‘Modern Muses’ the theme for this year’s Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in Farmington

The 30th annual edition of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, a celebration of local, national and emerging poets, will be held on five dates between Aug. 28 and Oct. 7 at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington.

This year’s fest is themed “Modern Muses.” It will include two nights of readings by poets, a screening of a highlights reel of previous festivals, a kids’ poetry night, a panel discussion and a slam poetry-beer tasting event.


Attendees should bring their own lawn chairs and can bring picnics or buy food and beverages on-site at the museum at 35 Mountain Road. Admission varies with each event. Seating is limited and advance purchase is recommended. Here is the lineup:

Aug. 28

John Murillo will be the headliner, with opening readings by Emily Carlson, winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize, and Matt Donovan. Live music by Among the Acres. The program begins at 3:30 p.m. Advance admission is $20, $10 students, children and members. Admission after Aug. 14 is $25. A live-stream is available for $15 per household.


Early-comers on Aug. 28 can arrive at 2 p.m. for a panel discussion on “State of Poetry in Connecticut” with Frederick-Douglass Knowles, Luisa Caycedo-Kimura, Benjamin Grossberg and Murillo. Admission to the discussion is $7, $5 students, children and members.

Sept. 18

A highlights reel of previous Sunken Garden events will be shown at 7 p.m. Admission is $10, $7 students and children, $5 members.

Sept. 25

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Poetry & Pets for Kids, an afternoon to compose poetry celebrating animals, will be from 3 to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Oct. 2

Festival founder Rennie McQuilkin will give the David K. Leff Memorial Reading. Other local poets reading work by Leff are Jon Andersen, Ginny Connors, Pegi Deitz Shea, Daniel Donaghy, Margaret Gibson, Ben Grossberg, Frederick-Douglass Knowles, Marilyn Nelson, Clare Rossini and John Stanizzi. Music is by Sophia Griswold Band. 3:30 to 7 p.m. Advance admission is $20, $10 students, children and members. Admission after Sept. 24 is $25.

Ekphrastic poetry workshops — middle schoolers at 11 a.m., high schoolers at 1 p.m. — will be $20 per student.

Oct. 7

Poems & Pints, a slam-poetry event and beer tasting from local breweries, for ages 21 and older, will be 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $25, $20 members.

Another feature of the festival, available Aug. 28 to Oct. 7, is “Ge-ODE-Caching,” a variation on geocaching in which searchers are looking for poetry hidden around the museum’s outdoor grounds. Admission is free to ge-ODE-cache.

More information at


Susan Dunne can be reached at