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Recommended Reading: Student Neal Goturi Takes a Look at Popular Cherry Castle Anthology Where We Stand.


As the popular anthology Where We Stand, Poems of Black Resilience is available for sale again, we share student Neal Goturi’s review of a reading held this summer to promote the first printing of the anthology. Neal is a sophomore at River Hill High School and he has recently begun serving as a Bauder Youth Advisor on the board of the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society.


“I can not praise and recommend
Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience enough.”

Last summer, I went to the reading of the poetry anthology, Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience, in the Lucille Clifton Reading Room of Busboys and Poets, the popular restaurant in Downtown Columbia that has a performance space on the second floor. It was the first reading I had ever attended; I was excited to take a break from the more conventional avenues of consuming literature and branch out.

Where We Stand has its roots in a group of socially conscious poets and artists coming together to process the outcomes of the 2016 election and the impending doom of America’s ethos. By the end of production, one understood that editors Enzo Sirloin, Melanie Henderson, and Truth Thomas have put together a must-read collection . It features nearly 30 authors, and a number of poems from each. Powerful photographs partition the book into four parts: Watch for Black Lives, The District Line, The Breathing Fence, and Black Joy Matters.

The evening’s first reader was Joseph Ross, opening with his lines from the anthology:

There is an essential difference
between wood and flame.

It is a gap wide enough
for the Pledge of Allegiance

to walk through laughing.
Remember to not let the base
burn so the cross can stand
for as long as needed…

(“Cross, Hood, Noose An American History Lesson”, Ross, Where We Stand, 16)

[In the following clip, Ross reads his poem, “If Mamie Till was the Mother of God,” at the Busboys & Poets event. The powerful poem, not featured in the anthology, won the Enoch Pratt Free Library / Little Patuxent Review Poetry Contest in 2012.]

His poetry commanded attention and set the tone for the night. As the night went on, the speakers read through selected poems — the air kept quiet and was foreboding. Each story told by verse was so heavy that I felt like I needed to take a moment to process it — a break from the cacophony of injustice presented. The person sitting next to me agreed.

Later, as I was walking out, I realized the irony of the situation. We desired something inaccessible to the artists who had just presented: a break. Be it from tragic stories, blind angels, or clipped wings. After only a glimpse of the potency of American venom, the recess from reality requested is out of sight to those most inundated. That is something so foul that no gilded sentiment or sentence can do it justice; it lies beyond a formation of words.

I’ve recently become more aware of my privilege and the privilege present in my community. Columbia is always serene on summer evenings. It is a sheltered and affluent suburban enclave. This lends itself to the vast majority of residents enjoying a level of cognitive dissonance to the obstacles myriads of Americans face. The poets who performed on July 8th brought black experiences into the spotlight and celebrated them; they shortened the empathetic gap between.

I can not praise and recommend Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience enough. It is raw, essential, and uniquely comforting. While I was writing this post, the anthology quickly sold out online. If you looked, you could find the odd copy at places like Busboys and Poets. Its publisher, Cherry Castle Publishing has just issued a second printing of the anthology. To order a copy, visit their website cherrycastlepublishing.com

After the reading, poets celebrated with a group selfie.

Where We Stand, Poems of Black Resilience quickly sold out of its first printing. As of November 25, this popular and important anthology is available again. Visit CherryCastlePublishing.com to get yourself and everyone you know copies.

Author Gabriel Bump to Deliver Keynote at Howard Community College’s Second Annual Bauder Lecture

Acclaimed author of “Everywhere You Don’t Belong” joined in conversation with Tyrese L. Coleman at the Horowitz Visual & Performing Arts Center

COLUMBIA, MD – Howard Community College announced that Gabriel Bump, author of “Everywhere You Don’t Belong,” a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2020 and an Electric Lit Favorite Novel of 2020, will deliver the keynote at the second annual Bauder Lecture. Bump’s keynote will be offered in a hybrid format, both live in person and streamed via Vimeo, on September 22, 2022, at 12:30 p.m. His keynote will be followed by an in-depth conversation with DC-based writer Tyrese L. Coleman.

Bump’s novel, “Everywhere You Don’t Belong,” follows protagonist Claude, a young Black man born on the South Side of Chicago and raised by his civil rights-era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He escapes Chicago to go to college, to find a new identity, and to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, there is no safe haven for a young Black man in this time and place called America.

Following his keynote, Bump will be joined by Washington, D.C.-based writer, Tyrese L. Coleman, author of “How to Sit,” for an in-depth conversation. Tyrese L. Coleman is a writer, wife, mother, and attorney. Her debut collection of stories and essays, “How to Sit,” was published by Mason Jar Press in 2018 and nominated for a 2019 PEN Open Book Award.

The Bauder Lecture by Howard Community College is made possible by a generous grant from Dr. Lillian Bauder, a community leader and Columbia resident. Howard Community College presents an annual endowed author lecture, and the chosen book will be celebrated with two student awards. Known as the Don Bauder Awards, any Howard Community College student who has read the featured book is eligible to respond and reflect on the book in an essay or other creative format. The awards honor the memory of Don Bauder, late husband of Dr. Lillian Bauder and a champion of civil rights and social justice causes.

“Everywhere You Don’t Belong” was selected by the Howard County Book Connection committee as its choice for the 2022–2023 academic year. The Howard County Book Connection is a partnership of Howard Community College and the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society.

The Bauder Lecture will take place in Howard Community College’s Smith Theatre at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Maryland. The event will be live streamed on Vimeo and archived.

To learn more about the Bauder Lecture and RSVP for the event, visit howardcc.edu/bauderlecture.

HoCoPoLitSo Hosts a Book Release Party for E. Ethelbert Miller at Busboys & Poets

HoCoPoLitSo opens its literary season September 25th  at 7 p.m. with a special program to celebrate the release of a How I found Love Behind the Catcher’s Mask (City Point Press) by   E. Ethelbert Miller. The 2022 Lucille Clifton Reading Series will be held in the Clifton Room at Busboys and Poets, 6521 Mango Tree Road, Columbia, MD 21044. 

Columbia audiences have enthusiastically enjoyed local D.C. writer E. Ethelbert Miller’s work for years. Miller served as writer in residence to the Howard County schools in 1996-1997; hosted Joseph Ross for the Clifton Reading Series in 2020; and has been both the featured author and host on several of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life.

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs and several books of poetry including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his work. Miller’s poetry has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. For 17 years he served as the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. Miller is a two-time Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel. He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Emory and Henry College and has taught at several universities. Miller is on the board of the Institute for Politics, Policy and History at UDC. Miller also hosts WPFW (89.3 FM) radio’s On the Margin, a weekly podcast. 

For events, the Lucille Clifton Room at Busboys and Poets has a capacity for 120 people, with table seating available for 70 on a first come, first seated basis. Additional seating is available at the bar, and there is plenty of standing room. Admission is free, though an RSVP is requested at https://eethelbertmiller.eventbrite.com/. Books, food and beverages will be available for purchase onsite. Table service features drinks, snacks, and access to the full restaurant menu. More information about Busboys and Poets and a menu is available at https://www.busboysandpoets.com/location/columbia/

Click here to RSVP.

HoCoPoLitSo, a private, nonprofit literary organization, receives funding from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of Maryland; Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County government; Community Foundation of Howard County; Columbia Film Society and individual contributors. For more information, visit http://www.HoCoPoLitSo.org or https://www.facebook.com/HoCoPoLitSo.

Poetry for Every Body with Molly McCully Brown

Molly McCully Brown Headlines HoCoPoLitSo’s Fourteenth Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

Molly McCully Brown
Photo: Marco Giugliarelli 

Molly McCully Brown headlines the Blackbird Poetry Festival to be held in person on April 28, 2022, at Howard Community College (HCC). The festival is a day devoted to verse, with a student workshop, readings, and HCC Poetry Ambassadors. The afternoon Sunbird Reading features Brown, Hayes Davis, local authors, and Howard Community College faculty and students. This free daytime event starts at 2:30 p.m. in the Rouse Community Foundation Building room 400 (RCF 400). The Nightbird program, in the Horowitz Center’s Monteabaro Hall, begins at 7:30 p.m. Presented live, the evening features an introduction by Hayes Davis, a reading by Molly McCully Brown, and a reception and book signing.

Nightbird tickets, $15 (HCC students free), are available on-line at https://bit.ly/nightbird2022. If you need help with your order, the Horowitz Center Box Office (443.518.1500) has limited phone hours to answer your questions. Additional information can be found at https://hocopolitso.org/blackbird-poetry-festival/. At this time, masks are required for all guests on campus. Up-to-date requirements for campus visitors are available at: https://www.howardcc.edu/coronavirus

Brown’s newest book, Places I’ve Taken My Body (Persea Books, 2020), is an essay collection that Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2020) described as “Heartfelt and wrenching, a significant addition to the literature of disability, explores living within and beyond the limits of your body.” Brown writes that she “came into the world blue and tiny and sparring for my place in it. Two pounds, with my fists up.” The only surviving premature identical twin, Brown was born with cerebral palsy. Brown is a poet and essayist who teaches at Old Dominion University, where she is an assistant professor of English and creative nonfiction, and a member of the MFA Core Faculty. In The Field Between Us (Persea Books, 2020), poems written in the form of letters between coauthors Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison, consider disability and the possibility of belonging in the aftermath of lifelong medical intervention. Poet Ilya Kaminsky wrote “This is a beautiful, urgent book.” Brown is also the author of the poetry collection, The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded (Persea Books, 2017), which won the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and was named a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2017. Critic Dwight Garner called the book, “part history lesson, part séance, part ode to dread. It arrives as if clutching a spray of dead flowers.”

Hayes Davis
Photo: Brandon D. Johnson

Hayes Davis is the author of Let Our Eyes Linger (2012), poetry examining his life as son, grandson, father, husband, artist, and schoolteacher while exploring racial identity and the plight of black men. Poet Toi Derricote wrote that “Davis’ poems invite comparisons with Robert Hayden and Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems of 20th century family life.” He teaches at the English and serves as the assistant director of Institutional Equity, Access, and Belonging at Sandy Spring Friends School .

On Reading: What’s In A Name?

There’s quite a stack of things that I have set aside ‘to read next’, whenever that comes along. More and more gets added to the stack and each book slowly waits its turn, probably too patiently. Every once in a while something comes along that moves right up to Next and becomes Now already. Never did I imagine a document on the naming of public spaces commissioned by our County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball to slip into the queue, much less become next and now as soon as I heard about it. It is an absolute must read, and a riveting page turner at that. I can’t look away, and I shouldn’t.

The document is the 262 page Public Spaces Commission Report, released on November 5, 2021. It lists out all public owned buildings in Howard County, Maryland, where I live, their names, and the relation of the person behind that name to any history of slave ownership and/or oppression. It documents participation in slavery, involvement in systemic racism, support for oppression, involvement in a supremacist agenda, violation of Howard County human rights laws, and even if the namesake includes racist and offensive terminology. It is pretty weighty; here is an example:

Wow. Page after page of analysis and detail like this, building after building. For a number of buildings, no direct relation to slavery was discovered, for many, though, there is a past to reconcile.

These buildings have an everyday presence in our lives: government administration buildings, schools, parks, libraries and such (the report put off addressing the 3,000+ street names in the county for another day). Building name elements are familiar and roll off our tongues like nothing matters: Warfield Building, Miller Branch, Atholton Park, River Hill, and so on. For many of us today, any association with history, benign or otherwise, is not really part of our everyday interaction. Places become more associated with what we do there, like attend a meeting, pay a ticket, check out a book, swing on a swing set. Knowing only so much, those that stop and think about it may take a moment and realize, “Oh, so that’s who the George Howard Building was named after, the first governor of the state from our county… interesting.” Up till now, that might have been the depth of curiosity, recognizing a bit of historic trivia.

Less trivial, and what this document lays out page after suffocating page, is a deeper understanding of our county’s past and its people of power or note now memorialized through building names: that they enslaved and profited so off of others. For locals who know these buildings and so casually say their names, it is jaw dropping. We Howard Countians must deepen our understanding of the past in our present, and begin a discussion about how to reconcile with it. This is a start.

This report really is vital knowledge. You can find and read or browse the Public Spaces Commission Report here. Seriously, take a look… you won’t be able to look away. Sincere thanks to this administration for commissioning it and bringing forward this part of Howard County history, and special thanks to the researchers behind the project (all are listed within the report). What a document you have made, what an important resource. As one would expect, the work does not stop here.

My Own Name. I have another reading project in the works, one that is going to come sooner after reading this report. I want to understand my own name, and its relationship to slavery. The Singletons originally came into this country in the 1700s and established a cotton plantation up river from Charleston, South Carolina. I hear they were also later successful in North Carolina. That they were successful means they relied on the work of slaves, the lives of slaves. I want to know more about that, to understand and document what is in the name I wear, the one that has been carried superficially into the present, a little too willfully unaware. As you know me, the project will start with reading, with books like Edward Ball’s Slaves in the Family, a model for the research, and Theodore Rosengarten’s Tombee, A Portrait of a Cotton Planter already in the queue, move through google search results of my own name, and eventually a trip south to visit places in person. It is a monumental task, but it will be a task that builds a more real monument to those that came before us and how they lived prior to our becoming. We owe it to them.

I usually end these with ‘Happy Reading’, but this is a different kind of reading.

Sincerely,

Tim Singleton
Board Co-chair, HoCoPoLitSo


Further reading for Howard County history buffs: History of Blacks in Howard County Maryland, Oral History, Schooling, and Contemporary Issues, by Alice Cornelison, Silas E. Craft, Sr., and Lille Price, published under the auspices of the Howard County Branch of the NAACP in 1986.

six questions with Mary Brandenburg and Hananah Zaheer

Mary Brandenburg (left) and Hananah Zaheer (right) for February Wilde Readings

Mary Brandenburg and Hananah Zaheer are the feature writers at February Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Mary and Hananah as well as other open mic readers for a free reading on Zoom (and Facebook Live) on Tuesday, February 8 at 7 p.m. Click HERE to register for the free event. Click here for more details about the event.

We asked Mary and Hananah our favorite six questions about their reading and writing, and here’s what they had to say.

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?

Mary: Honestly, I don’t have an answer for this question! I don’t tend to write about people, rather I focus on nature, my relationship to the numinous, the divine.

Hananah: A compilation mother, not mine exactly, but mother figures based on so many.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Mary: I don’t have a ‘favorite’ place to write, that is, a place where I settle down. I have a space in my home, my study, where most of my current poems are written. However, I have had the opportunity to spend several vacations on the coast of Maine, and that is always a place where I can write, once I have arrived, my mind has settled, and I have shaken of the echoes of ‘home’. That can take a few days!

Hananah: In bed, or wherever I can find complete isolation.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Mary: No, I really don’t! I find I have to sit quietly and empty myself so my muse(s) can find me. Yet sometimes lines will come to me while walking or driving, especially if I am alone and driving a long way and my mind is empty.

Hananah: Usually a combination of worry, coffee, social media, coffee, pep talk.

Who always gets a first read?

Mary: Sometimes it’s my husband, who sees the world very differently than I do! And often a close friend will listen to something I want to share.

Hananah: Mostly my friend writer K.K. Fox, but I have a couple of other writer friends who are my first readers, too. These days my younger son, Yezen, is honing his editing skills and likes to give me feedback on beginnings.

What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?

Mary: I love Mark Nepo’s The Way Under the Way, Rilke’s Book of Hours, Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, as well as David Whyte’s House of Belonging.

Hananah: To name a few–Revenge-Yoko Ogawa; We, the animals–Justin Torres; Department of Speculation–Jenny Offil; I hold a wolf by the ears–Laura van den Berg; This is how you lose her–Juno Diaz; A house on Mango Street–Sandra Cisneros; A lesson Before Dying–Ernest Gaines

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Mary: I’ve not attended very many poetry readings. However, in early 2019 I visited a poet friend, whom I had never met face to face, who lives in Tallahassee, Florida. She took me to a local poetry reading and there I discovered how many, many forms a poem can take! Each reader was entirely different! Each poem was so unique! That gave me a sense of freedom and license – permission to just be me and have my own voice. And it’s ok!

Hananah: Grace Paley at the F. Scott Fitzgerald conference in 2005. I was new to teaching, a fresh MFA and she was all grace and magic.

REGISTER FOR WILDE READINGS HERE to hear more from Mary and Hananah!

Mary Brandenburg began keeping a journal at age 13. She discovered that writing, whether in journal form or in poems, holds the power to heal. She has self-published two books of poetry: The Intelligence of Leaves and Limitless Belonging. In the early 1980’s Mary became a practitioner of acupuncture, for her the discovery of the intersection of spirituality and wellness. Her poems are a reflection of her time in the treatment room, as well as time spent roaming around the natural world, hanging out with animals, trees, moonlight…and each other. She lives with her husband, John, and their amazing miniature Australian Shepherd ‘Tooey’.

Hananah Zaheer is the author of Lovebirds (Bull City Press, 2021). Other work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Best Small Fictions 2021, Waxwing, AGNI, Smokelong, Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Alaska Quarterly Review (with a Notable Story mention in Best American Short Stories 2019) and Michigan Quarterly Review, where she won the Lawrence Foundation Prize for Fiction. She is a fiction editor for Los Angeles Review.

Poetry Slam Workshops with Lady Brion

black and white headshot of Lady B on a yellow background
Lady Brion

Starting in February, the Howard County Library System is producing a series of four Poetry Slam workshops with social justice poet Lady Brion. HoCoPoLitSo is a supporting partner of this event.

Brion uses her poetry—focused on the black struggle, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and religious themes—to merge the space between art and activism.

Each session will focus on social justice, celebration in the midst of oppression, history, and then on March 23, the library will host an open mic. Register for each session separately.

The Anthem – February 16. Participants will explore writing celebratory unapologetic anthems about themselves, especially in the midst of an oppressive society that rarely gives space for anyone to express their fullest and truest identity. REGISTER.

Picketed – March 9. Participants will discuss the history of social movements and the way that radical demonstrations and protests can lead to change. This context will be used to have students create their own picket signs and craft a poem from it.  REGISTER.

If these streets could talk – March 16. Participants will explore a social justice issue that is important to them by personifying a space, place, or object connected to their chosen social ill. REGISTER.

Open Mic – March 23. Participants will be encouraged to share poems created in one of the previous workshops or any other work that they have created. Host Lady Brion will feature sharing some of her social justice related works. REGISTER.

Lady Brion is an international spoken word artist, poetry coach, activist, organizer, and educator.  Brion uses her poetry—focused on the black struggle, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and religious themes—to merge the space between art and activism. She has performed across the world including London, Ghana, Zanzibar and many of the American states. Her educational career includes teaching creative writing at the middle and elementary school level, coaching poetry teams in more than 10 institutions for the Louder Than a Bomb poetry program and residencies in more than 15 K-12 institutions. Brion is a board member for Dew More Baltimore, an art-centered nonprofit using spoken word as a tool to foster community and civic engagement. 

HoCoPoLitSo Celebrates its 44th Annual Irish Evening with Former & Future Guests

Here is the program for this evening’s Irish Evening.

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Featuring ‘visits’ from: Theo Dorgan, Vona Groarke, Mary Madec, Colum McCann, Mike McCormack, Alice McDermott, Paula Meehan and Colm Tóibín

HoCoPoLitSo’s 44th annual Irish Evening of Music and Poetry on Friday, February 11, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. features an amazing roster of Irish writers sharing their memories of past visits. Colm Tóibín, Alice McDermott, Colum McCann, Mike McCormack, Vona Groarke, Theo Dorgan and Paula Meehan will virtually grace our stage, along with music by O’Malley’s March and step dancers from the Teelin Irish Dance Company. General admission is $20 and available at the Howard Community Box Office, https://ci.ovationtix.com/32275/production/1095249 or by calling 443.518.1500.

The evening program, co-chaired by Anne Reis and Ed Young and hosted on Zoom this year, begins with a pre-show at 7:20 p.m. and will pay tribute to Irish evenings of the past and introduce poet Mary Madec. The evening includes an introduction by Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S, music by O’Malley’s March fronted by former MD. Governor Martin O’Malley, and award-winning dancers from the Teelin Irish Dance Company.

Six writers to have previously visited HoCoPoLitSo will share tributes to departing Irish chairperson, Catherine McLoughlin Hayes, and the founder of Irish eve, Padraic Kennedy, and read from their award-winning works. Vona Groarke, who visited in 2019, is the author of ten books of poetry and winner of numerous awards. Colum McCann, who visited both 1999 and 2013, received both the National Book Award and the Dublin Literary Award. His most recent book, Apeirogon, was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Poet and playwright Paula Meehan also visited twice, in 2000 and 2014. Theo Dorgan, who visited in 2014, is a poet, writer, lecturer, translator, and documentary screenwriter. Alice McDermott, who visited in 2020, was nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize and was a recipient of the National Book Award. Colm Tóibín visited in 1999 and again in 2011. A winner of the Dublin Literary Prize, Tóibín received the 2021 David Cohen Prize for Literature, a lifetime achievement award. Mike McCormack visited us in 2018 and his newest novel, Solar Bones, won the Dublin Literary Award. Newcomer Mary Madec’s third poetry collection is The Egret Lands with News From Other Parts (2019).

Click here to watch a brief video on how to purchase Irish Evening tickets online.

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six questions with Emily Rich and Leona Sevick

Emily Rich and Leona Sevick are the feature writers at January Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Emily and Leona as well as other open mic readers for a free reading on Zoom (and Facebook Live) on Tuesday, January 11 at 7 p.m. Click here to register for the free event. Click here for more details about the event.

We asked Emily and Leona our favorite six questions about their reading and writing, and here’s what they had to say.

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?

Emily: My parents.

Leona: While I have written about all of my family members, I suppose my mother shows up most often in my work. She was a South Korean immigrant and a complex person, and I write about her challenges with language and with the small town American culture she raised my brother and me in. I’ve also written about her struggle with illness, though I seldom name her in those poems. My mother died suddenly in late summer, and I have had some difficulty writing since then. I am working through my grief, and I’m confident the writing will come again.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Emily: I think I’m sort of antsy when I write. I have a desk that I’ll sit at for awhile, then move to a comfy chair and use a lap desk. The most important thing is to have quiet. I’m not someone who can write in a coffee shop, for instance.

Leona: My busy kitchen—at a rustic wooden island on a backless stool that keeps me alert.

Who always gets the first read?

Emily: Ideally other writers whose opinions I trust. I was most productive when I met with a regular writing group, but that’s not been possible recently. Sharing critiques with writers on line (the Writers Center in Bethesda has several on-line groups) is a pretty good substitute.

Leona: I have a close friend who is a novelist, and he is an excellent first reader. He is highly attentive to language and helps me make my words more surprising, more active. He is also painfully honest in his observations.

Do you have any consistent re-writing rituals?

Emily: The best thing I can do to get in the mindset to write is to read. I write nonfiction, so I have several essay collections, as well as lit mag subscriptions that I turn to.

Leona: Before I write I like to read a poem or two that I admire. I generally identify them days before and then revisit them for inspiration.

What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?

Emily: William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury; Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

Leona: As a teacher, I’m always rereading works in preparation for classes. One book that I choose to teach again and again and enjoy rereading is Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of stories, Unaccustomed Earth. Her ability to sensitively describe the lives of first generation immigrants and the struggles of their children is deeply moving to me.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Emily: Several years ago I attended the Tin House Writers Workshop where I got to listen to fabulous readings by the likes of Maggie Nelson, Cheryl Strayed, and Anthony Doerr. What struck me was the honest way each of these very accomplished authors talked about self doubt and about how difficult the writing process can be sometimes. Beyond that, I hosted a reading for the Bay to Ocean Journal, the lit mag I manage, just a month ago. I was thrilled to have a community of writers come together, share their words, and get to know each other. We’d all come out of a long period of quarantine (which it looks like we’ll be reentering, unfortunately), and the event was joyful and full of hope.

Leona: When I was at Bread Loaf years ago, I had the honor of hearing Philip Levine read. As someone who writes also about the working class, I found his words and reading style—filled with humility and good sense—inspiring.

About Our Guests:

Emily Rich is managing editor of the Bay to Ocean Journal, published by the Eastern Shore Writers Association. She has taught memoir writing at the Bethesda Writer’s Center and through the Lighthouse Guild at Salisbury University. Her work has been published in The Pinch, Cutbank, Hippocampus, Delmarva Review, and Little Patuxent Review, among others. She’s twice been listed as a notable in Best American Essays. She lives in Trappe, MD with her husband and three hyper Labradors.

Leona Sevick is the 2017 Press 53 Poetry Award Winner for her first full-length book of poems, Lion Brothers. Her recent work appears in Orion, Birmingham Poetry Review, Water~Stone Review, The Pinch, and Blackbird. Sevick was named a 2019 Walter E. Dakin Fellow for the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and she serves as advisory board member of the Furious Flower Black Poetry Center. She is professor of English at Bridgewater College in Virginia, where she teaches Asian American literature.

We’re Cooking Up a Feast of Words

It’s a poetry potluck with Sandra Beasley, Steven Leyva, Alan King, and Naomi Ayala in a virtual poetry reading from their own kitchens!

HoCoPoLitSo opens its 47th literary on Friday, November 5 at 7 p.m. with a virtual Poetry Potluck. Join Sandra Beasley, Alan King, Steven Leyva and Naomi Ayala, each live from their own kitchen, as they read and discuss a feast of food-inspired poetry, and maybe even share a favorite recipe.

As the 2021 Lucille Clifton Reading Series event, Poetry Potluck celebrates the beloved Lucille Clifton, HoCoPoLitSo’s longtime artistic director and first writer-in-residence in the Howard County School System. With technical and artistic support by Howard Community College’s Arts Collective, this year’s program features four writers who have also served as HoCoPoLitSo’s literary ambassadors in the school system.

The program honors 30 years of providing a writer-in-residence to the Howard County public high schools. The evening will also honor Howard County teachers with FREE admission* and a special message from poet Taylor Mali, author of “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World.” (See video clip below for a little teaser.)

Poetry Potluck – Verse in Good Taste
Friday, November 5th at 7 p.m.

An Online Reading live-streamed from kitchens of poets and former writers-in-residence Sandra Beasley, Steven Leyva, Alan King, and this year’s poet Naomi Ayala.

10 general admission*
Reservations required via HCC Box Office

Click here to make your reservation: https://ci.ovationtix.com/32275/production/1080760

*Howard County teachers with a valid @hcpss.org email can request a complimentary ticket by emailing BoxOffice@howardcc.edu

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