Purchase a Season Pass

Celebrate Summer at the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

Hill-Stead Museum’s renowned Sunken Garden Poetry Festival is a unique outdoor arts event located on the grounds of this National Historic Landmark in the heart of Farmington. The community cherishes this series of readings and music concerts in the informal outdoor setting of the Hill-Stead estate. Visitors can come early to tour the museum’s world-class Impressionist art collection, walk the trails, or attend the prelude conversations with headlining poets. Picnics are welcome and food and wine can be purchased from festival vendors.  Guests bring their own chairs and blankets and relax among the flower beds in the historic Sunken Garden, surrounded by eight foot stone walls and the sounds of nature.

Season Pass, $65; Individual tickets, $15 online $20 at the gate

For all poetry events, see our Calendar.


Featured Poets

Irish Poetry & Music: Eamon Grenon with David McLoghlin

Sunday, May 27 

Eamon Grennan was born in Dublin and attended boarding school at a Cistercian monastery. He met Derek Mahon and Eavan Boland as an undergraduate at University College, Dublin, spent a year in Rome, and then came to the United States to earn his PhD at Harvard. He began writing poetry in earnest in 1977 and published his first

collection, Wildly for Days, in 1983. He is the author of more than 10 collections of poetry, including There Now (2016), Out of Sight: New and Selected Poems (2010), Matter of Fact (2008), The Quick of It (2005), Still Life with Waterfall (2002), and Relations: New and Selected Poems (1998). He won the PEN Award for poetry in translation for Selected Poems of Giacomo Leopardi (1997), and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets for Still Life with Waterfall (2002). He has also won several Pushcart Prizes. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Grennan was the Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English at Vassar College until his retirement in 2004. He divides his time between Poughkeepsie, New York, and western Ireland, and his poetry shows the imprint of both lands. Of his fitting resident alien status, Grennan notes, “I live at a sort of distance, an angle to the place I live in.”

David McLoghlin is the author of Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2012), part of which was awarded second prize in The Patrick Kavanagh Awards. David’s second collection, Santiago Sketches, was published by Salmon Poetry on 25th July 2017. Sign Tongue, his rendering of the work of Chilean poet Enrique Winter, won the 2014 Goodmorning Menagerie Chapbook-in-Translation prize. David is also a contributor to Suns, a pamphlet/chapbook of translations of Winter’s poems (Cardboard House Press, 2017), and the author of The Magic Door, an early chapbook (Blue Canary Press, Milwaukee, 1993). David received first-class honours from University College, Dublin for his research MA in modern Spanish literature, and holds an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where he was a Teaching Fellow. He received a major Literature Bursary from The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon in 2006 and was the Howard Nemerov Scholar at the 2011 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Most recently, he was a prize-winning finalist for the 2015 Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, judged by Billy Collins. He has taught at University College, Dublin, NYU and Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital, and served as Resident Writer at Hunts Point Alliance for Children in the South Bronx. David lives with his wife in Brooklyn, NY, where in June 2016 they ended a three-year run as the founders and hosts of The Eagle and the Wren reading series, where they hosted almost 150 writers, pairing Pulitzer-Prize winners and Guggenheim Fellows with exciting emerging writers and poets.

The evening will feature Irish music by Daymark and Irish dancing by Scoil Rince Luimni.


Molly Brown with Margaret Gibson

Wednesday, June 20

Molly McCully Brown is the author of The Virginia State Colony For Epileptics and Feebleminded (Persea Books, 2017), which won the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. Raised in rural Virginia, she is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Stanford University, and the University of Mississippi, where she received her MFA in poetry.

Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Pleiades, Kenyon Review, Image, Colorado Review, TriQuarterly Online, The Rumpus, Meridian, and elsewhere. She’s been the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from the Civitella Ranieri foundation, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the University of Mississippi, where she was a John and Renée Grisham fellow. Beginning in September 2017, she is the inaugural Jeff Baskin Writers Fellow at The Oxford American magazine. She is at work on a collection of essays about disability, poetry, religion, and the American South that explores the relationship between the body and that intangible other we sometimes call the soul.

Margaret Gibson’s Broken Cup, brings a breath-taking eloquence to what Gibson has called “traveling the Way of Alzheimer’s” with her poet-husband David McKain.  After his initial and tentative diagnosis she wrote no poems for two years, but then poetry returned, and writing became a lightning rod that grounded her and allowed for moving ahead and for transformation.  “Poetry,” Gibson has written, “is an animate form.  It breathes; it discovers and restores voice.  A poem is another way of being present.”

Also the author of a memoir about growing up in Richmond, Virginia, Gibson has lived for forty years in Preston, Connecticut, with her husband.  She has taught in many colleges and universities, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, most recently as Professor in Residence at the University of Connecticut from 1993-2006.


United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith with the winner of the Tupelo Poetry Prize

Wednesday, July 11

Tracy K Smith Sunken Garden Poetry FestivalTracy K. Smith was appointed the 22nd United States Poet Laureate in 2017. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015) and three books of poetry. Her collection Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Duende won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. In 2014 the Academy of American Poets awarded Smith with the Academy Fellowship, awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. She is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. Her next collection of poems, Wade in the Water, is forthcoming in 2018.


Worlds of Poetry: Javier Zamora with Solmaz Sharif

Wednesday, July 25

Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador, in 1990. He holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied and taught in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program Zamora earned an MFA from New York University and is currently a 2016–2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He is the recipient of scholarships to the Bread Loaf, Frost Place, Napa Valley, Squaw Valley, and VONA writers’ conferences and fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University (Olive B. O’Connor), MacDowell Colony, Macondo Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Saltonstall Foundation, and Yaddo. In 2016, Barnes & Noble granted him the Writer for Writers Award for his work with the Undocupoets Campaign. He was also the winner of the Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Fellowship and is a member of the Our Parents’ Bones Campaign, whose goal is to bring justice to the families of the ten thousand disappeared during El Salvador’s civil war.

Solmaz Sharif was born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her debut collection LOOK (Graywolf Press) was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and 2017 PEN Open Book Award. In 2017, Sharif was the recipient of the 27th annual PEN Center USA Literary award in Poetry for LOOK. Sharif has published poetry in the New Republic and Poetry, and has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.


Young Poets Day: Andrea Gibson with the winners of the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition

Sunday, August 5

Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist who lives in Boulder, Colorado. Their poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today’s society. In addition to using poetry to express what they feel and provide social and political commentary on real issues, they are involved with many activist groups. They often perform at Take Back the Night events, LGBTQ events, pride events, trans events, anti-war rallies, peace rallies, organizations against the occupation of Palestine, and groups focused on examining the wrongs of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy. They also work with a group called Vox Feminista whose model is to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” on all these issues. Throughout the year, they tour Universities and other venues across the country.