Beall Poetry Festival Brings Contemporary Poets to Three-Day Event

March 6, 2023
Beall Poetry Festival 2

Baylor University will host the 29th annual Beall Poetry Festival March 29-31.

The 29th annual Beall Poetry Festival celebrates poetry through readings, lecture and panel

Media Contact: Shelby Cefaratti-Bertin, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-327-8012
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WACO, Texas (March 3, 2023) – Baylor University will host the 29th annual Beall Poetry Festival March 29-31, a premier American literary event of contemporary poetry, with poetry readings, a panel discussion and the Virginia Beall Ball Lecture on Contemporary Poetry. 

Poetry has a long and illustrious history at Baylor. Under the direction of Baylor professor A. J. Armstrong, poets such as Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay and William Butler Yeats visited Baylor to read their poems. Previous Beall Poetry Festival participants have included winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the Nobel Prize in Literature and several U.S. Poet Laureates.

This year is no different, as two renowned poets and a critic will be on campus to read their work, visit classes and interact with faculty and students.

“We look for exciting and excellent poets who have won important awards and have a distinguished record of publication,” said Sarah Ford, Ph.D., director of the Beall Poetry Festival and professor of English at Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “The roster of poets is different every year but always includes writers from diverse backgrounds.”

Beall Poetry Festival attendees can expect to hear a variety of poetry styles and be “surprised by something new: a new thought, a new image, a new way to put words to a feeling they, too, have experienced,” Ford said.

“They can expect to hear amazing poetry from contemporary poets who are taking this age-old art and making it match and even shape our current time,” Ford added. “They can expect to experience the magic of stepping out of their task-filled scholarly world and thinking about large ideas in beautiful and challenging language.”

When reading their poems, the poets usually talk about why they write and how specific poems were created, giving students insight into the creative process.

“Hearing poetry helps audience members appreciate how sound informs the meaning of the words, how emotions can be communicated through language and how poets can use different forms for different effects,” Ford said.

In addition to the two evening poetry readings, the festival includes a Student Literary Contest and awards ceremony where Baylor students read their award-winning original works in poetry and fiction, a critical lecture about contemporary poetry and a panel where invited guests answer questions about poetry and writing.

Schedule of Events


3:30 p.m. Student Literary Award Ceremony, Treasure Room, Armstrong Browning Library. The winners of the Student Literary Contest will be announced. Five poetry prizes and three fiction prizes will be awarded.

5:30 p.m. Poetry Reading by Shane McCrae, Bennett Auditorium of Draper Academic Building, 1420 S. Seventh St. Shane McCrae is the author of several poetry collections, including Cain Named the Animal (2022). 

THURSDAY, March 30

3:30 p.m. Virginia Beall Ball Lecture in Contemporary Poetry by Sumita Chakraborty, Treasure Room, ABL. Sumita Chakraborty, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and creative writing at North Carolina State University, is the author of the poetry collection Arrow (2020), which won the GLCA New Writers Award.

5:30 p.m. Poetry Reading by A. Van Jordan, Bennett Auditorium, Draper. Van Jordan, M.F.A., professor of English at Stanford University, is the author of five books of poetry, including the forthcoming collection When I Waked, I Cried to Dream Again (2023).

FRIDAY, March 31

3:30 p.m. Panel Discussion with all participants, Treasure Room, ABL.

The festival is supported by the John A. and DeLouise McClelland Beall Endowed Fund, established in 1994 by Mrs. Virginia Beall Ball of Muncie, Indiana, to honor her parents and to encourage the writing, appreciation and celebration of poetry.​ Ball was a 1940 graduate of Baylor.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Beall Poetry Festival website.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. 


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments in the sciences, humanities, fine arts and social sciences, as well as 10 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit