Blackbird Poetry Festival’s “Nightbird” Features Taylor Mali

NightbirdReading2015RailAd Taylor Mali_edited-1The Howard County Poetry & Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), in partnership with Howard Community College’s Office of Student Life, English/World Languages Division, and Arts & Humanities Division, presents the annual Blackbird Poetry Festival’s “Nightbird” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23 at Smith Theatre, Horowitz Center, Howard Community College (HCC). Nightbird features Taylor Mali, one of the most well-known poets to emerge from the poetry slam movement. A book signing and reception will follow.

Tickets to the Nightbird reading are $20 general admission, $15 for teachers, students, and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at www.hocopolitso.org or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1332550. For more information, contact HoCoPoLitSo at (443) 518-4568 or hocopolitso@yahoo.com.

The New York Times calls Mali “a ranting comic showman and literary provocateur.” A passionate advocate for teachers and education, Mali trained at Oxford for the stage and appeared in the 1997 film SlamNation. His poem “What Teachers Make” is a 4 million-hit YouTube sensation.

In the afternoon, Mali will give a shorter, free, and open-to-the-public reading at Smith Theatre with student poets at 2:30 p.m. Earlier in the day, slam poet Chris August will facilitate creative writing and performance poetry workshops for HCC students. Mali and August will tape an edition of The Writing Life, HoCoPoLitSo’s Bravo-TV Arts for Change Award-winning interview show broadcast on cable and YouTube.

Seniors in Columbia can request transportation by calling the Senior Events Shuttle at
(410) 715-3087. HCC is an accessible campus. Accommodation requests should be made to HoCoPoLitSo by April 15, 2015.

For more information about HoCoPoLitSo and its sponsored programs and activities, visit http://hocopolitso.org.

 

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Taylor Mali reads “What Teachers Make.”

HoCoPoLitSo is a nonprofit organization designed to enlarge the audience for contemporary poetry and literature and celebrate culturally diverse literary heritages. Founded in 1974 by National Book Award finalist Ellen Conroy Kennedy, HoCoPoLitSo accomplishes its mission by sponsoring readings with critically acclaimed writers; literary workshops; programs for students; and The Writing Life, a writer-to-writer interview show seen on YouTube, HCC-TV, and other local stations. HoCoPoLitSo receives funding from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts; Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County government; The Columbia Film Society; Community Foundation of Howard County; the Jim and Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation; and individual contributors.

HoCoPoLitSo Recommends: Composer Peter Lieberson’s Love Sonnets of Neruda.

Neruda

Pablo Neruda

Join the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra for the Season Finale Lexus Classic Concert, Schumann, Sibelius, and Neruda Songs, featuring Mezzo-Soprano Kelley O’Connor on May 8 & 9 at 8pm at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. (For more information on the works being performed and a preview of some of the works, visit this online program guide.)

Tickets start at $35 and Students are $10. HoCoPoLitSo friends will receive a 25% discount on tickets in any section. Use online code HOCO2015 or call the Box Office and mention the code. There is a free pre-concert lecture at 6:45pm and parking is free. Box Office: 410-263-0907, www.annapolissymphony.org

Neruda Songs

One of American composer Peter Lieberson‘s final works was Neruda Songs. Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was a Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner and is considered one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. Lieberson chose five of Neruda’s passionate love sonnets, saying: “…although these poems were written to another, when I set them I was speaking directly to my own beloved Lorraine.” Each line of poetry receives new music, reflecting the meaning of the words. From the program guide:

“Each of the five poems that I set to music seemed to me to reflect a different face in love’s mirror. The first poem, ‘If your eyes were not the color of the moon,’ is pure appreciation of the beloved. The second, ‘Love, love, the clouds went up the tower of the sky like triumphant washerwomen,’ is joyful and also mysterious in its evocation of nature’s elements: fire, water, wind, and luminous space. The third poem, ‘Don’t go far off, not even for a day,’ reflects the anguish of love, the fear and pain of separation. The fourth poem, ‘And now you’re mine. Rest with your dream in my dream,’ is complex in its emotional tone. First there is the exultance of passion. Then, gentle, soothing words lead the beloved into the world of rest, sleep, and dream. Finally, the fifth poem, ‘My love, if I die and you don’t,’ is very sad and peaceful at the same time. There is the recognition that no matter how blessed one is with love, there will still be a time when we must part from those whom we cherish so much.”

Something Wonderful To Do on a Saturday Afternoon in Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland, is almost fifty. At forty years (young) itself, HoCoPoLitSo has watched what was once America’s New City grow up. Way back when, there seemed hardly a thing to do in a place that had only just magically appeared out of the vision of James Rouse and onto the landscape, a new type of community curiously growing out of the farmland of Howard County.

Today, Columbia boasts ever more things to do and the schedule can be oh so cluttered. Back in the day, that wasn’t so true, not true at all. That lack of things to do was the impetus behind a bunch of Columbia pioneers forming the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society in order to bring their favorite writers to town to read to them and their friends. They wanted something to do. Something special to do. They made it happen and it has been happening every year since.

Dinaw Mengestu, Paris, 06/2007 © Mathieu ZazzoIt’s been a great forty years and the organization continues to “enlarge the audience for contemporary poetry and literature and celebrate culturally diverse literary heritages,” as its mission states.  The list of writers HoCoPoLitSo has brought to Columbia dazzles many from afar who — drop-jawed — wonder how a suburban town that didn’t exist all that long ago is a now a treasure on the literary landmark map and regarded around the world. At last count, the list of visitors includes 5 Nobel prize winners, 17 US Poets Laureate, 11 National Book Award winners, 22 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 7 Maryland Poets Laureate.

This weekend, another name will join the list: recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, Ethiopian American novelist, and book club favorite Dinaw Mengestu.

On Saturday, Mr. Mengestu will read from his work as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts’ “American Routes” program, a weekend festival of exploring the visual and performing arts. Mengestu’s route to America began when his family fled war-torn Ethiopia and immigrated to the United States when he was two years old. His novels and nonfiction pieces open a window into the little-explored world of the African diaspora in America. “This is not an immigrant story we already know quite well,” writes The Washington Post. He is expected to read from his latest novel, How To Read The Air, as well as a selection of his beloved The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, set in Washington DC.

Please join us and become a part of the history of HoCoPoLitSo, the Columbia Festival of the Arts, and the wonderful, unique place that is Columbia, Maryland.

For tickets, event details, a video preview, and directions, visit this Columbia Festival of the Arts event webpage.

Presented in partnership with the Columbia Festival of the Arts, another of the wonderful reasons there are so many things to do in Columbia, Maryland, these days.

Next Up – Faheem Dyer on Poetry

FaheemIn this mini-series on young people in/of poetry, I have made my own observations about the importance of poetry in the lives of young people and I have interviewed HoCoPoLitSo’s Student on Board, Katy Day about poetry in her life.  Next up is HoCoPoLitSo’s student intern, Faheem Dyer.

Faheem is a senior at Atholton High School. He has been pursuing his interest in poetry since middle school, and some of his favorites are Whitman, the Beats, and the Romantics. At Atholton, he is the president of the Poetry Club, and he serves his school’s student newspaper, Raider Review, as the Opinions Editor and the Online Editor. When he graduates this summer, he hopes to attend college in the fall to study creative writing or comparative literature.  He says, “I believe that a deep engagement with the written word is essential to the intellectual growth and a healthy understanding of the world, both on a personal, and social level.”

Here’s what he had to say.


 

What do you get out of attending poetry and literary events, such as the Rita Dove and Joshua Coyne event last year?

I think the most profound thing I gained was the direct exposure to talent and experience of Ms. Dove’s and Mr. Coyne’s caliber. More than that, though, I think the chance to see these two people share their insights and ideas on their crafts with an attentive, engaged audience helped deepen my understanding of those art forms, both as a consumer and aspiring creator.

As a student and as a citizen of this world, what benefits do you see in reading and studying literature (especially poetry)?

I believe that being well-read in literature is the most important part of being a well-educated and informed individual. Whether it’s lofty philosophical theory, or raw poetic passion, all human knowledge and experience is cataloged with language; writing is one of the most important vessels of thought, and to make oneself a student of that is to put oneself at the heart of it. That is invaluable in growing as a person, and it is absolutely essential to a robust education.

What’s your favorite work of literature (a particular poem, poet, or novel maybe)?

I personally never get tired of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, specifically “Song of Myself.” The wild, loving, and almost holy way Whitman addresses the nature of the world around him is beautiful and altogether profound and spiritual on a deeper one.

Do you have any thoughts on what literary organizations like HoCoPoLitSo can do to engage young people?

I may not be able to speak for all young people, but I know that if I were not already interested, simply being shown poetry in ways that demonstrate its continued relevance could easily engage me. Also, in introducing poetry to others, I would keep in mind what priorities and temperaments I’m trying to appeal to, because there is something for any young person of any mindset to gain from poetry, but the ways to make it appealing differ greatly from circle to circle.

You can read Faheen’s review of HoCoPoLitSo’s 2014 Lucille Clifton Poetry Series event when Rita Dove and Joshua Coyne read and performed together on stage at Howard Community College.

As a teacher, I am envious of teachers who get to teach students like Faheem. His commitment to poetry signifies more than his interest or even “skills” in language and literature – for me, it signifies the potential for a deep and wide understanding of the world that I believe literature students like Faheem can cultivate.

Poetry and other forms of literary arts ask us to look outward – at the world, at people, at history, at cultures, at empowering ideas as well as dangerous ideas.  At the same time, they ask us to look inward, too – to think, to feel, to ask questions of ourselves, to imagine, and to nurture our interior lives.

Yes, poetry can do that. And Faheem knows it.

– Laura Yoo
Member, HoCoPoLitSo Board of Directors

This Time, “The Young” Speak – Katy Day

In my previous post, “Poetry for the Young (and the Young-Hearted)”, I promised you voices of our young poetry lovers.

First up is HoCoPoLitSo’s Student on Board Member, Katy Day.  Katy is a student at University of Maryland, College Park who is studying English and Psychology. She has been a friend of HoCoPoLitSo’s since 2013.  She made her Blackbird Poetry Festival debut in 2013.  Billy Collins, who came to HCC to read at the 2014 Blackbird Poetry Festival, is an admirer of Katy’s poetry (as evidenced by the photo below). She is currently studying poetry with Stanley Plumly at College Park.

I asked Katy some questions to get her take on encountering poetry.

What do you get out of attending poetry and literary events?

All of my time studying literature and poetry hasn’t prepared me to fully articulate the degree to which attending poetry readings and other literary events have influenced my life.  The first poetry reading I ever attended was the Blackbird Poetry Festival in 2013.  I knew that I had discovered something great when I attended Blackbird that year.  I felt like I belonged there and like I had finally found something that I really felt passionately about.

 As a student and as a citizen of this world, what benefits do you see in reading and studying literature (especially poetry)?

Studying literature and poetry has expanded my mind.  It has allowed me to discover who I am as a person by changing and building upon my thoughts and beliefs about the world.

What’s your favorite work of literature (a particular poem, poet, or novel maybe)?

I can’t choose a single favorite.  I love poetry and literature for several different reasons and I think that different works of poetry and literature have enriched my life in different ways.  I can read David Sedaris over and over again and still laugh until I’m crying and marvel over his perfected comedic timing.  The more I learn about poetry and literature, the more particular my interests become also.  I read Olive Schreiner’s Story of an African Farm and was blown away by not only the anticipation of modernist literature in the experimental style of her writing, but also by her progressiveness, which I think even surpasses many of our contemporary thinkers.  Oscar Wilde has also greatly influenced the way in which I consciously navigate and perceive the world.

Do you have any thoughts on what literary organizations like HoCoPoLitSo can do to engage young people?

This is a tough question.  It’s hard to get people of any age interested in poetry. Billy Collins says that high school gives people “anti-poetry deflector shields.”  Any time poetry is encountered, the automatic response is to avoid it.  Becoming interested in poetry is like opening a set of nesting dolls.  You have to begin with poems that speak to non-poetry adherents.  Then, like the nesting dolls that become smaller and smaller, your interests become more and more refined as you explore various kinds of poetry.  I think these anti-poetry deflector shields come from teachers who forgo the big nesting dolls and instead present their students with poems that require the refined interest that comes with exposure and extensive study.  I gained this perspective through my experiences at Howard Community College and through attending HoCoPoLitSo events.  HoCoPoLitSo has done an exceptional job in the past few years bringing poets to Howard County who excite young people and act as gateways into poetry.

Here’s at least one awesome young person in whose hands we can trust the future of poetry in Howard County and beyond.

-Laura Yoo

Member, HoCoPoLitSo Board of Directors

“Why poetry?”: Steven Leyva wins teachers’ hearts and minds

StevenLeyva

Steven Leyva

The Friday Professional Development Day for Howard County’s English and language arts middle and high school teachers was cold and damp, there was a car fire on Route 29 that jammed traffic for an hour, and teachers were rushing in late and texting their supervisors.

Steven Leyva had one hour to convince those teachers that poetry was worth teaching.

Leyva faced the auditorium of 220 educators and cleared his throat.

The power point he had prepared flashed the question: “Why Poetry?”

Leyva, sponsored by HoCoPoLitSo to give the teachers a poetry pep talk, passed around two sheets of paper, asking the teachers to write two collective poems. The first lines? “I know that poetry is not” and “Poetry has power.”

At first, some of the teachers were imitating their students — coughing, checking their phones, shuffling papers. But as Leyva explained that he edited the Little Patuxent Review, taught in the Baltimore City schools for years (a round of applause for that one), and was now a professor at the University of Baltimore, they quieted down.

Then a quote from Richard Howard appeared on the screen: “Verse reverses, prose proceeds.” Leyva started to talk about the “magical” things poetry can do: act as a force for healing, open up a student who is closed down, make connections between people, create empathy.

But everyone has to start as a novice, he says, even teachers.

“This is vital when we’re trying to engage students who may not be interested or receptive to poetry,” Leyva said. “It’s OK to be a beginner. You’re don’t have to be good at this right away.”

He read Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese,” and talked about letting the language wash over you as you read, about how meeting a poem is like meeting a new person because it’s both intimidating and exciting.

“It’s demanding, it’s hard, but that’s the beauty of it,” he said. “Some of them may have past negative experiences with poetry, they may have anxiety over misinterpreting.”

Too many classrooms treat poetry as a riddle to be solved, he said, “it must be an experience,” and then quoted one of his professors, “Art doesn’t need our judgment, it needs our attention.”

He asked for volunteers, and four teachers trooped up to the stage to read “Memory from Childhood” by Antonio Machado. The first teacher read the words of the poem. The second vocalized each piece of punctuation, “Comma!” or “Colon,” he boomed. The third said “line break” at each line break, and the fourth said “stanza break,” when the poem reached that point. If they messed up, as they did several times, they had to start again at the beginning, which drew hoots and laughter from their fellow teachers. The audience, he explained, had to recite the title and be the silence in the poem. That exercise, Leyva said, showed students that everything in the poem, even its white space, is put there on purpose, and needs a reader’s attention. “Everything matters,” he said.

By the time he had the teachers yelling out each personal pronoun (“Me!” and “My,” they chorused) in Lucille Clifton’s “Won’t You Celebrate with Me,” they were leaning forward in their chairs, more than interested.

And when a YouTube clip of “Direct Orders” by Anis Majgani wasn’t loud enough because of a sound system glitch, someone called out, “Read one of your poems!” Leyva did, reciting a poem about New Orleans, his hometown.

He went on to talk about form, rhyming (“you’re saying these two things belong together — “there’s a reason why wife, life and knife all rhyme,” he said), resources, and the skills that reading poetry can develop (qualitative judgment, empathy and imagination).

Teachers asked him about web sites and Split This Rock, stayed after to talk to him about submitting poetry to the Little Patuxent Review, and wrote down the TED talks and books he suggested. And a few gave him a standing ovation.

Jocelyn Hieatzman, a teacher at Oakland Mills High School, wrote afterward about the program, “I spend the next hour listening, and interacting, and awkwardly jumping onto the stage, and feeling chills and tears and ideas flow through me. I shout ‘N’Awleans’ and listen to spoken word from the Seattle Grand Slam poetry championship; I listen to Stephen Leyva recite his own poetry from memory like his life depended on it; I read through poems that touch on complex ideas and sadness and culture and race and identity and beauty. Suddenly, everything is important, everything has weight. I think of our students and their big emotions and secrets and ideas and gifts.

community poems-art“There’s still a car fire snarling traffic on Rt. 29, and we are are still distracted and cold and worried about all the the things that middle and high school teachers worry about.  But ‘we’ have become a ‘we’ and share a collective experience, and we dig deep, and we remember why we love to teach what we teach, and we carry this on. And we carry this on. And suddenly … everything is important, everything has weight.”

And those community poems? The ones Leyva asked the teachers to write, with each contributing a line? The paper filled up fast. The writing is tough to read, but the poems are published here, and like most poems, they’re worth reading.

— Susan Thornton Hobby
HoCoPoLitSo recording secretary

Writers Come to see Writers.

I have a lot of HoCoPoLitSo memories. They start from way back when I was in high school and I had no idea the organization existed or what it did. All I remember was that I was on a field trip that left me wanting to be Derek Walcott once I grew up. Though a favorite HoCoPoLitSo memory, that is another story. Today I want to share a few moments of writers coming to see writers and what an honor it is to be in the midst of such occasion.

Many stories start with Irish Evening for HoCoPoLitSo. It is a landmark event. I think my awareness of other writers coming to HoCoPoLitSo events to see our headliner started one such evening. Maybe it was the Guinness, but more probably it was Colm Tóibín that brought Colum McCann down to our neck of the woods from his Manhattan apartment for the 21st annual Irish Evening. At that point in the now world famous career of Tóibín, it was a rare thing to him to this side of the Atlantic. McCann took advantage and a train to visit Columbia a year after he himself had read for Irish Evening.

I remember little of the reading that night. I seldom remember Irish Evenings and that is not for the drinking that often followed. They are labor intensive occasions to produce and I tend to be tending to that aspect. Tóibín’s voice is still in my head and bits of The Heather Blazing from that reading; I did catch some of it. What I do remember is that there were a handful of folks, me lucky enough to be among them, that headed off into the night with a number of bottles to listen to Colm and Colum talk about writing once the event was done and packed away. What an honor.

Quite recently, Colum McCann, now many books into his fame, came to another Irish Evening to read from Transatlantic, just about to be published. It was his first reading of the work to an audience and a fascinating occasion as he caught a sentence he hadn’t right and promised us he would go back to the galleys to correct it. An honest moment in the creative process.

I spotted a number of Howard County writers in attendance that evening. They were joined by none other than Alice McDermott and, I am told, George Pelicanos. The two had come from Baltimore and Washington, respectively, to take in one of the masters of prose in suburban Columbia. If we are dropping names here, I’ll add that the Governor came from Annapolis and even joined in to play with the band. After the evening at the green room party, McCann himself joined in the singing of songs.

StanleyKunitz

Stanley Kunitz in his garden on the cover of his book The Wild Braid.

Perhaps my favorite coming together of writers to see a particularly treasured writer was for the poet Stanley Kunitz in 1993. We all knew Mr. Kunitz was old old, 88, and that this would be the last opportunity we would have to see him. In a space that no longer exists as a venue for readings – the lower Nursing Lounge on the campus of Howard Community College – Kunitz read to a standing room only crowd that adored each and every syllable. The audience well knew his work and you could tell that he could tell: he put on a commanding performance.

I remember crowded in that room with us were Carolyn Forché and Gregory Orr who had come up from the University of Virginia for the occasion.  Afterwards at a reception, all whispered to each other in awe and confirmed how lucky we were to have shared this intimate occasion with the great Stanley Kunitz. I went on to hear him read a number of times since that occasion: our collective luck grew as he lived to be 100.

Why do writers come to see other writers? For the occasion of Kunitz, it was likely reverence and the notion of ‘this might be the last time’ and one not to miss. On other occasions, it is probably more outright a taking in of craft, an opportunity to learn and admire. I know I go see other writers to learn and affirm what common language can do in the hands of masters. Thank you for that, HoCoPoLitSo.

 

Tim Singleton
Co-chair, HoCoPoLitSo Board

 

Have a favorite HoCoPoLitSo memory? HoCoPoLitSo is currently celebrating its 4oth season and would love to hear from you. Visit the Share Your Memory page and share a favorite story or two with us. As we collect favorite memories, we’ll share them in a future blog posts.

Susan Hobby Reviews Irish Evening and the Multitudes that are Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue contains multitudes.

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Emma Donoghue. Photo by Lee Waxman

The Irish novelist writes from the point of view of a five-year-old imprisoned with his mother (Room), a French erotic dancer in 1870s San Francisco (Frog Music), a Victorian spinster enmeshed in a friend’s nasty divorce (The Sealed Letter), and a formerly destitute prostitute and fashion fiend of the eighteenth century (Slammerkin).

On Feb. 6, HoCoPoLitSo’s 37th Annual Irish Evening of Music and Poetry featured Donoghue and her various voices. The Dublin-born novelist read from two books, her blockbuster Room and her latest, Frog Music.

The audience ate it up. Donoghue’s voice flipped from character to character as she read from Frog Music. During the dialogue, Donoghue’s voice changed from the rough Irish of the spreading Irish-American family MacNamara — the youngest boy to the frazzled mother and the slightly drunken father — to the accented lilt of a French-born erotic dancer Blanche, to the husky farmer bartender next door.

And when she read from Room, Donoghue mimicked the open-faced innocence and twisted grammar of a five-year-old. As the screenwriter for the independent film of her novel, due out in the fall of 2015, Donoghue said she thoroughly enjoyed sitting on set, keeping her mouth shut, as the actors brought her novel to life.

In her first introduction for HoCoPoLitSo’s Irish Evening, new Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson explained that a recent gala theme, “Ireland: Legendary and Contemporary,” made her think of Emma Donoghue. “Emma is a natural cosmopolitan. She moves easily in time and space and between historic and contemporary space. … She is a vivid narrator for our time.”

Earlier in the day, that vivid narrator sat down with D.C. novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff to film an edition of The Writing Life, HoCoPoLitSo’s writer-to-writer talk show (www.youtube.com/hocopolitso). The two writers laughed and talked about Donoghue’s work, which includes a dozen books of fiction, literary criticism, numerous short stories, plus several plays and radio dramas.

Donoghue spent her first 20 years in Dublin, “that early marinating leaves a mark,” she laughed, as the youngest of eight children.

“It made us competitive and loquacious,” she said. “It was a big and noisy, bookish house. My dad is a literary critic (Denis Donoghue, the Henry James professor at New York University).”

Her books, Donoghue explained, are “fiction that walks arm in arm with fact.”

Frog Music tells the story of a real unsolved murder from the point of view of Blanche, the “burlesque (to put it generously) dancer,” Donoghue says, a woman who is a new friend to the murder victim, Jenny Bonnet. Bonnet was, Donoghue says, “the ideal murder victim; she was born trouble.” The victim, a cross-dressing frog-catcher for San Francisco’s restaurants in the 1870s, and most of the characters in this novel, are based in a history that Donoghue meticulously researched.

Laura Yoo gets her book signed by Emma Donoghue. Photo by Lee Waxman

Laura Yoo gets her book signed by Emma Donoghue. Photo by Lee Waxman

Room is the least fact-based of her novels, Donoghue told the audience, but did take its premise from a real headline — a young Austrian woman kept captive by her father, Josef Fritzl, who sired seven children with her and kept three of those children imprisoned as well. Donoghue says she thinks of Room as part fairy tale, part science fiction and “a bit like a nightmare.” Five-year-old Jack tells the story — imprisoned with his mother, Jack doesn’t know there is more to the world than the room in which they are captive, thanks to the protective, magical world his mother builds with him in their small space.

Donoghue said that she doesn’t like to repeat herself, so she sets up new challenges for herself. Her next project is a book for the middle school market — “I’m far more scared of them as an audience,” she laughed. They might throw spitballs, she laughed.

Friday night’s listeners didn’t throw anything but applause Donoghue’s way. And they clapped (and some danced) through the second half of the evening, the concert of traditional Irish music and step dancing by Narrowbacks and young dancers from the Culkin School.

The Irish Evening is a long-standing tradition that helps raise money for HoCoPoLitSo’s programs for adult and student audiences. We need your support to produce these kind of events. Please consider clicking our “donate button on this page.

 

Susan Thornton Hobby
Recording secretary
Howard County Poetry and Literature Society board

HoCoPoLitSo Recommends: Kay Ryan in Frederick on Super Bowl Sunday

While we are busy preparing for next week’s Irish Evening with Emma Donoghue — do you have your tickets? — we want to take a moment and recommend an event that is quite a favorite, the Super Bowl Sunday reading in Frederick, Maryland. This year, the wonderful Kay Ryan is to read at the free event.

As the Frederick News-Post reports:

Ryan will be in Frederick on Sunday [February 1st] as part of the C. Burr Artz Poetry/Lecture Series, kicking off the 2015 Frederick Reads season, the theme of which is Season of Wonder: Escape the Ordinary. Past poets in the annual event, traditionally held at the Weinberg Center on Super Bowl Sunday, have included Billy Collins, Nikki Giovanni and Natasha Tretheway, among others. A reading of her work will be followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

We will admit there are a number of best parts to this event. One is, obviously, the magnificent Kay Ryan. Two, for us, is that it is an event we are not producing, thus can sit back and selfishly enjoy the occasion, all ears and not a care in the world. The third is that, for those of us that fancy football, it gets not in the way at all of Super Bowl Festivities, though we admit that E. Ethelbert Miller was a little startled that we would do anything but put on jerseys and pregame with chips, guacamole and salsa and banter prior to Sunday evening’s sporting occasion. Don’t worry, the folks at Frederick Reads will have you back in time for all of that. The reading is perfectly placed into the day at 2 p.m.

We hope to see you there and we hope to see you the following Friday for our wonderful evening of Irish writing, music, and dance.

Kay Ryan Flyer

37th Annual Irish Evening w/Emma Donoghue, Narrowbacks, Step Dancing on Feb. 6th

emma-donoghue-2013HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its 37th Annual Irish Evening is the international best-selling and award-winning author Emma Donoghue. She will read from her work starting at 7:30 p.m., February 6, 2015, at the Smith Theatre, Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College.

General admission tickets are $35.00 each and are available on-line at irishevening.eventbrite.com or by sending a check payable and mailed to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044.

Donoghue, called “one of popular fiction’s most talented practitioners” by Kirkus Reviews, and a writer with “ingenuity” by the New York Times, will read from Room and her other novels. Donoghue’s reading will be followed by Narrowbacks in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School.

Donoghue has published eight novels and several pieces for radio, stage, and screen productions. Collectively, her works have won the Lambda Literary Award, the Stonewall Book Award for Literature, the Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction, and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. A film adaption of Donoghue’s heavily praised 2010 novel Room is currently in production, with director Lenny Abrahamson and Brie Larson set to star. Donoghue has also been in close running for the Giller Prize, the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Award, and the Orange Prize.

2014 Narrowbacks photoThe Narrowbacks features Terence Winch on button accordion, Jesse Winch on bodhran and guitar, former Irish Tradition member Brendan Mulvihill on fiddle, Linda Hickman on flute and whistle, and Eileen (Korn) Estes on lead vocal and piano, who is the daughter of original Celtic Thunder lead vocalist Nita (Conley) Korn. Band members play a full range of traditional Irish reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, slides and slow airs. They will also sing a variety of songs, including original compositions.

To be displayed during the event is Denny Lynch’s photographic exhibition, ‘The Carrolls of Offaly and Maryland, A Photographic Essay,’ a series of photographs that came about from Lynch’s fourteen-year study of the history of the Carrolls. Lynch has said of the exhibit, “This exploration gave me the opportunity to photograph beautiful landscapes, castles, towns, and monuments associated with this family on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Donoghue follows other great Irish authors who have come to Howard County, including Frank McCourt, Eavan Boland, Hugo Hamilton, Paula Meehan, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, and Colum McCann, to name a few.  For years, HoCoPoLitSo’s Irish Evening has recognized and celebrated the enormous impact of Irish-born writers on the world of contemporary literature.

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