Poets Crawl Pittsfield's Downtown at WordXWord

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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WordXWord has turned to more public and accessible venues, including Monday night's 'Poetry Crawl' through downtown Pittsfield.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A crowd of about 50 people took to the sidewalks and stoops of downtown, creating spectacles of spoken word during Pittsfield's second "Poetry Crawl" on Monday night.
The second attempt of this WordXWord Festival event featured a dozen performers, in a mixture of nationally acclaimed artists and local favorites.  
"I want to thank you all for coming together, and really making this festival way more fun than it was when we started it," said WordXWord co-founder Jim Benson, as the crawl began at Dottie's Coffee Lounge.
WordXWord has shifted considerably over the course of its now six seasons of celebrating all things word. Whereas early years of the festival were characterized by lofty stagings in expensive venues, high ticket prices and sparse attendance, in more recent seasons the festival has gradually evolved to a more openly interactive series, with free admissions and a stable base of devoted repeat patrons at both nightly performance events and daily workshops with resident luminaries. 
"Maybe we were a tree falling in the forest, but there was definitely no one there to hear it," said Benson of WordXWord's inception.
From Dottie's, the route took the mob of literati to the steps of Shire City Sanctuary, where they were welcomed by the principals of Berkshire Fringe Festival hosting the second round of performers.
Subsequent stops saw raw and rhythmic outcries of passion and opinion on any number of subjects, from the Capitol marquis of the Ralph Froio Senior Center to Sotille Park and the parking lot site of the historic Palace Theatre, before wrapping up at the Lichtenstein.
The vocal exhortations of poets reverberate loudly in these outdoor, sidewalk stagings, curiously public arenas for pieces that range from the intimately personal to scalding critique of everyday American conventions.  
There is no perceptible disruption to the typical street flow of a Monday evening in summer, in fact the few dozen casual passersby and regular downtown denizens seem notably unfazed, perhaps primed by the emerging prevalence of historic walking tours, Arts Walk, and various types of pub crawls in recent years. The inattention of passing neighbors is in stark contrast to the rapt attention within the circle of poetry crawlers, whose enthusiastic applause and yells punctuated each presentation.
Poets included visiting hosts Franny Choi, Thomas Fucaloro, Omar Holmon and Robbie Q Telfer, along with Albany guests Kevin Peterson, Poetic Vision, and local favorites including Seth Brown, Curtis Asch, Melissa Quirk, Eliza Ryan, and Jim Benson.  
The festival runs through Aug. 23, with shows, slams, and workshops at locations The Mount, the Whitney Center for the Arts, and the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.


Tags: festival,   poetry,   

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