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Wilde Readings: A Great Place to Share Your Love of Literature

Wilde Readings, Columbia’s literary reading and open mic series, eagerly launches season two on September 12th at the Columbia Art Center. When poet and author Laura Shovan approached Linda Joy Burke and myself about starting a reading series in Columbia, we offered our full support. Because Wilde Readings is funded through private donations and a generous grant from HoCoPoLitSo and is housed in the Columbia Art Center in Long Reach, any concerns about funding and a venue disappeared. Before the three of us could begin the daunting yet exciting task of selecting authors for our first year’s lineup, we first solicited naming ideas from several of our friends in the writing community. While there were many names we liked, we selected Patricia VanAmburg’s suggestion to use Wilde Readings—a dual homage to Wilde Lake, Columbia’s first village, and Oscar Wilde, a writer known for both his wit and his bravery. His words, which appear as a tagline on our promotional materials, “A writer is a person who has taught his mind to misbehave,” capture the spirit of what we hope good writing encourages.

Mahitha Vijily

It was especially important to all of us that we present a variety of voices and styles, as well as represent the demographics of our area and balance male and female voices. With those parameters in mind, I hope you’ll agree that our 2016-2017 inaugural series fulfilled those goals and provided our audience with ten evenings of engaging, thoughtful, and provocative voices. Fiction was well represented when Jen Grow, Jan Bowman, Austin Camacho, and Susan Muaddi Daraj shared short stories and novel excerpts. Poetry and spoken word performances, both with political undertones, captured our audience’s attention when Michael Rothenberg, Ron Kipling Williams, Ken “Analysis” Brown, Maritza Rivera, and Shelly “Says So” Washington performed. Le Hinton had a most unusual approach to his rendition of poems from his “Cotton” collection—he passed around real cotton bolls for the audiences to feel both the velvet smoothness of the white fiber and the contrasting prickles of the supporting stamen and leaves. The remaining readings featured the impressive and highly regarded poetic voices of Grace Cavalieri, Merrill Leffler, Sally Rosen Kindred, Michael Ratcliffe, Nancy Naomi Carlson, Sue Ellen Thompson, Virginia Crawford, Sam Schmidt, and City Lit’s own Carla Dupree.

Wilde Readings’ lineup of literary artists for the fall of 2017 promises to be as engaging and diverse as our opening season. We kick off the series with Debbi Mack, New York Times best-selling author of the Sam McRae Mystery Series and Pat Valdata, whose most recent work, Where No Man Can Touch, is a book of persona poems in the voices of female aviation pioneers. In October, Michael Salcman, poet, physician, and art historian, will speak about his latest work, A Prague Spring, Before and After, along with his photographer, Lynn Silverman, a professor of photography at MICA. In November, we will feature the work of D.C. poet Henry Crawford reading from his inaugural collection, American Software, and Susan Sonde, author of several books and a two-time Pushcart Nominee and winner of numerous prizes and awards. We close out 2017 with Doritt Carroll, D.C. native and author of a new chapbook entitled Sorry You Are Not an Instant Winner and poet Alan King, Bowie, Maryland, resident and author of Point Blank and Drift.

This year, in addition to lining up an exciting roster of literary guests for Wilde Readings, Laura, Linda Joy, and I plan to reach out to local teens who aspire to become writers. We’d love to put together a roster of interested writers to participate in a dedicated teen night as part of Wilde Readings. Last year, Mahitha Vijily, a teen writer from Marriotts Ridge High School, saw our event in the local papers and decided to bring her family and her book of poetry to the April Wilde Readings event. She blew us away with her provocative voice and skillful use of language and even sold a few copies of her book, Thoughts of a Wildflower. We hope to engage more voices in the coming year.

When we open the fall series on September 12, 2017, at the Columbia Art Center at 7pm, Laura, Linda Joy, and I will be there to welcome everyone, sign up open mic readers, and introduce our featured authors. We hope to see many attendees from last year and anticipate welcoming new folks as well.

 

By Ann Bracken

 

 

mana’s musing: where the wilde things are

Laura Yoo HoCoPoLitSo Board member and Associate Professor of English at Howard Community College.

Laura Yoo is a HoCoPoLitSo Board member and Associate Professor of English at Howard Community College.

This is a story of a prodigal daughter.

At the beginning of the summer, I made big plans.  A long list of books I wanted to read.  Big goals.  Ambitious.  I would read, read, and read some more. I had books to read. And I had the time to read them.

Instead, all through July and August, I watched TV.  A lot of it. Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, Master Chef, and endless episodes of Chopped.  And all these hours that were committed to watching means I haven’t been reading.  There is the still-not-finished Fates and Furies on my night stand. I’m about 50 pages into Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman. Though Pride and Prejudice and Zombies intrigued me at the bookstore, I haven’t even opened it yet. Though I made good progress on Claudia Rankin’s Citizen: An American Lyric, it is not finished. (Though, you might argue, one simply does not plow through a work like Citizen.)

This summer, the room we call the “reading room” in my house was used to get away from the children to watch stuff on Netflix on my tablet with earphones shoved into my ears.

I am ashamed. Fail. Major fail.

So, clearly, I needed help.

And help came on September 13th in the form of a very wild Wilde Reading.  Organized by Laura Shovan, Ann Bracken, and LindaJoy Burke, Wilde Readings launched its first open mic night with featured readers Jen Grow and Le Hinton. An audience of about 30 gathered in one of the art studio spaces at the Columbia Art Center, the same space where my son had art summer camp. It was comfortable, friendly, and intimate.

As Laura told us, though there are many wonderful literary organizations, publications, and events in Howard County, a place for writers to come together and share freely and informally had been lacking for many years.  And Wilde Reading’s inaugural event demonstrated the very reason such gatherings are needed: it created a collage of unique, diverse literary voices.  Each time a reader went up to the podium, you just didn’t know what you were gonna get.

Jen Grow’s short story about a daughter and her dying mother just about killed me. Before she read, Jen promised to go for the jugular – her words – and she didn’t miss.  I was relieved and astonished at the same time when Jen ended by reassuring us that her mother is still living, that the story is indeed fictional.  I thought, how can one create a story like that – so moving, so real, and so visceral – without actually having lived it?  Even if one had experienced it, telling it in such a powerful way would be a difficult task.  I suppose that’s why poets are artists, creators.

Le Hinton’s reading was enhanced by a tactile experience he created for the audience.  He passed around cotton blooms for us to feel between our fingers while he read his poems on the motif of cotton.  When he read an autobiographical poem about doing math lessons with his father, he passed around Tootsie Rolls for us to enjoy.  The taste of chocolate in our mouths transported us to that room with that little boy, his father, math lessons, and Tootsie Rolls for reward.

The open mic readers included Jan Bowman and Michael Ratcliffe, two writers who will be featured in future Wilde Reading events. The open mic evening ended with a powerful performance by Analysis the Poet.

While the voices of the evening were divergent and their subject matter so varied, together these writer-performers created a one-of-kind literary sound.  And that sound, that experience can never be recreated again.  I feel lucky to have been there to witness it.

This Wilde Reading invited me back to the written word.  It pushed me around a bit – from one emotion to another and yet another – and left me wanting more.  And more I shall get – on October 4th with Jan Bowman and Derrick Weston Brown as featured readers at the second Wilde Reading.

Inspired by this Wilde Reading, I did something different today. During my son’s 45-minute swim practice, instead of browsing my Facebook page or taking quizzes on Buzzfeed, I opened a book: Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist.  And I’m in love with the written word again.

Thank you, Wilde, for welcoming back this prodigal daughter.

 

 

six questions with writer Meg Eden

Meg Eden

Writer Meg Eden joined the Wilde Readings open mic event via Zoom on March 8, 2022.

Meg is a writer and creative writing instructor. She received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland College Park, and has taught at a range of places, including Anne Arundel Community College, Southern New Hampshire University online, University of Maryland College Park, Eckleburg Workshops, and The Writer’s Center in Bethesda since 2013. Meg is the author of five poetry chapbooks, the novel Post-High School Reality Quest (2017), the poetry collection Drowning in the Floating World (2020), and the forthcoming middle grade novel in verse Selah’s Guide to Normal (2023) with Scholastic.

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

ME: Oof, I’m not sure! Pieces of my parents and childhood friends definitely show up in my writing, but the most common I guess–for any writer really–is the self: my vulnerabilities, painful moments, things I wish I could do differently, etc.

HoCoPoLitSo: Where is your favorite place to write?

ME: This changes depending on the season. In winter I’ve really liked writing at home under my heated blanket, but in warmer months I love going to the trail or gym then writing in a Panera or Chick Fil A with a giant glass of tea.

HoCoPoLitSo: Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

ME: Some timed element of browsing or reading. I prefer writing when I have a reaction to something, a strong emotion I have to get out. But if I don’t have time for that, I always have soundtracks for my writing, so the first song conditions me to get into the world of the story.

HoCoPoLitSo: Who always gets a first read?

ME: This really depends. My critique group is usually the first emailed to see if anyone wants to read. But sometimes my husband gets an early read, other times friends that aren’t writers but have been with me a long time. It really depends on the project, how I feel about the project, and what I need. Sometimes I need positivity passes at first to gain confidence, while other times I feel confident and just need the feedback.

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

ME: I don’t tend to read books more than once, to be honest. I’m not sure I’ve ever read any more than twice besides the Bible–which I know is such a cop-out, Sunday school sounding answer but it’s true. It’s the most versatile book and always has something new to teach me. That said, I predict I’ll read Corey Ann Haydu’s One Jar of Magic (as well as her most recent Lawless Spaces) and Sarah Crossan’s Toffee more than twice in my life time. Now shows/movies are a different story. I have to annually watch Avatar the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, as well as BBC’s Bleak House. I find that I learn a lot narratively from other storytelling devices than books sometimes.

HoCoPoLitSo: What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

ME: Probably an Inner Loop reading. I love Inner Loop (a local DC series) because you really feel the fellowship and community. I always meet new people and connect with old friends.

Join Wilde Readings Open Mic in April (National Poetry Month!) and meet other writers! You can keep up with Wilde Readings events here.

six questions with Mary Brandenburg and Hananah Zaheer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where is your favorite place to write?

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

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

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

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

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

Who always gets a first read?

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

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

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

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

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

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

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

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

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

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

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

six questions with Emily Rich and Leona Sevick

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

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

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

Emily: My parents.

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

Where is your favorite place to write?

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

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

Who always gets the first read?

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

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

Do you have any consistent re-writing rituals?

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

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

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

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

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

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

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

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

About Our Guests:

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

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

six questions with Kenneth Carroll and Marlena Chertock

Kenneth Carroll and Marlena Chertock are the feature writers at the December Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Kenneth and Marlena as well as other open mic readers for a free reading on Zoom (and Facebook Live) on Tuesday, December 14 at 7 p.m. Click here to register for the free event. Click here for more details about the event.

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

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

Kenneth: My mother.

Marlena: I often write autobiographical poetry, so I guess I show up most in those pieces. My short stories focus on science fiction about climate change. I’m drawn to writing about astronauts, especially unlikely ones — the astronauts I’ve written about are disabled, mentally ill, young, or stuck on Earth due to too much space trash.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Kenneth: Any place where I’m supposed to doing something else.

Marlena: I tend to write on my computer because I have terrible handwriting and am a fast typist. But if I’m spending time outside on a nice day, I sometimes remember to bring a journal. Writing under trees is especially inspiring and calming.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Kenneth: Review my notes.

Marlena: Not really. I tend to write when the inspiration strikes, which is always at random times. Often when I should be sleeping.

Who always gets a first read?

Kenneth: The ancestors.

Marlena: I share pretty much every single poem and shitty first draft with my friend Codi, who was in the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House with me at the University of Maryland. It’s nice to stay in the habit of sharing writing, which can be so isolated. But I’ve been grateful to have found such a welcoming writing community in the Washington, D.C. area.

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

Kenneth: August Wilson, Two Trains Running

Marlena: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Kenneth: Lucille Clifton at St. Mary’s College.

Marlena: I was so lucky that Patricia Smith visited my class at the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House when I was a junior. She was such a gracious visitor, taking all our questions and reading some of our baby poems. When she took the stage for her reading that night, her whole presence shifted. Her voice, her cadence, her power — it was palpable!

Kenneth Carroll is a native Washingtonian whose poetry has appeared in Icarus, In Search of Color Everywhere, Potomac Review, Worcester Review, Obsidian, Words & Images Journal, Indiana Review, American Poetry: The Next Generation, Beyond the Frontier, Gargoyle, Spirit & Flame, and Penguin Academics Anthology of African American Poetry. His book of poetry is entitled So What: for the White Dude Who Said This Ain’t Poetry, published by Grace Cavalieri. He is former director of DC WritersCorps and the African American Writers Guild and a former Pushcart nominee. He is married and the proud father of a daughter and two sons.

Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized: Poems (Unnamed Press) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press). She uses her skeletal dysplasia as a bridge to scientific poetry. She is queer, disabled, and a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee. Marlena serves as Co-Chair of OutWrite, Washington, D.C.’s annual LGBTQ literary festival, and on the Board of Split This Rock, a nonprofit that cultivates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. Her poetry and prose has appeared in AWP’s The Writer’s Notebook, Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, Lambda Literary Review, Little Patuxent Review, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Paper Darts, Paranoid Tree, Plants & Poetry, Washington Independent Review of Books, WMN Zine, Wordgathering, and more. Find her at marlenachertock.com and @mchertock.

Six Questions with Kristin Kowalski Ferragut and Lucinda Marshall

Kristin Kowalski Ferragut and Lucinda Marshall are the feature writers at the November Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Kristin and Lucinda as well as other open mic readers for a free reading at the Columbia Art Center (and virtual) on Tuesday, November 9th at 7 pm. See details about the event below.

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

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

Kristin: Notably my children, my dad, me or previous me(s) from different days, men I love(d), and friends who have died show up often in my writing. It’s not usually what it seems at face value. For instance, I may be writing “you” in a poem exploring love or estrangement, but the “you” might be pieces of me and a composite of others real and maybe more fictional characteristics that represent wishes, fears, or possibilities.

Lucinda: I have a number of first person poems, so I think I would have to say that I am that person. My work covers a broad range of topics, and even when the poem isn’t personal, my point of view is reflected in virtually everything I write.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Kristin: I could stare out on nature maybe forever, at least longer than I’ve ever tried. It puts me in a meditative, often melancholy state from where I’m better able to access images. I write mostly in my Nook in my room looking out on our trees, squirrels, birds. I love getting away to look out other windows on woods and sky. Sometimes I write outside. When it’s cold I have a little portable writer’s fort I like to go out in, especially in the snow. (Here’s the story on that: https://www.kristinskiferragut.com/post/writing-fort)

Lucinda: Where I am. I don’t have a specific writing place. I’ve written in the shower, on planes, in doctors’ offices, standing in the checkout at the grocery store, under the covers with a flashlight. And I’m not picky about what I write on. I have a lot of blank notebooks that are never in the right place at the right time. One of the poems in my book, “Serenity Prayer For Singular Existence” was written on my forearm when I couldn’t find any paper.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Kristin: I prefer writing in the morning and usually jump in pretty quickly. I tend to grab coffee, sometimes tea, and seltzer water, light a candle, and start the writing/window staring. I do have a writing mix on Spotify, the songs are instrumental or in other languages, sometimes I play it. When I’m outside, well, there’s not much better than musing to the tune of a moving river or calling birds.

Lucinda: I don’t. The best way for me to get writing is to be in the middle of something else that has an imminent deadline or otherwise deters me from having writing time. Those are usually the times I am suddenly struck with inspiration.

Who always gets a first read?

Kristin: There’s no one person that consistently reads my work first. It’s kind of a lovely dream to imagine one. I belong to three writer’s groups  —  DiVerse workshop, La Mads, who used to meet out of La Madeleine’s in Bethesda, and Gaithersburg Writers. I do as little Zoom as possible so my attendance to these groups has been spotty for the past year and a half, but I trust them with new and fragile work. I have a few friends who will also sometimes read early work and offer feedback, for which I’m grateful.

Lucinda: There is no one specific person.

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

Kristin: I got the poetry collection “And Her Soul Out of Nothing” by Olena Kalytiak Davis around ’97/’98. Since, I’ve shared it with many people and often reread before sharing, wondering, is it really as good as I remembered? And always come back to Yes, it is. Another one I give away a lot, and thus revisit a lot is Sam Shepard’s short stories, “Cruising Paradise.”

Lucinda: There are so many, among them Kristin Kowalski Ferragut’s “Escape Velocity”, truly a stunning collection and I’m thrilled to be reading at Wilde with her.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Kristin: I believe it was May 2019, the last live Gaithersburg Book Festival. Lucinda organized the poetry that year and it was awesome! I sat under a tent all day while incredible poets spoke before me — Grace Cavalieri, Reuben Jackson, Ethelbert Miller, Katherine Young, Rose Solari, Alan King… And while I listened my son drifted about the festival collecting hugs. Beautiful day!

Lucinda: Oh Goodness–all of them. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a reading where there was not something memorable. When I was mentoring the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club we held a few readings for parents and hearing the kids get up and read the work that we had been workshopping was really a thrill.

About November Wilde Reading

Register for our event at: WildeReadingsHoCo@gmail.com
You can sign up for the open Mic either by sending an email to: WildeReadingsHoCo@gmail.com

Registration for the in person event will be limited. 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.

About Our Guests Kristin and Lucinda

Kristin Kowalski Ferragut teaches, plays guitar, hikes, and supports her children in becoming who they are meant to be. She is author of the full-length poetry collection Escape Velocity (Kelsay Books, 2021) and the children’s book Becoming the Enchantress (Loving Healing Press, 2021). Her poetry has appeared in Beltway Quarterly, Nightingale and Sparrow, Bourgeon, Mojave He[Art] Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Fledgling Rag, and Little Patuxent Review among others. For more information see her website: https://www.kristinskiferragut.com/

Lucinda Marshall is the author of Inheritance Of Aging Self (Finishing Line Press, 2021). She lives in Gaithersburg, MD where she is the Founder of DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading, and helped create the Local Poets collection at Quince Orchard Library. Lucinda is also an accomplished mixed media and fabric artist.

six questions with Ned Balbo and Jane Satterfield

Ned Balbo and Jane Satterfield are the feature writers at the May Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Ned and Jane as well as other open mic readers for a free, virtual reading on Tuesday, May 11th at 7:00 pm.  Register here Get to know Ned and Jane with our Six Questions.

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

Ned: I haven’t counted, but Betty & Carmine, my adoptive parents, have racked up quite a few appearances… as have my birth parents, Elaine (Betty’s much-younger sister) & her belated husband Don. 

Jane: It would be interesting to take an inventory… my parents (and their parents) show up in my recent book, Apocalypse Mix, in the context of poems about war’s generational impact on soldiers and civilians, and I’m pretty sure that the presence of other women writers and artists—present and past—is strong.

Q: Where is your favorite place to write? 

Ned: My home office where files, books, knick-knacks, Golden Guides, drafts & memorabilia are all in easy reach & my lap is available to Wyatt, our affectionate polydactyl cat. 

Jane: My second-floor study has plenty of books within reach; I work near a window that offers the welcome distractions of suburban wildlife—the crows, foxes, squirrels, and assorted birds that sometimes make their way into poems.

Q: Do you have consistent pre-writing rituals? 

Ned: Nothing consistent. Sometimes I wander the Internet: musing on pop culture trivia that’s crossed my path while thinking about the poem I’m working on, or gathering background information in PDF form for research purposes. Lately, if I’m in the mood for music, I’ll call up Eno via iTunes (Ambient 1, Harold Budd collaborations, Thursday Afternoon, Neroli, Compact Forest Proposal), Sufjan Stevens’ Planetarium, or maybe Andrew Bird’s Echolocations.

Jane: Music and meditation are often helpful, but I don’t have any consistent pre-writing routines. I am, however, a notebook fanatic—I like to collect images, ideas, research notes, opening lines so I never have to face a blank page.

Q: Who always gets the first read? 

Ned: Jane. She has a way of just  asking questions gently that point me in the right direction if a poem isn’t quite right. I also listen for the degree of enthusiasm she conveys in her always supportive way. If it’s less than I’d like, I know I have more work to do. 

Jane: Ned. He has a perfect ear for the soundscape of a poem and asks all the right questions that encourage me to return to the page. I’m lucky beyond belief that his listening also turns my attention to subjects I’ve overlooked, written off, or avoided…

Q: What is a book you’ve read twice and would read again?

Ned: Prose – Jane Austen, Mansfield Park; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Poetry – Denis Johnson, The Incognito Lounge; Elizabeth Spires, Globe; Andrew Hudgins, Saints & Strangers; Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars.

Jane: I’ve cracked the spine of copies of Plath’s Ariel, Shapcott’s Her Book, and Levis’ Winter Stars. I’ll probably do the same with recent favorites like Erika Meitner’s Holy Moly Carry Me and Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Oceanic. I’ve revisited Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway more summers than I can count.

Q: What is the most memorable reading you’ve attended?

Ned:  A.E. Stallings at Loyola University Maryland in 2019: not only was she gracious & her poems brilliant but she shared extensive footage, photos & anecdotes on her work in support of Syrian refugee families who’ve fled to Athens, Greece (where Stallings lives) – their children especially, whose poems & artwork reflect both hardship & hope.

Jane: I attended a Simon Armitage reading in a pub in Huddersfield back in 1994 that had all the fabulous energy of a football match — Armitage recited his poems and, since Huddersfield is his hometown, there was a palpable sense of poetry’s connection to the community. Several years ago, I hosted Paisley Rekdal in Loyola’s Modern Masters Series the day Guggenheim winners were announced. Paisley read a sequence of Mae West poems that would later appear in Imaginary Vessels — an amazing mini-seminar in the sonnet.

six questions with regie cabico and chad frame

Regie Cabico and Chad Frame

Regie Cabico and Chad Frame are the feature writers at the March Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Regie and Chad as well as other open mic readers for a free, virtual reading on Tuesday, March 9th at 7:00 pm.  Register here Get to know Regie and Chad with our Six Questions.

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?
Regie: My muse, a lover, a secret crush, a celebrity crush and most recently, Filipino mythological deities and monsters.
Chad: Quite a few people from my past show up, as most of my writing is autobiographical. I have a collection coming out (Little Black Book) that’s entirely made up of poems about people from my past who were formative to my identity and sexuality, usually (but not always) failed romances. The poems are just titled with a first name, and I pointedly didn’t change any of the names, so that should make some waves when it comes out! I also wrote a collection (Two-Step Charlie) about the death of my father, who was an alcoholic Vietnam veteran. I wanted to chronicle the entire experience, from his terminal cancer diagnosis to his treatment, to taking care of him in hospice, to his inevitable passing, and beyond.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Regie: H Street NE, DC outside of Wydown, at Maketto in their back yard, on my patio, on an airplane, train, hotel room.
Chad: I’d like to say at some sort of antique desk with a feather quill or vintage typewriter, but quite honestly, I write at a cluttered table that was once a dining room table, but which is so covered in books and papers it’s utterly unrecognizable. My laptop is at one edge with a tiny area cleaned off for it, and otherwise my back is to a windowsill overloaded with potted plants.
Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?
Regie: I read a lot of poems online, watch poetry performances, write with my students and write in a notebook I carry with me everywhere. Then I might have a can of Mango Truly Seltzer or iced green tea and transfer my journal writing on my Google Chromebook.
Chad: I’m rarely consistent, but I always do an extensive amount of research before and while I write. It’s not unusual for me to have dozens of browser tabs open on my computer and phone to be reading all manner of information I might need to write. I also write a lot of found poetry (I’m particularly fond of the cento), and whenever I do that I always have a lot of research open for quotes, but I like to scrawl things out in a physical journal, since it feels more like I’m piecing together a puzzle that way. Odd, I suppose, but it works for me.
Who always gets a first read?
Regie: I will send to Soo-Jin Lee, a playwright, Drew Pisarra, a writer in Manhattan, and an ex Guillermo Filice Castro.
Chad: I tend to read things out loud to myself, but since my Maine Coon, Jabbers (short for Jabberwocky) is always by my side, I suppose he gets first read. I do also have a wonderful writing group (shout out to Montco WordShop!) who meet once a month who are always supportive and helpful with my work, and (hopefully) they can say the same about me.
What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?
Regie: I always turn to the poetry in The Language of Saxophones by Kamou Daaood & Crossing With The Light by Dwight Okita
Chad: Recent obsessions include: Madeline Miller’s Circe and The Song of Achilles, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s This is How You Lose the Time War, and absolutely anything by N.K. Jemisin, but particularly her speculative short fiction in How Long Till Black Future Month.
What is the most memorable reading you have attended?
Regie: The Poetry Slam Finals in 1994, San Francisco. I was on the New York Team with Maggie Estepp, Tracie Morris, Hal Sirowitz versus the Boston Team with Patricia Smith, Lisa King, Craig Hickman.
Chad: Performances with No River Twice, my poetry and improv performance group, are always memorable, since no two readings are ever the same. I’ve read at big venues with hundreds of people and very tiny ones where only the performers showed up, yet still had a lot of fun reading to one another. I’ve enjoyed them all, but my most notable reading was probably at the Library of Congress.
Register here and join Regie and Chad on March 9th at 7 pm!

six questions with Patti Ross and Gwen Van Velsor

We asked our guest writers of the February Wilde Readings to tell us a little bit about their reading and writing favorites and habits. Get to know Patti Ross and Gwen Van Velsor here and join their reading on February 9th at 7:00 pm via Facebook!

Patti Ross

Patti Ross is a local spoken word artist and host of EC Poetry and Prose Open Mic in Ellicott City, MD. A graduate of The Duke Ellington School for the Arts and the American University. Patti began her writing career for Rural America Newspapers. A lifelong advocate for the poor and homeless often using the pseudonym “little pi” Patti writes poems about the racially marginalized and society’s traumatization of the human spirit. Her blog: https://littlepisuniverse.wordpress.com

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

PR: My ancestral mothers – both related and unrelated.

Where is your favorite place to write?

PR: In front of a window looking out at nature.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

PR: I always hand write in a journal my first thoughts and first drafts.

Who always gets a first read?

PR: My accountability partner and a couple of other best friends. I also share the second draft and sometimes the first with my poetry critique group.

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

PR: The Bible.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

PR: A young adult reading at the Strathmore titled Manual Cinema’s No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks for an exploration of DC’s grassroots poetry scene. Kim Roberts was the host and the poets were some of the best performance poets in the region. Marjan Naderi was/is fabulous. She is DC’s Youth Poet Laureate, holds five Grand Slam Champion titles: Library of Congress 2018 National Book Festival Poetry Slam Champion, two-time national Muslim Interscholastic Tournament Spoken Word Winner, 2018 NoVA Invitational Slam Champion, and the 2019 DC Youth Slam Finals Slam Champion. While being on the 2018 and 2019 DC Youth Slam Team, Marjan was featured in the Washington Post and NowThisHer. As the first Muslim American and Afghan woman to be announced as the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival Poetry Champion. I have heard her speak several times since then and her words still make me shiver. I love watching young adult poets perform. They share words with keen intention.

 

Gwen Van Velsor

Gwen Van Velsor writes creative nonfiction and holds a degree in Special Education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She started Yellow Arrow Publishing in 2016, a project that supports writers who identify as women. Her major accomplishments include walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain, raising a toddler, and being OK with life exactly as it is. She has published two memoirs, Follow That Arrow, in 2016 and Freedom Warrior, in 2020.

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

GVV: For better or worse, I have written the most about my ex-husband. We grew up together in a way, and there are infinite ways to write about and process those years.

Where is your favorite place to write?

GVV: I love to write in a cozy coffee shop that is buzzing with busy customers. It keeps me in a good balance between writing and daydreaming. I’m less likely to surf the internet aimlessly or bang my head on the table in editing distress when in public.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

GVV: I try not to engage in too many rituals since I end up getting distracted by them versus feeling supported. My most consistent ritual is to write everything by hand first, then type it up when I’m in the mood. I find the hand/head/heart connection keeps me honest on the page. Typing somehow takes me away from that.

Who always gets a first read?

GVV: My best friend Rachael! She is always enthusiastic about what I write, no matter what, which is what I need in a first read in order to keep going.

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

GVV: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s my go-to book when my writing is stagnant, it never gets old.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

GVV: I heard Rafael Alvarez give a reading in the basement of an art studio on a rainy night. It was a tiny crowd from Highlandtown (Alvarez’s “Holy Land”) and he was absolutely in his element. He was so passionate about his love for Baltimore, it was highly contagious.


Join Patti Ross and Gwen Van Velsor for an evening of reading and open mic on February 9th at 7 pm!

 

 

 

 

 

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