A Weekend for Words: The Paul K. Bergan Poetry Festival

I dwell in Possibility-
A fairer House than Prose-
— Emily Dickinson

In the cold winter months, it is essential to warm the soul and keep inspired. The Paul K. Bergan Poetry Festival does just that, and has long been a favorite tradition among students and faculty alike.

Renamed in 2007 in honor of beloved English teacher Paul Bergan, the Poetry Festival brings established poets to campus to read, to discuss the writing process with students, and to lead poetry writing workshops. It also provides the community with an opportunity to raise our voices in both competitive and non-competitive readings as well as a colorful poetry slam.
Over the course of time, however, even traditions evolve. This year, the Poetry Festival will pursue an exciting new direction while still featuring several events, back by popular demand, that have made it such a powerful celebration of the written and spoken word in the past.

“While we celebrate poetry in all its incarnations as we have done in festivals past, the department wished to encourage each of our young women to explore her unique voice, to inspire her creativity by offering her many more opportunities to participate in dynamic poetry-writing workshops that take place in diverse indoor and outdoor settings during the new one-day festival,” said Anne Burridge, English Department Chair.

Preparations have been underway for a month, beginning with a poetry-writing contest sponsored by Chimera, Foxcroft’s literary magazine, and early rounds of competitive poetry readings taking place in English classes. Three finalists and an alternate in each grade, voted on by their peers in class and then, in the semifinal round, judged by a faculty panel, were announced in yesterday’s Morning Meeting:
  • Freshmen: Bianca M., Julia G., and Hayden E. (alternate: Betsy A.)
  • Sophomores: Bella Z., Kenzie G., and Bella S. (alternate: Krissa T.)
  • Juniors: Seabrook B., Megan P., and Elizabeth B. (alternate: Chloe G.)
  • Seniors: Pradyuta P., Zoey X., and Elle R. (alternate: Mia B.)
This year’s Festival is on Friday, February 2. The daylong event kicks off at 9 am in Currier Library as the community welcomes Festival Poet-in-Residence Teri Ellen Cross Davis, an award-winning poet and author who will deliver the keynote poetry reading as well as work with students in her Writing the Self workshop, exploring feminine identity in “I” poems. This is one of seven workshops offered during morning and afternoon sessions. Some girls will explore their creative voices in nature writing inspired by the extraordinary landscape of our campus, while others will focus collaboratively on discovering poetry in the everyday language of newspaper headlines or book titles on library shelves. Still others will create visual interpretations of original or favorite poems in The Innovation Lab, and more.

At 1pm on the festival day, students, faculty, and friends will gather in FoxHound Auditorium for the final round of the competition and to hear the original poetry by the winners of the Chimera contest. The formal reading finalists will compete to take home the laurels for their grade level as they raise their voices in verse before our visiting poet, who will judge the final round of this time-honored tradition. We look forward to seeing them compete in a week!
Friday evening, the historically energetic Open Mic will feature both poetry readings and musical performances. The Poetry Slam that follows is a freewheeling and lively competition among students that celebrates the art of spoken word poetry. Prizes will be awarded to the “top slammers,” as determined by all the students who will vote electronically for the winners.

If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll join us for the Keynote Poetry Reading by Teri Ellen Cross Davis and the Poetry Reading finals at 1pm. Space for the evening’s festivities, Open Mic and Poetry Slam, is limited. 
An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.