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Upcoming HoCoPoLitSo Events

  • HoCoPoLitSo Staff Meeting March 31, 2023 at 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044, USA
  • Poetry Picnic at the Miller Branch of the HoCo Library April 1, 2023 at 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm Howard County Library System, HCLS, Miller Branch, 9421 Frederick Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21042, USA Are you a student, teen, parent, or grandparent who writes poetry? Maybe you just want to explore more of this fascinating medium of writing. To kick off National Poetry Month in April, come join our FREE Poetry Picnic in the Enchanted Garden at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library on April 1st from…
  • HoCoPoLitSo Monthly Board Meeting April 8, 2023 at 9:00 am – 11:00 am Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044, USA

Meet Chrissy Stegman — 2022 Second Place Winner of the Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Contest

In 2021, Howard County Poetry and Literature Society launched the Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Prize in honor of its founding member, Ellen Conroy Kennedy. Now in its second year, contest judges evaluated many submissions from poets in ten states and three countries for mechanics and technique, clarity, style/music for our contemporary age, imagery/sensory power, and emotional resonance. They noted in “Blue Irises” the creative use of form, the original approach to this poignant subject, the resonant voice of the speaker, and the powerful tension of the poem’s arc.

Tell us about your poem “Blue Irises” How did it come about? What sparked or inspired it?

Chrissy Stegman, second prize winner in the 2022 Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Contest

I received my annual postcard in the mail from GBMC hospital, asking for donations to the NICU. It reminded me.

My youngest son was born early and via emergency c-section. When he arrived, he was whisked away to the NICU.

The poem came from this experience and from the despair I felt at being in the NICU to nurse him or see him whenever they allowed me but also, the other babies sometimes didn’t survive. It was a devastating juxtaposition, living in that space of life and death. It stayed with me.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

That’s a difficult question for me to answer. I suppose it would be the hours I spent in various libraries as a child. Reading saved me so many times, supported me, gave me strength. The power was evident. Language can do that — it reminds me of a passage from The Bow and the Lyre (Octavio Paz): Man is a being who has created himself in creating a language. By means of the word, man is a metaphor of himself. 

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

My mascot would be pure crystalline silence. I have four school-aged kids in the home (one adult child out in the world) and it’s challenging to find the space and quiet to write and work things out. If not silence, then all of Rocky Mount and Ferrum, VA and the blackberry brambles there, the train tracks, and the cemetery. The Blue Ridge mountains? Take me home. Country roads.

Tell us about a writer or a book that you return to over and over for inspiration.

It’s always Elizabeth Bishop, Rilke, Harryette Mullen, Camus, Anne Carson, Theodore Roethke, Mark Strand, Larkin … I mean, it’s impossible to pick only one writer or book. The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli is gorgeous. 

What are you working on next and where can we find you?

Currently, I’m taking an advanced masterclass at the 92NY Unterberg Poetry Center, New York. I’m also working on a book of poems that offers an interactive quality for the reader and finishing up my first chapbook. I have two poems coming out in March (Gone Lawn) and May (Blue Heron Review) so 2023 is off to a great start.

I can be found on IG: thegoosefaerie and Twitter: @pimpledrose 

Hear poet Chrissy Stegman read “Blue Irises”

Poetries of Belonging — HoCoPoLitSo’s 15th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

Noah Arhm Choi (Photo by Lauren Savannah)

Noah Arhm Choi headlines the Blackbird Poetry Festival to be held on April 27, 2023, at Howard Community College (HCC). The festival is a day devoted to verse, with a student workshop, readings, and HCC Poetry Ambassadors. The afternoon Sunbird Reading features Choi, Regie Cabico, local authors, and Howard Community College faculty and students. This free daytime event starts at 2:30 p.m. in the Rouse Community Foundation Building room 400 (RCF 400). The Nightbird program, in the Horowitz Center’s Monteabaro Hall, begins at 7:30 p.m. The evening features an introduction by Regie Cabico, a reading by Noah Arhm Choi, a reception and book signing. Nightbird tickets, $20 (HCC students free). If you need help with your order, the Horowitz Center Box Office (443.518.1500) has limited phone hours to answer your questions. Tickets for Nightbird can be found through this link:

Noah Arhm Choi is the author of Cut to Bloom (Write Bloody Publishing) the winner of the 2019 Write Bloody Prize. They received a MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and their work appears in Barrow Street, Blackbird, The Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Split this Rock and others. Noah was shortlisted for the Poetry International Prize and received the 2021 Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Prize, alongside fellowships from Kundiman, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. They work as the Director of the Progressive Teaching Institute and Associate Director of DEI at a school in New York City. Jeanann Verlee, the author of Prey, noted “Cut to Bloom is neither delicate nor tidy. This immense work both elucidates and complicates ethnic, generational, and gender violence, examining women who fight for their humanity against those who seek to silence―indeed, erase―them.”

Regie Cabico is a spoken word pioneer having won The Nuyorican Poets Cafe GrandSlam and later taking top prizes in three National Poetry Slams. Television credits include 2 seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, NPR’s Snap Judgement and MTV’s Free Your Mind. He is the lead teaching artist for Poetry Out Loud and has recorded several videos for the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation.

For more than forty-five years, HoCoPoLitSo has nurtured a love and respect for the diversity of contemporary literary arts in Howard County. The society sponsors literary readings and writers-in-residence outreach programs, produces The Writing Life (a writer-to-writer talk show), and partners with other cultural arts organizations to support the arts in Howard County, Maryland. More information is available at

HoCoPoLitSo receives funding from the Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County government; Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of Maryland; the Community Foundation of Howard County; Dr. Lillian Bauder; and individual contributors.


Wilde Readers of February: Melvin Brown and Anthony Moll

We welcome you to our February edition of the Wilde Readings Series with Melvin Brown and Anthony Moll, hosted By Linda Joy Burke. Join us at the Columbia Art Center (Columbia Art Center 6100 Foreland Garth Columbia, MD 21045) on Tuesday, February 14th 7-9 PM. Please spread the word – bring your friends, family, and students.

We encourage you to participate in the open mic. Please prepare no more than five minutes of performance time/two poems. Sign up in advance by calling the Columbia Arts Center, or when you arrive. The number is 410-730-0075. Light refreshments will be served. Books by both featured authors and open mic readers will be available for sale.

Get to know our authors Melvin and Anthony below!

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?

MB: My grandmother.

AM: I write a lot about chosen family, which means so much to Queer folks who are severed from their biological family. That includes my partner and our closest friends, but also exes and partners of partners. In my most recent collection, it also includes my dog, Chickpea.

Where is your favorite place to write?

MB: My study or kitchen.

AM: Most of my writing happens on my couch, but a few times a year, a small group of my close friends and I will take short retreats to either beach towns in the winter or cabins in the other seasons. We’re dedicated to be writing and nothing else until dinner, then we can stop to share, eat, and generally be in community together. It’s a really delicious balance of productivity and being social.

 Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

MB: No.

AM: I don’t know if counts as ritual, but most of the time I spend generating ideas, outlining, and sometimes even drafting, is when I am walking around my neighborhood in Baltimore. Those ideas all rest in the Notes app of my phone (the digital equivalent of the writers notebook), until I have some time to craft them into something worthwhile.

Who always gets a first read?

MB: My friend and Poet Peter J. Harris.

AM: My partner is always my alpha reader, because she’s an voracious, brilliant reader who can also speak to me candidly about what’s working and what isn’t. Then it goes to my writing group for beta, and they are a skilled group of writers who can really look at the work-in-progress from every angle. Every one of them has played a part in helping my books come together.

What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?

MB: Do Lord Remember Me by Julius Lester.

AM: About a Mountain by John D’Agata. I know he’s a bit of a controversial figure, but I really love the way he blends research and lyrical prose in that work. I also love the mythology that has come to surround the book!

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

MB: Can’t remember.

AM: A few years before she passed, Toni Morrison read in Santa Cruz, and Angela Davis provided the introduction. I think it was the only time I’ve ever been truly starstruck, and the energy that night was as if whole audience knew we were in the presence of some of the most brilliant minds of our era.

Melvin Brown

Melvin E. Brown is an American poet, educator, editor, and lyricist. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Brown was the longest-serving editor of Chicory, a magazine published by the Enoch Pratt Free Library. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and the author of two collections of poetry, In the First Place and Blue Notes and Blessing Songs.

Anthony Moll

Anthony Moll is a Queer poet, essayist and educator. Their work has appeared in Hobart, Little Patuxent Review, Poet Lore, jubilat and more. Anthony is a PhD Candidate in English and holds an MFA in creative writing & publishing arts. Their debut memoir, Out of Step, won a 2018 Lambda Literary Award and the 2017 Non/Fiction Prize. Their latest collection of poems, You Cannot Save Here, won the 2022 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize. Their work has also been recognized with the Adele V. Holden Prize for Creative Excellence, the Bill Knott Poetry Prize, inclusion on the American Library Association’s Over the Rainbow List, and a Best of Net nomination.

Colm Tóibín and Maureen Dowd headline HoCoPoLitSo’s 45th Annual Irish Evening

7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 18, 2023
Smith Theater – Howard Community College

HoCoPoLitSo’s 45th annual Irish Evening of Music and Poetry on Saturday, February 18, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. presents Where Journalism Meets Literature: A Conversation with Colm Tóibín and Maureen Dowd. Tóibín and Dowd will explore the crossroads between journalism and literature and read from their recent works. The evening also features music by Poor Man’s Gambit and Ireland’s new Ambassador to the U.S, Geraldine Byrne Nason, has been invited.

General in person admission is $45 and a livestream viewing option is $20.

In-person event tickets:

Livestream tickets:

Colm Tóibín and Maureen Dowd (Photog: Reynaldo Rivera and NYT.)

Colm Tóibín has been shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize and received the 2021 David Cohen Prize for Literature, a lifetime achievement award. In his most recent novel, The Magician, Tóibín explores the heart and mind of a writer, Thomas Mann, whose life is driven by a need to belong and the anguish of illicit desire, in a stunning marriage of research and imagination. Oprah Daily noted the “dazzling, epic family saga set across a half-century spanning World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War that is a feat of literary sorcery in its own right.” Tóibín, an Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, critic, playwright and poet, has a book of essays, A Guest at the Feast, scheduled for release in January 2023.

Maureen Dowd, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, writes about American politics, popular culture, and international affairs. The winner of the two Pulitzer Prizes- one in 1999 for distinguished commentary and the other in 1992 for national reporting, Dowd was born in Washington, D.C and previously worked for the Washington Star. She is the author of three New York Times best sellers: Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk (2004); Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide (2005) and The Year of Voting Dangerously: The Derangement of American Politics (2016).

The evening program begins at 7:30 p.m. Irish beverages, snacks and books will be offered for sale beginning at 7 p.m. and during intermission. A book sale and signing follows the reading and discussion. After intermission, Poor Man’s Gambit will play traditional Irish music, with fiddle, button accordion, guitar, bodhran, and bouzouki.

wilde readers: lisa lynn biggar and tara elliott

Please join the January Wilde Readings featuring authors Lisa Lynn Biggar and Tara Elliott on Tuesday January 10, 2023 at 7 pm on Zoom! This event will be hosted by Ann Bracken, Linda Joy Burke, and Laura Shovan.

Register in advance for this webinar:…/reg…/WN_q_stx5aXRqS6X8jXGPmc0A

For details about the event, please visit:

Get to know the featured authors Lisa and Tara below!

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?

LLB: My grandmother, my dad’s mom, who had a dairy farm in northeast, PA with my grandfather. I spent most of my summers there growing up, and my grandmother and I were incredibly close. I’d help her with all the barn chores, bailing hay, weeding the vegetable garden. . . I just completed a novella-in-flash titled Unpasteurized in which she is the thread that binds, just like she held all our family together all those years. She had five boys and a girl who died when she was only 10 hours old. She always said I was that lost baby.

TE: My parents. I lost my dad when I was 24 to cancer and my mother in 2019 to dementia. Writing has allowed me to grieve their loss.

Where is your favorite place to write?

LLB: I have a beautiful writing studio upstairs in my home that my husband built for me. But that has become more of my Zoom studio. I do a lot of Zoom tutoring for The Gunston School, a private high school in Centreville, and also for Chesapeake College. If I spend too much time up there I get a bit claustrophobic, so now I tend to write more downstairs on the couch in my living room with a view of my wooded back yard, or in the car (as a passenger).

TE: Outside–either late at night or before the world awakens. I need nature and the silence to see what rises to the surface.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

LLB: I read a few paragraphs of Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. I love his lyrical writing with those seemingly endless sentences.

TE: No, but I keep the following on my desk to remind me of things that have become important to my writing… A core of stone from when I visited a gold mine in Colorado. A piece of cotton that Le Hinton gave me when I attended his reading for his book, “Sing Silence. A river stone given to me my a dear friend who is no longer with us. Bits of sea shells worn smooth by the ocean. A pinecone. All of these natural objects remind me to go deeper than I think is necessary, that interconnection is vital, and that revision is what makes things beautiful, even when broken. The spiral found in the end of the pinecone reminds me of the golden ratio, the Fibonacci sequence–a pattern found in nature that resurfaces again and again in my poems.

Who always gets a first read?

LLB: My husband, Don, who is my biggest fan and greatest critic, and my writing friend, Dan Crawley. Dan is considered a master of flash fiction and has a novella-in-flash out published by Ad Hoc Fiction, Straight Down the Road, which I highly recommend. He also has an exceptional short story collection out published by Cowboy Jamboree Press, The Wind, It Swirls.

TE: My desk drawer. I’ve learned that separating myself from my writing helps me to clearly see what needs to be revised.

What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?

LLB: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. The interlude where the house is personified especially mesmerizes me.

TE: I return again and again to many books but “The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton”, edited by Kevin Young and Michael Glaser, is one that I regularly revisit. Lucille was my professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in the early 90’s. Every time I encounter her poems, I seem to find something new that I didn’t notice earlier, whether its the way she ended a line, a sound, an image, a connection, or a message I was not ready to receive. Although she passed away in 2010, to say that she is still teaching is an understatement.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

LLB: Oh so many, but I would have to say Dorothy Allison at a book festival in Flagstaff, AZ. She read from her recently published book then, Bastard Out of Carolina. Her words were so raw, and she was so authentic of a person. She laid it out bare.

TE: Li-Young Lee. Lee’s reading was incredibly intimate and spiritual, something I try to emulate in my own readings.

Lisa Lynn Biggar received her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College and is currently marketing a short story cycle set on the eastern shore of Maryland. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals including Main Street Rag, Bluestem Magazine, The Minnesota Review, Kentucky Review, The Delmarva Review and Superstition Review. She’s the fiction editor for Little Patuxent Review and co-owns and operates a cut flower farm in Maryland with her husband and three cats.

Tara A. Elliott’s poems have appeared in TAOS Journal of International Poetry & Art, The American Journal of Poetry, and Ninth Letter, among others. President of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, she is also the founder and director of Salisbury Poetry Week and co-chair of the annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. A recent winner of Maryland State Arts Council’s Independent Artist Award, she has work forthcoming in Cimarron Review.

wilde readers of december: noa baum & tara hart

On December 13th at 7 pm, join us at the Columbia Art Center for the December Wilde Readings, featuring storyteller Noa Baum and poet Tara Hart. The event will be hosted by Ann Bracken, Linda Joy Burke, and Laura Shovan. We encourage you to participate in the open mic. Please prepare no more than five minutes of performance time/two poems. Sign up in advance by calling the Columbia Arts Center, or when you arrive. The number is 410-730-0075.

Here is what Noa and Tara had to say to our favorite six questions!

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?

Noa: My mother and grandmothers probably.

Tara: My late daughter Tessa is either explicitly or implicitly, in her absence, in most of my poems.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Noa: I am primarily a spoken word artist so the writing is a tool to support my speaking. I don’t have a favorite place.

Tara: I have been composing most poems during my morning walks in the woods near my house. My dog Buddha loves walking early and long, which is good for me as well, and I find lines coming to me on the paths. I used to wait to get home to write them down, but sadly they would have dissolved. Now I use the “voice memos” app on my phone to capture lines and ideas as they arise, and then I find little pockets of time to listen to those memos and transcribe them, writing and shaping as I listen. The places I write depend on what pocket of time I’m seizing — at my desk at work or at home, in a journal I keep in my car. Sometimes I make the time to write for a longer stretch — a sort of mini-retreat — and I will take my laptop or journal somewhere neutral like a library or coffee shop, where I don’t feel the pull of other tasks.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Noa: I start by speaking and telling the story several times to different listeners before I write it down.

Tara: Before everything, there is reading. Reading others’ poetry is my best pre-writing ritual, whether that is curled up with their books, surfing, or listening to Padraig O’Tuama’s “Poetry Unbound” podcast. Others’ poems are like the rows of prayer candles in a church, from which I find light for my own intentions.

Who always gets a first read?

Noa: I have several storytelling friends that I work with on new material. I always read it aloud.

Tara: No one person. I’m always grateful that I shared a poem with my father in which I sought to imagine his most difficult days just before I was born — when he lost his best friend and was losing his mother. It was one of the very few times that I saw him cry. My mother finds a lot of comfort in the loss of her granddaughter in my chapbook. These days, I tend to keep my poems close; most of them are just for me. My daughter Bella seems to enjoy reading the ones I’ve published in my chapbook that are about her. If I’m sending them out into the world, an audience at a reading will hear them first, or an editor or contest judge will the first to see them. Years ago I was part of a lovely group of writers who met regularly to share our work: I miss that and hope that in a less busy season of our lives we will resume.

What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?

Noa: One Hundred Year of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Tara: Orlando by Virginia Woolf

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Noa: David Whyte at the Psycotherapy Networker Conference.

Tara: I have the incredible good fortune to attend so many wonderful readings in my work with HoCoPoLitSo, but I can say my most vivid emotional memory is of Patricia Smith’s 2013 visit, when HoCoPoLitSo hosted her as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts. Smith read her suite of poems about Hurricane Katrina, “Blood Dazzler,” as the Sage String Quartet played Wynton Marsalis’ “At the Octoroon Balls.” It was beyond moving — it was transcendent. It felt like everything that we imagine great literature can do for the human spirit: connect us, enlarge us, make us better people for that encounter.

About the authors:

The Washington Post describes Noa Baum as someone who “spreads cultural truths that eclipse geopolitical boundaries…”. Israeli born, Noa is an internationally acclaimed storyteller, author, and coach focusing on the power of storytelling to heal across divides of identity and build peace. She is the author of the award-winning memoir A Land Twice Promised and a new picture book How the Birds Became Friends.

Tara Hart, Ph.D., was awarded a 2011 Pushcart Prize for Poetry and has a chapbook entitled The Colors of Absence. Other places her poems appear include the anthology to linger on hot coals: collected poetic works from grieving women writers. She is a professor and chair of humanities at Howard Community College, and co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo).

Recommended Reading: Student Neal Goturi Takes a Look at Popular Cherry Castle Anthology Where We Stand.

As the popular anthology Where We Stand, Poems of Black Resilience is available for sale again, we share student Neal Goturi’s review of a reading held this summer to promote the first printing of the anthology. Neal is a sophomore at River Hill High School and he has recently begun serving as a Bauder Youth Advisor on the board of the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society.

“I can not praise and recommend
Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience enough.”

Last summer, I went to the reading of the poetry anthology, Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience, in the Lucille Clifton Reading Room of Busboys and Poets, the popular restaurant in Downtown Columbia that has a performance space on the second floor. It was the first reading I had ever attended; I was excited to take a break from the more conventional avenues of consuming literature and branch out.

Where We Stand has its roots in a group of socially conscious poets and artists coming together to process the outcomes of the 2016 election and the impending doom of America’s ethos. By the end of production, one understood that editors Enzo Sirloin, Melanie Henderson, and Truth Thomas have put together a must-read collection . It features nearly 30 authors, and a number of poems from each. Powerful photographs partition the book into four parts: Watch for Black Lives, The District Line, The Breathing Fence, and Black Joy Matters.

The evening’s first reader was Joseph Ross, opening with his lines from the anthology:

There is an essential difference
between wood and flame.

It is a gap wide enough
for the Pledge of Allegiance

to walk through laughing.
Remember to not let the base
burn so the cross can stand
for as long as needed…

(“Cross, Hood, Noose An American History Lesson”, Ross, Where We Stand, 16)

[In the following clip, Ross reads his poem, “If Mamie Till was the Mother of God,” at the Busboys & Poets event. The powerful poem, not featured in the anthology, won the Enoch Pratt Free Library / Little Patuxent Review Poetry Contest in 2012.]

His poetry commanded attention and set the tone for the night. As the night went on, the speakers read through selected poems — the air kept quiet and was foreboding. Each story told by verse was so heavy that I felt like I needed to take a moment to process it — a break from the cacophony of injustice presented. The person sitting next to me agreed.

Later, as I was walking out, I realized the irony of the situation. We desired something inaccessible to the artists who had just presented: a break. Be it from tragic stories, blind angels, or clipped wings. After only a glimpse of the potency of American venom, the recess from reality requested is out of sight to those most inundated. That is something so foul that no gilded sentiment or sentence can do it justice; it lies beyond a formation of words.

I’ve recently become more aware of my privilege and the privilege present in my community. Columbia is always serene on summer evenings. It is a sheltered and affluent suburban enclave. This lends itself to the vast majority of residents enjoying a level of cognitive dissonance to the obstacles myriads of Americans face. The poets who performed on July 8th brought black experiences into the spotlight and celebrated them; they shortened the empathetic gap between.

I can not praise and recommend Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience enough. It is raw, essential, and uniquely comforting. While I was writing this post, the anthology quickly sold out online. If you looked, you could find the odd copy at places like Busboys and Poets. Its publisher, Cherry Castle Publishing has just issued a second printing of the anthology. To order a copy, visit their website

After the reading, poets celebrated with a group selfie.

Where We Stand, Poems of Black Resilience quickly sold out of its first printing. As of November 25, this popular and important anthology is available again. Visit to get yourself and everyone you know copies.

meet the wilde readers of November: Jim Karantonis and Patrica VanAmburg

Join Wilde Readings on Election Night for November Wilde Readings — live and in person at the Columbia Art Center. Featured authors are Jim Karantonis and Patricia VanAmburg. Laura Shovan is your host. Please spread the word – bring your friends, family, and students. All are welcome. We encourage you to participate in the open mic. Please prepare no more than five minutes of performance time/two poems. Sign up in advance by calling the Columbia Arts Center, or when you arrive. The number is 410-730-0075. Light refreshments will be served. Books by both featured authors and open mic readers will be available for sale.

We asked Jim and Patricia our favorite six questions, and this is what they had to say.

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?

Jim: Me. I do. My older Brother Zack gave me permission to use his name rather than Jim in my novel. Zack sounds far more Greek than Jim. I’ve always needed and thrived (maybe escaped) with an audience, even as a child. Some things never change.

Patricia: In recent years, I think it has been my dad–though I also find myself writing about my granddaughters and other young women/children from the news.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Jim: On the deck during warm weather, especially afternoons. In the winter at the main library in Columbia and the library at Howard Community College. And then came Barnes and Noble at the mall.

Patricia: Just jotting ideas, I would probably sit in my favorite livingroom chair overlooking Wilde Lake. For serious composing, I would need the computer on my bedroom desk–between two windows. But I have to admit that I also write at stop lights when driving.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Jim: A cup of coffee. Some music, classical violins is my first choice, next soft jazz. Set up my pens and red markers, and open my notebook with notes, notes, and more notes. Peruse the notes on events and individuals in my life that had an impact, and even those I just remember for their quirkiness. Take more notes about  my past, and stories I’ve told on stage or to friends but haven’t put to paper. Anything to not get started with the difficult part . . . writing.

Patricia: No. I just know when a poem needs to get out. Probably the most formal preps I have ever experienced were the February poetry workshops.

Who always gets a first read?

Jim: My muse, Mary Lou Hobbs. She is my wife so she better be first.

Patricia: Usually, my critique partner, but, increasingly, I rely on my husband to give the non poet viewpoint.

What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?

Jim: Just finished for second time, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller. Published in 1959, and although I was just a teenager that was about the time I read it. (A post-apocalyptic novel that in those days we called science fiction.) I do save certain passages from novels of fiction that may capture my own feelings about self and society. I constantly check back with sections of history texts, biographies, and auto-biographies. Especially those related to civil rights and Martin Luther King, Jr., and those about soldiers and war.

Patricia: Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard. I sometimes reread Tom Robbins and Louise Erdrich for the beauty of their imagery.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Jim: For poetry it was Billy Collins. The most honest presentation about his own writing, and his take on attempts by others. For a novel, I can’t recall any but probably because I’ve not attended many. The best interview where I was fortunate to be in the audience was one at the main Baltimore City Library. The excellent author, George Saunders, had the stage. He kept the audience engaged, serious and not so serious, and remarkably at the right times. 

Patricia: Probably a Leonard Cohen concert because he was one of my favorite poets. I also enjoyed workshops with Galway Kinnel and Sharon Olds at Omega. For a traditional reading, I would have to mention the mythology issue of Little Patuxent Review which I had the pleasure of guest editing.

About the authors:

James (Jim) Karantonis is a storyteller, a writer, and a retired civil rights worker. Jim was a medic and psychiatric specialist during the Vietnam War. He has shared his military experience on stage for Baltimore’s popular Stoop Storytelling series, and on public radio’s WYPR. Jim’s first short story “A Crazy 8’s Christmas” won the Spotlight Award from New York’s Slice Magazine. Numerous stories and poems appeared in The Muse, a literary publication of Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. The novel of Crazy 8’s: Soldiers Still was published in 2021. Jim’s working on a memoir of how this White, Greek “Hillbilly” from southern West Virginia was privileged to work closely with Coretta Scott King and the 1st National King Holiday.

Patricia VanAmburg retired Emerita from Howard Community College where she taught literature and creative writing. She also served several years on the editorial committee of Little Patuxent Review literary magazine. Her poetry chapbooks include Watching for Birds (2014) and Refugee Heart (2022).

Author Gabriel Bump to Deliver Keynote at Howard Community College’s Second Annual Bauder Lecture

Acclaimed author of “Everywhere You Don’t Belong” joined in conversation with Tyrese L. Coleman at the Horowitz Visual & Performing Arts Center

COLUMBIA, MD – Howard Community College announced that Gabriel Bump, author of “Everywhere You Don’t Belong,” a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2020 and an Electric Lit Favorite Novel of 2020, will deliver the keynote at the second annual Bauder Lecture. Bump’s keynote will be offered in a hybrid format, both live in person and streamed via Vimeo, on September 22, 2022, at 12:30 p.m. His keynote will be followed by an in-depth conversation with DC-based writer Tyrese L. Coleman.

Bump’s novel, “Everywhere You Don’t Belong,” follows protagonist Claude, a young Black man born on the South Side of Chicago and raised by his civil rights-era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He escapes Chicago to go to college, to find a new identity, and to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, there is no safe haven for a young Black man in this time and place called America.

Following his keynote, Bump will be joined by Washington, D.C.-based writer, Tyrese L. Coleman, author of “How to Sit,” for an in-depth conversation. Tyrese L. Coleman is a writer, wife, mother, and attorney. Her debut collection of stories and essays, “How to Sit,” was published by Mason Jar Press in 2018 and nominated for a 2019 PEN Open Book Award.

The Bauder Lecture by Howard Community College is made possible by a generous grant from Dr. Lillian Bauder, a community leader and Columbia resident. Howard Community College presents an annual endowed author lecture, and the chosen book will be celebrated with two student awards. Known as the Don Bauder Awards, any Howard Community College student who has read the featured book is eligible to respond and reflect on the book in an essay or other creative format. The awards honor the memory of Don Bauder, late husband of Dr. Lillian Bauder and a champion of civil rights and social justice causes.

“Everywhere You Don’t Belong” was selected by the Howard County Book Connection committee as its choice for the 2022–2023 academic year. The Howard County Book Connection is a partnership of Howard Community College and the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society.

The Bauder Lecture will take place in Howard Community College’s Smith Theatre at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Maryland. The event will be live streamed on Vimeo and archived.

To learn more about the Bauder Lecture and RSVP for the event, visit

HoCoPoLitSo (Howard County Poetry and Literature Society) seeks Managing Director

About HoCoPoLitSo

Founded in 1974 by Ellen Conroy Kennedy in Columbia, Maryland, HoCoPoLitSo is an innovative, small, not-for-profit community literary arts organization devoted to fostering a love of contemporary literature, preserving the world literary heritage, and responding equitably and inclusively to the evolving needs and interests of our dynamic community.

Job Description

The managing director (MD) reports directly to the co-chairs of the Board of Directors. The MD represents and supports the organization’s day-to-day operations through dynamic project management, conscientious fiscal oversight, creative problem-solving, and highly effective communication. The MD works collaboratively with the board and the program coordinator to create, manage, and maintain a schedule of literary events that cultivate literary appreciation and provide high-quality interactive opportunities for our community to engage with great writers. The MD manages resources, produces financial and grant reports, organizes volunteers, establishes meeting agendas, and contracts with vendors, as well as documents, tracks, and maintains the organization’s financial income and expense records, including oversight of grant funding.

The ideal candidate has:

  • Bookkeeping and grant management experience sufficient to manage within a limited budget and uncertain revenue stream (e.g., familiarity with QuickBooks)
  • Budget and management experience (non-profit experience preferred)
  • Demonstrated evidence of flexibility, resourceful problem-solving skills, and a collaborative spirit
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills and interpersonal skills
  • Conscientious attention to detail, follow-through, and organization
  • Technical knowledge sufficient to manage communication and finances effectively, to update website content, with some social media skills
  • The ability to multitask
  • Evidence of ability to work effectively as a team member
  • Willingness to perform other duties as necessary to accomplish the organization’s objectives

The position requires:

  • Access to reliable transportation and ability to transport event materials; lives within a reasonable commuting distance
  • Regular attendance and availability are requirements. Willingness to work remotely when necessary.
  • Ability to meet on a regular schedule each month with the board and the program committee
  • Ability to work flexible hours both in person, in the office, and online as needed, including occasional nights and weekends as needed for events
  • Commitment to a safe and confidential working environment by participating in necessary training
  • Ability to lift 25 pounds

Additional Information

  • Hours Per Week: varies with schedule of events and deadlines; approximately 20-25
  • Work Schedule: Monday – Friday, occasional nights and weekends for events
  • Compensation: $18,000-$25,000/year
  • FLSA Status: Exempt
  • Open Until Filled
  • Please apply by September 30, 2022 for best consideration

Application Instructions

Send cover letter and resume with three professional references to

HoCoPoLitSo values diversity within its staff, board, and volunteer population. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, disability or protected veteran status.

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