A Dead Poets Bash is when poets and poetry-lovers from a certain area get together to read the poetry of deceased poets, usually from their own state.
Typically, organizers come up with a list of poets from all periods in their State’s history and ask readers to come prepared to read one or more poems from those poets. Sometimes the gatherings are highly organized and other times more spontaneous, but always undertaken in a spirit of celebration for our past bards.
Sometimes a Bash will focus on 1 particular poet, with people speaking about that poets life and legacy, as well as readings from that poet’s work.
As for location, a poet’s grave is typically sought out for the location, but there have been celebrations in bars, museums, poets’ houses, and churches.
On the Great State Poets Laureate Grand Tour 2015 the 20 or so Bashes will naturally, but not always, focus on the laureates of the State the event is in.
The first Dead Poets Bash took place in 2009 in Lexington, KY, and since then the tradition has spread to other areas. The idea for having a Dead Poets Bash developed as we learned that several groups in various locations across the US and in other countries still gather every year on a birthdate or deathdate to read poems at a poet’s grave or other public location. This includes:
Worcester, MA & Elizabeth Bishop // Boston, MA & E.E. Cummings and Anne Sexton // Camden, NJ & Nicholas Virgilio // Oregon & William Stafford // Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe // the graves of Rumi and Hafzz and additional examples elsewhere.