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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.

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)

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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