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February 19, 2010 Claire Keegan

  • 7:30 p.m. The short story author read her work, followed by a concert of traditional Irish music by Narrowbacks and stepdancing as part of the 32nd annual Evening of Irish Music and Poetry, Jim Rouse Theatre.

April 29, 2010 Tribute to Lucille Clifton

  • 2:30 p.m. The first Blackbird Poetry Festival memorialized Lucille Clifton, who had died February 2010. HoCoPoLitSo provided books as student prizes, Rouse Company Student Services Building.

June 17, 2010 Stanley Plumly

  • 4 p.m. Maryland Poet Laureate hosted a “My Favorite Poem” high tea, with community leaders such as County Executive Ken Ulman and HCC president Kathleen Hetherington and students reading poems they love, followed by a reading from Plumly. Preceded by an appreciation for HoCoPoLitSo founder Ellen Conroy Kennedy. Co-sponsored by the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

June 22, 2010 Sheila Kohler

  • 7 p.m. The South African-born author reading from her novel Becoming Jane Eyre, Rouse Company Foundation Student Services Building, Howard Community College, as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

September 3, 2010 Sue Ellen Thompson

  • As part of the county school system’s Professional Development Day, poet Thompson discussed writing and rewriting in the classroom.

September 26, 2010 Warren St. John

  • 7:30 p.m. Author of Outcasts United read from and discussed his book at the East Columbia Library as part of the One Maryland, One Book project. Co-sponsored with the Howard County Library and Maryland Humanities Council.

October 5, 2010 Mark Doty

  • 7:30 p.m. National Book Award-winning poet read from his work, followed by a reception, Monteabaro Recital Hall, Howard Community College.

December 2010 to March 2011 Marion Winik

  • Writer and poet Winik served as writer-in-residence for eleven of the county high schools, the Homewood Center and Howard Community College.


February 18, 2011 Colm Tóibín

  • 7:30 p.m. The novelist, playwright and critic read from his short stories and novels, followed by a concert by Narrowbacks, at the 33rd Annual Evening of Irish Music and Poetry, Jim Rouse Theatre.

March 27, 2011 Alice McDermott

  • 4 p.m. The National Book Award-winning novelist read a short story and from her novel Charming Billy, and answered questions at the Spear Center, Rouse Company Headquarters, Columbia.

April 8, 2011 Bill’s Buddies

  • 10 a.m. A troupe of actors from the Folger Shakespeare Library performed scenes for middle school students at Marriotts Ridge High School.

April 28, 2011 Lyubomir Nikolov, Sue Ellen Thompson, Gayle Danley and Martín


  • 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. The poets read and held workshops for students during the day. The evening reading featured the activist poet Espada, reading from his work to “celebrate poetry as a global language” as part of the third annual Blackbird Poetry Festival, Monteabaro Recital Hall, Howard Community College.

October 2011 to April 2012 Sandra Beasley

  • As poet-in-residence to the Howard County schools, Beasley visited students in ten of the county’s high schools, Homewood Center and Howard Community College.

October 4, 2011 Tara Betts

  • 7 p.m. The poet and Cave Canem fellow hosted a poetry master class, “Minding the Stops/Minding the Line,” Monteabaro Recital Hall, Howard Community College. In cooperation with the English/World Languages Division.

October 5, 2011 Terrance Hayes and Tara Betts

  • 7:30 p.m. National Book Award-winner Hayes and emerging poet Betts reading their work and discussing poetry with each other and the audience in “The Promise of Poetry,” Monteabaro Recital Hall, Howard Community College.

December 19, 2011 Bill’s Buddies

  • 10 a.m. A troupe of actors from the Folger Shakespeare Library performed scenes for middle school students at Marriotts Ridge High School.


February 17, 2012 Hugo Hamilton

  • 7:30 p.m. The memoirist and novelist read from his works at the 34th Annual Evening of Irish Music and Poetry, preceded by harpist Jared Denhard, followed by a concert from the Narrowbacks, Smith Theatre, Howard Community College.

April 26, 2012 Naomi Ayala

  • As part of the county school system’s Professional Development Day, poet Ayala held a workshop for English and language arts teachers.

April 26, 2012 Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio, and Mother Ruckus

  • 10 a.m. and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. In cooperation with Howard Community College, the Blackbird Poetry Festival’s “Poetry in Harmony” featured poets Cirelli, Addonizio and Ayala in readings and workshops. The evening, Nightbird, reading gave Cirelli and Addonizio the stage in the Kittleman Room at Howard Community College, which was followed by a performance by musical duo Mother Ruckus.

June 27, 2012 Edith Pearlman

  • 7:30 p.m. The National Book Critics Circle Award winner and short story author read from her collection Binocular Vision before a sold-out audience at Historic Oakland as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

October to May, 2013 Derrick Weston Brown

  • Poet-in-residence visited 595 students in the county’s high schools and the Homewood Center.

October 2, 2012 Jeannette Seaver and Michael Dirda

  • 2 p.m. Seaver, widow of Richard Seaver, editor and founder of Globe Press, discussed his memoir, which she edited, entitled Tender Hour of Twilight: Paris in the 50s, New York in the 60s: A Memoir of Publishing’s Golden Age with Dirda, Washington Post book critic, in honor of Banned Books Week.


October 15, 2013 Siobhan Fallon

  • 2 and 7 p.m. Fallon read from and discussed her short story collection, You Know When the Men are Gone, in the afternoon at Smith Theatre, then read at the Miller Library in the evening.

November 2, 2012 Toi Derricotte

  • 7:30 p.m. The 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award-winner and Cave Canem founder read and sang her poetry in Monteabaro Recital Hall, Howard Community College.

December 17, 2012 Bill’s Buddies

  • 10 a.m. A troupe of actors from the Folger Shakespeare Library performed scenes from Shakespeare’s plays for middle school students, Marriotts Ridge High School.

March 1, 2013 Colum McCann

  • 7:30 p.m. The National Book Award-winning novelist read for the first time in public from his then-forthcoming novel, TransAtlantic, as part of the 35th Annual Evening of Irish Music and Poetry. A concert of traditional Irish music followed, with Narrowbacks and stepdancers from the Culkin School, and an impromptu musical appearance by Gov. Martin O’Malley. Smith Theatre.

April 23, 2013 Rives, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Kendra Kopelke and Rocket Sled

  • 11 a.m., 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. As part of the fourth annual Blackbird Poetry Festival, Rives and Griffiths led students in workshops in the morning. Rives read his work with students interacting with him in the afternoon in the lounge, HCC. Then Rives and Griffiths read their work at Nightbird, the evening reading, followed by a coffeehouse concert by the musical duo Rocket Sled, Kittleman Room.

June 27, 2013 Patricia Smith and the Sage String Quartet

  • 7:30 p.m. In a program called “The Sound and Fury of New Orleans,” poet Smith read and recited her poetry about Hurricane Katrina from her book Blood Dazzler, while the string quartet accompanied her with Wynton Marsalis’ At the Octoroon Balls. Presented in Monteabaro Recital Hall as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

November 9, 2013 Michael Glaser

  • 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Former Maryland Poet Laureate Glaser headlined a series of events, “Telling Our Stories.” He taught a poetry workshop inspired by Lucille Clifton and her work to English and language arts teachers. And at 7:30 p.m., several of those teachers read their poetry. Glaser read his own poetry, as well as some poems by Clifton. The evening reading was co-presented by the Columbia chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

December 19, 2013 Bill’s Buddies

  • 10 a.m. A troupe of actors from the Folger Shakespeare Library performed scenes from the comedies and tragedies for middle school students bused to Marriotts Ridge High School.


February 21, 2014 Stuart Isacoff

  • 2 p.m. Music writer Isacoff played piano and spoke about his book Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization. A discussion followed, led by Washington Post classical music critic Anne Midgette. Co-sponsored with the Candlelight Concert Society, Smith Theatre, Howard Community College.

March 14, 2014 Paula Meehan and Theo Dorgan

  • 8 p.m. The pair of poets read their work and memorialized the late Seamus Heaney at the 36th Annual Evening of Irish Music and Poetry, followed by a concert by Narrowbacks, preceded by harpist Jared Denhard, Smith Theatre.

April 24, 2014 Billy Collins

  • 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. The former National Poet Laureate read his work with students in the afternoon, and solo in the evening, Smith Theatre.

October 22, 2014 Rita Dove and Joshua Coyne Celebrate History and Creativity

  • 7:30 p.m. In celebration of HoCoPoLitSo’s 40th year, former National Poet Laureate Rita Dove  read from her acclaimed most-recent book of poems, Sonata Mulattica, about historical Afro-European violinist George Bridgetower. Violin virutuoso Joshua Coyne will played original music inspired by literature. Coyne’s story as a young African-American classical musician is juxtaposed with Bridgetower’s in the upcoming documentary film Sonata Mulattica, which also features Dove. Extended scenes from the film  premiered at the event, followed by a discussion with Dove, Coyne, and the film’s creators. Monteabaro Recital Hall, Howard Community College.


January 23, 2015 E. Ethelbert Miller and HoCoPoLitSo Celebrate 40 years with the launch of 20 Years, 20 Poets,Vol. 2.

  • 6 p.m. HoCoPoLitSo launched its poetry anthology, Twenty Years, Twenty Poets, Volume II, in honor of its 40th anniversary, at a reception the Howard County Center for the Arts. The launch was held in conjunction with the Howard County Arts Council and Howard County Tourism opening of two exhibits, Ho Co Open 2015 and Poetic Energetic. The reception featured E. Ethelbert Miller reading from the anthology. Howard County Center for the Arts.

February 6, 2015 Irish Evening, featuring Emma Donoghue, the Narrowbacks, Stepdancing

  • 7:30 p.m. HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for the 37th Annual Irish Evening was the international best-selling and award-winning novelist Emma Donoghue. Donoghue’s reading was  followed by the Narrowbacks — Eileen Korn Estes, Jesse Winch, Terence Winch, Linda Hickman, and Brendan Mulvihill on fiddle in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School. Smith Theatre, Howard Community College

April 18, 2015 Dinaw Mengestu

  • 4pm Recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, Dinaw Mengestu’s read from his work. There was a post-reading talk-back and book signing. Presented in partnership with the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

 April 23, 2015 The Blackbird Poetry Festival with Taylor Mali, Chris August, and Steve Mandes

  • 11am – 12:20 Morningbird Reading: Featuring writer, activist, and former special educator Chris August, 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam champion,  and teacher, poet, and fiction writer Steve Mandes.
  • 2:30 – 4:30pm Sunbird Reading with Taylor Mali and others. Students, faculty and staff joined the renowned Taylor Mali on the stage of Smith Theater for the traditional afternoon Blackbird Poetry Festival reading.
  • 7:00 – 8:30pm The Nightbird Reading – Taylor Mali. The Nightbird Reading showcased the festival’s featured reader, Taylor Mali, one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the few people in the world to have no job other than that of poet.

May 15, 2015 Dominique Morrisseau’s Sunset Baby

  • 8pm A unique one-night only special presentation of Dominique Morisseau’s Sunset Baby, engaging and connecting Howard County and Baltimore audiences, The program, presented in partnership with the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), Rep Stage and Center Stage, was made possible by an Outreach Grant from the Howard County Arts Council through Howard County government. After the performance of the play, a panel discussion and audience talk back was held.

 June 26, 2015 A world Poetry Party

  • 7 pm Poems in Spanish, Korean, American Sign Language, Italian, Polish, and Bulgarian were performed in the readers’ native language and then in English. This free event was part of the June Columbia Festival of the Arts. Readers young and old from around the world will perfromed their own work, or the work of poets famous in their native languages. Bulgarian poet and journalist Lyubomir Nikolov will be the master of ceremonies. Studio Theatre in the Horowitz Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College.

Underground Rooftop Coffee House — Voices from the Edge

Rouse Company Foundation, Student Services Building Room 400
Howard Community College
September 10th, 7-9 pm

In partnership with HCC’s Arts Collective and the What Improv Group ?!?!? and the campus’s Creative Writers.

image026Please join us for an Underground Rooftop Coffee House, an event fuses W.I.G.’s underground, edgy take on improv with powerful and evocative stories inspired by poets and writers. W.I.G.’s cast features HCC students, staff and guest artists: Douglas Beatty, Noah Bird, Diego Esmolo, Doug Goodin, Daniel Johnston, Autumn Kramer, Terri Laurino, Scott Lichtor, Thomas Matera, Apryl Motley, Shannon Willing, Sierra Young… and a few secret-surprise guests! This event will also feature poetry and prose written by HoCoPoLitSo’s Nsikan Akpan and Katy Day and local Stoop star James Karantonis. You can’t have a coffee house without music, right? Chris Sisson and Steven Caballero will provide an acoustical array of songs for the evening.

Tickets: Includes Coffee & Treats!

$10 All Students with I.D., Seniors/Military/Groups
$15 General Admission

Parental guidance suggested. No one under 14 admitted. Seating is limited, reserve tickets now!

Special Event – Post-Show Discussion:
Following 9/10’s performance!

Click here for tickets.

Erase Hate Through Art Reading and Reception

Columbia Association Art Center
October 11 •
1pm – 5pm

EraseHateA gallery reception and reading with musical performances hosted by Ashlee Jozet Adam and Regina Jozet Adams. Musical performances by Terrell Brown, Laura Farrell, The Mosaic Harmony Gospel Choir, and debuting the music of Ben Harrell. Live Poetry presented in association with the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society.

A Little Patuxent Review Quartet:
Michael Salcman, M.D., Fred Foote, M.D.,  Ann Bracken, and Jen Grow

Howard County Library, Miller Branch
September 20th, 7-9 pm

In Partnership with Little Patuxent Review and the Howard County Library a reading by poets Michael Salcman, M.D., Fred Foote, M.D.,  Ann Bracken, and and short story writer Jen Grow.

E. Ethelbert Miller

Monteabaro Recital Hall
Howard Community College

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Beans with No Salt: Poetry and Percussion
featuring Steven Leyva and Josh Soto

Kittleman Room of Duncan Hall
Howard Community College
February 6, 4-6 pm


Steven Leyva

Join HoCoPoLitSo for a coffeehouse afternoon of poetry and music, with a bit of Zydeco as a warm-up for Mardi Gras. Steven Leyva, author of Low Parish and a lecturer at University of Baltimore, reads his work centered around the tuneful town of New Orleans, his hometown, as well as from Willie Perdomo’s The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon. Josh Soto, a drummer and educator, will play congas and jazz drum set with Levya’s reading.

In Créole the word Zydeco could translate to “Green Beans,” but colloquially a better approximation would be “Beans with no salt,” which is a sly way of expressing hard times. The reciprocal movement between lack and plenty, famine and feast, often inspires innovation in literature and music, making the borders of genres porous. Using improvisation, audience participation, and bit of luck, Leyva and Soto seek to carve out a space in the ear and imagination where hard times breed a new music for the heart, and percussion becomes the poet’s blank page.

Coffee and snacks will be served before and during the performance, and a question and answer session follows. The event is Feb. 6, 2016, from 4 to 6 p.m., in the Kittleman Room of Duncan Hall on the campus of Howard Community College. Tickets are $15 for general audiences, $10 for students and seniors, available online here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2474220


The 38th Annual Irish Evening featuring Eamon Grennan.

Smith Theatre
Howard Community College
February 19th, 7:30 pm

Eamon GrennanEsteemed Irish poet Eamon Grennan will  from his work for HoCoPoLItSo’s 38th Annual Irish Evening. The reading will be followed by music from the Narrowbacks, featuring Eileen Korn Estes, Jesse Winch, Terence Winch, Linda Hickman, and Brendan Mulvihill in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School.

Grennan has published over twenty books of verse, along with translations and a collection of essays about modern Irish poetry. Hie most recent is There Now was released in July 2015. His works have won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for Leopardi: Selected Poems (1997), the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets for Still Life with Waterfall (2002),and Pushcart Prizes. His collection Out of Breath (2007) was nominated for the 2008 Poetry Now Award and he was a finalist for both the LA Times Book Prize for What Light There Is and Other Poems (1989) and So It Goes (1995) for the Paterson Poetry Prize.

Tickets are available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2465863

The 7th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival with Marie Howe


Howard Community College
April 28th, throughout the day

Mark your calendars and stay tuned for details, the 6th annual Blackbird Poetry Festival will bring Marie Howe to the campus of Howard Community College for a day of poetry on April 28th.

Tickets for the Nightbird reading with Marie Howe are available here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2476204

An Afternoon with Laura Lippman

Slayton House
Saturday, May 7 • 2pm

WL-LippmanRenowned author Laura Lippman reads from and discusses her latest novel, Wilde Lake at Slayton House in Columbia’s village of Wilde Lake. This event is sponsored by the Wilde Lake Village association and HoCoPoLitSo.

This event is FREE but registration is required. Register through Eventbrite here.


Novelist Nadia Hashimi and Refugees on the Silk Road

Monteabaro Hall
Howard Community College
June 26, 4 pm

2012-HashimiHeadshots-0588_Retouched_01Nadia Hashimi, a pediatrician of Afghan descent, will read from her latest novel, which has its roots in today’s refugee crisis. When the Moon is Low tells the story of a single mother’s terrifying odyssey to escape the Taliban in war-torn Afghanistan and seek asylum in the West. With forged papers, the family faces dangerous border crossings, exhaustion and hunger in their effort to reach safety.

“It’s never easy to leave one’s home, especially when there are only closed doors ahead of you.”
-Nadia Hashimi, When the Moon is Low 

Hashimi’s parents left Afghanistan in the early 1970s and settled in the United States to chase the American dream. Her debut novel, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell (Harper Collins, 2014) is an international bestseller and was a 2014 Goodreads finalist.

Hashimi will also offer audiences a sneak peek at her new novel, coming out in August, about women in today’s Afghanistan imprisoned for breaking social rules. This co-production with the Columbia Festival of the Arts is part of the Silk Road Stories summer festival.

General admission tickets are $15 each (Howard County students are free) and available on-line at:


Read Susan Thornton Hobby’s preview of this event here.



2016/17 Season



Carolyn Forché – The Lucille Clifton Reading Series

Sunday, October 30 at 4pm – Monteabaro Recital Hall, HCC Campus

HoCoPoLitSo presents An Unflinching Eye: Carolyn Forché and her Poetry of Witness for its annual Lucille Clifton Reading Series season opener.  Carolyn Forché, human rights activist and renowned poet of witness, will read and discuss her writing starting at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, in the Monteabaro Recital Hall of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts.  General admission tickets are on a pay-as-you-can basis — $10 or $5 each or free for students under the age of 18 — and are available on-line at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2568971 or by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope and check payable and mailed to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044.

39th Annual Irish Evening

Friday, February 1o at 7:30 – Smith Theatre, HCC Campus

mckeon_mailchimpHoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its 39th Annual Irish Evening is novelist Belinda McKeon. She will read from her work starting at 7:30 p.m., February 10, 2017, at the Smith Theatre, Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College.
McKeon’s reading will be followed by the Narrowbacks in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School. The Narrowbacks are Eileen Korn Estes, Jesse Winch, Terence Winch, Linda Hickman, Dominick Murray, and introducing Michael Winch. The Narrowbacks will be performing music from their newly released CD This Day Too: Music from Irish America.

An award-winning playwright and journalist, Ms. McKeon’s first novel Solace won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Sunday Independent Best Newcomer Award and was named Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book of the Year in 2011. In 2015 her second novel Tender was published. Shortlisted for Novel of the Year at the 2015 Irish Book Awards, Irish Times, author John Boyne called Tender “the best Irish novel Ive read since The Spinning Heart, a work rich with wisdom, truth and beauty.”

Tickets will be on sale starting November 15 at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2716229.

Free Screening – Robert Bly: A Thousand Years of Joy

Thursday, March 9, 2017 –
from 7-8:30 pm
Miller Branch of the Howard County Library
Let us know you are coming: register through the Howard County Library or call 410-313-1950.

Robert Bly: A Thousand Years of Joy – Official Trailer (2014) from Haydn Reiss on Vimeo.

Join the Howard County Library and HoCoPoLitSo for a special screening of the documentary filmA Thousand Years of Joy, which charts the path of revolutionary poet Robert Bly from Minnesota farmer’s son to radical anti-Vietnam War activist to wild man of the 1990’s men’s movement. Best known as the author of the bestseller Iron John, which launched a million men drumming in the woods, Bly has been both celebrated and vilified, but above all has persisted in championing the power and importance of poetry in today’s America.

Robert Bly was a guest of the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society in June of 1997. During his visit, co-sponsored by the Columbia Festival of the Arts, he led a workshop at Howard Community College, presented a reading in the Smith Theatre and taped an edition of The Writing Life with Cornelius Eady.


9th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival
Featuring Tyehimba Jess

Sunbird Reading: Thursday, April 27 at 2:30 – HCC
Nightbird Reading: Thursday, April 27 at 7:30 – HCC

tyehimbajessHoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its ninth annual Blackbird Poetry Festival is award winning writer and slam poet Tyehimba Jess. The Blackbird Poetry Festival, to be held April 27, 2017, on the campus of Howard Community College, is a day devoted to verse, with student workshops, book sales, readings and patrols by the poetry police. The Sunbird poetry reading, featuring Mr. Jess, as well as Washington, D.C., writer and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller and Howard Community College students, will start at 2:30 p.m. Mr. Jess will read from and discuss his most recent work, Olio, as well as leadbelly, winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series, during the Nightbird Poetry Reading, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Theatre of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts. Nightbird admission tickets are $15 each (students and seniors are $10) available on-line at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2551545 or by sending a self-addressed envelope and check payable to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044. Tickets will be available at the door.

Presenting John Gregory Brown and Carrie Brown

Sunday, June 4th, 2017 at 4pm – Slayton House, Wilde Lake Village Center

HoCoPoLitSo’s Celebration of Columbia’s 50th Birthday brings back renowned authors and once upon a time Columbia residents John Gregory Brown and Carrie Brown. Presented in partnership with Wilde Lake Community Association. Ticket link: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2725249.



2017/18 Season

Life, Death, and Social Media: Staying Human in the Digital Age with Author Laurie Frankel

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 – 1:00 p.m.

Howard Community College – RCF 400
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044

8966399If you could connect with your beloved dead through technology, would you? Laurie Frankel’s novel, Goodbye for Now, is a love story with technology at its heart. Join us to hear Frankel read from her ground-breaking book at HoCoPoLitSo’s series celebrating ground-breaking poet and HoCoPoLitSo artistic advisor Lucille Clifton. Gather with a group of curious minds for this intriguing discussion. The New York Times said Frankel’s book, “extends the reach of technology just beyond our fingertips, where it feels possible.” This program is brought to you by the Howard County Book Connection; a partnership between Howard Community College, the Howard County Public Library System, and the Howard County Poetry & Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo). A book signing will follow. Tickets not required.

Seniors can request transportation by calling 410.715.3087. For other accommodations, call 443.518.4568 by October 16.

This event is free. Click here to register and let us know you are coming.


Life In The Global Language
An International Diversity Week Event

November 14, 2017 1-2 pm, Duncan Hall Rm 100 (Kittleman Room)

Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD

HoCoPoLitSo and Howard Community College’s World Languages will present and facilitate audience discussion on literature as a “global language,” with immense power to connect, inform, and enlighten us across cultures, geography, and time periods. HoCoPoLitSo members and HCC faculty and staff will read poems as originally written in languages from around the world, followed by an English translation. The event will include a series of brief clips from HoCoPoLitSo’s TV show The Writing Life in which writers discuss a variety of works, such as Israeli poems of war and peace, Japanese internment, Latin immigrants, African American history, and issues of translation.

This event is free and open to the public.

February 9 — The Fortieth Annual Evening of Irish Literature, Music and Dance — Featuring Novelist Mike McCormack

7:30 pm, Friday, February 9, 2018

Smith Theatre
Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD

HoCoPoLitSo’s annual Irish celebration will feature a reading by award-winning writer Mike McCormack, new and traditional Irish music by Narrowbacks, and step dancing. McCormack’s newest novel, Solar Bones, is long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. The Guardian’s review of Solar Bones was subtitled, “an extraordinary hymn to small-town Ireland.” Scones, beer, cocktails, Irish coffee, book sales and signing round out the night. 7:30 p.m.

Blossoms of Hope Annual Theme Exhibition Reception – Dancing for Claudia: Movement Through Words and Art

Friday, April 13, 2018
6:00 PM 8:00 PM
Columbia Art Center


Area writers and artists collaborate on the theme of movement in this year’s Blossoms of Hope annual show at the Columbia Association Art Center. The reception in the gallery will feature readings from participating writers. Proceeds from Entry Fees and Sales benefit Blossoms of Hope, which supports the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center and other causes.

Sponsored by Blossoms of Hope of Howard County, Columbia Art Center, Volunteer Center Serving Howard County, and HoCoPoLitSo.

Show runs: April 13-May 6, 2018


The Fierce Revolution of Marilyn Chin
HoCoPoLitSo’s Tenth Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

Thursday, April 26, 2017

Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044

Marilyn Chin

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 Poetry Police.

2:30 p.m. — The Sunbird Reading – Smith Theatre – featuring Ms. Chin, as well as Washington, D.C., poet and educator Joseph Ross, local authors, and Howard Community College faculty and students.

7:30 p.m. — The Nightbird Reading –  Smith Theatre. Ms. Chin will read from and discuss her poetry, including her most recent work, Hard Love Province, as well as from earlier works. Tickets are $20 each (seniors $15 and students $10). Click here for tickets to the Nightbird Reading.

Hard Love Province won the 2015 Anisfield-Wolf National Prize for Literature that confronts racism and examines diversity. Former winners of this prize include Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong Kingston, Gwendolyn Brooks and Oprah Winfrey.

Joseph Ross

Marilyn Chin co-directs the MFA program at San Diego State University and has won numerous awards for her poetry, including from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Stegner Fellowship, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, four Pushcart Prizes, the Paterson Prize, and many others.

Joseph Ross’s newest collection of poems, Ache, was published in 2017. Sarah Browning, director of Split This Rock, noted “The poems in Ache do just that, they ache – from the wounds inflicted by racism, from history’s ravages. The wail, the poems insist, ‘is the language/inside every tongue.’ Joseph Ross’s moral vision is unsparing, truth-telling, fierce.”


Writers’ Perch at Lakefest hosted by the Columbia Festival of the Arts

Saturday, June 16, 2018 – 12 p.m. –  4 p.m.
Downtown Columbia Lakefront

Stop by and say hello at what we are calling our “Writers’ Perch” booth at this year’s Lakefest. We’ll be there with literary activities, information about HoCoPoLitSo and other local lit orgs, and a few writers sharing advice and insights on writing.

2019/2020  Season

A Harlem Renaissance Speakeasy: Featuring Live Jazz and Poetry from the 1920s

October 5, 2019 – 7:30 p.m.

Rouse Company Foundation Student Services Hall
Howard Community College

Join HoCoPoLitSo as it begins its 45th season and Howard Community College’s Arts Collective begins its 25th with this unique historical exploration of the art that transformed our world!
Arts Collective and HoCoPoLitSo partner to create a transcendent evening of live jazz, poetry, and visual art from the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance.  Explore the power of words and music from artists such as Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Duke Ellington and others within a speakeasy atmosphere evocative of the era. Period attire encouraged!
Experience the magical and powerful performances by local poets, musical theater performers, and a jazz quintet (“Petra Martin and The Jazz Masters”) who will perform some of the most sophisticated and inspired literary and artistic achievements of the period.
This event will also feature speakeasy inspired Hors D’ Oeuvres and desserts (by “My Sweets and More”), a Cash Bar, Signature Cocktails (“The Bees Knees” & “Sweet Lucille”) & more!
Tickets are $45.00 and include Speakeasy-inspired hors d’oeuvres, deserts. Cash bar available. (Ticket link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/10434325)

Featured artists:

Dr. Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive: Honorary Event Chair
Linda Joy Burke: Emcee & Hostess – as Georgia Douglas Johnson

Poet Portrayals include:

Petra Martin (Photo: Nichol Belvedere)

Shawn Sebastian Naar – as Langston Hughes
Chania Hudson – as Gwendolyn Bennett
Alan King – as Claude McKay
Faye McCray – as Alice Dunbar Nelson
Nana Owusu – as Countee Cullen

Jazz Quintet:

Petra Martin and The Jazz Masters
Petra Martin (Vocals)
Jon Ozment (Piano)
Wes Biles (Upright Bass)
Jeff Neal (Drums)
Vaughn Ambrose (Sax)

Musical Theatre Performers:

Valerie A. Higgs, Mayumi B. Griffie, Jamar Brown

Event Creatives:

Set and Projections Design: Emma K. McDonnell
Sound Design: Austin Sapp
Light Design: Eric Moore
Costume Stylist: Jessica Welch
Stage Crew: Keith Becraft, Daniel Johnston, Sarah Luckadoo, Jessica Welch


My Sweets and More

Between The Leaves

October 28, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. • Free

The Enchanted Garden
Miller Branch Howard County Library

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.

Charles E. Miller Branch Library
Oct 28, 2019, 7:00 PM

The Between The Leaves Project brings poetry to the garden in the form of signs bearing excerpts from poems and novels that relate to growing food in such places. The garden, a lovely quarter-acre just outside the library branch, is maintained by volunteers, from library teens to Master Gardeners. Food grown in the garden is harvested and donated to the Howard County Food Bank.

For this occasion, local authors, board members of HoCoPoLitSo, and staff and friends of the library will read poems that will leave us hungry for more. Hear works by Robert Frost, Lucille Clifton, Nikki Giovanni, Gary Snyder, Pablo Neruda, and other authors.

Snacks will be served and books with the poems, as well as excerpts from novels and short stories, will be available for borrowing.

Drop in to The Enchanted Garden and chew on a few tasty words with us. We’d love to see you there.

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HoCoPoLitSo’s 42nd Annual Irish Evening

Alice McDermott – O’Malley’s March – Teelin Dance Company

February 21, 2020 – 7:30 p.m.
Smith Theatre – Howard Community College

HoCoPoLitSo’s annual Irish Evening on February 21, 2020, will feature award-winning author Alice McDermott, Celtic rock band O’Malley’s March and the Teelin Dance Company. McDermott, three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and National Book Award winner, will read, followed by a rousing concert of electric Irish folk music and championship step dancing. Click here for tickets.

“Everything that her readers, the National Book Award committee, and the Pulitzer Prize judges love about McDermott’s stories of Irish-Catholic American life is back,” a Kirkus starred review noted about her most recent novel, The Ninth Hour.

The Associated Press said “[T]he story is exhilarating, largely because of McDermott’s lyrical language and unforgettable characters . . .[T]he nuns of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor . . are as fierce, funny, complicated and brave as any women in our fictional universe today.” The Guardian noted “McDermott’s award-winning body of work constitutes its own fictional world; she returns again and again to the Irish in the U.S., to the heartlessness and the consolations of Catholicism. … her new book unfolds without sentimentality or pity, but with a frankness of gaze that elevates her characters rather than diminishes them.”

The evening program begins at 7:30 p.m., but Irish coffee, Guinness, and other beverages and snacks will be offered for sale beginning at 7 p.m. and during intermission. Book sale and signing by the author after her reading. After intermission, O’Malley’s March, fronted by former Gov. Martin O’Malley, will play traditional Irish music and Celtic rock, with guitar, fiddle, harp, bodhran, electric bass, trombone, accordion, bagpipes and tin whistle.

McDermott joins the long list of illustrious Irish authors HoCoPoLitSo has brought to Howard County audiences, including Frank McCourt, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Colum McCann, and Emma Donoghue. For more than 40 years, HoCoPoLitSo’s Irish Evening has celebrated the substantial impact of Irish-born writers on the world of contemporary literature.

CANCELLED – 12th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival with Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown, Journalist and Poet.

Poet and PBS Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown headlines the festival, April 30, 2020, on the campus of Howard Community College, a day devoted to verse, with workshops, book sales, readings, and patrols by the Poetry Police. The Sunbird poetry reading, featuring Mr. Brown, local writers, and Howard Community College faculty and students, starts at 2:30 p.m. and is free. Mr. Brown will read from and discuss his poetry during the Nightbird Poetry Reading, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Monteabaro Hall of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts.

Workshops, open to the public, will take place in the Kittleman Room of Duncan Hall at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Ann Bracken, the author of two collections of poetry, No Barking in the Hallways: Poems from the Classroom (2017) and The Altar of Innocence (2015), will offer a workshop on poetry as a way of reporting your life as part of the festival. Bracken, twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, will hold her free workshop at 9:30 a.m. in the Kittleman Room.

Nightbird admission tickets are $15 each (seniors and students $10) available on-line here: GET TICKETS. For tickets by mail, send a self-addressed envelope and check payable to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044.

Wilde Readings

Wilde Readings, sponsored in part by HoCoPoLitSo, is a free monthly literary reading series that provides local writers — poets, fiction, non-fiction — a chance to share their work with the community. The format showcases featured authors, as well as an open mic for interested audience members.

Wilde Readings are held the second Tuesdays of each month from September through early summer at the Columbia Association Art Center in the village of Long Reach. Readings start at 7 p.m.

“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 the Columbia Arts Center, or when you arrive. The number is 410-730-0075.”

Scheduled featured readers:

September 10 – Bro. Yao Glover and Venus Thrash and you.

Hosted by Linda Joy Burke.

Bro. Yao (Hoke S. Glover III) is a poet and non-fiction writer living in Lanham, MD. His work has been published in Crab Orchard Review, African-American Review, Ploughshares, Beltway Quarterly, and other journals. He teaches at Bowie State University in the Department of Language, Literature, and Cultural Studies.

Venus Thrash is the author of The Fateful Apple, which was nominated for the 2015 PEN Open Book Award. Her poetry has been published in literary journals and anthologies. She has read at the Bryant Park Reading Room, the Black Poetry Series at UNC and the New School. She’s an alumna of The Vermont Studio Center, a Cave Canem graduate fellow and a Summer Literary Seminar in Kenya and Fire and Ink scholar. She’s co-editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly and is on the English faculty at Trinity Washington University.

October 15 – Cija Jefferson and Joelle Biele.

Hosted by Faye McCray

Cija (pronounced Kia) Jefferson is the author of Sonic Memories, and host of Writers & Words, a Baltimore reading series. Her work has been featured in multiple publications including Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Baltimore Style, Yellow Arrow Journal, The Conversation w/ Amanda de Cadenet, and HelloGiggles. She earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts from University of Baltimore, and B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. Find her on IG & Twitter @cijasquips

Joelle Biele is the author of Tramp, Broom, and White Summer and the editor of Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence. A Fulbright professor in Germany and Poland, she has taught creative writing and American literature at Goucher College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland. She lives in Ellicott City.

November 12 Abdul Ali and Ned Tillman

Abdul Ali

Abdul Ali is a poet, educator, and literary activist. Ali has taught at Howard, Johns Hopkins, and Towson Universities, and his writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Plume, Gathering of Tribes, and the Poetry Foundation database. Born and raised in New York City, Ali is currently writing new work and focusing on literary preservation through humanities programming in Baltimore, MD. Trouble Sleeping, his debut collection of poems, received glowing reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal.


Ned Tillman is an award-winning author and earth scientist. He has spent his career cleaning up the environment and more recently fighting climate change. He has served as the chairman for the Howard County Sustainability Board, the Howard County Conservancy, and also serves on the Horizon Foundation Board, and the Maryland Academy of sciences.

December 10  Jona Colson and Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka.

Hosted by Laura Shovan.

Jona Colson’s first poetry collection, Said Through Glass, won the Jean Feldman Poetry Prize from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, The Massachusetts Review and elsewhere. His translations and interviews can be found in Prairie Schooner, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Writer’s Chronicle. He is an associate professor of ESL at Montgomery College in Maryland and lives in Washington, DC.

Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka is a prize-winning poet, translator, and photographer. She is the author of two books: Oblige the Light from CityLit Press; Face Half-Illuminated, Apprentice House. Translator and editor for four books by Lidia Kosk, including Meadows of Memory, coming out in October. Her translations of poems by Lucille Clifton, Josephine Jacobsen, and Linda Pastan have appeared in Poland. Published in Notre Dame Review, Spillway, Subtropics, and elsewhere. She is co-editor of Loch Raven Review. More at: danutakk.wordpress.com.

January 14 – Melanie Hatter & Sherri Cook Woosley Hosted by Faye McCray.

Melanie S. Hatter is an award-winning author of two novels and one short story collection. Selected by Edwidge Danticat, Malawi’s Sisters won the inaugural Kimbilio National Fiction Prize, published by Four Way Books in 2019. The Color of My Soul won the 2011 Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fiction Prize, and Let No One Weep for Me, Stories of Love and Loss was released in 2015.

Sherri Cook Woosley has a M.A. in Language and Literature with a focus on comparative mythology from the University of Maryland. Her short fiction has been published in Pantheon Magazine, Abyss & Apex Magazine, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Walking Through Fire is her debut novel and combines her experience of being a parent of a child with cancer with Sumerian mythology. It has been longlisted for both the Booknest Debut Novel award and Baltimore’s Best 2019 in the novel category. Sherri lives, writes, and teaches yoga in Harford County, MD.

February 11 – Pantea A. Tofangchi & Rissa Miller Hosted by Laura Shovan

Rissa Miller is a working artist living in Maryland. She is rarely found without hot green tea in her hands. She studied writing at New York University/Tisch School of the Arts and photojournalism at Western Kentucky University. In her career, she has worked for five publications, including The Baltimore Sun. Currently, Rissa is the Senior Editor at Vegetarian Journal magazine.

Pantea A. Tofangchi is an Iranian-American poet, writer and graphic designer. She is the Art Director and graphic designer for Passager and Passager Books, Advertising Media Plus and The Business Monthly. She writes poems (in English), essays, stories and plays (mostly in Persian.) Her work has been published in Welter, Little Patuxent Review, Ploughshares, Atlanta Review in which she won the International Merit Award, and other journals. She was selected as a finalist for The National Poetry Series’ 2016 and Georgia Poetry Prize 2018.

March 10 – Reuben Jackson & Edgar Silex Hosted by Linda Joy Burke

Reuben Jackson is Archivist with the University of The District Of Columbia’s Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. From 1989 until 2009, he was Archivist and Curator with the Smithsonian Institution’s Duke Ellington Collection, and host of Vermont Public Radio’s Friday Night Jazz from 2012 until 2018. Reuben’s poetry has been published in over 40 anthologies, and in two volumes of poetry: 1991’s fingering the keys, and 2019’s collection of new and selected poems entitled Scattered Clouds.

Edgar Gabriel Silex graduated Cum Laude from the University of Maryland University College, and has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Maryland. He is the author of two poetry books, a chapbook, and short fiction and received grants from the NEA, NEH, and MSAC. He’s widely published and anthologized appearing in Rattle, Callallo, Gargoyle, Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. Recent work is found in K’in, Chiron Review, Weatherbeaten, Gargoyle and Free State Review. He lives in Baltimore.

April 14 – Virtual – Teri Cross Davis and Hayes Davis Hosted by Ann Bracken.

Teri Cross Davis is the author of Haint, (Gival Press) winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She has received fellowships to attend Cave Canem, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, the Community of Writers Workshop, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is the 2019/20 HoCoPoLitSo Writer-in-Residence and the poetry coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Hayes Davis’ first volume, Let Our Eyes Linger, was published by Poetry Mutual Press. His work has appeared in New England Review and other journals, and many anthologies. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016 and 2017, and was a member of Cave Canem’s (CAH-vay CAH-nem) first cohort of fellows. He teaches high-school English in Washington, DC, and lives in Silver Spring with his wife, poet Teri Ellen Cross Davis, and their children.

May 12 – Virtual – Diane Wilbon Parks and Rus Van Westervelt. Hosted by Ann Bracken.

Diane Wilbon Parks is a poet, visual artist, and author. Diane has written a children’s book and two poetry collections; her most recent, published collection is The Wisdom of Blue Apples. She is completing her third and newest collection of poetry. Diane is one of six PG County Poets whose poetry has been highlighted throughout Maryland. She celebrated the permanent installation of one of her poems and art pieces on a sign at the Patuxent Research Refuge – North Tract. Diane has been a featured poet on Prince George’s CTV’s Awarding Winning Program, Sojourn With Words, Danny Queen’s, Pod Cast, Color Me Poetry, and at many venues throughout the DMV. Diane has read for Grace Cavalieri’s “The Poet and The Poem” at the Library of Congress; she holds a degree in Information Systems Management. She is a U. S. Air Force Veteran and resides in Maryland with her husband, daughter, son and dog, Cooper.

Rus VanWestervelt writes on the fine line between fact and fiction. He earned his MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and has written for the Baltimore Sun, Catholic Review, and Baltimore’s Child, among others. His true passion, however, is writing novels, including his latest, Fossil Five (2019, The JAR Writers’ Collective). Rus was also the director of the 9/11 project, which culminated in the anthology, September Eleven: Maryland Voices. Follow Rus at www.thebaltimorewriter.org.

June 9 – Virtual – Christine Lincoln and Kim Roberts Hosted by Linda Joy Burke

Christine Lincoln is Poet Laureate Emeritus of York, Pennsylvania. She is the author of Sap Rising, and her stories have appeared at Symphony Space and Word Theatre, performed by actors Don Cheadle, Gary Dourdan, and Lizan Mitchell. Christine has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and has been featured as a “Phenomenal Woman” in O Magazine. Most of all, Christine is an artist activist. She resides in Ghana and uses her art to heal her community.

Kim Roberts is the author of A Literary Guide to Washington, DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Writers from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston (University of Virginia Press, 2018), and five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). She is the editor of a forthcoming anthology of early DC poets (title still to be determined, University of Virginia Press, April 2021). http://www.kimroberts.org

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