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Wilde Readings Open Mic:

Film/Author Presentation of Girl Rising with Aminatta Forna

Sunday, June 30 • 2:30 p.m.
Smith Theatre – Howard Community College

Join in saluting the founding of the Columbia Film Society and HoCoPoLitSo with an afternoon that celebrates the education of girls, the beauty of story, and the power of collective action. This joint anniversary event features a talk by one of the writers of Girl Rising and a showing of the documentary film that inspired global awareness about the importance of education for girls. Novelist Aminatta Forna wrote the portion of the film about a girl from her home country, Sierra Leone, and her dreams of education and independence. Forna will also read from one of her novels that pertains to social justice around the world. The Washington Post raved about her latest novel, Happiness: “An exquisite novel about how chance and love connect us.” After the author talk, there will be an intermission, refreshments, and a book signing, followed by a screening of the film.

The documentary Girl Rising, featuring the voices of actresses including Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Kerry Washington, Selena Gomez and Salma Hayek, focuses on the power of education for nine girls from Haiti, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Egypt, Peru, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan, telling their stories through writers from their home countries. The Boston Globe noted, “The idea behind Girl Rising is strikingly simple and even more strikingly imaginative.” The Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County is a sponsor of this program. Visit the Girl Rising website here.

The Columbia Film Society was founded in 1968 by Helen Ruther and Marcia Gorrie. Showing nine films a year, the film society’s season ticket subscriptions typically sell out in a matter of days.

HoCoPoLitSo was founded in 1974 by National Book Award winner Ellen Conroy Kennedy, supported by Jean Moon and Prudence Barry. The first event featured future Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Carolyn Kizer and Lucille Clifton. A community-based literary organization, HoCoPoLitSo offers programs such as a writer-in-residence for the county’s high schools, an award-winning writer-to-writer talk show, The Writing Life (available on YouTube) and three major annual events: the Lucille Clifton Reading Series; the Evening of Irish Music and Poetry; and the Blackbird Poetry Festival. HoCoPoLitSo participated in the first Columbia Festival of the Arts, staging the play, “The Belle of Amherst,” about Emily Dickinson, and has offered festival audiences authors such as Garrison Keillor, Mary Oliver, and Amiri Baraka.

For tickets, sold through the Columbia Festival of the Arts website, click here.

 

 

HoCoPoLitSo’s partners for this event:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Wilde Readings Series Continues with Spring Line-up, Open Mics.

Wilde Readings 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.

The open mic session offers a safe and supportive environment for teens and adults to share writing of all different forms. Open mic presenters are asked to keep their readings to five minutes or less. Come explore how a range of creativity can inspire and fuel the imagination and nurture one’s one craft and well-being.

Wilde Readings is sponsored by HoCoPoLitSo and coordinated by Laura Shovan, Ann Bracken, Linda Joy Burke, and Faye McCray.

 

Second Tuesdays at the Columbia Association Art Center in Long Reach. Starts at 7 p.m.

Spring featured Reader Line-up:

APRIL 9, 2019
Host: Linda Joy Burke

Bruce A. Jacobs is a poet, author, and musician. He has appeared on NPR, C-SPAN, and elsewhere. His two books of poems are Speaking Through My Skin (MSU Press), which won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, and Cathode Ray Blues (Tropos Press). His most recent nonfiction book is Race Manners for the 21st Century (Arcade/Skyhorse). His work has been published by dozens of literary journals and sites, including Beloit Poetry Journal, Gwarlingo, Truthout, and the 180 More anthology edited by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. He lives in Washington, DC.

Bio for Naomi Thiers

Naomi Thiers grew up in California and Pittsburgh, but her chosen home is Washington-DC/ Northern Virginia. She is the author of three poetry collections: Only The Raw Hands Are Heaven(which won the Washington Writers Publishing House award), In Yolo County,and She Was a Cathedral(both from Finishing Line Press.) Her poems, fiction, and essays have been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Grist, Sojourners,and other magazines and anthologies. Former poetry editor of Phoebe, she works as an editor for Educational Leadership magazine and lives in a condo on the banks of Four Mile Run in Arlington, Virginia.

 

MAY 14, 2019 — TEEN NIGHT
Host: Faye McCray

Kate Hillyer lives, works, and runs the trails near Washington, D.C. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction, and her essay “Learning to Dance” appears in the anthology Raised by Unicorns. Kate blogs at From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors and The Winged Pen, and serves as a Cybils judge for Poetry and Novels in Verse. You can find her on Twitter as @SuperKate.

 

 

Leah Henderson’s novel One Shadow on the Wall, is an Africana Children’s Book Award notable and a Bank Street Best Book of 2017, starred for outstanding merit. Her short story “Warning: Color May Fade” appears in the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America and her forthcoming picture books include Mamie on the Mound, Day For Rememberin’, and Together We March. Leah has an MFA in Writing and is on faculty at Spalding University’s MFA program.

 

JUNE 11, 2019
Host: Laura Shovan

Wallace Lane is a poet, writer and author from Baltimore, Maryland. He received his MFA Degree in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from The University of Baltimore in May 2017. His poetry has appeared in Little Patuxent Review, The Avenue, Welter Literary Journal and is forthcoming in several other literary journals. Jordan Year, his debut collection of poetry, is a coming of age narrative, which uncovers what it means to live and survive in Baltimore City. Wallace also works as a Creative Writing teacher with Baltimore City Public Schools.

 

Jen Michalski  is the author of the novels The Summer She Was Under Water  and The Tide King (both Black Lawrence Press), a couplet of novellas, Could You Be With Her Now (Dzanc Books), and two collections of fiction. Her work has appeared in more than 100 publications, including Poets & Writers, and has received five Pushcart nominations. She was named as “One of 50 Women to Watch” by The Baltimore Sun and “Best Writer” by Baltimore Magazine. She is the host of a fiction reading series in Baltimore, called Starts Here! and editor of the weekly online literary journal jmww.

 

 

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Poetry of Wit and Wonder — Eleventh Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

Mississippi’s Poet Laureate Beth Ann Fennelly headlines the eleventh annual Blackbird Poetry Festival for HoCoPoLitSo. The festival, set for April 25, 2019, on the campus of Howard Community College, is a day devoted to verse, with workshops, book sales, readings, and patrols by the Poetry Police. The Sunbird poetry reading, featuring Ms. Fennelly, as well as poet Teri Cross Davis, local authors, and Howard Community College faculty and students, starts at 2:30 p.m. and is free. Ms. Fennelly will read from and discuss her poetry, including her most recent work, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, during the Nightbird Poetry Reading, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Monteabaro Recital Hall of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts. Nightbird admission tickets are $15 each (seniors and students $10) available on-line at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4026338 or by sending a self-addressed envelope and check payable to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044.

Fennelly’s newest book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs (2017), was selected as one of the ten best Southern books of 2017 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Readers, you are in for a hootenanny of a wild ride. This is Fennelly at her most laid-bare, wickedly funny, and irrepressibly poetic best,” raves Kirkus Reviews. The director of the MFA program at the University of Mississippi, Fennelly has published her work in more than fifty anthologies and has won numerous awards and honors, including a Pushcart, the Wood Award from The Carolina Quarterly and The Black Warrior Review Contest. Fennelly is the author of three poetry collections: Open House (2002), Tender Hooks (2004), and Unmentionables (2008). She is also the author of a book of essays, Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother (2006), “may be the best book ever to give for a baby shower” noted the Tampa Tribune. In 2013, Fennelly and her husband, Tom Franklin, co-authored a novel, The Tilted World, set during the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River.


Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of Haint, winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. A Cave Canem fellow serving on the advisory council of Split This Rock, Davis is the poetry coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library. Reviewing Haint, The Triangle’s Sam Sweigert wrote, “Beginning to end, Cross Davis beckons her readers to shine a light and to witness the slow magic of a soul’s journey through life’s knowings and unknowings.”


Steven Leyva, a Cave Canem fellow and author of the chapbook Low Parish, will offer a workshop on “The Poetics of Animé” as part of the festival. Leyva, who is an assistant professor at the University of Baltimore, will hold his free workshop at 9:30 a.m. in the Rouse Company Foundation Student Services Hall, room 400.


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Poetry Out Loud State Champions pose for a photo at the State Finals. Hanna Al-Kowsi, Marriotts Ridge High School, Howard County (second place winner) is standing on the right. Photo credit: Edwin Remsberg.

Hanna Al-Kowsi, of Marriotts Ridge High School, will perform her winning poetry recitation at the Nightbird. Hanna won first place in the regional tri-county and second place in the state-wide Maryland Poetry Out Loud competition that recognizes great poetry through memorization and performance.


For more than 40 years, HoCoPoLitSo has nurtured a love and respect for the diversity of contemporary literary arts in Howard County. The society sponsors literary readings and writers-in-residence outreach programs, produces The Writing Life (a writer-to-writer talk show), and partners with other cultural arts organizations to support the arts in Howard County, Maryland. For more information, visit www.hocopolitso.org.

HoCoPoLitSo receives funding from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts; Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County government; The Columbia Film Society; Community Foundation of Howard County; and individual contributors.

 

 

Click here to download the press release for this event.

An Inconvenient Book Club – Start Reading!

Literature is practice for real life: E. B. White inducted me into the life and death of animals, Laura Ingalls Wilder taught me what to do if I was living through a long winter on the prairie, Jane Austen described the machinations leading to marriage, Margaret Atwood prepared me for being an adult woman in a harsh world. And when it comes to climate change, it’s going to take some practice to figure out our way in our swiftly evolving world.
Join the new discussion group sponsored by HoCoPoLitSo and Howard County Library, An Inconvenient Book Club. The first meeting is in April, so you’ve got a little time to read the first book. We’ll be reading speculative fiction, cli-fi (climate fiction), short stories and verse exploring themes of climate disruption, dystopia, recovery, and redemption. Discussions facilitated by Julie Dunlap, environmental author and educator, and Susan Thornton Hobby, writer and consultant for HoCoPoLitSo.
April 4, starting at 7 p.m., at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library, we’ll talk about The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. Registration is required.

Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

————-

Susan Thornton Hobby
Recording secretary

 

Make Poetry Great Again (Though It Was Always Great)

Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall. Photo by Douglas Graham.

His Excellency Daniel Mulhall, the Irish Ambassador to America, drew a hearty laugh from the audience at Friday night’s Irish Evening of Music and Poetry.

As a daily counterbalance to the insanity on Twitter, Mulhall sends out a few lines of Irish poetry every morning.

To the audience at the poetry reading last week, Mulhall joked that he’s starting a campaign: “It’s time to Make Poetry Great Again.”

After the laughter died down, HoCoPoLitSo board members could be heard muttering amongst themselves, “Poetry was always great.”

But timeline quibbles aside, HoCoPoLitSo was thrilled to welcome the ambassador and sterling poet Vona Groarke to the forty-first Irish Evening.

Last Friday morning, in tribute to Irish Evening, Mulhall sent into the Twitterverse a few lines from Groarke’s beautiful poetry:

Anyway, the leaves were almost on the turn
And the roses, such as they were, had gone too far.

It was snow in summer. It was love in a mist.
It was what do you call it, and what is its name
And how does it go when it comes to be gone?

There’s at least one thing that Mulhall and U.S. President Donald Trump share – they like to start the day with a Tweet. But oh, there’s a world of difference between them.

The poems Groarke read on Friday night were both tender and fierce. Her “Pier,” was well applauded for its verve in chronicling the leap from a pier into the Atlantic on Spittel beach, on the West coast of Ireland. Though Groarke confessed that she hasn’t yet made the leap herself, she’s watched it done, she said, a bit sheepishly. And the poem proves she can feel it.

Vona Groarke. Photo by Douglas Graham.

Many in the audience commended Groarke’s translation from the Irish – the first by a woman poet – of “The Lament for Art O’Leary.” This poem chronicles the mourning and protest of a wife, keening over the body of her Catholic husband, killed by the Protestants, ostensibly for having too fine a horse. And Groarke’s translation was both sensual and sorrowful.

The selections of prose Groarke read from Four Sides Full, her book of prose about art frames, were illuminating, particularly the anecdote about the show of empty frames in the Hermitage in Leningrad, signifying the hiding of artwork to preserve it.

Poetry and music brought some 300 people together last Friday night. Perhaps verse can heal divisions in countries, between people, if we only open our hearts to others’ stories.

 

Susan Thornton Hobby
Recording secretary

 

On Reading: Two Love Poems by Vona Groarke and It’s Time To Fall In Love With Irish Evening

I swoon at a good love poem. Here’s a quick introduction to two that have me dizzy on my feet.

Vona Groarke Photograph: Ed Swinden/The Gallery Press.

Both are by Vona Groarke, HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for this year’s evening of Irish writing and music – it’s this Friday, don’t just mark your calendar, get your ticket. I offer these poems here as foreshadowing for the event, a beloved favorite annual occurrence that’s been going on for more than forty years now. Both poems I discovered while reading up in advance of her visit. Each has me in its own way a little breathless, smitten, staring newly in love at their marvel.

 

“What leaves us trembling…”

“Shale” is just a great little love poem, I think. It left me trembling. Read the the length of the poem here, it’s not long, but I am only sharing a few stanzas in this piece. It starts and ends by a ‘not telling’ device, meanders nicely in-between, but what it ends up saying along the way.

What leaves us trembling in an empty house
is not the moon, my moon-eyed lover.
Say instead there was no moon
though for nine nights we stood

on the brow of the hill at midnight
and saw nothing that was not
contained in darkness, in the pier light,
our hands, and our lost house.

I described it to a friend as perhaps opaque while trying to be translucent, but opalescent all the while. It’s that opalescent surface that’s dazzling and intriguing, then you peer through the shimmer into what the poem’s lovers share as example of us all. There’s the narrator relating a contemplative monologue, a scenario that is part plot, part seeming. I am not sure what is actually moment and what is shared mind, but it doesn’t matter, the poem’s lovers seem to find themselves at that point of realization and action that comes when two bodies/souls make that moment out of circumstance and each other that is a fusing. And that ending, wow, an unsayable understanding just left there. You know what I’m saying?

The sea is breaking and unbreaking on the pier.
You and I are making love
in the lighthouse-keeper’s house,
my moon-eyed, dark-eyed, fire-eyed lover.

What leaves us trembling in an empty room
is not the swell of darkness in our hands,
or the necklace of shale I made for you
that has grown warm between us.

That warming of such a tangible object is quite a making. What a poem. I’ll go back and read it again and again, wanting that answer, finding that stone.

 

“Let the worst I ever do to you be die.”

An aubade is a first-thing-in-the-morning poem lovers share to each other. Think of the nightingale and the lark in Romeo and Juliet. In that case, the debate was about which bird’s song was determining the moment over, the day begun, and the time together over, or not, one being the voice of morning, the other of night. A clever quartet for the two still in bed.

The poem “Aubade” from Spindthrift takes on a different sort of in-between-lovers morning scenario. As readers, we are on the sickbed where the caretaker of the couple narrates understanding and affection while tending the beloved. It is hardly a place for a love poem, one would think, but oh how it is. The poem is pictured here in its entirety, so have read.

It’s a way more transparent read that the previous piece, but you do gain a sense of Ms. Groarke’s way of presenting the world through her observations and language. Transparent, but the glass is beautifully etched with fern and foam.

And there’s one line that just dropped me:

Let the worst I ever do to you be die.

Such a sober realization of the inevitable, that we will die on those we love and that is quite a thing should we be the first to go. There’s a dearness and commitment in that line that is quite a realization. Ideally, it is the worst we’ll do. Is love ever ideal? And then that last, true-love line, pure presence, able and ideal, and love in action.

I am here, blessed, capable of more.

Beautiful. Love poems aren’t just for the young, the beautiful, the wooing. They are for the lifelong and every moment.

It’s time for you to fall in love… with Irish Evening.

Mentioned above, Vona Groarke will be reading from her work followed by a concert of Irish music and championship step-dancing at HoCoPoLitSo’s 41st Irish Evening on Friday, February 8, 2019 at Smith Theatre in the Horowitz Center for Visual Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland.

For this year’s Irish Evening, music will be performed by The Hedge Band, featuring Laura Byrne on flute, NEA National Heritage Fellowship winner Billy McComiskey on box accordion, Donna Long on piano, and Jim Eagan on fiddle. Traditional Irish Dancing will be performed by Teelin Irish Dance, featuring owner and director Maureen Berry and the 2016 World Champion Saoirse DeBoy.

It’s going to be a special evening. You are going to fall in love with Irish Evening.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. Click here for tickets.

 

Tim Singleton
Board Co-chair

Free Wilde Readings Series Continues with Winter Line-up, Open Mics.

Wilde Readings 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.

The open mic session offers a safe and supportive environment for teens and adults to share writing of all different forms. Open mic presenters are asked to keep their readings to five minutes or less. Come explore how a range of creativity can inspire and fuel the imagination and nurture one’s one craft and well-being.

Wilde Readings is sponsored by HoCoPoLitSo and coordinated by Laura Shovan, Ann Bracken, Linda Joy Burke, and Faye McCray.

 

Second Tuesdays at the Columbia Association Art Center in Long Reach. Starts at 7 p.m.

Featured Reader Line-up:

JANUARY 8, 2019

Danuta Hinc and Luther Jett
Host: Ann Bracken

Danuta Hinc’s essays and short fiction have appeared in Washingtonian Magazine, Literary Hub, Popula, Consequence Magazine, The Word Riot, Litteraria, among others. She holds an M.A. in Philology from Gdansk University in Poland, and an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature from Bennington College, VT.  She is the recipient of the Barry Hannah Fiction Award, and the author of the novel, To Kill the Other.  Hinc is a Senior Lecturer at University of Maryland at College Park where she teaches writing.

 

Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals,as well as several anthologies. His poetry performance piece, Flying to America, debuted during the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival in Washington D.C. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks: “Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father” (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and “Our Situation” (Prolific Press, 2018).

 

FEBRUARY 12, 2019

Dr. Dorothy Adamsnon and Gregory Luce
Host: Faye McCray

Dr. Dorothy Adamson Holley, aka Drum Dr. Dot, is a Developmental Psychologist and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is the co-founder of Nyame Nti Cultural Healing Arts Therapy, a nonprofit organization that integrates mental health and the arts to promote healing. Dr. Holley is the creator of Drumetry™, an art form that integrates two of her passions, drumming and poetry, and she is a proud member the Baltimore band, Roses n Rust.

 

Gregory Luce, author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line Press), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He is retired from National Geographic, works as a volunteer writing tutor/mentor for 826DC, and lives in Arlington, VA.

 

MARCH 12, 2019

Andrea Nacina Cole and Lisa Vihos
Host: Linda Joy Burke

Andria Nacina Cole’s short stories have appeared in The Feminist Wire, Baltimore City Paper, and Ploughshares, among others. She has received multiple grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, including the organization’s top prize for fiction. She is the 2010 recipient of the Cohen Award, a Rubys Award grantee and Baltimore’s Best Storyteller (2017). She co-founded A Revolutionary Summer in 2015 in response to the murder of Freddie Carlos Gray.

 

Lisa Vihos is the Poetry and Arts Editor at Stoneboat Literary Journal and an occasional guest blogger for The Best American Poetry. Along with two chapbooks, A Brief History of Mail (Pebblebrook Press, 2011) and The Accidental Present (Finishing Line Press, 2012), her poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals. She has two Pushcart Prize nominations and received first place recognition in the 2015 Wisconsin People and Ideas poetry contest for her poem, “Lesson at the Checkpoint.” She is active in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change global movement and recently returned home from the group’s first world conference in Salerno, Italy. Visit her blog at Frying the Onion.

 

 

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Poetry, music, cocktails at HoCoPoLitSo’s 41st Irish Evening of Music and Poetry

HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its annual Irish Evening on February 8, 2019, is the award-winning poet Vona Groarke, recipient of the 2017 Hennessy Hall of Fame Award for Lifetime Achievement. Groarke’s reading will be followed by a concert of Irish music and championship step dancing. During intermission, complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be available. Irish coffee, specialty cocktails, and Guinness will be offered for sale beginning at 7 p.m. and during intermission. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Theatre of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College. Tickets are available on-line (starting Nov. 23) https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3905864, by phone or mail. To purchase by phone, call 443-518-4568 or by mail, send a check and self-addressed envelope to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044.

Vona Groarke’s most recent collection, Selected Poems, won the 2017 Pigott Prize for the best collection of poetry by an Irish poet. Noted as “brilliant and original” by the Irish Times, Groarke writes haunting and candidly sensual poems. At Irish Arts Center’s annual PoetryFest in New York, organizer and author Nick Laird extolled Groarke’s voice as “always modulated beautifully, assured and daring, often wry, (that) in the end keeps faith with the world.”

Groarke has published ten books, including a 2016 book-length personal essay, Four Sides Full and one translation, Lament of Art O’Leary (from an eighteenth-century Irish classic). A new collection of poems, Double Negative, is due in 2019. Her work has been recognized as one of Irish poetry’s “most consistently satisfying voices” (Agenda magazine) and “among the best Irish poets writing today” (Poetry Ireland Review). She has been the recipient of many prizes and grants, including the Brendan Behan Memorial Prize for her first collection, Shale (1994), the Michael Hartnett Award for Flight (2002), and is currently a Cullman Fellow at New York Public Library.

Groarke 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.

Performing traditional and original Irish music will be the Hedge Band: Laura Byrne on flute, Billy McComiskey on the box accordion, Donna Long on piano and Jim Eagan on fiddle, accompanied by dancers Maureen Berry, founder and Director of the Teelin School of Irish Dance, and Saoirse DeBoy, the 2016 World Solo Championship winner (girls age 16-17).

 

 

 

HoCoPoLitSo’s 45th Season Opens with Poetic Trio.

HoCoPoLitSo opens its literary season October 26 with “Ordinary Wonder: Three Poets on Writing and Reality,” featuring Michael Collier, Elizabeth Spires, and David Yezzi. The 2018 Lucille Clifton Reading Series highlights three Maryland poets with new, acclaimed collections. Collier, Spires and Yezzi will read and discuss their work beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Monteabaro Recital Hall of the Horowitz Center for the Performing and Visual Arts on the campus of Howard Community College. Join us in celebration of HoCoPoLitSo’s forty-five years of literary programming at this year’s Lucille Clifton Reading Series. A book signing and wine and cheese reception will follow. The suggested donation for this event is $5.

LCliftonReadingTrio

Michael Collier, Elizabeth Spires, and David Yezzi

The three poets, in their own ways, hold up the ordinary world to the light of poetry and examine everyday mysteries, both beautiful and horrible.

Michael Collier’s most recent collection is My Bishop and Other Poems (2018). Poet and professor A. Van Jordan wrote, “My Bishop and Other Poems reminds us of the power of the observant in an age when, too often, we move too quickly to notice the world unfolding around us. These poems bring a passion, an empathy, and a way of seeing I had forgotten was possible.” Collier’s other collections include An Individual History, a finalist for the Poet’s Prize, and The Ledge, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.  He is the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Maryland, a director emeritus of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, and a former Maryland Poet Laureate.

Elizabeth Spires‘ most recent poetry collection, A Memory of The Future (2018), was influenced by Zen and Asian art. The New York Times wrote of the work, “In these lyrical verses, Spires questions the quotidian, elevating the everyday to a meditational art form.” Spires’ other collections include Worldling, Now the Green Blade Rises, and The Wave-Maker. The author of six books for children, Spires lives in Baltimore and is a professor of English at Goucher College.

David Yezzi’s newest collection of poems is Black Sea (2018). Other collections include Birds of the Air, Azores, and The Hidden Model. Reviewing Birds of the Air (2013), Farisa Khalid noted the poem Orts “does something that many poems strive for but don’t quite get at, and that’s conveying with clarity the otherness of our world—the strange beauty of what we experience and the mystery of what we can’t always understand.” Yezzi has contributed poems and criticism to The New York Times Book ReviewThe Times Literary SupplementThe Wall Street JournalThe Paris ReviewThe New RepublicPoetryThe Yale ReviewPoetry Daily, and elsewhere. Yezzi, who lives in Baltimore, is the editor of The Hopkins Review and poetry editor of The New Criterion, and chair of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

 

Ordinary Wonder:
Three Poets On Writing and Reality

Michael Collier, Elizabeth Spires, and David Yezzi

Friday, October 26, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.

Monteabaro Recital Hall at the
Horowitz Center for the Performing Arts
Howard Community College

HoCoPoLitSo, a private, nonprofit literary organization, receives funding from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts; Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County government; The Columbia Film Society; Community Foundation of Howard County; and individual contributors.

Coffee-Stained Margins: a guest post by Eunice Braimoh

Marilyn Chin reading at the 10th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival hosted by Howard County Poetry and Literature Society and Howard Community College on April 26, 2018

I had never heard of Marilyn Chin. But there I sat in the hazy Smith Theatre, listening to the petite, flip-flop-clad lady unfold her Chinese heritage, her voice’s rich resonance baptizing life into her words. Peppered with rhetorical questions and salted with snark, Marilyn Chin’s poetry invited the audience into conversation. As she discussed her experience with assimilation, I thought back to my years of insecurity with my Nigerian identity.

During my childhood, I tugged at my belly, my hair, my skin. I hunched in over myself. But I remember watching a spoken word from YouTube during youth group, the same lines which had echoed through my house the entire week prior because my mom, the youth leader, had been so fascinated by the video. Ears straining to keep up with the whiplash tempo, the laughing cadence, I snapped my fingers, riveted by the rain of spitfire, desperately beckoning the words barked out of the poets’ lips to be mine.

Slam poetry was alive.

A tandem of voice and pulse, spoken word went beyond sonnets and “thou”s and lofty declarations of love; it playfully teased out slant-rhymes and sidestepped the conventions of language. Poetry, I discovered, could be as unorthodox as I wished, and listening to the crowd of adroit artists (cough-SarahKay-PatrickRoche-BlytheBaird-OmarHolmon-cough) has since stirred a hunger.

For what?

Maybe I am looking for truth, naked and unholy. Maybe I write because I’m looking to sing what could be my gospel, to scream it in the shower, to spit it into the mic, to whisper it in an ear, to let it breathe ink and paper and dust.

While I write, I’ve knocked on Petrarch’s door, revisiting the poetry I once scoffed, imbibing in myself a greater appreciation for the art. Analyzing syntax and diction is what I love to do—maybe because I regularly eye my friends’ texts. (There’s a world of difference between “ok” and “Okay.”) While I am yet to be convinced that every inch of a poem is birthed from divine inspiration, I nevertheless believe that the spectrum of poetry—from spoken word to the coffee-stained margins—contains a delicateness that ought to be explored with careful hands and open eyes. As a writer, I wish to infuse electric vulnerability in my writing, inviting readers and listeners to unwind, to laugh, to have conversation.


Eunice Braimoh

Eunice Braimoh finds herself in a limbo between cultures: in her room hangs the Nigerian flag, while Maryland’s mosaic fusion has grafted itself into her heart. As a writer exploring vulnerable curiosity, she wishes to symphonize conversation regarding race, gender, and diversity. When not effusively fangirling over slam poetry and intricate word-play, Eunice can be found writing (and rewriting) her own poetry and fiction. Previously recognized with two Regional Keys from the D.C. Metro Region, Eunice recently received a Silver Key for her poem “in which icarus does not drown”. She will be attending University of Maryland, College Park as an English major starting this fall.

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