Programs the PEM Is Offering at the MPF


Meg Winikates

Meg Winikates

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival will have programs for many interests and for the whole family. What better person to create or run many of those versatile programs than someone who calls her own creativity blog “Brain Popcorn.” Meg Winikates, a poet as well as the Art & Nature Programs Coordinator at the Peabody Essex Museum, describes creativity this way:

Have you ever had an idea, which reminded you of something you learned in high school, which reminded you of a movie you saw recently, which reminded you of the last trip you took, which reminded you of your oldest friend, which reminded you of a book you’ve been meaning to read? That’s brain popcorn.

In other words,  the programs are going to be imaginative and fun! The way the word “which” works in the above paragraph is a little like the way the programs she designed for the PEM work. There will be a lot of “popping” back and forth between visual art and words. Meg quotes Plutarch who said, “’Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting that speaks.’ My role at the Festival is to bring the two arts together.”

The Festival is grateful to the PEM not only for gracious use of space in the museum but for these programs and for Meg who designed them.

She has spent much of her professional life working with, as she says, “kids of all ages.” Some of the activities may bring out the 5-year-old in you, but it will be that part of a child the adult often wishes to recapture, the roaming mind that isn’t stuck in the usual patterns of thinking. For the audience at the Festival, she wants to promote personal creativity and inspiration in the museum-sponsored workshops by building  visual connections between the usual museum audience and writers.

Here are some of the activities she has arranged.

  • Do you have a poem — your own or someone else’s — you’d like a daily reminder of? Then check out calligrapher Elissa Barr’s demonstration. She explores techniques to help you illuminate the art of writing. (Saturday in the PEM Atrium from 10:30 – 1pm)
  • Or join artist Yetti Frenkel and find ways to make mosaics to illustrate poetry, especially one of the poems in this year’s Common Threads program.  (The Create Space area of the museum, Saturday from 1 to 3)
  • Write, illustrate and create a plastic key chain or bookmark of your favorite poem. (Saturday at the Atruim, 11 am – 1:00)
  • Create a stained glass rendering of your favorite lines of a poem and come back during the day or evening to see how many other stained glass pieces have been added to create a glowing work of glass and words. (From 10:00 am to 5 pm in the Atruim on Saturday)
  • Pick up materials at the Atrium Cafe tables and tour the exhibit Double Happiness with prompts in hand. You’ll be creating a book with your own creativity as you explore the museum’s exhibit. (From 10 am to 5 pm)
  • Finding poetry

    Finding poetry

    Experience a new type of found poetry, by altering a page from a book. (Click the image on the left to see an enlarged view of a “found” poem in its own world of art.)

Check the poster of all PEM events. Many of the programs are also offered on Sunday.

Meg says some programs this year are based on what she learned in preceding years from similar programs. “People tend to love the collaborative pieces. Last year and the year before they came back to see the leaves added to a tree or words added to a spider web. This year it will be fun for participants to come back to see what lines of poetry are added to the stained glass window.People tend to enjoy watching something grow.”


Meg believes crossing the line back and forth between the verbal and the visual is fun. “When you feel you have to create, you can be stymied, but going back and forth between the two can shake your creative block.”

You can try out that strategy if you take in one or more of the programs sponsored by PEM. Come on — and bring the whole family!