Our Mission

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The Palm Beach Poetry Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the writing, reading, performance, and appreciation of poetry by presenting an annual festival and other poetry events in Palm Beach County featuring America's finest poets. It is our goal to provide a nationally recognized learning opportunity for writers of poetry and a world-class, life-enriching series of cultural events for our listening audiences. As a Florida nonprofit corporation, part of our mission is to organize educational outreach programs that bring the pleasures of poetry to our community. We are a proud member of the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.

Board of Directors
Miles A. Coon, President
Miriam L. Coon, Secretary
Alan A. Benjamin, Director
Carol J. Benjamin, Director

Board of Advisors
Thomas Lux, Chairman
Billy Collins
Stephen Dobyns
Mary Karr
Vijay Seshadri
Ellen Bryant Voigt

Staff

Miles A. Coon, Festival Director
Miles Coon, President, Chairman and Festival Director resides in Palm Beach, Florida and Great Neck, New York with Mimi, his wife of forty-three years. He received an M.F.A. in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in 2002 after having spent thirty years in a manufacturing business. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, class of 1962 and the University of Virginia, class of 1959, where he studied Philosophy and Economics. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies. He has served on the Board of the Israel Humanitarian Foundation and is a supporter of Poetry Societies and small presses. Miles has attended over twenty writing conferences and has participated in hundreds of poetry workshops. He is a member in good standing of Poets of the Palm Beaches, the Harvard Clubs of New York City, Palm Beach and Broward Counties. Mr. Coon serves without compensation.

Susan R. Williamson, Assistant Director
Susan R. Williamson is a native of Richmond, Virginia and makes her home in both Charlottesville, Virginia and Boca Raton, Florida. She has worked in arts management, literary event planning and author and book promotion most recently, and previously in public relations and promotion in New York. In Charlottesville, she was staff administrator at the University of Virginia Office of State Governmental Relations. She served as editor in chief of Streetlight, a journal of art and literature, as an editor and associate publisher at Tupelo Press, on the board of the Charlottesville Writing Center, and the Publisher’s Day Committee of the Virginia Festival of the Book. Her work has appeared in Beltway Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, Forge, Paterson Literary Review, Poetry East, Sanskrit, Smartish Pace, StorySouth, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Poetry Daily, among others. She is currently a Joel Oppenheimer fellow at the New England College MFA Program in Poetry. Williamson is devoted to poets and writers in her community, and has planned successful reading and literary events nationwide.

Laura McDermott, Festival Coordinator
Laura McDermott, a true native of South Florida, has been serving as the Festival Coordinator of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, since the festival’s second year.  She studied creative writing at Florida State University and received her Masters of Fine Arts from Florida International University while concentrating on poetry in her studies. Currently, Laura is an Assistant Professor of English at Broward College - South Campus, as well as a part-time instructor at Florida International University and has previously taught at Johnson and Wales University and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.  Because of her dedication to higher education and writing, Laura received recognition as a 2008 Conference on College Composition and Communication Professional Equity Project Grant Recipient, and was awarded the 2012 Paragon Award by the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.  As a member of the Miami Poetry Collective, her poetry is regularly featured in its Cent Journal Series: A Modern Anthology of Miami Poets, and her poems can also be found in various publications such as Screw Iowa!,  the Virginia Key website, and The Selected Collective: Volume VIII of Tigertail, a South Florida Poetry Annual,  Her current project, The Writer’s Voice, a textbook geared towards instructing developmental writers in preparation for college level writing, will be published through Pearson in 2013.

Blaise Allen, Director of Community Outreach
Blaise Allen, PhD. lives in Deerfield Beach, FL. Her poems have been widely published in anthologies and magazines including The Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Blue Fifth Review, Walt Whitman Review, Long Island Quarterly, Mothering Magazine, University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine’s Journal, Touch. Blaise is the founder and Program Director for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival Teen Poetry Project. She committed to the preservation of voice, culture and language arts education, and is particularly interested in community outreach to underserved youth and elder populations. Blaise hosts several free poetry salons in her home, has also formed a volunteer poetry troupe, and this fall is hosting a new project "Bards of a Feather" for Palm Beach County at Green Cay Wetland Preserves.


 


Miles and Mimi Coon, founders of the festival.

 

"This was a lovely and thoughtfully worked-out event, absolutely exhilarating to be part of. I didn't want to delay any longer in thanking you for putting on such an outstanding festival/workshop and for including me in it. To you, Miles and Mimi, and all who made it such a great success, my gratitude and my warmest congratulations."

—Jane Hirshfield