Celebrate Summer at the 2019 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

Hill-Stead Museum’s renowned Sunken Garden Poetry Festival is a unique outdoor arts event which takes place on the grounds of this National Historic Landmark in the heart of Farmington, CT.

The community cherishes this five-event series of readings and music performances in the tranquil and historic Sunken Garden. Visitors can arrive 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 also be purchased from festival vendors. Guests bring their own chairs and blankets and choose a spot among the flower beds, surrounded by eight-foot stone walls and the sounds of nature.

Inspired by the surroundings, many attendees take the opportunity to write their own poetry and prose, lingering after dusk to finish their poems and conversations.

Hill-Stead is proud to make the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival accessible to all. Learn More.


Season Pass  | $65
Online  | $15
At the gate
Children under 18

Parking is always free. For reserved seating with chairs and VIP parking, please join The Live Poets Society.

General Schedule

Please see individual events in our Calendar for detailed schedules, including writing workshop times. 

5 pm            Moderated Prelude Conversation
6 pm            Opening Poet and Remarks
6:30  pm      Musician/Band
7 pm             Headlining Poet
7:45 pm       Book Signing

Wine service ends at 7:30 pm, Gates close at 9 pm

Featured Poets

Claudia Rankine
with Emily Skillings

Music by Jeff Barnhart Duo

Wednesday, June 19 

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Poetry Q&A/Conversation on Craft with Claudia Rankine
June 19 at  2 pm

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Rankine has won numerous awards for Citizen, including the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Terrance Hayes

Music by Jeff Burnham and the Insiders

Wednesday, July 10

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Terrance Hayes is the author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins, a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry; To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight; How to Be Drawn; Lighthead, which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; Muscular Music; Hip Logic; and Wind in a Box.

Celebration of Indian Poetry & Culture
with Aimee Nezhukumatathil & Rajiv Mohabir

Indian Music

Sunday, July 21

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Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of four books of poetry: Oceanic; Lucky Fish, winner of the Hoffer Grand Prize for Prose and Independent Books; At the Drive-In Volcano; and Miracle Fruit. She is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry series, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Poetry, Ploughshares and Tin House.

Rajiv Mohabir is an Indo-Caribbean American author of two acclaimed poetry collections — The Taxidermist’s Cut and Cowherd’s Son — and four chapbooks. He is winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize, a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, a finalist for the 2017 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry, and has received fellowships from Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation.

Poetry of Our World
with Chris Abani & Mai Der Vang

World music by Criollo Clasico Trio

Wednesday, July 31

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Mai Der Vang is the author of Afterland (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Poetry, and a finalist for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She was also the co-editor of the anthology How Do I Begin? A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011).

Chris Abani is the author of Sanctificum; There Are No Names for Red; Feed Me the Sun: Collected Long Poems; Hands Washing Water; Dog Woman; Daphne’s Lot and Kalakuta Republic. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the PEN/Hemingway Award.

Young Poets Day
with Elizabeth Acevedo
and the winners of the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition

Sunday, August 11
Purchase Tickets for August 11

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Elizabeth Acevedo received the 2018 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling novel, THE POET X. She is also National Poetry Slam Champion, the winner of the Boston-Globe Hornbook Award Prize for Best Children’s Fiction and the author of the chapbook Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths.

Thank you to our sponsors


Elizabeth M. Landon & Harriette M. Landon Charitable Foundation