About Us

“I don't understand art for art's sake. Art is for the guts of the people.”

- Elma Lewis, 1977

The Roxbury Poetry Festival is a biennial event centering poetry in Roxbury, MA. The inaugural festival is happening virtually with the exception of two evening events. The festival features several award-winning writers, panelists, and curators, and centers a keynote address from 2020 Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Jericho Brown. The day-long event culminates with a Publisher’s Poetry Slam sponsored by Button Poetry that yields a book contract for a local writer and a “Beast The Beat” concert battle highlighting a local hip hop artist. The festival is free and open to the public.

Questions or concerns? Please reach out to us!

About the Poet Laureate

Porsha Olayiwola

​Porsha Olayiwola is a writer, performer, futurist and curator. Olayiwola is serving as the current Poet Laureate for the City of Boston and a 2020 laureate fellow with the Academy of American Poets. Part of her work with the Academy of American Poets is establishing the HOME Reading & Workshop series as well as the inaugural Roxbury Poetry Festival. Olayiwola is a long-time Roxbury organizer and artist and a recent Rox-resident. (Photo credit: Feda Eid)

Festival Managers

Mariama Savage

M​ariama Savage, the daughter of two Sierra Leonean immigrants, is a Boston bred avid writer and fierce proponent for bettering her community. Savage’s writing revolves around the idea of sharing stories about the world around her through the lens of extended metaphors in an effort to recognize global strife and take action to fight against the many ways it takes form. As a Sierra Leonean-American Muslim woman, Savage struggles with upholding her culture in addition to being true to herself and the intersectional identities cultural traditions tread upon. With her writing she aspires to dismantle and deconstruct the isms and phobias that keep her people from propelling forward.

Winelle Felix

Winelle Felix is a Trinidadian writer living in Boston. She is an MFA candidate in the Creative Writing program at Emerson College. When she is not translating her experiences through writing, she’s thinking of a master plan to get back to Marcus beach where she can get her hands on some Bake and Shark.

RPF Advisory Team

  • Vernon C. Robinson
  • DJ WHY SHAM
  • Crystal Valentine
  • Canderlaria Silva-Collins
  • Amanda Cheung (Tech Team)
  • Ashley Ramsay (Tech Team)
  • Thomas Johnston
  • Kristina McGeehan
  • Tariq Charles
  • Stephen Hamilton
  • Amber Williams (SublimeLuv)

Public Safety & COVID-19

Due to the pandemic and the goal to ensure a public health-conscious space, this year’s festival will take place online via zoom. If health mandates permit, The Publisher’s Poetry Slam and Beast The Beat will take place outdoors in Nubian Square’s Blair Lot. In addition to onsite sanitizers, mandated masks, and public health care representatives, there will be social distance markers and volunteers to ensure the community members are socially distancing and masked.

“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”

- Pulitzer Prize Winner, Alice Walker

From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you to our sponsors and co-collaborators. This dream is only reality with you!
The Roxbury Poetry Festival resides on the ancestral and unceded lands of the Massachusett people and the neighboring Wampanoag Nation. We pay respect to the Massachusett elders past and present. We acknowledge the truth of violence perpetrated in the name of this country and make a commitment to uncovering that truth. We make this acknowledgment as a step toward dismantling the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism, and as a commitment to social justice. We also acknowledge and trace this country’s modern existence to the historical enslavement of Black and African people. We recognize that the genocide of indigenous people occured conjunctionally and alongside the enslavement of Africans. To learn more about the colonial and current history of Roxbury and its residents, please visit The Roxbury Historical Society.