On December 13th at 7 pm, join us at the Columbia Art Center for the December Wilde Readings, featuring storyteller Noa Baum and poet Tara Hart. The event will be hosted by Ann Bracken, Linda Joy Burke, and Laura Shovan. 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 the Columbia Arts Center, or when you arrive. The number is 410-730-0075.
Here is what Noa and Tara had to say to our favorite six questions!
Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?
Noa: My mother and grandmothers probably.
Tara: My late daughter Tessa is either explicitly or implicitly, in her absence, in most of my poems.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Noa: I am primarily a spoken word artist so the writing is a tool to support my speaking. I don’t have a favorite place.
Tara: I have been composing most poems during my morning walks in the woods near my house. My dog Buddha loves walking early and long, which is good for me as well, and I find lines coming to me on the paths. I used to wait to get home to write them down, but sadly they would have dissolved. Now I use the “voice memos” app on my phone to capture lines and ideas as they arise, and then I find little pockets of time to listen to those memos and transcribe them, writing and shaping as I listen. The places I write depend on what pocket of time I’m seizing — at my desk at work or at home, in a journal I keep in my car. Sometimes I make the time to write for a longer stretch — a sort of mini-retreat — and I will take my laptop or journal somewhere neutral like a library or coffee shop, where I don’t feel the pull of other tasks.
Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?
Noa: I start by speaking and telling the story several times to different listeners before I write it down.
Tara: Before everything, there is reading. Reading others’ poetry is my best pre-writing ritual, whether that is curled up with their books, surfing poets.org, or listening to Padraig O’Tuama’s “Poetry Unbound” podcast. Others’ poems are like the rows of prayer candles in a church, from which I find light for my own intentions.
Who always gets a first read?
Noa: I have several storytelling friends that I work with on new material. I always read it aloud.
Tara: No one person. I’m always grateful that I shared a poem with my father in which I sought to imagine his most difficult days just before I was born — when he lost his best friend and was losing his mother. It was one of the very few times that I saw him cry. My mother finds a lot of comfort in the loss of her granddaughter in my chapbook. These days, I tend to keep my poems close; most of them are just for me. My daughter Bella seems to enjoy reading the ones I’ve published in my chapbook that are about her. If I’m sending them out into the world, an audience at a reading will hear them first, or an editor or contest judge will the first to see them. Years ago I was part of a lovely group of writers who met regularly to share our work: I miss that and hope that in a less busy season of our lives we will resume.
What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?
Noa: One Hundred Year of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Tara: Orlando by Virginia Woolf
What is the most memorable reading you have attended?
Noa: David Whyte at the Psycotherapy Networker Conference.
Tara: I have the incredible good fortune to attend so many wonderful readings in my work with HoCoPoLitSo, but I can say my most vivid emotional memory is of Patricia Smith’s 2013 visit, when HoCoPoLitSo hosted her as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts. Smith read her suite of poems about Hurricane Katrina, “Blood Dazzler,” as the Sage String Quartet played Wynton Marsalis’ “At the Octoroon Balls.” It was beyond moving — it was transcendent. It felt like everything that we imagine great literature can do for the human spirit: connect us, enlarge us, make us better people for that encounter.
About the authors:
The Washington Post describes Noa Baum as someone who “spreads cultural truths that eclipse geopolitical boundaries…”. Israeli born, Noa is an internationally acclaimed storyteller, author, and coach focusing on the power of storytelling to heal across divides of identity and build peace. She is the author of the award-winning memoir A Land Twice Promised and a new picture book How the Birds Became Friends.
Tara Hart, Ph.D., was awarded a 2011 Pushcart Prize for Poetry and has a chapbook entitled The Colors of Absence. Other places her poems appear include the anthology to linger on hot coals: collected poetic works from grieving women writers. She is a professor and chair of humanities at Howard Community College, and co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo).