About Blue Flower Arts
Our Mission & Our Name
Blue Flower Arts is a literary speaker’s agency, a personal, hands-on company founded by Alison Granucci, dedicated to the beauty of words.
Poetry and literature are living arts, ones that inspire, educate, entertain, and nourish. As human beings, we live by story; at Blue Flower Arts, we abide by the communion of writer and reader. We present authors across the globe to bring literature to life as they read their work aloud and speak across disciplines on all manner of essential topics. The human voice and the elegant expression of language—with the receptive ear—help to foster community, empathy, attention, and give us a widening vision of our humanity in this very individualized world. Each poem, each story is an illumination of the soul.
The Blue Flower has long been a symbol of inspiration and yearning, the metaphysical striving for the unreachable, the joining of human with nature and the spirit. Blue Flower Arts is named after the unfinished short story “Heinrich von Ofterdingen” by the 18th century German poet Novalis, which centers on a mystical young poet in search of a mysterious blue flower. The young hero’s quest for the blue flower—his poetry—then became a symbol used by the Romantic poets for the soul’s unfolding—and so has come to us as an emblem for the poetic transcendence of life. C.S. Lewis, in his book Surprised By Joy, wrote how his intense longing for things transcendent made him “a votary of the Blue Flower.”
Our mission is advocating for poetry and literature; our dedication is to the beauty of words; our vehicle is the grace of our poets, writers and speakers, all of whom hold in their creative work a sense of yearning for that which is unattainable yet necessary to the richness and meaningfulness of existence—our very own votaries of the Blue Flower.
“Not the treasures is it… that have awakened in me so unspeakable a desire; far from me is all covetousness; but the Blue Flower is what I long to behold. It lies incessantly in my heart, and I can think and fancy of nothing else.”
The design of our logo is a nod to the first important woman book designer in America, Margaret Neilson Armstrong (1867–1944) who created unique book covers, including the illustrated cover of the Henry van Dyke book, The Blue Flower. She was a designer with a sensitive eye and a great skill to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.
Our Blue Flower Team
Alison Granucci has years of experience in programming and producing events, from large conferences and intimate retreats to a concert at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. She understands all sides of creating a successful and special event, whether a reading, keynote, workshop, or performance. With a strong aesthetic sensibility and a fresh approach to the definition of agent, she is devoted to fostering literature and the arts in this country.
Miyako Hannan joined Blue Flower Arts in 2016 with over a decade in client services, public relations, and administrative management. As an experienced liaison in the arts industry, she leverages today’s most pressing issues to access the core of an author’s work—inspiring impactful and resonant events. Hailing from a family of artists and performers, Miyako’s role at Blue Flower Arts combines a lifelong passion for poetry and prose with a steadfast dedication to advancing authors’ careers. She lives in the Hudson Valley with two wily herding dogs and a gaggle of chickens.
Leslie Shipman has spent the past 25 years promoting writers, and conceiving and implementing literary events. In her years as Director of Programs for the National Book Foundation, she was instrumental in creating events and programs such as 5 Under 35, Eat, Drink, and Be Literary at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Innovations in Reading, a prize that promotes community organizations working at the grassroots level to encourage reading, and BookUp, an afterschool program that provides middle school age students with free books and instruction by professional, published writers. Most recently she consulted at PEN America where she assisted with the PEN Literary Awards and the PEN World Voices Festival. A poet with an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, her work can be found in the Kenyon Review, BOMB, Tinderbox, Mid-American Review, Cosmonauts Avenue and elsewhere. She lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Anya Backlund is a writer and editor who has built her career around supporting artists. She joined Blue Flower Arts in 2014 with over 5 years of experience in non-profit arts administration and events management, and a background coordinating college writing programs. She loves connecting authors and audiences, and seeing people come together to celebrate the beauty of language. In the past, Anya has managed a permaculture farm in rural Georgia, studied Buddhism in the mountains of northern Thailand, and facilitated clean water projects in Bangladesh. She now lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her entomologist partner and their three pet beetles.
Shannon Hearn is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut. Throughout her study there she immersed herself in the literary culture of the campus; she majored in Journalism and English with a concentration in creative writing; was Editor in Chief of the school’s award-winning literary magazine; and was nominated as UCONN’s representative for the CT Poetry Circuit in 2015. Before joining Blue Flower Arts in 2016, she began her path of promoting the arts in literature by teaching creative writing at the Loomis Chaffee Summer School and working with the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. Her own work has appeared or is forthcoming in 3:AM Magazine, Big Lucks, cream city review, Heavy Feather Review, Juked, and others. She currently lives in Guilford, CT with her partner, Emily.