Open Mouth has hosted poetry festivals annually starting in 2017, usually on the weekend before Halloween. Prior to 2020, events took place at various venues in Fayetteville, AR, and starting in 2020 they moved online. In future years, festivals may be hybrid, with both in-person and online events.

Each year we have included a mix of poets living in Northwest Arkansas and nationally touring poets, to both highlight our local talent and bring in other poets whose work we love. This also helps broaden our audience and give local readers a bigger platform.

Each year we have also included mini-features: poets who frequent our events and often read as part of our opening community round who we think should be given more of a spotlight, even if they haven’t published books yet.

To find out more about past festivals, read below.

The First Annual Poetry Festival took place in the fall of 2017 and included events at ArtVentures, The Nines Alley, The Nines Trailside, Stage 18, and Arsaga’s at the Depot. The festival featured poets Seth Pennington, Bryan Borland, Ashley M. Jones, Janine Joseph, Caitlin Scarano, and Ashley Roach Freiman, with a mini features by local poets C. Violet Eaton, Sara Nicholson, Emmett Buckley, and Cody-Rose Clevidence, a Halloween poetry slam showcase emceed by Michelle Miesse and featuring Peter Mason, Kai Coggin, and Noelia Cerna. There were also short performances by participants in the Latinx Youth Theatre Project.

The Second Annual Open Mouth Poetry Festival took place in fall of 2018 and included events at the Walton Arts Center, Fenix Gallery, Stage 18, and The Nines Trailside. The festival featured poets Dorothy Chan, Brody Parrish Craig, Kimberly Ann Southwick, Peter Twal, Sarah Rose Nordgren, Nabila Lovelace, Emma Bolden, and Ashley Roach Freiman, with mini features by local poets Rodney Wilhite, Mohja Kahf, Kaveh Bassiri, and Maximiliano Calabotta and music by Roy Pilgrim. Original broadsides of work each traveling featured poet were designed by local artists Ziba Rajabi, Zachary Meyer, MaKayla Songer, Taylor Lautner, Brandon Weston, and Remy Pincumbe.

The Third Annual Poetry Festival took place in the fall of 2019 at various locations around Fayetteville, including University of Arkansas Center for Diversity and Multicultural Education, Smoke & Barrel Tavern, Nightbird Books, The Nines, Stage 18, and Nomad’s Trailside. Poets Hyejung Kook, Diannely Antigua, Zaina Alsous, and Olatunde Osinaike featured, along with mini-features by local poets Victoria Hudson and Banah el Ghadbanah. Events included a collaboration with the US–China Poetry Dialogue, which brings some of China’s most famous poets to the United States in odd years to create community through dialogue about poetry and place. Poets Chen Zhongyi and Zang Di led a workshop on metaphor and sound for Open Mouth at Nightbird Books.

The Fourth Annual Poetry Festival took place in the fall of 2020, and all events were virtual. The festival included two nights of readings and four workshops, and featured poets Michael Torres, Jessica Abughattas, Eloisa Amezcua, Shannon Sankey, Allison Joseph, Benjamin Garcia, Meg Day, Jihyun Yun, Callista Buchen and Leila Chatti, along with mini features by Calypso Jane Selwyn and Rome Hernández Morgan.

The Fifth Annual Poetry Festival took place in the fall of 2021, and all events were virtual. Poets Threa Almontaser, Danielle Badra, Banah el Ghadbanah, Carolyn Guinzio, Mohja Kahf, Kaveh Bassiri, Emily Rose Cole, Brody Parrish Craig, Jordan E. Franklin, and Khalisa Rae featured, along with mini features by David Donna and Vasantha Sambamurti. The festival included a book giveaway, in partnership with Pearl’s Books, and a book by each featured poet was given away as an award for participants dressed up in costumes.