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Meet Chrissy Stegman — 2022 Second Place Winner of the Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Contest

In 2021, Howard County Poetry and Literature Society launched the Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Prize in honor of its founding member, Ellen Conroy Kennedy. Now in its second year, contest judges evaluated many submissions from poets in ten states and three countries for mechanics and technique, clarity, style/music for our contemporary age, imagery/sensory power, and emotional resonance. They noted in “Blue Irises” the creative use of form, the original approach to this poignant subject, the resonant voice of the speaker, and the powerful tension of the poem’s arc.

Tell us about your poem “Blue Irises” How did it come about? What sparked or inspired it?

Chrissy Stegman, second prize winner in the 2022 Ellen Conroy Kennedy Poetry Contest

I received my annual postcard in the mail from GBMC hospital, asking for donations to the NICU. It reminded me.

My youngest son was born early and via emergency c-section. When he arrived, he was whisked away to the NICU.

The poem came from this experience and from the despair I felt at being in the NICU to nurse him or see him whenever they allowed me but also, the other babies sometimes didn’t survive. It was a devastating juxtaposition, living in that space of life and death. It stayed with me.

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

That’s a difficult question for me to answer. I suppose it would be the hours I spent in various libraries as a child. Reading saved me so many times, supported me, gave me strength. The power was evident. Language can do that — it reminds me of a passage from The Bow and the Lyre (Octavio Paz): Man is a being who has created himself in creating a language. By means of the word, man is a metaphor of himself. 

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

My mascot would be pure crystalline silence. I have four school-aged kids in the home (one adult child out in the world) and it’s challenging to find the space and quiet to write and work things out. If not silence, then all of Rocky Mount and Ferrum, VA and the blackberry brambles there, the train tracks, and the cemetery. The Blue Ridge mountains? Take me home. Country roads.

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

It’s always Elizabeth Bishop, Rilke, Harryette Mullen, Camus, Anne Carson, Theodore Roethke, Mark Strand, Larkin … I mean, it’s impossible to pick only one writer or book. The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli is gorgeous. 

What are you working on next and where can we find you?

Currently, I’m taking an advanced masterclass at the 92NY Unterberg Poetry Center, New York. I’m also working on a book of poems that offers an interactive quality for the reader and finishing up my first chapbook. I have two poems coming out in March (Gone Lawn) and May (Blue Heron Review) so 2023 is off to a great start.

I can be found on IG: thegoosefaerie and Twitter: @pimpledrose 

Hear poet Chrissy Stegman read “Blue Irises”

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 (Howard County Poetry and Literature Society) seeks Managing Director

About HoCoPoLitSo

Founded in 1974 by Ellen Conroy Kennedy in Columbia, Maryland, HoCoPoLitSo is an innovative, small, not-for-profit community literary arts organization devoted to fostering a love of contemporary literature, preserving the world literary heritage, and responding equitably and inclusively to the evolving needs and interests of our dynamic community.

Job Description

The managing director (MD) reports directly to the co-chairs of the Board of Directors. The MD represents and supports the organization’s day-to-day operations through dynamic project management, conscientious fiscal oversight, creative problem-solving, and highly effective communication. The MD works collaboratively with the board and the program coordinator to create, manage, and maintain a schedule of literary events that cultivate literary appreciation and provide high-quality interactive opportunities for our community to engage with great writers. The MD manages resources, produces financial and grant reports, organizes volunteers, establishes meeting agendas, and contracts with vendors, as well as documents, tracks, and maintains the organization’s financial income and expense records, including oversight of grant funding.

The ideal candidate has:

  • Bookkeeping and grant management experience sufficient to manage within a limited budget and uncertain revenue stream (e.g., familiarity with QuickBooks)
  • Budget and management experience (non-profit experience preferred)
  • Demonstrated evidence of flexibility, resourceful problem-solving skills, and a collaborative spirit
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills and interpersonal skills
  • Conscientious attention to detail, follow-through, and organization
  • Technical knowledge sufficient to manage communication and finances effectively, to update website content, with some social media skills
  • The ability to multitask
  • Evidence of ability to work effectively as a team member
  • Willingness to perform other duties as necessary to accomplish the organization’s objectives

The position requires:

  • Access to reliable transportation and ability to transport event materials; lives within a reasonable commuting distance
  • Regular attendance and availability are requirements. Willingness to work remotely when necessary.
  • Ability to meet on a regular schedule each month with the board and the program committee
  • Ability to work flexible hours both in person, in the office, and online as needed, including occasional nights and weekends as needed for events
  • Commitment to a safe and confidential working environment by participating in necessary training
  • Ability to lift 25 pounds

Additional Information

  • Hours Per Week: varies with schedule of events and deadlines; approximately 20-25
  • Work Schedule: Monday – Friday, occasional nights and weekends for events
  • Compensation: $18,000-$25,000/year
  • FLSA Status: Exempt
  • Open Until Filled
  • Please apply by September 30, 2022 for best consideration

Application Instructions

Send cover letter and resume with three professional references to HoCoPoLitSo.74@gmail.com.

HoCoPoLitSo values diversity within its staff, board, and volunteer population. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, disability or protected veteran status.

Community Foundation of Howard County Helps HoCoPoLitSo Make Lit Happen

Columbia, MD – August 3, 2022 – The Howard County Poetry & Literature Society is delighted to receive a grant in the amount of $2,500 from the Community Foundation of Howard County (@CFHoCo on Twitter). Supported by grants and individual donors, HoCoPoLitSo cultivates the appreciation for contemporary poetry and literature, celebrates a culturally diverse literary heritage, and broadens exposure to the literary arts to foster community.

Funds from the Community Foundation of Howard County helps HoCoPoLitSo produce live, virtual and recorded literary programs accessible world-wide. Programs such as “Poetry Potluck” took the audience into the kitchens of four former writers-in-residence, who discussed their food inspired poetry and the importance of food in creating a vibrant community.

HoCoPoLitSo is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit literary arts organization. Founded in 1974, the society has presented 5 Nobel Laureates, 31 Pulitzer Prize winners, 22 National Book Award winners, 19 National Poets Laureates, 9 Maryland Poets Laureates, and more than 300 writers to the Howard County community. Audiences can attend programs in-person, virtually or view at YouTube.com/HoCoPoLitSo twenty-four hours a day from anywhere in the world.

About the Community Foundation of Howard County – For more than 50 years, the Community Foundation of Howard County has served as a knowledgeable, trusted partner that forges connections between donors and nonprofit organizations to provide impactful investments in Howard County. Since 2020 the foundation has awarded more than $6.5 million through more than 1,000 grants to organizations delivering human service, arts and cultural, educational and civic programs. Funds to support grant programs comes primarily from income generated by the foundation’s endowment supported by more than 365 funds established by Howard County businesses, families and individuals. For more information, visit CFHoCo.org or call 410-730-7840.

HoCoPoLitSo thanks its audiences and donors, like the Community Foundation of Howard County, for supporting the literary arts in our Howard County Community!

“Your help is important. Not just to keep this local literary organization going, but to keep the positive work of words out there in the world, connecting people along the way.”

-Tim Singleton, Board Co-chair.

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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