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The Blackbird Poetry Festival Presents Poetry Seen, Celebrating Poetry and the Visual Arts — Tuesday, April 23rd

Blackbird2013This Tuesday, the 2013 Blackbird Poetry Festival invites you to be a part of Poetry Seen, exploring the intersections of poetry and the visual arts. The day-long festival on the campus  of Howard Community College features writers Rives, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Kendra Kopelke in readings and workshops through the afternoon, the return of the Poetry Police, as well as readings by faculty and students. The festival concludes with the evening Nightbird event where Rives and Rachel Eliza Griffiths will be joined by music group Rocket Sled in a coffeehouse-style reading (see below for details).

Rives: A performance poet, storyteller and frequent speaker at TED Talks, Rives has also appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and was the co-host of Tommy Hilfiger’s Ironic Iconic America, a Bravo TV series on pop culture.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths: a poet and photographer who was awarded the 2012 Inaugural Poetry Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association for her most recent poetry book, Mule & Pear. In 2011, Oprah’s O Magazine featured Griffiths as an emerging poet in its first poetry issue. Griffiths’ photographs will be on display during the Blackbird Festival.

Kendra Kopelke: widely acclaimed poet and powerful voice on the Baltimore literary scene was named 2001’s “Best Poet” by BaltimoreMagazine and is the author of many books of poetry, including Hopper’s Women (inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper).

Rocket Sled: an alternative country-rock music duo with Ed Tetreault, the engineer for several Grammy-nominated releases, and musician and Baltimore music promoter Will Hill.

Festival Schedule:

10:00AM Poetry Police start to patrol HCC campus looking for National Poem in Your Pocket Day violations
11:00–12:20PM Rachel Eliza Griffiths meets with HCC’s student writers (closed)
11:00-12:20PM (Burrill Galleria) Rives meets with students and community (open and free)
2:30–4:30PM
DH-100 (Kittleman Room)
Main Stage Reading in Duncan Hall (Kittleman Room 100): Kendra Kopelke, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Rives along with regional poets, HCC students, and faculty (open and free)
7:30–9:30PM
DH-100 (Kittleman Room)
Nightbird Reading with Rives and Rachel Eliza Griffiths and a performance by musical group Rocket Sled.

Tickets: $15, $10 for seniors and for students with an id. Purchase tickets online or at the door.

The Nightbird:  a coffee house reading with poets Rives and Rachel Eliza Griffiths and music by country-rock music duo Rocket Sled, on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in the Kittleman Room of Duncan Hall on the campus of Howard Community College. The theme of this year’s Blackbird Festival is “Poetry Seen,” exploring the intersections of poetry and the visual arts.

Audience members will be seated at tables during the Nightbird reading; coffee and tea will be served. Books will be sold, and authors will be available for signings. Tickets are general admission – cost $15 ($10 for students and seniors). Tickets will be available at the door or online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/353577.

Nightbird2013sqphoto

All events are at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044; Parking available in Lot A & West Parking Garage.

The Blackbird Poetry Festival is sponsored by HoCoPoLitSo (Howard County Poetry & Literature Society) in partnership with the Howard Community College Division of English and World Languages and the Office of Student Life. Proceeds from the Nightbird reading benefit HoCoPoLitSo’s live literary programs.

HoCoPoLitSo: The Known Fertile Ground

Poet, publisher, and HoCoPoLitSo board member Truth Thomas takes a look at the year ahead for the organization and sees the promise of fertile ground.

FertileGround 4

Fertile ground is a wondrous thing. That is one of the first lessons I remember learning as a child growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, along with the fact that my late grandmother could cook anything and make it taste good. Indeed, in the right hands, even a small stretch of land can yield a multitude of edible miracles. In the context of literary activist organizations, the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo) represents a similar patch of fertile ground.

The first grand HoCoPoLitSo New Year harvest is the poetry of Derrick Weston Brown, our 2012-2013 writer-in-residence. Brown holds an MFA in creative writing from American University and is brilliance personified. He is a highly published poet, Cave Canem Fellow, Tony Medina workshop alumnus, and the author of an inspiring collection of coming-of-age poems entitled Wisdom Teeth.  It gives me great joy to announce that he will be visiting every high school in Howard County to captivate our young people with the sunshine of his work.

In addition to the poetry of Derrick Weston Brown, the New Year brings the literary bounty of our 35th Annual Evening of Irish Music and Poetry. This year, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Colum McCann will be featured. McCann has published five novels, numerous short stories and a storehouse of articles. His book, Let the Great World Spin, won the National Book Award in 2009. I have always loved Irish Evening, because by virtue of it, I have been blessed to see the profound similarities between African Americans and Irish people. Both groups of folks have come through suffering with unbent backs of beauty. The event will be held at 7:30 p.m., March 1, 2013, at the Smith Theatre, Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College.

The literary crop of events that will spring forth from the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society in 2013 is one of great volume, quality and diversity. On March 19, HoCoPoLitSo partners with the Howard County Library—the fairest of them all—to welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edward P. Jones into our midst.

On April 23, HoCoPoLitSo connects with HCC to host the Blackbird Poetry Festival. This year, the festival highlights the sterling poetry and photography of author Rachel Eliza Griffiths—a Cave Canem Fellow, as well as the poetry of author Kendra Kopelke, director of the MFA program at the University of Baltimore. There are many more events planned that I will refrain from mentioning, at this time, because a little suspense makes life worth living. Suffice it to say that one of those events has something to do with the Columbia Festival of the Arts in June, and that the writers invited will stir ovations in every heart. Yes, I think that is enough to say, for now.

Truth Thomas
Poet and board member

 Speak Water, the latest collection of poems by Truth Thomas, is available online from Cherry Castle Publishing. A kindle e-version is available through Amazon.
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