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This Thursday: The 4th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

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Festival Poets: Kim Addonizio, Mother Ruckus, Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli

Featuring the Nightbird Reading, Poetry in Harmony, and a day of workshops, talks, and readings, even the “Poetry Police,” the 4th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival returns Thursday, April 26th, to the campus of Howard Community College, this year presenting Kim Addonizio, Michael Cirelli, Naomi Ayala and Mother Ruckus.

Nightbird Reading

The Nightbird reading, the day’s main event, is a coffee house style reading with music from Mother Ruckus (spoken word poet Gayle Danley and songstress Sahffi) and readings from Michael Cirelli, the nationally renowned slam poet, and Kim Addonizio, “one of our nation’s most provocative and edgy poets.”

Last year’s Festival presented Martín Espada in the evening reading for which local blogger Tom Coale proclaimed it was, “the most engaging and thoughtful live entertainment that I’ve seen since leaving the storm-swept streets of New Orleans,” where culture bubbles up from living rather than ordaining down from academy. High, high praise. Read that blog post here.

Tickets for the Nightbird reading, which includes refreshments, are $10 for students, $15 general admission, available at the door or online at brownpapertickets. The Nightbird Reading starts at 7:30 in Duncan Hall room 150, aka The Kittleman Room. The event is sponsored in part by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Division of English/World Languages and  Office of Student Services, Howard Community College and the Sheraton Columbia.

Workshops, Talks, Readings

Throughout the day on the campus of HCC,  a number of workshops, readings and talks will occur.  Kim Addonizio will speak to a creative writing class in a private session; Michael Cirelli will meet with students and the community in an open session presenting a talk on “Hip-Hop Poetics, Education, 50 Cent & The Olive Garden.” An early afternoon reading will feature the Festival poets as well as readings by students, faculty and local writers. See the schedule below.

Festival events actually begin off campus when Naomi Ayala will present to teachers during the Howard County School System’s Professional Development Day.

The Poetry Police

Warning: April 26th is National Poem in your Pocket Day. Get caught on the community college campus by the Poetry Police without a poem and you’ll find yourself with a citation. Simple math: No Recitation Material = A Citation.

While it’s a bad thing, it is not that bad a thing. The jovial officer will likely provide you with a poem so you don’t get caught again. Actually, if you are caught and you produce a poem to share, you’ll find yourself rewarded for good civic behavior.

Need a poem, click here to find a variety to choose from, print one out to carry around.

Festival schedule:

  •  9:30 – 10:30 Naomi Ayala speaks at Howard County School System (HCPSS) Professional Development Day Session I
  • 10:40 – 11:40 Naomi Ayala speaks at HCPSS Prof. Dev. Day Session II
  • 10:00  Poetry Police start to patrol HCC at campus looking for National Poem in Your Pocket Day violations
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Kim Addonizio meets with HCC’s Creative Writing Class (closed)
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Michael Cirelli meets with students and community (open and free)
  • 2:30 – 4:30    Readings by: Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio and regional poets, HCC students and faculty (open and free)
  • 7:00 Doors open for “Poetry in Harmony,” a coffee house style reading
  • 7:30 – 9:30 Readings by Michael Cirelli and Kim Addonizio, and a performance by musical group Mother Ruckus, which includes performance poet Gayle Danley and songstress Sahffi. ($15, $10 for seniors and for students with an id)

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