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Boston Poetry Marathon offers 16 hours of virtual readings

Poet Kazim AliTanya Rosen-Jones

This year’s Boston Poetry Marathon will broadcast more than 16 hours of poetry readings online from some 150 creatives, including well-known poets Eileen Myles, Kazim Ali, and Lloyd Schwartz from Aug. 6-8.

Hailing from around New England, New York, and other states, the participants have a short allotment of time — five minutes, to be exact — to read their piece.

A tentative schedule on Facebook shows three hours of readings slated for Thursday (7 to 10 p.m.), three hours for Friday, (7 to 10:30 p.m.), and 10 hours for Saturday (noon to 10 p.m.).

“We have pulled together this year’s virtual event during a very challenging time,” artistic co-director Suzanne Mercury said in a statement. “The response from the poetry community has been overwhelming and filled with love.”


Bridget Eileen, another co-director, said the event saw a sharp uptick in interest in 2020. Usually, around 125 poets, versus this year’s 150, gather for the annual event at a venue in Cambridge or Copley Square.

Friday’s readings are an ode to the event’s 22-year history. Longtime participants and early organizers will reminisce about prior marathons and make tributes to poets who have since passed. “It’ll be a way of remembering, to do something special for a year that’s otherwise been mostly bad,” said Eileen.

Attending the marathon is free but donations are suggested. Funds collected through a Go Fund Me page will be sent to two organizations, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts and SISTA FIRE RI, fighting for racial justice in support of Black Lives Matter. The page aims to raise $1,200 and had hit $550 by early this week.

The BPM will stream on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter each night. Find links to the platforms at

Diti Kohli can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_


Diti Kohli can be reached at her @ditikohli_.