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Blackbird Poetry Festival Features Billy Collins, “The Most Popular Poet in America”

Date: December 20, 2013         Contact: Pam Kroll Simonson, (443) 518-4568, hocopolitso@yahoo.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Blackbird Poetry Festival Features Billy Collins,
“The Most Popular Poet in America”

Howard County Poetry & Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), in partnership with Howard Community College’s Office of Student Life, English and World Languages Division, and Arts & Humanities Division, presents the annual Blackbird Poetry Festival on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at Howard Community College. The all-day event features readings by two-term National Poet Laureate Billy Collins, called “the most popular poet in America” by The New York Times; workshops for HCC students by Bruce George, poet and co-founder of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam; readings by student poets from HCC; and on-campus patrols by the Poetry Police, who will award individuals carrying a poem in recognition of national Poem in Your Pocket Day. The theme of this year’s Blackbird Poetry Festival is “Poetry Unmasked,” exploring the bare truth of poetry.

“Billy Collins is famous for conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor,” writes The Poetry Foundation, an independent literary group, “but often slip into quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself.”

“His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry,” writes the Winter Park Institute for intellectual engagement at Rollins College. “His readings are usually standing room only, and his audience–enhanced tremendously by his appearances on National Public Radio–includes people of all backgrounds and age groups.”

Collins will read and discuss his work at Nightbird, the Blackbird Poetry Festival’s evening event, at 7:30 p.m. at Smith Theatre, located in the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at HCC in Columbia. A book signing and reception will follow. Collins will give a short free reading at Smith Theater with student poets at 2:30 p.m. He will also tape an episode of The Writing Life, HoCoPoLitSo’s Bravo-TV Arts for Change Award-winning interview show seen on YouTube. George will facilitate creative writing/performance poetry workshops in morning classes at HCC.

Tickets to Nightbird are $50 for the first five rows in the center aisle and $30 for orchestra and balcony ($15 for students). Tickets can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/523094 or www.hocopolitso.org . For more information, call HoCoPoLitSo at (443) 518-4568 or email hocopolitso@yahoo.com. Seniors in Columbia can request transportation by calling the Senior Events Shuttle at (410) 715-3087. HCC is an accessible campus. Accommodation requests should be made to HoCoPoLitSo by April 17, 2014.

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.

For a pdf of this press release, click here: Blackbird 2014 Press Release.

You, Colum McCann, The Narrowbacks, Stepdancing — HoCoPoLitSo’s Irish Evening — This Friday!

35IrishEveColmMcCann2013It’s time for Irish Evening! We’re told that writers in Ireland know when HoCoPoLitSo calls, you go. And they come from wherever they are to share with Howard County their work. Our Irish Evening is that special. This Friday it’s happening again and you, yourself, will want to be there.

Let The Great World Spin author Colum McCann is returning as our guest for the 35th Annual Irish Evening at 7:30 pm, March 1, 2013 at the Smith Theater, Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College. It will be his third Irish Evening, though the second in which he has been featured. You see, one year he came to the evening just because he wanted to take in the occasion for himself and see Colm Toibin.

McCann, a winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the most lucrative literary award in the world, has published 5 novels and numerous short stories and articles. In 2003 McCann was named Esquire Magazine’s “Best and Brightest” young novelist. He has also been awarded a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, the Irish Novel of the Year Award and the 2002 Ireland Fund of Monaco Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award. He was recently inducted into the Hennessy Hall of Fame.

McCann’s reading will be followed by the Narrowbacks, Eileen Korn, Jesse Winch, Terence Winch, Linda Hickman, and Brendan Mulvihill on fiddle in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School.

Narrowbacks

If the writers themselves are so motivated, how about you? Tickets — there are still a number available at the time of this posting — can be purchased online here. Yes, there will be Guinness. 

Curious but not convinced? Here are a few resources on Colum McCann to whet your appetite further:

  • “What’s a Dublin lad trying to do writing a New York novel like this?” Theo Dorgan asks.
  • Lifting a pint with Colum McCann:
  • In conversation with Roddy Doyle. The conversation starts about nine and a half minutes in, after Doyle reads.

HoCoPoLitSo to Welcome Colum McCann to the 35th Irish Evening – Tickets now on sale.

Colum McCann. Photo by Brendan Bourke.

The international award winning author Colum McCann is HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its 35th Annual Irish Evening at 7:30 pm, March 1, 2013 at the Smith Theater, Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College.

General Admission Tickets are available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/287811 or by sending a check payable and mailed to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, DH 239, Columbia, MD 21044. Tickets purchased before Feb. 1, 2013 are $30 each, $35 if purchased after Feb. 2.

So Many Stories to Be Told: An Evening with Colum McCann will highlight this major voice in today’s literary landscape’s with a discussion of his National Book Award winning novel Let the Great World Spin and his upcoming novel, Transatlantic, due out in late 2013.

McCann’s reading will be followed by Narrowbacks, Eileen Korn, Jesse Winch, Terence Winch, Linda Hickman, and Brendan Mulvihill on fiddle in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School.

McCann, a two-time winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the most lucrative literary award in the world, has published 5 novels and numerous short stories and articles. In 2003 McCann was named Esquire Magazine’s “Best and Brightest” young novelist. He has also been awarded a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, the Irish Novel of the Year Award and the 2002 Ireland Fund of Monaco Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award. He was recently inducted into the Hennessy Hall of Fame.

McCann follows other great Irish authors who have come to Howard County including Frank McCourt, Eavan Boland, Hugo Hamilton, Colm Tóibín, Paul Durcan and Paula Meehan to name a few. For years, HoCoPoLitSo’s Irish Evening has recognized and celebrated the enormous impact of Irish-born writers on the world of contemporary literature.

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