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Students’ Moments of ‘Quiet Potential’ with Writer-in-Residence

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Upcoming HoCoPoLitSo Events

  • Blackbird Poetry Festival - Featuring Mariyn Chin, Joeseph Ross April 26, 2018 Award-winning poet and author Marilyn Chin headlines the tenth annual Blackbird Poetry Festival for HoCoPoLitSo. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Oregon, activist poet Chin unflinchingly explores the intersection of the Asian and American worlds.The Blackbird Poetry Festival is a day devoted to verse, with student workshops, book sales, readings, and patrols by the…
  • Wilde Reading -- May -- Jennifer Wallace and LOVE the poet May 8, 2018 at 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD 21045, USA Wilde Readings is Howard County's only monthly reading and open mic series. Celebrate National Poetry Month at Wilde Readings with featured authors Jennifer Wallace and LOVE the poet a. 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…

Upcoming Regional Literary Events

  • Wilde Reading -- May -- Jennifer Wallace and LOVE the poet May 8, 2018 at 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD 21045, USA Wilde Readings is Howard County's only monthly reading and open mic series. Celebrate National Poetry Month at Wilde Readings with featured authors Jennifer Wallace and LOVE the poet a. 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…
  • Books In Bloom June 10, 2018 Downtown Columbia Second annual book festival in Downtown Columbia.
  • Baltimore Book Festival September 28, 2018 – September 30, 2018 Baltimore, MD, USA The Baltimore Book Festival features hundreds of author appearances and book signings, 100+ exhibitors and booksellers, non-stop readings on multiple stages, cooking demos by celebrity chefs, poetry readings and workshops, panel discussions, walking tours, storytellers and hands-on projects for kids, street theater, live music, and a delicious variety of food, beer and wine.

Sometimes the hands rise slowly.  Sometimes they shoot up quickly.

Other times, hands rise up cautiously as the eyes dart around the room.  I love this moment for its honesty, its quiet potential, and the way that question maps out the terrain I have to travel to at the least show each and every school in Howard County that poetry is present, possible and matters. As writer-in-residence for HoCoPoLitSo, I travel to the county high schools to read and talk poetry.

Poet Derrick Weston Brown speaks with students at Atholton High School. (Photo by Paige Feilhauer)

Poet Derrick Weston Brown speaks with students at Atholton High School. (Photo by Paige Feilhauer)

During the reading, I share stories behind the inspiration and origin of some of the poems and then I ask the students if they have any questions about certain poems. Many even request me to read certain poems and then give their own interpretations on them.  We talk about other things as well. Ipod playlists. If Twitter is an appropriate space for poetry. Role-playing games. Favorite books. Dating. Haiku. Race. Gender. The list goes on.

If I have any sort of a complaint, I wish that perhaps my visits could extend past the usual fifty-minute class time. Usually the bell rings and the students make their way to lunch or to another class and I find myself a little melancholy that the connection we’ve built in just a short time is broken. But so much has happened within those small bubbles of time. I’ve witnessed brave students share their own poems when I’ve asked if there are any other poets in the room.

I’ve watched them deliver heartbreakingly honest and earnest poems, shaking paper and all, with the kind of sophistication and insight I truly wished I possessed at their age. I’ve stayed after my allotted time with passionate teachers and their poetry-hungry students who fire questions like pistons at me about form, meter, and content.

I enjoy this job most of all because I realize that Howard County is not as mysterious as I thought, because poetry dwells there, and anywhere poetry lives is home.

Derrick Weston Brown
HoCoPoLitSo writer-in-residence

To support HoCoPoLitSo’s Writer-In-Residence program in Howard County high schools, consider making a donation.


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