About Us

Poetry at Round Top is an annual festival presenting the nation’s most exciting and prominent poets over three days of readings, workshops, and conversations on craft.

Located on the gorgeous Festival Hill campus between Austin and Houston, in Round Top, Texas, Poetry at Round Top presents an immersion experience like no other poetry conference or festival in the country.

Merwin, Nye, Stafford


Poetry at Round Top festival began in 2002. From the beginning, exceptional guest writers have graced Poetry at Round Top with their presence: Carolyn Forche, Ted Kooser, Nick Flynn, Mark Doty, Naomi Shihab Nye, Marie Howe, Claudia Rankine, Li-Young Lee, Tony Hoagland, Dean Young, Adam Zagajewski, Martin Espada, Chase Twichell, and Brigit Pegeen Kelly are just a few of our honored visiting poets.

In 2009, W.S. Merwin, the current United States Poet Laureate, came as the headlining poet at the Round Top festival. The next day, Mr. Merwin won the Pultizer Prize in Literature for Shadow of Sirius. While we can’t claim any credit for his momentous accomplishment or this serendipitous event, we feel pretty fantastic about it.

This independent artistic weekend was founded by Jack Brannon and Dorothy Barnett, both graduates of the James Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. It is hosted each year at the Round Top Festival Institute, an internationally acclaimed European-styled center for education and performance in the smallest incorporated town in Texas. A unique 200-acre campus contains major performance facilities, historic houses and architectural restorations, extensive gardens, parks, and nature preserves, and a wide collection of rare books and manuscripts.

Staff and Sponsors

 Festival Staff

  • Jesse Bertron, Festival Co-Director
  • Katherine Durham Oldmixon, Festival Co-Director
  •  Dorothy Barnett, Festival Co-Director Emerita
  • Jack Brannon, Festival Co-Director Emeritus

And Thanks to Our Dedicated Festival Volunteers!

  • Judy Jensen
  • Luke Jacob
  • Bob Ayres
  • Terry Sherrill


Poetry at Round Top and the Round Top Festival Institute gratefully acknowledge the special assistance and support of the Shield-Ayres Foundation, Seton Cove, Writers’ League of Texas, Gemini Ink, the James A. Michener Center for Writers at The University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University, Texas Tech University, Austin Community College, Badgerdog Literary Publishing, and individual donors.

School Outreach

Our invitational Friday program is a free poetry education event offered for public school students and teachers from area schools. It is offered in collaboration with Badgerdog Press. Small-group writing workshops, Q&As with the visiting poets, and teacher training all contribute inspiration to this exciting full-day event. If you are interested, please email poetryatroundtop@gmail.com.