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See through Poems Reading Celebrates Old Ellicott City

Reading on June 12th at Museum of Howard County History, 3 p.m.

Celebrate Ellicott City’s 250th anniversary with a poetry stroll along Main Street from April 1 through June. Created by the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), the project features twenty-five poems displayed in the windows of Ellicott City stores. QR codes at the bottom of the posters, accessed through your camera phone, explain how the poetry connects to Ellicott City’s commerce, history, and landscape. (Click here to read more about the See through Poems project.)

Join us Sunday, June 12, starting at 3 p.m., at the Museum of Howard County History for a reading of the poems. Local poets, community members, and special guests will read selections from the collection, with a reception afterwards.

Register and let us know you will be there:

Meet Judd Hess – Honorary Mention in the 2021 Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Prize

Judd Hess

In 2021, Howard County Poetry and Literature Society launched the Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Prize in honor of its founding member, Ellen Conroy Kennedy. The contest received more than 100 submissions in its inaugural year, and the selection committee chose Judd Hess’s poem “Darth Vader” for an honorary mention. The committee was unanimous in wishing to recognize ”the intense, vivid voice of this poem and its layered metaphors that address the moment… it strums chords in so many of us as we’ve struggled to co-exist with COVID… the way the poem deftly builds the speaker’s frustration until the final, angry eruption.”

Judd Hess holds an MFA and an MA from Chapman University.  He has won the Fugue Poetry Prize, the John Fowles Creative Writing Prize for Poetry, the Ellipsis Prize, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Southern California with his beautiful family.

Judd answered some of our favorite questions for writers. See what he had to say about his poem “Darth Vader,” what inspires him, and what poetry means to him.

Tell us about your poem “Darth Vader.” How did it come about? What sparked or inspired it?

“Darth Vader” is a fairly autobiographical piece. My son really did have a Darth Vader bike, red and black. The conversation related in the poem is an amalgam of various conversations over the last year, but frustrating in person as they are in the poem. Poetry is a medium for us to examine the conflicts of the human condition, and the conflicts over our reactions to the pandemic have redefined all of our lives these last few years. It felt appropriate to try to articulate the absurdity and incessant fear of the last several years, as much for myself as for others. The great shout stuck in all our throats needs to articulate itself.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

AP English Lit, senior year: We were using Perrine’s “Sound And Sense” as a text. For the summative assessment at the end of the unit, we were asked to work in pairs to explicate in front of the class one of the “Poems For Additional Reading” in the back of the book. My best friend and I chose T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” because it was the longest, and, frankly, because we were smartasses. I remember vividly the way my subsequent exploration of that poem floored me. It struck me as a tour de force of poetic power, even when I had no idea what it was talking about. I liken that experience to that of an intensely good meal. One does not need to be a gourmet chef to understand that one is experiencing culinary quality. Some things are just powerful and vibrant. They reveal the bones of the earth and help us see the strange singing of the sky.

Tell us about a writer or a book that you return to over and over for inspiration.

Shakespeare is where I most often go. I am endlessly floored by the brilliance and complexity of the construction of Hamlet, for example. Shakespeare teaches the economy of poetry. His spells are the most potent because they are the most precise. He is the great teacher of the craft. However, when I want to feel the way poetry ought to help us feel, when I need to run on the wind, when I am nearly overwhelmed with swallowing the sea, when I need to see and to be seen, I return to Whitman. Whitman is what home feels like, what the world ought to be, where wholeness triumphs over woundedness.

What is the experience of poetry? What is it like to compose?

I am often reminded of the ending of “Our Town” when the Stage Manager confesses to Emily that only the saints and poets even partially live life to the fullest. The root of great poetry, I have come to see, is the depth of connectivity to our existence. We are magical creatures, with such profundity and power as, when tapped into, shakes the firmament and the abyss. Our daily lives are full of this magic, full of the conflicts and connections that shake the stars and reroute time as though we were to throw ourselves across a river and alter its course with our agency. The art of the composition of poetry is a rooting into this power. It is as though we slip into another world collectively within us and, returning time and again, train ourselves to more perfectly construct portals to that place, to bring back distillations of its winds and waters, mysterious elixirs that others who have sunk into that place from time to time recognize in their own experience. The great beauty, however, is that those potions taste differently to each of us. We may recognize and approximate to some degree what we have experienced, but the reception of that experience distilled always savors of surprise in the mouths of those who imbibe it, for they are equally as magical, with their own sojourns in that deep place to draw from.

Congratulations to Judd!

Six Questions with Ann Bracken and Linda Joy Burke – April Wilde Readings

Happy National Poetry Month! The Wilde Readings team is excited to invite you to an in person event at the Columbia Arts Center on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 at 7 pm. For the first time, Wilde Readings will feature its wonderfully dedicated hosts Ann Bracken, Linda Joy Burke, Faye McCray, and Laura Shovan. 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 (410-730-0075), or when you arrive. Light refreshments will be served. Books by both featured authors and open mic readers will be available for sale.

First up with their answers to our Six Questions are Ann Bracken and and Linda Joy Burke.

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

Ann: My parents show up frequently because I’m exploring their influence in my life as well as new things I’ve discovered about them. My ex-partners show up when I write poems that deal with positive and negative effects of those relationships.

Linda Joy: I’ve never really considered who shows up most in my writing, though now that I think about my body of work over the past 50 years, I believe the collective shows up the most. Of course like most young poets I showed up the most in the beginning, but then as losses occurred both in the body personal and the body politic the collective dominated.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Ann: I like to write at the desk in my office where I have a lot of inspirational artwork and quotations.

Linda Joy: Depends on the mood I’m in. When I was younger, pre-computer, I would write on large sketch books while sitting on the living room floor. Now I am often dictating into my gadget while walking or pacing around my house. I always wanted to be able to dictate stories or essays when I was younger, especially while I was driving, and even bought a little recorder for that, but transcribing was a whole other job that I didn’t ever have enough time to do for myself then. I love modern tech in this regard, because I think that there’s a certain level of urgency about writing in this stage of my “career”, that if I couldn’t dictate into my gadget, I’m afraid I would lose much of what bubbles around in my brain. My fingers don’t work quick enough sometimes, with either a pen or a keyboard. I know this question was intending to mean what setting as opposed to modality of writing – however I’m not attached to favorite places but more a state of mind or being.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Ann: I often use a timer to get me started when I feel like the well is dry. Other times I doodle shapes and colors to evoke the mood or experience I want to excavate. And occasionally I use Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice to help me when I feel stuck or need a fresh way to explore an experience.

Linda Joy: I clear my desk or wherever I may be working, so that there is a sense of spaciousness around me even if I am in a tiny space. Maybe I’ll go for a walk or do something physical like gardening to help clear my head. Then must have sustenance – snacks and a beverage coffee or tea, depending on the time of day or season. I keep my noise cancelling headphones close when my easily distracted meter reading is off the charts – and add instrumental music that feeds me to keep me in the zone.

Who always gets a first read?

Ann: My critique partner always gets a first read. She provides consistent and insightful feedback for me to consider when revising.

Linda Joy: There’s a poetry group that I belong to – who sees work I’ve done as a result of prompts from that group. Other than that I will send to one of my poet/writer colleagues (depending on topic, genre, intent and our history).

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

Ann: I’ve read Jane Eyre three times, but don’t think I’d read again. I’ve read The Grapes of Wrath twice and was just thinking about re-reading this summer. I’ve read Rumi’s poetry many times and will continue to find beauty in his lines.

Linda Joy: As a kid I usually had to read one or two books over between library visits, because I was a fast reader. I remember reading books like Old Yeller, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Henry Higgins books by Beverly Cleary multiple times, and then later, Oliver Twist, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Wuthering Heights, lots of Poe, and others of those books that kids from the 60’s and 70’s read. There have been a couple of staples over the years though, like The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and Lucille Clifton’s the Book of Light. There are numerous books I want to read again through a 21st century, wiser set of eyes, such as Angelou’s memoirs, Baldwin’s novels as well as a few of the dystopian novels that a younger me read while my idealism was still intact, like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. But, I’d need a clone so that notion is off the table.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Ann: I heard Natasha Trethewey read in an intimate gathering at the University of Maryland. There were fewer than 50 people there, so we had the chance to ask her about her poems and to engage in wonderful discussions about her work. She was both welcoming and encouraging to all those present.

Linda Joy: All of them, but the poet Sekou Sundiata’s reading here in Columbia during one of the Columbia Festival of the Arts/HoCoPoLitSo sponsored readings stands out. I still listen to his work often and wonder what he would have written about these past 5-6 years if he were still here.

About our Authors

Ann Bracken has published three poetry collections, The Altar of Innocence, No Barking in the Hallways: Poems from the Classroom and Once You’re Inside: Poetry Exploring Incarceration. Ann’s memoir, Crash: A Memoir of Overmedication and Recovery, will be published in the fall of 2022. She serves as a contributing editor for Little Patuxent Review, and co-facilitates the Wilde Readings Poetry Series in Columbia, Maryland. She volunteers as a correspondent for the Justice Arts Coalition, exchanging letters with incarcerated people to foster their use of the arts. Her poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, her work has been featured on Best American Poetry, and she’s been a guest on Grace Cavalieri’s The Poet and The Poem radio show. Her advocacy work promotes using the arts to foster paradigm change in the areas of emotional wellness, education, and prison abolition.

Linda Joy Burke is a 2020 Howie recipient for Outstanding Artist, and her poetry has appeared in numerous publications or recordings, including 2020-2021 season of the Poet and The Poem with Maryland Poet Laureate Grace Cavalieri, Fledgling Rag, featured on the Poetry/Photography site, Beltway Magazine at  and more. Find her on Tumblr, Moods Minds & Multitudes on Blogspot, The Bird Talks Blog on Blogspot, and on Instagram @birdpoet. and other cyber-outlets.

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 .

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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Climate change is scary, and cli-fi short stories are here to help

Imagine 2200
https://grist.org/fix/series/imagine-2200-climate-fiction/

“Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming whether you like it or not.” — Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, age 18

Change is coming, both in the climate, and with luck, in human behavior. Reading about climate change is frightening, and sometimes shuts people down. But as many climate activists have explained, there is hope.

Environmental and animal activist Jane Goodall said it well: “I do have reasons for hope: our clever brains, the resilience of nature, the indomitable human spirit, and above all, the commitment of young people when they’re empowered to take action.”

But reading alarmist nonfiction doesn’t always reach the heart. Story, however, seems to sneak through our defenses and climb straight into our souls. Climate fiction, a genre of literature sometimes shortened to “cli-fi,” pioneered with J. G. Ballard’s novels of climate change (especially the 1962 classic The Drowned World) and Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune.

Since March 2019, HoCoPoLitSo and climate educator Julie Dunlap have led a climate fiction book club through the Howard County Library. Attenders are interested in literature that explores the facts and mysteries of Earth’s changing climate, and have read and discussed eight incredible novels over two years.

We’re mixing things up in January, and have chosen to read the award winners of a climate fiction short story contest sponsored by Grist Magazine’s Fix Solutions Lab. Organizers of the contest, Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors, urged writers to envision the next 180 years of equitable climate progress.

Sponsored by the National Resources Defense Council, the contest is “an uprising of imagination,” as Fix describes it. The winning stories, a collection of a dozen short pieces of fiction by authors including Black, Indigenous, disabled, and queer authors, conjure hope, anger, frustration, joy, and contemplation about the future of our planet in the impending climate crisis.

“Whether built on abundance or adaptation, reform or a new understanding of survival, these stories provide flickers of hope, even joy, and serve as a springboard for exploring how fiction can help create a better reality,” writes Tory Stephens, who works at Fix and spearheaded the contest.

Join us in reading a dozen of these stories and discussing them on Jan. 6, 7 to 8 p.m., at the Miller Branch Library. Register here. The stories, and a terrific glossary of cli-fi terms, including afrofuturism (looking at you Octavia Butler), solar punk and ecotopia, are available here.

blog post by Susan Thornton Hobby, HoCoPoLitSo recording secretary and a leader of the Inconvenient Book Club

wilde readings feature authors Nishi Chawla and Kathleen Hellen

Nishi Chawla and Kathleen Hellen are the feature writers at the October Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Nishi and Kathleen as well as other open mic readers for a free, virtual reading on October 12, 2021 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. See details about the event below.

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We asked Nishi and Kathleen our favorite six questions about their reading and writing, and here’s what they had to share.

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

Nishi: There is no specific person whose image gets repeated in my writings. I would suggest that the theme of what I write is what ‘shows up most often in my writing.’ The theme assumes a persona, a kind of living personality. This is often a ‘recollection’ kind of figure as it holds together moments and memories, important aspects of personality along with other parts, like traits of temperament, goals and objectives. This thematic persona assumes the shape of a recent history. It gets wrapped in the web of some urgent questions of the present and future that I try to focus on.

Kathleen: My mother, and more recently my son

Where is your favorite place to write?

Nishi: The solarium is my favorite place to write as the morning rays plunge the room with its unique and faultless solar energy. “Drought became us / Turned us into grains of sand / The blithe breeze that poets sung of / Weren’t that kind to us / When they were done caressing their faces / And having their way with the locks of women’s hair, / They turned a new leaf for a new story” – A A Surin

Kathleen: Anywhere–in the car I write on backs of envelopes, receipts, any available scrap of paper, on walks, in parking lots, on the La-Z-Boy beside the statue of Lord Shiva, on the couch with a legal pad and staring out the window, in bed on unlined tablets beside the pile of books, at the computer in the morning, at the computer at night, in front of the tv on yellow Post-It notes, on beaches with my pocket-sized spiral notebook, in hotel rooms on guest notepads, on planes and waiting at the airport …

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Nishi: My writing process is like an implosion within me. I wrap my mind around an idea that bursts into me and sometimes, surprises me to my own inner self. I do not often see clearly where I should go with it. When the way forward seems nebulous, ideas creep around me from behind me, almost my stealth, and crowd my other thoughts out. Sometimes, the outburst seems too condensed and waits to be fleshed out. The flow of words gets blocked, and the dialogues come out broken and need some agility. The sounds and rhythms, the breaks in logic, any unnecessary verbiage, the indiscriminate voices of the individual characters, the hunger in my belly for the right word, the right way to convey my message or project my vision, are all important rituals of my pre-writing process.

Nishi: As soon as I wake up, I put on coffee, stretch, write my dream thoughts in the black-and-white marble composition notebook, then I get to work.

Who gets the first read?

Nishi: My own lonely self. “I saw an otter lying dead at the edge of the creek, / body flaccid, scaled like that of a bird’s. / That was also the time we swung our palms loose, / heading down February over a speed bump, and our mothers- / calling us out, yet the distance too large and the gravity too strong / for us to hear their voices. / It was the way we slid over frozen ice – the carelessness, / the tangling of bones, that reminds me of how / this time and that time was all but a series of endings.” – S Verma

Kathleen: Usually, it’s just me.

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

Nishi: I have read many books multiple times. I have found Gandhi’s My Experiments with Truth quite mesmerizing even as I try to understand the flawed human being behind the mask of a great and flawless human. “everything comes around from water / to dust, betrayal to trust / you have to recognize the small alphabet a and distinguish it / from the capital A observing the pressure on the fingers that write / trace you must contours on the bark you lean on to / and it will all come to you / Do not look for us when we are not around for we are the moon quivering / upon the night’s lake and the puppet shadows appearing disappearing / beyond us / we are the trees that long for the roots as much yearn the high sky.” – Shelley Bhoil.

Kathleen: Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Death, No Fear

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Nishi: A striking and indelible reading that I attended was at Politics and Prose. Amitava Ghosh read from his novel, A Sea of Poppies. Ghosh’s ibis trilogy blew my mind at the level of in depth research he has done. And what a contrast to “Sea Poppies” by H.D.: “Amber husk / fluted with gold, / fruit on the sand / marked with a rich grain, / treasure / spilled near the shrub-pines / to bleach on the boulders: / your stalk has caught root / among wet pebbles / and drift flung by the sea / and grated shells / and split conch-shells. / Beautiful, wide-spread, / fire upon leaf, / what meadow yields / so fragrant a leaf / as your bright leaf?”

Kathleen: Most recently, Tin House’s online reading and interview with Arthur Sze

The First Annual Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Prize.

Deadline extended, prizes, publication.

The new annual Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Prize honors our dear co-founder (1932-2020) and supports HoCoPoLitSo’s live literary programs. 

The winning poet will be awarded a cash prize of $500, provided by the Friends of HoCoPoLitSo.  The winning poem will be published in The Little Patuxent Review and HoCoPoLitSo’s website.  Additionally, the winning poet will be celebrated with a press release, on social media, in a blog interview, and in the annual report.  A second prize winner will also be selected and awarded $100.

Eligibility: We welcome submissions from poets all ages and in all styles, including experimental, traditional, and short narrative poems. Each poet may submit one or more previously unpublished, original poems to total no more than 60 lines or three pages. HoCoPoLitSo-appointed judges will consider each poem separately and without identifying author information to select one winning poem of exceptional quality. HoCoPoLitSo Board Members and staff are not eligible to submit.

Evaluation: Each poem will be judged separately and read anonymously. 

Reading Fee: $10 

Submission Deadline: October 15, 2021  [EXTENDED]

The winner will be notified by November 15, 2021.

Click here to submit your work.

wilde readings feature authors gabor gyukics and sami miranda

Gabor Gyukics and Sami Miranda are the feature writers at the September Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Gabor and Sami as well as other open mic readers for a free, virtual reading on Tuesday, September 14th at 7:00 pm at the Columbia Arts Center. The event will be livestreamed as well. See details about the event below.

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Gabor Gyukics (left) and Sami Miranda (right)

We asked Gabor and Sami a few of our favorite questions and there’s what they had to share!

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

Gabor: imaginary people from reality

Sami: My Grandfather, and the bass player I perform with Pepe Gonzalez. People I know make up the greater part of my body of work. My work comes from conversations and listening to the stories people have to tell.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Gabor: I can write anywhere

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Gabor: Don’t have one. When word hits me I take a note. Weeks or/and months later, I take these notes out and write them down to create poems.

Sami: Conversations with people, other artists, my students

Who always gets a first read?

Gabor: no one

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

Gabor: Pynchon’s V

Sami: Short History of Monsters by Jose Padua

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Gabor: The one with Ira Cohen in NYC and the one with Jack Hirschman in SF, so that’s two – sorry.

Sami: Aracelis Girmay and Ross Gay read together and it was a reading that stuck in my head because of its tenderness and power.

Gabor G. Gyukics, Budapest born Hungarian-American poet, translator, author of 11 books of poetry in five languages, 1 book of prose and 17 books of translations including A Transparent Lion, selected poetry of Attila József in English published in 2006 by Green Integer, an anthology of North American Indigenous poets in Hungarian published in 2015, a brand new Contemporary Hungarian Poetry Anthology in English titled They’ll be Good for Seed published by White Pine Press in 2021. He was honored with the Hungarian Beat Poet Laureate Lifetime award in September 2020 by the National Beat Poetry Foundation, Inc. based in Connecticut.

Sami Miranda is a poet, teacher and visual artist. Originally from the South Bronx, he has made his home in Washington, DC. He is the author of We Is, published by Zozobra Publishing, and Departure published by Central Square Press.

Registration for the in person event will be limited. To register for in-person attendance, email us at WildeReadingsHoCo@gmail.com.

All attendees must follow Columbia Art Center COVID protocols. We encourage attendees to participate in the open mic. Please prepare up to five minutes of performance time/two poems. Sign up when you arrive. Books by featured authors and open mic readers will be available for sale in person and via buying links posted online.

moving hands of Deaf Republic: Miwon Yoon

blog post by Laura Yoo

About one month before the publication of Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic in 2019, The New Yorker published a multimedia poetry project with a selection of poems from Kaminsky’s collection. This wonderful project by The New Yorker, with an introduction by poet Kevin Young, pushes the boundaries of alphabetic text on paper and creates a “reading” experience that is textual, visual, and auditory. Deaf Republic is so much about language and communication, about seeing and witnessing, and about sound and silence; and this project offers a multi-faceted way of interacting with Kaminsky’s poetry.

First, you can hear an audio of Kaminsky’s reading of each poem, starting with “Dramatis Personae,” which introduces the cast of characters of Deaf Republic. (You can listen to and watch Ilya Kaminsky’s live reading at the Blackbird Poetry Festival on April 29th!)

Second, this multimedia poetry project includes a set of moving illustrations that represent signing. At the very top of the webpage, we see two hands in bluish purple color. The index finger of one hand is pointing at the open palm of the other hand. This illustration represents “match.” In Deaf Republic, this sign for “match” accompanies two poems.

In “Arrival”: “In the nursery, quiet hisses like a match dropped in water.”

In “Theatre Nights”: “In the center of the stage Momma Galya strikes a match.”

As we scroll The New Yorker webpage, we see other movements that represent “town,” “the town watches,” “army convoy,” “hide,” and “story”. Some of these signs are based on various sign languages while “Other signs might have been made up by citizens, as they tried to create a language not known to authorities” (Deaf Republic).

Miwon Yoon is the artist who created the moving illustrations for The New Yorker, based on original drawings by Jennifer Whitten. (Read our interview with Jennifer Whitten here.) HoCoPoLitSo reached out to Miwon, an artist in Korea, to share with us about her work for this project.

Miwon says she she still hesitates at being called an “artist” for it’s a hard term to define, but she began imagining her life as a “self-employed artist” ever since she was in art school. She feels lucky that she can make a living doing her art. You can find two collections of her art – “everyday repetition” and “window collector” – on her website. Here’s what she had to say about her art and about working with Deaf Republic for The New Yorker.

How would you describe your art? 

I explore how image works between moving and still. Looped animation explores how the viewer spectates the image as a moving or still image. It has movements but time doesn’t flow. It comes back in a few seconds so the viewers are more free than when watching non-looped moving images.  Recently I collected windows or created imaginary windows, with the window frame capturing space and certain time. Capturing the moment but at the same time the scene remains in its movement.

What was your approach to creating the animations for Deaf Republic which are based on Jennifer Whitten’s drawings?

I tried to include a surreal part in the movement, little movement that cannot exist in real life, like flesh stretching or flame rising shapes. But at the same time I was asked not to go too conceptual and to be figurative because it had to look like sign language.

How do you think your animations contribute to the meaning of the poems?

Written words give you the possibility to imagine your own picture in your head (which I love about writing), but giving a certain image with words sometimes helps you narrow down from your imaginary thoughts from getting too big and hard to control. At the same time I never wanted to destroy the ambiguity of words, so that is why I created movements that cannot exist in the real world. When the movement is surreal, you can keep the image as an unfamiliar experience rather than connecting to a certain memory of your own.

I love your series of moving images titled “#everydayrepetition 사건아닌사건” which is similar to the style of the signs in The New Yorker article. Can you tell us more about that collection? 

Yes, I think the art director for The New Yorker project commissioned me after seeing those animations. I make animation with looped movement based on daily routines that you have to repeat endlessly. When I was staying abroad outside Korea, taking shoes on and off every time I hopped in bed or took a shower got me into compulsive thinking. It seemed like movement that has to be done unconsciously has become such a big incident. I started making those incidents as looped animation as a way of reducing the stress from it.

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