by Susan Thornton Hobby, Project consultant and editor
Before Ellicott City was a hip tourist magnet, before the coffee shops and antique stores, even before the flour mills, the spot was just a funnel of granite and trees leading down to the river. For centuries, the Patapsco River, which the Algonquins named pota-psk-ut, was the source of all life – transport, food, and power. Two hundred and fifty years ago, three Quaker brothers bought 700 acres along the Patapsco River and founded a mill town.
To celebrate Ellicott City’s anniversary, HoCoPoLitSo has pulled together a collection of 25 poems that speak to the town’s history, commerce, and people. The poems will be on display in Main Street merchants’ windows from April through June in a project called See through Poems, and will be collected into a book. This project is a partnership between HoCoPoLitSo and EC250, the group founded to organize activities around the sesquicentennial (that’s the fancy name for a 250th anniversary).
Former Baltimore Sun reporter and longtime publisher of the Little Patuxent Review, Mike Clark, wrote the foreword to the collection of poems.
“Celebrating 250 years of Ellicott City history in poetry is a gift HoCoPoLitSo has bequeathed us,” Clark wrote. “Two dozen poets give voice to the history of Ellicott City in this unique literary venture by the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society. A walk down Main Street to the B&O trestle and station and beyond to the churning waters of the Patapsco River reveals poems posted on storefront windows that speak to life in the old mill town.”
The collection includes poems by or about Ellicott City residents, poems about trains and wheat, lines about history and ghosts.
Through the eyes of poets, history will be on display in merchants’ windows up and down Main Street from April 1 through June.
Then in June, we’ll host two events to celebrate the project. To open and close the celebration of the Patapsco Female Institute’s historical garden, HoCoPoLitSo will offer poems read by actors on Saturday, June 4, 11 a.m. And join us Sunday, June 12, starting at 3 p.m. at the Museum of Howard County in Ellicott City for a reading showcasing poems that speak to the town’s history, commerce, and people. County Council member Liz Walsh will open the reading with her poetic remarks about the town.
Local poets, community members, and special guests will read selections from the collection. A reception will follow the reading.
For more information about the collection, visit these pages. Watch this space to register to attend the reading in June. And for more information about events in Ellicott City to celebrate the anniversary, visit www.ec250.com.