The Howard County Poetry & Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo) has chosen Laura Shovan, winner of the 2009 Harriss Poetry Prize and author of an upcoming novel-in-verse for young readers, as its 24th poet-in-residence. Shovan will visit county high schools, the alternative school and Howard Community College classes to read her work and guide the students’ writing.
Using portraits and news headlines as triggers for poetry, Shovan will lead the students in writing their own verse. Shovan also plans to start a public reading series with student participation. A Maryland State Arts Council artist-in-residence since 1999, Shovan is the poetry editor of the Little Patuxent Review. Shovan’s book, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, comes out in April 2016 from Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House. Her poetry chapbook, Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone, won the Harriss prize, and she has edited two poetry anthologies. Shovan graduated from NYU’s dramatic writing program, taught high school and worked for the Dodge Poetry Festival.
For 24 years, HoCoPoLitSo has brought contemporary writers to the students of Howard County to encourage the love of literature and writing. Atholton High School teacher Jennifer Timmel, whose class wrote with last year’s poet-in-residence Joseph Ross, said about the experience: “I think the poet-in-residence program is brilliant. The students were all very moved by (Ross’s) poetry; many of them are writers and poets themselves, so to be able to speak with someone who writes for a living was very inspirational to them. They found his work interesting and inspiring. Mr. Ross is … an incredible combination of encouraging teacher and good poet.”
Shovan follows in the footsteps of illustrious writers, including Lucille Clifton, Li-Young Lee, Michael Glaser and Grace Cavalieri. Last year’s poet-in-residence, Joseph Ross, wrote, “For high school students, I’m convinced poetry can help them discover who they are. It helps them know they’re not alone. Poetry has healing properties, it connects us to everyone else.”