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Welcome to the schedule of the 2015 Massachusetts Poetry Festival, happening May 1-3 in the beautiful and historic town of Salem! 

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To purchase your attendance button, read articles on our headliners, get tips for where to stay in Salem, and more, visit our website at www.masspoetry.org/festival2015.

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avatar for Karen Skolfield

Karen Skolfield

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA
Karen Skolfield’s book Frost in the Low Areas won the 2014 PEN New England Award in poetry and the First Book Award from Zone 3 Press. She received the 2015 Arts & Humanities Award from New England Public Radio, and has received additional fellowships and awards in 2014/2015 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Ucross Foundation, Split This Rock, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. New poems appear in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Baltimore Review, Hobart, Indiana Review, MIRAMAR, Pleiades, Southword Journal, and others; she teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts.Sample PoemRaven Versus Crow“If a raven got in a fight with a crow, who would win?” my son asks.“Why would a raven fight a crow?” I ask.“It’s a strawberry,” my son says. “They’re fighting over fruit.”“It’s hard to imagine a fight over a strawberry,” I say. “Animals fight over food,” my son says.“Yes,” I say, “but a strawberry? It wouldn’t be a very serious fight.”“Oh, it’s serious,” my son says. “To the death.” “I don’t think ravens and crows fight to the death,” I say. “Can’t they just go find other strawberries? Look around. It’s June. Strawberries everywhere. The air smells like strawberry wine, which you are never allowed to have because of the alcohol. I don’t think birds fight to the death,” I add. “These birds fight to the death,” my son says, “over strawberries, even when there are strawberries everywhere, even when it smells like strawberry wine, which I am never allowed to have, because of the alcohol.”He looks at me, patiently, watching me weigh the odds.“You know the raven is bigger,” I say. “So the raven would win?” he says.“Not so fast,” I say. “Crows might have other crow buddies around. But can’t one bird chase off the other - why does it have to be to the death?” I ask.“Because I’m nine,” my son says. This explains everything, except: “How does my choice matter?” I ask. “I mean, this whole conversation is pretend. There’s no raven, no crow, no strawberry, no fight, no death. There’s definitely no death,” I say. “It’s a very important strawberry,” he says. “I’m not sure I can finish this conversation,” I say.“As your mom, it’s necessary that I address the reality of death in a way that’s age-appropriate and acknowledges the inevitability of our eventual demise. Death is not a joke. It’s not a casual topic of conversation,” I say, “and you know how fond I am of birds. How could I ever pit ravens against crows?It would be like pitting my children against each other,” I say.“So the crow wins?” he asks.I say, “Not on your life.”