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

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Upcoming HoCoPoLitSo Events

  • HoCoPoLitSo - Between The Leaves Poetry Reading October 28, 2019 at 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm Howard County Library System, Miller Branch, 9421 Frederick Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21042, USA In partnership with the Howard County Library System, we are celebrating the completion of the Between The Leaves Project with a poetry reading at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library on October 28 at 7 p.m. Please join us. The Between The Leaves Project brings poetry to the garden in the form of…
  • HoCoPoLitSo Staff Meeting November 1, 2019 at 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044, USA
  • HoCoPoLitSo Monthly Board Meeting November 9, 2019 at 10:00 am – 12:00 pm Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044, USA

Upcoming Regional Literary Events

  • JHU Writing Seminars - Faculty reading featuring Brad Leithauser and James Arthur. October 22, 2019 at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Gilman Hall, Bowman Dr, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA Where: Gilman 50Join us at Johns Hopkins’s Gilman Hall for a faculty reading featuring Brad Leithauser and James Arthur.Brad Leithauser is a widely acclaimed poet and novelist and the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship. He is a professor in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and divides his time…
  • Pratt Library - Decolonize Your Bookshelves with Grace Talusan, The Body Papers October 22, 2019 at 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA Not every family legacy is destructive. From her parents, Talusan has learned to tell stories in order to continue. In excavating abuse and trauma, and supplementing her story with government documents, medical records, and family photos, Talusan gives voice to unspeakable experience, and shines a light of hope into the darkness.Grace Talusan was born in…
  • Journal October 23, 2019 at 6:30 am – 7:30 am Home A= event b= thoughts c= emotion; impact statements; safety, trust, self esteem and intimacy, power and control - yoga by Adrienne daily, mindfulness

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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