2024 MLK Poetry & Storytelling Festival

On January 14th, our community gathered for a memorable evening at the MLK Poetry & Storytelling Festival, centered around the theme “A Call for Peace: A Time to Break Silence.” The event featured a lineup of distinguished poets, each contributing their unique voice to the celebration.

Featured Poets:

1. Jesse Waters:
Award-winning poet and Director of the Bowers Writers House at Elizabethtown College. Although unable to attend in person, his impactful poem, read by past intern Kennedy Holt, resonated with the audience.

2. Hagir Elsheikh:
An inspiring entrepreneur and registered nurse who overcame adversity after fleeing political turmoil in Sudan. Her words painted a vivid picture of resilience, strength, and the pursuit of peace.

3. Rick Kearns:
Poet Laureate of Harrisburg, Rick delved into his Puerto Rican heritage and Taino ancestry through poetry. His verses beautifully echoed themes of cultural identity and the universal call for harmony.

4. Rev. Nathaniel Gadsen:
Former Harrisburg Poet Laureate, Life Skills Coach, Poet, Poet Therapist, Minister, and Motivational Speaker. Reverend Gadsen’s words transcended the boundaries of poetry, offering guidance and motivation for a peaceful and just world.

5. Maria James Thiaw:
A distinguished poet, educator, and author of “Count Each Breath,” Maria is also a professor at Southern New Hampshire University. Her evocative storytelling encouraged us to look back at the past and forward to a better future.

While each poet brought their unique perspective to the stage, the common thread was the call for peace and the power of words to break silence. Their verses painted a collective portrait of hope, resilience, and the unwavering belief in the possibility of a more just and harmonious world.

The Next Generation

In addition to our esteemed poets, we were thrilled to witness the incredible talent of our Youth Writing Competition winners. This year, we received an unprecedented number of entries—24 submissions from four local high schools. The enthusiasm and creativity displayed by these young minds were truly inspiring.

Photos from the Event

Watch Event Recording

Unable to join us on the day? Watch the full event here.