2021 Free Verse Festival

The 2021 Free Verse Festival will be the fifth annual offering of this innovative and eclectic all-poetry literary festival. A wide variety of events will take place October 1 – 31, 2021 in both virtual and in-person formats. SC Humanities supported this program with a Fast Track Literary Grant.

The festival kicks off with an open mic at the Dock Street Theatre hosted by Morowa Mosai on Friday, October 1 at 6:00 p.m. Another open mic poetry event will take place on Saturday, October 9 at 6:00 p.m. at Commonhouse Aleworks. Participants are invited to share poems in a non-competitive environment.

On Friday, October 8, poet, editor, and teaching artist Ciona Rouse will do a poetry reading and lead a workshop on Instragram Live @freeversefestival. Ciona Rouse is the author of Vantablack, the first chapbook of Third Man Books’ limited chapbook series (2017), which sold out within a few months of publication. Her poetry has appeared in Oxford American, The Account, Talking River, Gabby Journal, Matter: a journal of political poetry and commentary and other publications.

The keynote presentation will be presented by Geffrey Davis on Friday, October 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the Cannon Street Arts Center. The event is free, but registration is required. Geffrey Davis is the author of two full collections of poetry: Night Angler (BOA Editions, 2019) and Revising the Storm ​(BOA Editions, 2014), winner of the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize and a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Finalist.

On Saturday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m., spoken word artist Tammaka Staley will perform on Instagram live @freeversefestival. Tammaka operates a performance art and speaking brand called Talks with Tammaka and is also a 2x Queen of the South poetry slam champion. 

The popular “Poetry and Pancakes” event will take place on Sunday, October 17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., at Daps Breakfast and Imbibe. Order a pancake and get a custom poem! Local poets will be on hand at Daps with typewriters, creating custom poems for patrons.

On Saturday, October 23 at 3:00 p.m., join Gaillard Artist-in-residence, Marcus Amaker, for the Gaillard’s Annual Youth Poetry Slam. Celebrate poetry with a little friendly competition. The slam is open to all middle and high school students. Students should prepare three poems, memorization is not required. The competition yields three winners with small cash prizes.

The festival will close with a “Cringe Night” with Nameless Numberhead, where poets and performers read from their old diaries. This free event will take place at the Connon Street Arts Center on Friday, October 29 at 7:00 p.m.

For more information about the 2021 Free Verse Festival, please visit the website at https://www.freeversefestival.com/.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 20-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.