WordXWord 2016 Announces Schedule & Featured Guests


A Unique Assemblage of Poets & Events August 9-13

The WordXWord Festival returns to the Upstreet Cultural District of downtown Pittsfield, MA August 9-13, with a combination of talented local and visiting poets, storytellers, and a full schedule of lively events.

This year’s poets-in-residence are Eve Ewing, Safia Elhillo and Jayson P Smith. In addition to their own performances, the poets-in-residence presence is felt throughout the entire festival as they host performances and slam competitions featuring local poets and storytellers, collaborate on hybrid events incorporating both local and visiting artists, and facilitate a series of workshops.



Eve Ewing is a sociologist, essayist and poet whose work has been published in Poetry Magazine, The New Yorker, The Nation, The New Republic, Union Station, and the anthology The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Eve is one-half of the writing collective Echo Hotel, alongside Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib.

Safia Elhillo is Sudanese by way of Washington, DC. Her work has been published in journals and anthologies including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. She is poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly: a journal of black expression, and a teaching artist with Split This Rock.

Jayson P Smith is a writer, editor, & part-time empress. Smith’s poems have appeared in The Rumpus, MUZZLE, Kinfolks, and the anthology Again I Wait for This to Pull Apart. Originally from the Bronx, Jayson now lives in Brooklyn and was recently included in Brooklyn Magazine’s 30 Under 30: The Envy Index.


WordXWord  2016 Schedule

Tuesday, August 9

5:30pm – Poetry sCrawl
Starts at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, 444 North Street
A multi-stop poetry stroll through the Historic Cultural District of Downtown Pittsfield. Starts at Dottie’s and ends at the Berkshire Museum.

7:30pm – Feature Night
Berkshire Museum, 39 South Street
Marquee performance introducing WXW 2016 poets-in-residence Eve Ewing, Safia Elhillo and Jayson P Smith.


Wednesday, August 10

5:30pm – bSpoke! / Cadavre Exquis
Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Ave.
Featuring the work of a variety of Berkshire poets, plus Exquisite Corpse – a massive multi-voice collaboration. Globally sourced, locally crafted.

7:30pm – WXW Poetry Slam Finals
Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, 444 North Street
Four finalists from the WordXWord Poetry Slam series go head to head vying for prizes and the title.


Thursday, August 11

5:00pm – Outspoken Youth Poetry Slam
Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Ave.
Poets ages 13 – 25 speak their minds in friendly competition.

7:30pm – #Kahoots: two minds/two voices with special guest feature Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave.
Multi-voice pieces by young poets plus a guest feature by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib in celebration of his book release.


Friday, August 12

6:00pm – WXW Story Slam Finals
Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Ave.
Four finalists is the WordXWord Story Slam series spin 5-minute true stories. The grand prize and bragging rights are on the line!

8:00pm – The Ragged Edge of Truth
Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave.
Poets-in-residence Eve Ewing, Safia Elhillo and Jayson Smith join with a cast of regional voices in an attempt to grab truth by its ragged edge and pin it to the ground.

“Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial.”  – Herman Melville, Billy Budd


Saturday, August 13

8:00pm – Festival Finale
Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave.
The finale is truly a “best of the festival” meets-new-stuff, surprise cameos and recently discovered bits of genius. Featuring Eve Ewing, Safia Elhillo, and Jayson P Smith.


WXW 2016 Workshops

Workshops are free. Pre-registration strongly encouraged. Unless otherwise noted, workshops are open and appropriate for teens and adults of all experience levels.

Tuesday, August 9, 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Location TBA with Eve Ewing

Wednesday, August 10, 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Location TBA with Safia Elhillo

Thursday, August 11, 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Location TBA
Teen & Young Adult Workshops (ages 13-25)
A round robin of workshops with Eve Ewing, Safia Elhillo, and Jayson P Smith

Friday, August 12, 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Location TBA with Jayson P Smith


More Information

At WordXWord, poetry and spoken word are used to celebrate creativity and build community through the sharing of space, time and ideas. All WordXWord 2016 performances are free and open to all. Parents and guardians are cautioned that some content may be more appropriate for mature audiences. With the exception of the teen & young adult workshop, workshops are free and open to teens and adults of any experience level. For schedule updates and more information, visit wXw365.org.

WordXWord Festival 2016 is made possible by lead sponsor Greylock Federal Credit Union, with additional support from Housatonic Heritage, Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development, CompuWorks, Adelson & Company PC, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.