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Twenty Years, Twenty Poets, Volume II Celebrates 40 Years of HoCoPoLitSo

The Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, HoCoPoLitSo, will launch its poetry anthology, Twenty Years, Twenty Poets, Volume II, in honor of its 40th anniversary, at a reception on Friday, January 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Howard County Center for the Arts. The launch will be held in conjunction with the Howard County Arts Council and Howard County Tourism opening of two exhibits, Ho Co Open 2015 and Poetic Energetic. The reception will feature a poetry reading, live music and light refreshments and is free and open to the public. Snow date: Friday, January 30. For more information about the event visit: http://bit.ly/1t2ETim

1780643_10152624538113600_1943644175515385836_nThe Howard County Poetry & Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo) has been producing live literary events for the community since 1974. Twenty Years, Twenty Poets, Volume II contains a selection of poetry from the variety of writers who have visited Howard County between 1994 and 2014, from the world-renowned Paula Meehan to the nationally acclaimed Mark Strand and Rita Dove. Distinguished authors such as Patricia Smith, Edward Hirsch, Mary Oliver and E. Ethelbert Miller have inscribed their words on the hearts of many Howard County residents; their poems are HoCoPoLitSo’s history, detailed in Twenty Years, Twenty Poets, Volume II. For more information, call HoCoPoLitSo at (443) 518-4568 or email hocopolitso@yahoo.com.

Joining us and reading will be contributor E. Ethelbert Miller. A frequent HoCoPoLitSo guest E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. Miller is the founder and former chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. He served as a Commissioner for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities from 1997-2008. He is board emeritus for the PEN/ Faulkner Foundation.

specialeventThe author of several collections of poetry, he has written two memoirs, Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer (2000) and The 5th Inning (2009). Fathering Words was selected by the D.C. Public Library for its DC WE READ, one book, one city program in 2003. His poetry anthology In Search of Color Everywhere was awarded the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award in 1994.

HoCoPoLitSo is a nonprofit organization designed to enlarge the audience for contemporary poetry and literature and celebrate culturally diverse literary heritages. Founded in 1974 by National Book Award finalist Ellen Conroy Kennedy, HoCoPoLitSo accomplishes its mission by sponsoring readings with critically acclaimed writers; literary workshops; programs for students; and The Writing Life, a writer-to-writer interview show seen on YouTube, HCC-TV, and other local stations. 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; the Jim and Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation; and individual contributors.

Online sales of Twenty Years, Twenty Poets, Volume II will start after January 23rd event.

Gwendolyn Brooks — Watch a Treasure from HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life Archive Now Online

Gwendolyn_Brooks_croppedIn this edition of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing life, revered American poet Gwendolyn Brooks sat down in 1986 to talk with Alan Jabbour, director of the Library of Congress’ American Folklore division, and E. Ethelbert Miller, poet and director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University.

Brooks was the Library of Congress’ 29th consultant in poetry, and tells the story in this program of winning the Pulitzer at age 32, and getting the phone call in the dark because the electric company had cut off their power because they couldn’t afford to pay the bill. She recites “We Real Cool,” a poem she says has lasted because of its “insouciance and staccato effect.” She talks about her introduction to black nationalism, feminism and James Baldwin. Brooks says, “I like for blacks to be proud of what they have come from. They need to learn they have much to be proud of.”


HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life archives, featuring contemporary writers in conversation with other writers, are being digitized and put online as a resource for the world over. As with any such project, this effort can use your support. If you are willing and able, please make a donation to HoCoPoLitSo to ensure the continued success of this project and its contribution to the world’s literary heritage. Thank you.

“Are you on TV or something?” Maryland Crabs with Writers Edward P. Jones and E. Ethelbert Miller

The latest installment in our occasional series of blog posts from members of the HoCoPoLitSo board.

I first met Edward P. Jones in 1994 when he accepted an invitation from HoCoPoLitSo to come to Columbia to read for Howard County residents.  His first book, one of short stories about the invisible people of non-tourist Washington, Lost in the City, had been receiving wide acclaim.  It was my job to drive him from his hotel to the reading venue.  He wrote in my copy of Lost in the City, “Thanks for escorting me around.  This has been one of the best days I have had in a long time.”

Our next meeting was in 2005 when he read for us from his ground breaking novel The Known World.  He had read to an appreciative audience on the campus of Howard Community College on a Friday night and stayed over to appear for a taping of HoCoPoLitSo’s literary program, The Writing Life the next day.  He was to be interviewed by poet, E. Ethelbert Miller.

Saturday morning, I picked up Jones at the Columbia Sheraton to drive him to HCC campus for the taping.  On the way, he asked me if I knew a place where we could stop and get some steamed crabs later on.  He said he doesn’t get to visit Maryland often but when he does, he makes it a point to buy some crabs.  So, while Miller and Jones went into taping, I left the studio to call my wife to ask about a crab place.  She told me that there was an excellent place just off Route 1 in Laurel that served the best crabs between Columbia and DC, the Bottom of the Bay.

When the taping was over, Jones, Miller and I got into my car for the trip to Laurel.  We found the restaurant with no trouble.  It was in an unremarkable strip mall and had both a sit-down restaurant and a carryout store which doubled as a convenience store with the usual fare that convenience stores carry – beef jerky, chips, soda, cigarettes, chewing tobacco and cold beer and cheap wine.

We placed our order of one dozen crabs and asked that they be seasoned with Old Bay.  While we waited, Jones called our attention to the beef jerky on the display and noted that he had never tasted it and wanted to know if either Miller or I had. We both shook our heads “no” and chuckled.

While we waited for Jones’ order of crabs, two young men perhaps in their late twenties entered the store to buy some beer.  One of the men turned to us and asked, “Aren’t you somebody important, or something?”

Being the “host”, I thought I should be the one to answer, so I said, “This is Edward P. Jones and this is E. Ethelbert Miller.  They’re both poets.”

The other man asked, “Are you on TV or something?”

I replied, “They just finished taping a TV show, but they do not have a regular program.”

The young man followed with, “We don’t see folks around here in suits that much, so I thought you were, like, you know, somebody really important.”

At that moment, the man behind the counter announced our order was ready.

I grabbed the steaming bag of crabs from the counter and said to the young men, “Well, we are sorry to disappoint you.”

We left the store, got into my car, and headed for DC.  Miller asked Jones if he was going to eat all of those crabs by himself.  Jones said, “Not in one sitting; but by Sunday evening they should be all gone.” Miller and I laughed, knowingly and perhaps a little enviously.

By David Barrett
Ex-Officio, HoCoPoLitSo Board

Pictured above at the taping of The Writing Life ( left to right, back row to front): David Barrett, Ellen Conroy Kennedy, Tara Hart, Edward P. Jones and E. Ethelbert Miller.

Streaming This Month at HCC: E. E. Miller Hosts David Mura on HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life

Streaming this month on the Howard Community College’s website is an encore episode of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life where E. Ethelbert Miller hosts a conversation with David Mura.

In the edition from 2007, E. Ethelbert Miller engages award-winning performance poet and memoirist David Mura in a fascinating conversation about the stories, silences, research, and imaginative work that comprise his writing life. Mura reflects on the family legacies of Japanese internment, relocations, and assimilation that influence his double racial identity and consciousness, as well as the influences of photography, jazz, travel, and education on his writing and performance. He reads from and references his poetry, Relocations, The Colors of Desire and Minneapolis Public, and nonfiction, Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto and Mr. Moto, Where the Body Meets Memory, and Turning Japanese.

Click here to view the stream. This particular stream will available online through July (2012). To view more editions of  The Writing Life, visit the HoCoPoLitSo YouTube channel where you will find a growing selection of editions from the archives.

The Writing Life is made possible in part by grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Howard County Arts Council.

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