Sunken Garden Poetry Video 2015

The 2015 Festival Poets

  • Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate (2004 to 2006) and Pulitzer Prize-winner, kicked-off the season with the Hill-Stead’s largest Garden crowd of the season.  He was preceded by Hadara Bar-Nadav, winner of the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize.
  • Marie Howe, New York State Poet Laureate (2012 to 2014), and Ciaran Berry both performed at the second evening in the garden.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Vijay Seshadri made his Sunken Garden debut, along with opening poet Ravi Shankar.
  • Hill-Stead presented a full weekend of Asian art, culture, and poetry at OUTSPOKEN: Celebration of Asian Poetry with readings by Li-Young Lee and Tina Chang.
  • Connecticut’s own student poets were featured at CT Young Poets’ Day with performances by Natalie Diaz and Aja Monet as well as readings by the Fresh Voices winning poets.

Selected Readings from the 2015 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

To see readings by individuals poets, click on their name below.

Ted Kooser

KooserPulitzer Prize-winning poet, Ted Kooser, was the United States Poet Laureate from 2004–2006. He is the author of 14 full-length collections of poetry; including Splitting An Order (2014), Weather Central, and Delights and Shadows, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. His prose books include The Wheeling Year (2014) andLocal Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps, which won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003. His writing has appeared in many periodicals including The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Nation, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and Antioch Review. He has received two NEA fellowships in poetry and written three children’s books from Candlewick Press, The Bell in the Bridge (2015), Bag in the Wind, illustrated by Barry Root, and The House Held Up by Trees.  

Hadara Bar-Nadav

Hadara Bar-NadavSunken Garden Poetry Prize Winner, Hadara Bar-Nadav, is the author of Lullaby, awarded the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize; The Frame Called Ruin, runner-up for the Green Rose Prize from New Issues; and A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight, awarded the Margie Book Prize. Her chapbook, Show Me Yours, was awarded the 2009 Midwest Poets Series Award. She is also co-author of the best-selling textbook Writing Poems, 8th Edition. Recent awards include fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Hadara is currently Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Marie Howe

Marie HoweMarie Howe is the 2012–2014 Poet Laureate of New York State.  She is the author of three volumes of poetry: The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, The Good Thief, and What the Living Do.  She is also the co-editor of a book of essays, In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. She has been a fellow at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College and a recipient of NEA and Guggenheim fellowships. Stanley Kunitz selected Howe for a Lavan Younger Poets Prize from the American Academy of Poets. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, PoetryAGNI, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, and The Partisan Review, among others.

Ciaran Berry

CiaranBerry_July12_2015Ciaran Berry is the 2012 Winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.  He is the author of The Sphere of Birds; winner of the Crab Orchard Series of Poetry Open Competition, the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, and the Inaugural Michael Murphy Memorial Prize; and shortlisted for the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award and a Glen Dimplex Award.  His poems have been published in Best American Poetry 2008, Best New Poets 2006, and Best of Irish Poetry 2009 and 2010, as well as in numerous journals including, recently, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Ecotone, Gulf Coast, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, and The Threepenny Review. Ciaran Berry is the Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

 Vijay Seshadri

VijayPulitzer Prize-winning poet Vijay Seshadri is the author of three collections of poetry; 3 Sections, awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; The Long Meadow, winner of the James Laughlin Award; and Wild Kingdom. His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in AGNI,The American Scholar, Antaeus, Bomb, Boulevard, Lumina, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review,The Threepenny Review, Verse, Western Humanities Review, Yale Review, The Times Book Review, the Philadelphia EnquirerBomb, San Diego Reader, and TriQuarterly, and in many anthologies, including Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets, Contours of the Heart, Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, and Best American Poetry.

Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar Author Photo 2013Ravi Shankar is chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust, professor of English at Central Connecticut State College and a former faculty member of the first international MFA program at City University of Hong Kong.  His collections of poetry include What Else Could it Be (2015);  Instrumentality (2004), a finalist for the 2005 Connecticut Book Awards; the collaborative chapbook Wanton Textiles (2006), with Reb Livingston; Seamless Matter (2008); and Deepening Groove (2011), winner of the National Poetry Review Prize. Shankar has received numerous honors and awards for his work, including a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. He is founding editor and executive of director of the online arts journal Drunken Boat, one of the oldest electronic arts journals on the web. With Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal he co-edited the anthology W.W. Norton & Co.’s Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (2008).

Li-Young Lee & Tina Chang

Li-Young LLi-Young Lee reading in the Sunken Gardenee is the author of four books of poetry, most recently, Behind My Eyes. His earlier collections are Book of My Nights; Rose, winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award; The City in Which I Love You, the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection; and a memoir entitled The Winged Seed: A Remembrance, which received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and was be reissued by BOA Editions in 2012. Lee’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lannan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, as well as grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.


Tina Chang reading in the Sunken GardenTina Chang is the Poet Laureate of Brooklyn, the first woman named to this position, she was raised in New York City. She is the author of the poetry collectionsHalf-Lit Houses and Of Gods & Strangers (Four Way Books) and co-editor of the anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008) along with Nathalie Handal and Ravi Shankar. Her poems have appeared in American Poet, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, and the New York Times among others.

Natalie Diaz, Aja Monet & the Winners of the 2015 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition

Native American Poet Natalie Diaz is the author of When My Brother Was an Aztec. Her work has been recognized by the Lannan Foundation, and she has received the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from Bread Loaf, and the Narrative Poetry Prize. Her poetry and other writing can be found in PloughsharesNarrative, The Rumpus, and Gwarlingo. She lives in  Arizona.

Aja Monet

Aja Monet is an award-winning performance poet. Harry Belafonte once called Aja Monet “The true definition of an artist.” An internationally established poet, Monet is the youngest individual to win the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title. Her books of poetry are Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Cyphers, (2015) and The Black Unicorn Sings (Penmanship Books). In addition, she collaborated with poet/musician Saul Williams on the book Chorus: a literary mixtape (MTV books/Simon & Schuster). Her first CD Scared to Make Love/Scared Not To, a testament to her creative lens and a social commentary on the discussion of love, was independently released through Bandcamp.  Of Cuban-Jamaican heritage, Monet has performed at world-renowned venues including the Town Hall Theater, the Apollo Theater, the United Nations in New York City, and the NAACP’s Barack Obama Inaugural event in Washington DC.

fresh voices young poets all2015 Winning Poets of the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition

  • Cole Adams, Kingswood-Oxford
  • Avery Christensen, Rockville High School
  • Khadija Hussain, Wilber Cross High School
  • Joscelyn Norris, Westover
  • Kaleigh Perkins, Rockville High School