The Poetry Programs of Hill-Stead Museum

Welcome to Sunken Garden Poetry


2014 Poetry Festival Dates: June 11, 25, July 9, 23, August 6

50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer

On the PBS Newshour website read and hear poet Natasha Trethewey report on the 14th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Mississippi.

2013: A Season to Remember!

The historic Sunken Garden at Hill-Stead filled again August 7, 2013, with old friends and new who gathered to listen to the exceptional jazz trio Indra and America’s favorite poet, Billy Collins. With 1600 in attendance for closing night, the crowd overflowed onto the lawns around the house and gathered along the stone walls to enjoy the communal experience of music and poetry in this beautiful place. Richard Blanco captured the unique sense of community the festival generates in these words about his recent reading, “It is our collective work, intentions, and most importantly our love for that which is good and great, lifting the human spirit beyond the ordinary challenges of our lives, and inspiring understanding and compassion. Namely, the arts, and poetry in particular in our case. It was a night I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Highlights from our 2012 Poetry Festival on Cable TV and YouTube

We had a packed schedule during our 20th anniversary season. If you missed some events or would like to relive the great moments, have a look at our highlights shows done for local public access television. Nutmeg TV aired our series of five half-hour shows last spring, but you can watch them at your convenience online: click here to see the shows listed, then click on the word “View” next to the name of the show. Simsbury Community Television aired the same series of shows and has now made them available on its YouTube channel: Disc 1 (Anniversary Weekend, part 1, including Richard Wilbur), Disc 2 (Anniversary Weekend, part 2), Disc 3 (Dana Gioia and Christian Wiman), Disc 4 (Natasha Trethewey and Donald Hall), Disc 5 (Tony Hoagland and Mark Doty).


Sunken Garden Poetry: 1992-2011 – Have you purchased your copy of the 20th anniversary anthology yet?

To join Hill-Stead’s poetry mailing list, contact Amanda Guay at 860.677.4787 ext 111 or

Have you heard about the Live Poets Society?  Join this growing circle of poetry lovers and we’ll arrange for priority seating and special opportunities to meet the poets.  Or contribute to the Phyllis Joffe Memorial Poetry Fund, an endowment established by Sara Niego in 2010 in honor of her mother, the late Phyllis Joffe, who for many years was co-producer of festival radio broadcasts.

DONATE HERE –Help keep the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival alive for years to come!



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