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Poetry of Wit and Wonder — Eleventh Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

 

 

Click here to download the press release for this event.

Presenting Marilyn Chin — Tenth Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival — April 26

The Fierce Revolution of Marilyn Chin

HoCoPoLitSo and HCC’s Tenth Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

 

Marilyn Chin

Award-winning poet and author Marilyn Chin headlines the tenth annual Blackbird Poetry Festival for HoCoPoLitSo and Howard Community College (HCC). Born in Hong Kong and raised in Oregon, activist poet Chin unflinchingly explores the intersection of the Asian and American worlds.

The Blackbird Poetry Festival, held April 26, 2018, on the campus of Howard Community College, is a day devoted to verse, with student workshops, book sales, readings, and patrols by the Poetry Police. The Sunbird poetry reading, featuring Ms. Chin, as well as Washington, D.C., poet and educator Joseph Ross, local authors, and Howard Community College faculty and students, starts at 2:30 p.m. Ms. Chin will read from and discuss her poetry, including her most recent work, Hard Love Province, during the Nightbird Poetry Reading, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Theatre of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts. Hard Love Province won the 2015 Anisfield-Wolf National Prize for Literature that confronts racism and examines diversity. Former winners of this prize include Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong Kingston, Gwendolyn Brooks and Oprah Winfrey. Nightbird admission tickets are $20 each (seniors $15 and students $10). Click here for tickets.

Marilyn Chin co-directs the MFA program at San Diego State University and has won numerous awards for her poetry, including from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Stegner Fellowship, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, four Pushcart Prizes, the Paterson Prize, and many others.

Chin is the author of four poetry collections: Hard Love Province (2014), Rhapsody in Plain Yellow (2002); The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty (1994); and Dwarf Bamboo (1987). She is also the author of a novel, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen (2009). Pulitzer Prize-winner and Anisfield-Wolf juror Rita Dove noted about Hard Love Province, “In these sad and beautiful poems, a withering portrayal of our global ‘society’ emerges – from Buddha to Allah, Mongols to Bethesda boys, Humvee to war horse, Dachau to West Darfur, Irrawaddy River to San Diego.” In his review of The Phoenix Gone in The Progressive, Matthew Rothschild said Chin “has a voice all her own — witty, epigraphic, idiomatic, elegiac, earthy…She covers the canvas of cultural assimilation with an intensely personal brush.” Booklist contributor Donna Seaman described the tone of Rhapsody in Plain Yellow as “Chin paces the line demarcated by the words Chinese American like a caged tiger, fury just barely held in check.”

Joseph Ross

Joseph Ross’s newest collection of poems, Ache, was published in 2017. Sarah Browning, director of Split This Rock, noted “The poems in Ache do just that, they ache – from the wounds inflicted by racism, from history’s ravages. The wail, the poems insist, ‘is the language/inside every tongue.’ Joseph Ross’s moral vision is unsparing, truth-telling, fierce.”

black nature – a reading for earth day and national poetry month

By Laura Yoo

April is National Poetry Month, and Saturday, April 22nd is Earth Day. And I have a book recommendation that can help celebrate both: Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature edited by Camille T. Dungy.

Black Nature edited by Camille T. Dungy is edited by .

Black Nature offers a different perspective through which we might read, understand, and talk about the 93 black poets and their 180 poems included in this anthology. Dungy writes a compelling introduction in which she describes the noticeable absence of black writers from anthologies and discussions in ecocriticism and ecopoetics. She reminds us of the complex and unique connection that African Americans have to “land, animal, and vegetation in American culture”.

Despite all these connections to America’s soil, we don’t see much African American poetry in nature-related anthologies because, regardless of their presence, blacks have not been recognized in their poetic attempts to affix themselves to the landscape. They haven’t been seen, or when they have it is not as people who are rightful stewards of the land. They are accidentally or invisibly or dangerously or temporarily or inappropriately on/in the landscape. The majority of the works in this collection incorporate treatments of the natural world that are historicized or politicized and are expressed through the African American perspective, which inclines readers to consider these texts as political poems, historical poems, protest poems, socioeconomic commentary, anything but nature poems.

I want to test this new perspective, and with this in mind I turn to the poetry of Tyehimba Jess, the newly minted 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry winner, who is coming to headline HoCoPoLitSo and Howard Community College’s annual Blackbird Poetry Festival on Thursday, April 27th. He will be reading and speaking with E. Ethelbert Miller during the Sunbird Reading. Notably, Miller’s “I am Black and the Trees are Green” is included in Dungy’s anthology.

Much of Jess’s acclaimed body of work illuminates on the African American experience. About Olio, Wave Books says, “Part fact, part fiction, Jess’s much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I.”

In an interview with LitHub about Olio, Jess spoke about the power and the politics of song: “To be able to sing under that kind of oppression I think, in a lot of ways, is the very essence of survival, of a people, of the ability to have to the hope to make something beautiful amongst so much wretchedness. That’s critical to the concept of human survival. And in this particular context, of African Americans working through slavery… that’s what we had.”

But in the context of Dungy’s Black Nature, I turn to Jess’s leadbelly with a different ear.

In “john wesley ledbetter,” Jess writes,

singing a crusade of axe and machete i take virgin texas territory by force, clear it of timber and trouble. each eastern twilight, i till top soil ’til sun plants itself back into that western horizon. i keep struggling against a brooding moon’s skyline until dark sleep is my friend again, a place where i can dream drought into rain, pray storm could out of spotless sky.

The poem goes on with, “there’s only one way out of slave time dues: hump this land down till it shrieks up a crop of cancelled debt into your wagon.”  In this poem, we see an illustration of what Dungy describes as African Americans’ “complex relationship to land, animals, and vegetation.”  She says, “African Americans are tied up in the toil and soil involved in working the land into the country we know today,” and she reminds us how they were  “viewed once as chattel, part of a farm’s livestock or asset in a bank’s ledger.”

In “leadbelly: runagate,” Jess writes,

where water and land meet is shore, and on shore is iron in fists of jailers in sun of texas swamp. i wade into bubble and blue ink of red river, my head is shaven, bobbing, brown island of shine. […]

i want to let the water take me, i want to surrender to this river’s rock and swirl, come up clean and white as death itself, but the black in me breaks into blues, and i feel the coffle of their claws. i am stepping toward dry land, the dance of ankle chains, where i scream history into song that works itself into blood, sweat, memory.

The water in this poem reminds me of Dungy’s description of the “river” in Rita Dove’s “Three Days of forest, a River, Free”: it is “more than a moving body of water. It is a biblical allusion, a historical reality, a geographical boundary, a legal boundary, a decoy, the center of emotional and personal change, an aspiration, a metaphor: all these things at once.”

Tyehimba Jess’s leadbelly

As I re-see the poems in leadbelly with a different framework, I am reminded how the way we group, categorize, thematically arrange, and shelf literature can limit or expand our experiences of literature. We put the poems under one category or another, and it’s hard to imagine what else it can be.

Dungy’s  Black Nature is important, because it acknowledges the African American perspective these 93 poets highlight while introducing what else their work is – and how that “what else” amplifies our understanding of their works.  As Dungy says, Black Nature “encourage[s] readers to divert their gaze into new directions, demanding they notice new aspects of the world and accept alternative modes of description.”

To put it another way, a book like Black Nature is like a hearing aid. It can give us that extra power to hear poetry in an even more powerful way. It can help us turn up the volume on that work – perhaps turn up the bass or the treble and experience the poem in a myriad of ways.

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

Marie Howe to read at 8th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its eighth annual Blackbird Poetry Festival is former New York State Poet Laureate and acclaimed author Marie Howe.

The Blackbird Poetry Festival, to be held April 28, 2016, on the campus of Howard Community College, is a day devoted to verse, with student workshops, book sales, readings and patrols by the poetry police. The Sunbird poetry reading, featuring Ms. Howe, as well as Washington, D.C., poet Sandra Beasley and Howard Community College students, will start at 2:30 p.m.  Ms. Howe will read from and discuss her most recent work, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, as well as new, unpublished poems, during the Nightbird Poetry Reading, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Theatre of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts.  Nightbird general admission tickets are $20 each (students and seniors are $15) available on-line at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2476204 or by sending a self-addressed envelope and check payable and mailed to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044.

“Marie Howe’s poetry is luminous, intense, and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life.
Her long, deep-breathing lines address the mysteries of flesh and spirit, in terms accessible
only to a woman who is very much of our time and yet still in touch with the sacred.”
—Stanley Kunitz  

Acclaimed poet and teacher Marie Howe served as the Poet Laureate of New York State from 2012 to 2014.  Her mentor and former U.S. Poet Laureate Stanley Kuntz said: “Marie Howe’s poetry is luminous, intense, and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life. Her long, deep-breathing lines address the mysteries of flesh and spirit, in terms accessible only to a woman who is very much of our time and yet still in touch with the sacred.”

This Time, “The Young” Speak – Katy Day

In my previous post, “Poetry for the Young (and the Young-Hearted)”, I promised you voices of our young poetry lovers.

First up is HoCoPoLitSo’s Student on Board Member, Katy Day.  Katy is a student at University of Maryland, College Park who is studying English and Psychology. She has been a friend of HoCoPoLitSo’s since 2013.  She made her Blackbird Poetry Festival debut in 2013.  Billy Collins, who came to HCC to read at the 2014 Blackbird Poetry Festival, is an admirer of Katy’s poetry (as evidenced by the photo below). She is currently studying poetry with Stanley Plumly at College Park.

I asked Katy some questions to get her take on encountering poetry.

What do you get out of attending poetry and literary events?

All of my time studying literature and poetry hasn’t prepared me to fully articulate the degree to which attending poetry readings and other literary events have influenced my life.  The first poetry reading I ever attended was the Blackbird Poetry Festival in 2013.  I knew that I had discovered something great when I attended Blackbird that year.  I felt like I belonged there and like I had finally found something that I really felt passionately about.

 As a student and as a citizen of this world, what benefits do you see in reading and studying literature (especially poetry)?

Studying literature and poetry has expanded my mind.  It has allowed me to discover who I am as a person by changing and building upon my thoughts and beliefs about the world.

What’s your favorite work of literature (a particular poem, poet, or novel maybe)?

I can’t choose a single favorite.  I love poetry and literature for several different reasons and I think that different works of poetry and literature have enriched my life in different ways.  I can read David Sedaris over and over again and still laugh until I’m crying and marvel over his perfected comedic timing.  The more I learn about poetry and literature, the more particular my interests become also.  I read Olive Schreiner’s Story of an African Farm and was blown away by not only the anticipation of modernist literature in the experimental style of her writing, but also by her progressiveness, which I think even surpasses many of our contemporary thinkers.  Oscar Wilde has also greatly influenced the way in which I consciously navigate and perceive the world.

Do you have any thoughts on what literary organizations like HoCoPoLitSo can do to engage young people?

This is a tough question.  It’s hard to get people of any age interested in poetry. Billy Collins says that high school gives people “anti-poetry deflector shields.”  Any time poetry is encountered, the automatic response is to avoid it.  Becoming interested in poetry is like opening a set of nesting dolls.  You have to begin with poems that speak to non-poetry adherents.  Then, like the nesting dolls that become smaller and smaller, your interests become more and more refined as you explore various kinds of poetry.  I think these anti-poetry deflector shields come from teachers who forgo the big nesting dolls and instead present their students with poems that require the refined interest that comes with exposure and extensive study.  I gained this perspective through my experiences at Howard Community College and through attending HoCoPoLitSo events.  HoCoPoLitSo has done an exceptional job in the past few years bringing poets to Howard County who excite young people and act as gateways into poetry.

Here’s at least one awesome young person in whose hands we can trust the future of poetry in Howard County and beyond.

-Laura Yoo

Member, HoCoPoLitSo Board of Directors

This Thursday: The 4th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival

Festival Poets: Kim Addonizio, Mother Ruckus, Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli

Featuring the Nightbird Reading, Poetry in Harmony, and a day of workshops, talks, and readings, even the “Poetry Police,” the 4th Annual Blackbird Poetry Festival returns Thursday, April 26th, to the campus of Howard Community College, this year presenting Kim Addonizio, Michael Cirelli, Naomi Ayala and Mother Ruckus.

Nightbird Reading

The Nightbird reading, the day’s main event, is a coffee house style reading with music from Mother Ruckus (spoken word poet Gayle Danley and songstress Sahffi) and readings from Michael Cirelli, the nationally renowned slam poet, and Kim Addonizio, “one of our nation’s most provocative and edgy poets.”

Last year’s Festival presented Martín Espada in the evening reading for which local blogger Tom Coale proclaimed it was, “the most engaging and thoughtful live entertainment that I’ve seen since leaving the storm-swept streets of New Orleans,” where culture bubbles up from living rather than ordaining down from academy. High, high praise. Read that blog post here.

Tickets for the Nightbird reading, which includes refreshments, are $10 for students, $15 general admission, available at the door or online at brownpapertickets. The Nightbird Reading starts at 7:30 in Duncan Hall room 150, aka The Kittleman Room. The event is sponsored in part by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Division of English/World Languages and  Office of Student Services, Howard Community College and the Sheraton Columbia.

Workshops, Talks, Readings

Throughout the day on the campus of HCC,  a number of workshops, readings and talks will occur.  Kim Addonizio will speak to a creative writing class in a private session; Michael Cirelli will meet with students and the community in an open session presenting a talk on “Hip-Hop Poetics, Education, 50 Cent & The Olive Garden.” An early afternoon reading will feature the Festival poets as well as readings by students, faculty and local writers. See the schedule below.

Festival events actually begin off campus when Naomi Ayala will present to teachers during the Howard County School System’s Professional Development Day.

The Poetry Police

Warning: April 26th is National Poem in your Pocket Day. Get caught on the community college campus by the Poetry Police without a poem and you’ll find yourself with a citation. Simple math: No Recitation Material = A Citation.

While it’s a bad thing, it is not that bad a thing. The jovial officer will likely provide you with a poem so you don’t get caught again. Actually, if you are caught and you produce a poem to share, you’ll find yourself rewarded for good civic behavior.

Need a poem, click here to find a variety to choose from, print one out to carry around.

Festival schedule:

  •  9:30 – 10:30 Naomi Ayala speaks at Howard County School System (HCPSS) Professional Development Day Session I
  • 10:40 – 11:40 Naomi Ayala speaks at HCPSS Prof. Dev. Day Session II
  • 10:00  Poetry Police start to patrol HCC at campus looking for National Poem in Your Pocket Day violations
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Kim Addonizio meets with HCC’s Creative Writing Class (closed)
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Michael Cirelli meets with students and community (open and free)
  • 2:30 – 4:30    Readings by: Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio and regional poets, HCC students and faculty (open and free)
  • 7:00 Doors open for “Poetry in Harmony,” a coffee house style reading
  • 7:30 – 9:30 Readings by Michael Cirelli and Kim Addonizio, and a performance by musical group Mother Ruckus, which includes performance poet Gayle Danley and songstress Sahffi. ($15, $10 for seniors and for students with an id)

HoCoPoLitSo’s “The Writing Life” Now on YouTube

Just in time for National Poetry Month, the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society’s award-winning cable television program, “The Writing Life,” a writer-to-writer talk show, can now be seen at YouTube. Take the opportunity to hear poetry read and discussed by the poet themselves and to listen to the stories behind novels their authors recount as selections are read. In a series produced by HoCoPoLitSo, distinguished writers interview featured guests, asking questions about craft and process.

Follow the link at http://www.youtube.com/user/hocopolitso or type in “Hocopolitso” on YouTube’s search box to be introduced to writers from around the world. Check back often as episodes are being digitized and uploaded for viewing.

From seven Maryland Poets Laureate to five Nobel Laureates and twenty-two Pulitzer Prize winners, more than 100 poets and writers have appeared on HoCoPoLitSo’s cable television series since 1986. Guests range from edgy emerging writers to the most distinguished names in contemporary letters, such as Amiri Baraka, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Martín Espada, Donald Hall, Joy Harjo, Edward P. Jones, Paula Meehan, W.S. Merwin and National Poet Laureate Phil Levine.

Several of these half-hour shows have been honored by the National Hometown Video Festival and the BRAVO network’s “Arts for Change” Award. “The Writing Life” is produced at HCC-TV on the campus of Howard Community College.  “The format is ingenious …. (One) comes away with the privileged feeling of having eavesdropped on a private conversation between two artists talking shop,” says critic Geoffrey Himes.

Select editions of “The Writing Life” are available at Howard County Public Library, HCC Library or at www.howardcc.edu/twl or for purchase from HoCoPoLitSo.

Enjoy a sample, Nayomi Ayala talks with Martin Espada in a 2011 episode of The Writing Life:

30 Things You Might Do To Celebrate National Poetry Month

  1. Read a poem. Out loud. Feel it the sound of it move through you and into the air.
  2. Watch and listen to Billy Collins’ Ted Talk.
  3. Practice the math of counting syllables by writing a 5-7-5 haiku.
  4. Follow HoCoPoLitSo on Facebook. And Twitter.
  5. Read a Poetry Blog.
  6. Stop by the library on the way home and borrow a volume of poetry.
  7. Read the latest issue of Little Patuxent Review.
  8. Tweet some poetically purple prose. Retweet someone else’s.
  9. Email a friend a favorite poem.
  10. Print out a poem and put it on a bulletin board for others to see.
  11. Watch a poet on YouTube.
  12. Bilingual? Have a go at translating a poem. Not? Try the exercise with a friend that has a second language.
  13. Write a love poem, just for fun. Share it with the intended.
  14. Subscribe to Poets.org’s Poem a Day email.
  15. Make a comment on a Poetry Blog.
  16. Find a soon to be significant other and read Neruda’s 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair to each other.
  17. Donate to HoCoPoLitSo.
  18. Read a poem out loud to someone else.
  19. Go to a poetry reading at a coffee house. If it is an open mic, share your own work.
  20. Jot down an ode to something ordinary in your life.
  21. Buy tickets for yourself and a friend to the Nightbird Reading, featuring Kim Addonizio, Michael Cirelli, Nayma Ayala, and Mother Ruckus. After the evening reading, post on the HoCoPoLitSo page about your experience.
  22. Support a poet, buy their book. Now really support them: read it.
  23. Celebrate National Poem in You Pocket Day, April 26th, by carrying a poem in your pocket and sharing it with others.
  24. Take on Poets.org’s list of 30 things to do for National Poetry Month.
  25. Tweet about poetry. If it’s Friday, tell your followers to #ff @hocopolitso.
  26. Memorize a poem and carry it around inside you. Let it out again and again when the occasion warrants.
  27. Add a quote from a poem to your email signature for a month. Switch it with a new one next month. (No reason to stop the practice just because it isn’t National Poetry Month in May.)
  28. Watch an episode (or two) of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life on YouTube.
  29. Tell a poet what their work means to you. They’d love to hear. Face to face, in email, in a good old fashioned card.
  30. Encourage someone else to join you in taking on this list. After all, poetry is a thing best shared with others.

 

Clear the Calendar: Blackbird Poetry Festival, April 26th – Addonizio, Cirelli, Ayala, Mother Ruckus

Mark your calendars, it’s time for the Blackbird Poetry Festival: April 26, 2012!

Howard Community College and HoCoPoLitSo are proud to present “Poetry In Harmony,” the 4th annual Blackbird Poetry Festival. This year’s festival, mainly on location at the College will feature Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio, Naomi Ayala and Mother Ruckus. There will be readings (including by faculty and students), workshops, performances and the ‘Poetry Police” who cite students caught without poetry on hand for National Poem in Your Pocket Day.

The day’s events are mostly free and open to the public, others for students only. The evening will feature a “Poetry in Harmony” Coffee House reading with Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio and a performance by musical group Mother Ruckus; tickets for this performance will be $15 general admission, $10 for seniors and students with id (now available for purchase online, click here).

Festival schedule:

  • 9:30 – 10:30 Naomi Ayala speaks at Howard County School System (HCPSS) Professional Development Day Session I
  • 10:40 – 11:40 Naomi Ayala speaks at HCPSS Prof. Dev. Day Session II
  • 10:00  Poetry Police start to patrol HCC at campus looking for National Poem in Your Pocket Day violations
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Kim Addonizio meets with HCC’s Creative Writing Class (closed)
  • 11:00 – 12:20 Michael Cirelli meets with students and community (open and free)
  • 2:30 – 4:30    Readings by: Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli, Kim Addonizio and regional poets, HCC students and faculty (open and free)
  • 7:00 Doors open for “Poetry in Harmony,” a coffeehouse-styled reading
  • 7:30 – 9:30 Readings by Michael Cirelli and Kim Addonizio, and a performance by musical group Mother Ruckus, which includes performance poet Gayle Danley and songstress Sahffi. ($15, $10 for seniors and for students with an id)

Performer bios:

Clockwise form top left: Kim Addonizio, Mother Ruckus, Naomi Ayala, Michael Cirelli.

Michael Cirelli has been a National Poetry Slam individual finalist, winning the finals in both San Francisco and Berkeley. Cirelli has performed all over the country while teaching writing workshops to teenagers up and down the West coast. While in L.A., he was the director of PEN Center West’s, Poet In the Classroom program. He is currently the Director of Urban Word NYC. He is also the director of the Annual Spoken Word & Hip-Hop Teacher & Community Leader Training Institute at the University of Wisconsin that won the 2007 North American Association of Summer Sessions “Creative and Innovative Program Award.” His collection of poetry, Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard was a New York Times Book Review independent press best seller. Vacations on the Black Star Line is his second work.  blog.grdodge.org/2010/05/21/poetry-fridays-2010-festival-poet-michael-cirelli/

Kim Addonizio has been called “one of our nation’s most provocative and edgy poets.” Her latest books are Lucifer at the Starlite, recently a finalist for the Poets Prize and the Northern CA Book Award; and Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within.  Kalima Press recently published her Selected Poems in Arabic. Addonizio’s many honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships, and Pushcart Prizes for both poetry and the essay. Her collection Tell Me was a National Book Award Finalist. Other books include two novels, Little Beauties and My Dreams Out in the Street. Addonizio offers private workshops in Oakland, CA, and online, and often incorporates her love of blues harmonica into her readings.www.kimaddonizio.com

Naomi Ayala makes her residence in Washington, DC where, until recently, she served as the coordinator for curriculum and instruction at the National Council of La Raza’s Center for Community Educational Excellence, and the Program Director for Celebra la Ciencia: The Hispanic Community Science Festivals Project of the Self Reliance Foundation and the Hispanic Radio Network.   As a freelance writer and consultant, Ms. Ayala currently helps develop, edit and promote curricula and other educational materials – in both her native Spanish as well as English – for innovative education programs and national organizations.  She runs professional development workshops for teachers, conducts specialized residencies in public and private schools (K-12), while presenting her poetry to diverse audiences around the U.S.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of Teaching for Change.  Ms. Ayala is the author of two books of poetry, Wild Animals on the Moon, selected by the New York City Public Library as one of 1999’s Books for the Teen Age, and This Side of Early. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies around the U.S. and beyond.

Mother Ruckus  Sahffi and Gayle Danley: featuring a combination of slam and song. Mother Ruckus has performed at the International Festival in Baltimore and the Teavolve Café. To get a sense of their sound, check out: www.sahffi.com. Sahffi is part of a group called t3n (pronounced ten) www.t3n.us/p/music.html

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