The 20th Annual Bourne Poetry Reading

header image

Chen Chen • Elizabeth Acevedo • Kenneth Knoespel

Thursday, September 9, 2021
7:00 pm Eastern Time

Virtual Event
( Livestream Link )

Free and Open to the public


No RSVP or registration required

Join us on
Thursday, 9 September, 2021 at 7:00 PM Eastern Time
The 20th Annual Bourne Poetry Reading
Chen Chen, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Kenneth Knoespel

Our (virtual) doors open at 6:45 pm Eastern Time.


Our first poetry event of the 2021-22 season is possible through generous support from The Poetry Foundation.

The reading is FREE and open to the public, and will take place virtually via BlueJeans. Livestream links and other information are on tabs below.

For more information, contact Travis Denton via email at .

Event Partner

PoFound logo


Post-event report

Thank you to our friends, old and new, who joined us for our first poetry event of the season. We had over 170 attendees from around the US, and from around the world -- Bonn, Germany; Bahrain; Tasmania, Australia; Lagos, Nigeria; England; Cabo, Mexico... 

Please check out books by our event's featured poets on the Book Sales tab below. Additionally, you may also find the moving, funny, and inventive poems read by Chen Chen at the Bourne Reading at this link (

We hope to see you all soon at our next event!


As with Poetry@TECH's other Fall 2021 events, this event will be held virtually on BlueJeans. Which means, not only are our readings FREE and open to the public, as always, but you can attend them from anywhere in the world! And if last year's events were any indicator, we do mean anywhere in the world.

We will use BlueJeans to live broadcast the readings.

To attend the Bourne Poetry Reading on 9 September 2021, follow the instructions below. The reading will begin at 7 pm Eastern Time, but our (virtual) doors open at 6:45 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

Web stream information:

Joining the reading is easy - just choose the platform that works best for you, and follow the instructions below:

Join via your Computer’s Web Browser: Click Here:

Join on your Mobile Device: Click Here

  1. Open the link above
  2. Download the app if you don’t have it already.
    1. Enter event ID : addrpwhh

Join by Phone:

Dial one of the following numbers, enter the participant PIN followed by # to confirm:

  • +1 (415) 466-7000 (US), PIN: 4645000#
  • +1 (760) 699-0393 (US), PIN: 7290994871#

Join from outside the US: Click Here

Watch this space for more updates on the livestream links and scheduled start times.

Chen Chen

<>Chen Chen is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency (BOA Editions, 2022) and the forthcoming book of essays, In Cahoots with the Rabbit God (Noemi Press, 2023). His debut book of poems, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. Chen is also the author of four chapbooks. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in many publications, including Poem-a-Day and three editions of The Best American Poetry (2015, 2019, & 2021). He has received two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from Kundiman and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chen teaches at Brandeis University as the Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence and serves on the poetry faculty for the low-residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast. With a brilliant team, he edits the journal, Underblong. With Gudetama the lazy egg, he edits the lickety~split. He lives in Waltham, MA with his partner, Jeff Gilbert and their pug, Mr. Rupert Giles.

Poet's Website

Poet's Bio at Poetry@Tech

Elizabeth Acevedo

<>Elizabeth Acevedo is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Poet X, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Carnegie medal, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the Walter Award. She is also the author of With the Fire on High, which was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal, and Clap When You Land, which was a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor book and a Kirkus finalist.

She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.

Poet's Website

Poet's Bio at Poetry@Tech

Kenneth Knoespel

<>Kenneth J. (K.J.) Knoespel's poetry and translations have appeared in poetry journals and books published in the United States and Sweden. He has taught poetry and poetics at the University of Uppsala, the University of Chicago, and the University of Paris 8, Vincennes-St. Denis. Together with A. A. Knoespel, he translated Murder at the Savoy by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö published by Pantheon. His adaptation of Brecht’s play, How Much is Your Iron? (with Robert Wolf) was produced by the San Quentin Drama Workshop in Chicago. He has helped curate exhibitions in Paris and Atlanta. For his work in Sweden, he received an Honorary Doctor’s Degree from the University of Umeå in 2014. Knoespel is McEver Professor of Engineering and the Liberal Arts Emeritus at Georgia Tech.

Ken Knoespel's Georgia Tech Webpage

Poet's Bio at Poetry@Tech

Book Sales

As always, A Cappella Books, Atlanta’s oldest independent bookstore will be our official book sales partner for th is event. We hope you’ll get a copy (or three) of books by our wonderful featured poets. You can order at the following links:

Recent Books

Chen Chen - Possibilities cover
Chen Chen, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
Acevedo - The Poet Xcover
Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X
Knoespel - Sound cover
K.J. Knoespel, Until We Are Only Sound
Acevedo - With the Fire on High cover
Elizabeth Acevedo, With the Fire on High
Acevedo - Clap when you land cover
Elizabeth Acevedo, Clap When You Land



Selected Poems

Chen Chen


The School of the Unschoolable


See the stars nightly
              disobeying the night.

Watch the pattering rain
              sketch an anarchist’s

map to the future, then
unpattern it away—

                           an anarchist’s revision.

Praise my mother

who wears a plaid hoodie
             over a polka dot sweater
             over a simply
                          brown sweater.

Praise your fashion icon,

though I doubt she’s
as iconoclastic.

                             Prove my doubt

so wrong.

              Call the sun
the heterophobe
                            it’s always been.

Never stop babbling
               to old friends or
               fields about your earliest

                            whiff of banana bread.

Lick the sad
              from the sea & on
              a Tuesday.

              in some earthly

                       mouthful of a way
                    & tonight.


-- Chen Chen


Elizabeth Acevedo


Ode to the Head Nod


the slight angling up of the forehead
neck extension                        quick jut of chin

meeting the strangers’ eyes
a gilded curtsy to the sunfill in another

in yourself      tithe of respect
in an early version the copy editor deleted

the word “head” from the title
the copy editor says            it’s implied

the copy editor means well
the copy editor means

she is only fluent in one language of gestures
i do not explain                      i feel sad for her

limited understanding of greetings               & maybe
this is why my acknowledgements are so long;

didn’t we learn this early?
           to look at white spaces

           & find the color
           thank god o thank god for

                                                                                        are here.

-- Elizabeth Acevedo



You Mean You Don’t Weep at the Nail Salon?


it’s the being alone, i think, the emails but not voices. dominicans be funny, the way we love to touch — every greeting a cheek kiss, a shoulder clap, a loud.

it gots to be my period, the bloating, the insurance commercial where the husband comes home after being deployed, the last of the gouda gone, the rejection letter, the acceptance letter, the empty inbox.

a dream, these days. to work at home is a privilege, i remind myself.

spend the whole fucking day flirting with screens. window, tv, computer, phone: eyes & eyes & eyes. the keys clicking, the ding of the 
microwave, the broadway soundtrack i share wine with in the evenings.

these are the answers, you feel me? & the impetus. the why. of when the manicurist holds my hand, making my nails a lilliputian abstract,

i close my fingers around hers, disrupting the polish, too tight i know then, too tight to hold a stranger, but she squeezes back & doesn’t let go & so finally i can.


-- Elizabeth Acevedo


Kenneth Knoespel


Frying Bratwurst
In the Garage


Open the folding door
with a scrape
and the greasy smell hits you:
walls smoked for decades
in the billowing clouds
of spitting bratwurst,
rafters saturated—
the jagged two-man saw with handles
from the north woods,
streaked storm windows
like giant slides in a box,
an oval pull dangling
from a faded shade,
shovels, rakes and hoes,
garden hoses, nozzles—
witness to backyard brat fries
that sought cover
from summer rain.
They are all gone.
But smell draws them
from the tar-paper walls,
card tables, folding chairs
and tables layered with hard rolls,
potato salad, pickles and onions,
or beer pumped from the keg
still foaming at the spigot.
The porous smokehouse garage
like a forgotten box camera
holds them all with such resolution
that I can hear them laughing.


-- K. J. Knoespel