Home » Blackbird Poetry Festival

Blackbird Poetry Festival

For the Blackbird Poetry Festival, we partner with Howard Community College (HCC) to bring poetry to the students and the residents of Howard County. “Blackbird” refers to Wallace Steven’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” This program began in 2009 and has brought many notable and exciting poets, including Taylor Mali & Chris August, Billy Collins, and Terence Hayes & Tara Betts.  Each year, the festival features poetry workshops, a free event open to the public called Sunbird, and an evening ticketed event called Nightbird.

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

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.

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 is the author of Let Our Eyes Linger (2016), 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 S

Festival Events 

Poetry Police 10am-11:30am

To celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 28th, we’re seeking a few volunteers for the Poetry Police Force. Poetry Police will roam the halls and outdoor spaces distributing rewards and (poetry) citations to encourage reading and sharing of poetry. Poetry Police receive an official festival t-shirt.  To volunteer for a shift or for more information, contact our Poetry Police Captain Rick Leith at rleith@howardcc.edu.

Morning Songs Workshop 11:00am-12:15pm in RCF 400

Featuring Molly McCully Brown (bio below)
Festival poet Molly McCully Brown will lead a workshop on The Uses of the Body: “In many ways, every story is about the body. No one lives apart from theirs, and so no writer, speaker or character exists fully removed from the simultaneously fragile and indispensable fact of a corporeal existence. Stories are lived in bodies and made in them; language itself is created in breathing and muscle, in gesture, contraction, release. But In this generative workshop we’ll take a look at the way several poets have explicitly conjured the physical reality(ies) of the body on the page, in health and illness, in youth and aging, in joy and in grief. Then, we’ll use these models as a jumping off point to write and share our own poems in, and of, the body.” – Molly McCully Brown

Participants should come prepared to write. For more information, contact Tara Hart (thart@howardcc.edu) or Brian Martin (bmartin@howardcc.edu). Diversity Index TBA

Sunbird Reading 2:30pm-4:00pm in RCF 400

Molly McCully Brown (bio below) will be joined by students, faculty, staff, and community members for an afternoon of poetry. This event is free and open to the public. After the scheduled readings, there will be an opportunity to share your own poem during our ‘open mic’ session. For more information, contact Brian Martin (bmartin@howardcc.edu). Diversity Index TBA

Nightbird Reading 

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


Festival Poet

Molly McCully Brown

  1. April 2009 — Patricia Van Amburg, Steve Mandes
  2. April 2010 — A Tribute to Lucille Clifton with Kendra Kopelke
  3. April 28, 2011 — Lyubomir Nikolov, Sue Ellen Thompson, Gayle Danley and Martín
  4. April 26, 2012 — Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio, and Mother Ruckus
  5. April 23, 2013 — Rives, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Kendra Kopelke and Rocket Sled
  6. April 24, 2014 — Billy Collins
  7. April 23, 2015 — Taylor Mali, Chris August, and Steve Mandes
  8. April 28, 2016 — Marie Howe
  9. April 27, 2017 — Tyehimba Jess
  10. April 26, 2018 — Marylin Chin
  11. April 25, 2019 — Beth Ann Fennelly
  12. April 29, 2021 — Ilya Kaminksi
  13. April 28, 2022 — Molly McCully Brown

1 Comment

  1. Stephen Meskin says:

    I heard that there will be public poetry reading Thursday morning. Where&When?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our email list.

To receive notifications about upcoming HoCoPoLitSo events via email, simply click Subscribe.
Follow HoCoPoLitSo on WordPress.com

Read our Annual Report

%d bloggers like this: