet Project winner Kevin Wiggins is the author of Port of Exit. Wiggins describes his poetry as “unapologetic for the Black LGBTQ community with intensity, rage, compassion, and love.” Poet Gregory Luce said, “Defying racial and gender conventions at every turn, these poems spark tears and laughter in equal measures.”
2020 Poet Project winner Mecca Verdell is the author of a forthcoming collection. To watch video of her award-winning reading view a blog post about Verdell on the Day Eight website. Verdell won the Brave New Voices poetry slam in 2016, and the 2017 and 2018 Southern Fried regional poetry slam, and placed fourth in the 2019 International World Poetry Slam.
The 2020 DC Poet Project reading series and competition was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Wells Fargo Community Foundation.
Poetry in Education: a discussion and reading with Kim B. Miller, Jeffrey Banks, Antwone Ross, and Shaquetta Nelson
Saturday, July 18 2:30 – 4:00
Join poets Kim B. Miller, Jeffrey Banks, Antwone Ross, and Shaquetta Nelson for a discussion of poetry in public school education. The poets are performer educators in the non-profit Day Eight’s DC Poets for DC Schools program, which brings past finalists and winners of the DC Poet Project competition to work with area youth. Each poet will share a poem or two that they bring to the schools to foster discussion of the broader questions and challenges of poetry in education.
Kim B. Miller regularly features in poetry series across the mid-Atlantic and was a finalist in the 2019 DC Poet Project. She works as a poetry educator with DC Scores and Day Eight and facilitates community and university classes and workshops on Haiku locally and nationally.
Jeffrey Banks, known as Big Homey, has worked with artists including the late Fred “Rerun” Berry, gospel singer Maurette Brown Clark, Syleena Johnson, and has been featured in media including Essence Magazine, and Black Enterprise Magazine. A minister, teacher, and consultant to non-profits, he was a finalist in the 2018 DC Poet Project.
Antwone Ross has been writing poetry and performing since he was a child. He performs regularly in local poetry series and is co-founder of Pop Up Poetry. Antwone was a finalist in the 2019 DC Poet Project.
Shaquetta Nelson, known by her stage name R.E.I.L (real), was a finalist in the 2018 DC Poet project. At 16 she was one quarter of a slam team that competed in the Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam.
The DC Poet Project is an annual open-to-all poetry competition designed to surface exceptional poets. The winner’s manuscript is published by the non-profit Day Eight. The 2020 DC Poet Project reading series and competition was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Wells Fargo Community Foundation.