Final Hour on Eleventh Hour – Seattle Poetry Festival

Seattle Poetry FestivalDoug Nufer just told me that Eleventh Hour Productions has closed shop. Brian McGuigan has posted the e-mail sent out by the board.

This has been a particularly brutal year in Seattle for grassroots lit arts (Raven Chronicles ceasing publication, Red Sky Poetry theater melting away, Richard Hugo House closing ZAPP for a year?) but Eleventh Hour has somehow made it for ten years, about the same age as Richard Hugo House, SubText, StringTown, and seemed like it had become a more or less stable institution.

Eleventh Hour was initially founded for the Seattle Poetry Circus. And then later renamed Seattle Poetry Circus the Seattle Poetry Festival (as it became more serious.) The festival was rooted primarily in the performance and slam styles of poetry, but the festival made a deliberate effort to bridge the various modes of poetry being practiced in Seattle. Experimental poets from SubText, MFA-types associated with the University of Washington, and anyone else practicing under the loose umbrella of poetry was encouraged to apply and was often given billing and space. The festival occurred in a number of places. I remember going to a place in Belltown (COCO) during one of the early festivals and it was a kind of loud blend of poetry, slams, and rock bands of indeterminate genre. It was chaos and kind of great and did serve the function of bridging the various poetry factions in Seattle. The festival grew but also suffered some sets backs after the brief dot-com collapse and recession in the early 00s, to an every other year event. It also grew to include venues such as Benaroya Hall Music Center. Of this year’s festival, John Marshall in the Seattle PI wrote “The first revival in 2005 was a modest success, but this weekend’s second revival seems to promise a giant leap beyond.”

Eleventh Hour also worked on other events such as Reel To Reel at the Speakeasy and last month’s Meter and Madness readings following ACT’s production of First Class.

Eleventh Hour managed to survive the departure of departure of is founders, Noel Franklin and Bob Redmond. In 2000, Noel moved to Arizona and has since returned to Seattle. Bob worked with Judith Roche on literary programming at One Reel for Bumbershoot and is now working on both literary and visual arts programming for One Reel. In recent years, writer Linden Ontjes has been the primary person keeping things going, and Jennifer Borges Foster contribued a ton of hours to 2007’s festival. (She’s now left for a residency in the Azores.)

The announcement on their web sites, says, “We are closing the books on Eleventh Hour.”

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