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wilde readings feature authors Nishi Chawla and Kathleen Hellen

Nishi Chawla and Kathleen Hellen are the feature writers at the October Wilde Readings, a monthly community open mic supported by HoCoPoLitSo. Join Nishi and Kathleen as well as other open mic readers for a free, virtual reading on October 12, 2021 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. See details about the event below.

May be an image of 2 people, people standing and text that says 'Kathleen Hellen Nisha Chawla Wilde Readings 10-12-2021 7:00pm Zoom &Facebook Live'

We asked Nishi and Kathleen our favorite six questions about their reading and writing, and here’s what they had to share.

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?

Nishi: There is no specific person whose image gets repeated in my writings. I would suggest that the theme of what I write is what ‘shows up most often in my writing.’ The theme assumes a persona, a kind of living personality. This is often a ‘recollection’ kind of figure as it holds together moments and memories, important aspects of personality along with other parts, like traits of temperament, goals and objectives. This thematic persona assumes the shape of a recent history. It gets wrapped in the web of some urgent questions of the present and future that I try to focus on.

Kathleen: My mother, and more recently my son

Where is your favorite place to write?

Nishi: The solarium is my favorite place to write as the morning rays plunge the room with its unique and faultless solar energy. “Drought became us / Turned us into grains of sand / The blithe breeze that poets sung of / Weren’t that kind to us / When they were done caressing their faces / And having their way with the locks of women’s hair, / They turned a new leaf for a new story” – A A Surin

Kathleen: Anywhere–in the car I write on backs of envelopes, receipts, any available scrap of paper, on walks, in parking lots, on the La-Z-Boy beside the statue of Lord Shiva, on the couch with a legal pad and staring out the window, in bed on unlined tablets beside the pile of books, at the computer in the morning, at the computer at night, in front of the tv on yellow Post-It notes, on beaches with my pocket-sized spiral notebook, in hotel rooms on guest notepads, on planes and waiting at the airport …

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Nishi: My writing process is like an implosion within me. I wrap my mind around an idea that bursts into me and sometimes, surprises me to my own inner self. I do not often see clearly where I should go with it. When the way forward seems nebulous, ideas creep around me from behind me, almost my stealth, and crowd my other thoughts out. Sometimes, the outburst seems too condensed and waits to be fleshed out. The flow of words gets blocked, and the dialogues come out broken and need some agility. The sounds and rhythms, the breaks in logic, any unnecessary verbiage, the indiscriminate voices of the individual characters, the hunger in my belly for the right word, the right way to convey my message or project my vision, are all important rituals of my pre-writing process.

Nishi: As soon as I wake up, I put on coffee, stretch, write my dream thoughts in the black-and-white marble composition notebook, then I get to work.

Who gets the first read?

Nishi: My own lonely self. “I saw an otter lying dead at the edge of the creek, / body flaccid, scaled like that of a bird’s. / That was also the time we swung our palms loose, / heading down February over a speed bump, and our mothers- / calling us out, yet the distance too large and the gravity too strong / for us to hear their voices. / It was the way we slid over frozen ice – the carelessness, / the tangling of bones, that reminds me of how / this time and that time was all but a series of endings.” – S Verma

Kathleen: Usually, it’s just me.

What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?

Nishi: I have read many books multiple times. I have found Gandhi’s My Experiments with Truth quite mesmerizing even as I try to understand the flawed human being behind the mask of a great and flawless human. “everything comes around from water / to dust, betrayal to trust / you have to recognize the small alphabet a and distinguish it / from the capital A observing the pressure on the fingers that write / trace you must contours on the bark you lean on to / and it will all come to you / Do not look for us when we are not around for we are the moon quivering / upon the night’s lake and the puppet shadows appearing disappearing / beyond us / we are the trees that long for the roots as much yearn the high sky.” – Shelley Bhoil.

Kathleen: Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Death, No Fear

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Nishi: A striking and indelible reading that I attended was at Politics and Prose. Amitava Ghosh read from his novel, A Sea of Poppies. Ghosh’s ibis trilogy blew my mind at the level of in depth research he has done. And what a contrast to “Sea Poppies” by H.D.: “Amber husk / fluted with gold, / fruit on the sand / marked with a rich grain, / treasure / spilled near the shrub-pines / to bleach on the boulders: / your stalk has caught root / among wet pebbles / and drift flung by the sea / and grated shells / and split conch-shells. / Beautiful, wide-spread, / fire upon leaf, / what meadow yields / so fragrant a leaf / as your bright leaf?”

Kathleen: Most recently, Tin House’s online reading and interview with Arthur Sze

Wilde Readings Quick Six with Rissa Miller

Rissa Miller, author of Goodnight, Poet: Poems to Share at Bedtime

Occasionally, the writers who read at the Wilde Readings will answer our six burning questions about their craft and literary favorites. This month, Rissa Miller, who read at Wilde Readings on February 11th, answers our questions.  Ms. Miller is hosting a free poetry workshop at the Nest in Clarksville on February 12th at 7 pm.

Who is the person in your life (past or present) that shows up most often in your writing?

I’d like to say something more honorable or romantic, but if poets seek truth, I must confess – it’s myself. All things I write, whether poetry, fiction, article, or essay have some part of me in them. Many people have influenced my writing. There are high school English teachers whose voices still echo in my mind as I write; a particularly tough professor will always be with me. She didn’t allow me to use the word “that.” Of course, my friends, family, husband, animal companions – each life that has held my heart, as well as enemies and those who hurt me, will always show up in my writing. They are the souls that formed my voice.r

Where is your favorite place to write?

Anywhere quiet. Home, work, libraries, coffee shops, laundromats. I’m not particular. I’ve written on napkins in cafes, walked out of meetings to write poems in the bathroom at jobs, and scrawled in ballpoint pen up my own arm at stoplights in the car.

Do you have any consistent pre-writing rituals?

Hot green tea. It’s more of a life ritual, I always have hot green tea, even when working out. But writing almost cannot happen without a mug besides me, gently filling the air with steam and subtle verdant aroma.

Who always gets a first read?

My husband, Nathaniel. Well, sometimes our dog, The Dude, hears me read aloud first. After them, my critique group, Ali, Melisa and Robin, see things in early stages.

What is a book you’ve read more than twice (and would read again)?

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho; in poetry, Residence on Earth by Pablo Neruda. Each one I’ve read several times; each I am confident I will read again.

What is the most memorable reading you have attended?

Allen Ginsberg. Hearing the master himself read Kaddish, the epic poem about the life and death of his mother, literally gave me chills. At the time I was working as a journalist and had the incredible opportunity to interview him afterwards. Though I rarely get nervous and was never star struck around celebrities, Ginsberg made me break out in a cold sweat and stutter through me questions. Not just a famous personality, he was a true influence on the history poetry and writing, as well as a moment in American Society. It was such an honor.

Rissa Miller is hosting a free poetry workshop at the Nest in Clarksville, Maryland on February 12th at 7 pm. No experience required.

The next Wilde Readings is on March 10th at the Columbia Art Center and will feature authors Reuben Jackson & Edgar Silex.

Free Wilde Readings Series Continues with Spring Line-up, Open Mics.

Wilde Readings is a free monthly literary reading series that provides local writers — poets, fiction, non-fiction — a chance to share their work with the community. The format showcases featured authors, as well as an open mic for interested audience members.

The open mic session offers a safe and supportive environment for teens and adults to share writing of all different forms. Open mic presenters are asked to keep their readings to five minutes or less. Come explore how a range of creativity can inspire and fuel the imagination and nurture one’s one craft and well-being.

Wilde Readings is sponsored by HoCoPoLitSo and coordinated by Laura Shovan, Ann Bracken, Linda Joy Burke, and Faye McCray.

 

Second Tuesdays at the Columbia Association Art Center in Long Reach. Starts at 7 p.m.

Spring featured Reader Line-up:

APRIL 9, 2019
Host: Linda Joy Burke

Bruce A. Jacobs is a poet, author, and musician. He has appeared on NPR, C-SPAN, and elsewhere. His two books of poems are Speaking Through My Skin (MSU Press), which won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, and Cathode Ray Blues (Tropos Press). His most recent nonfiction book is Race Manners for the 21st Century (Arcade/Skyhorse). His work has been published by dozens of literary journals and sites, including Beloit Poetry Journal, Gwarlingo, Truthout, and the 180 More anthology edited by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. He lives in Washington, DC.

Bio for Naomi Thiers

Naomi Thiers grew up in California and Pittsburgh, but her chosen home is Washington-DC/ Northern Virginia. She is the author of three poetry collections: Only The Raw Hands Are Heaven(which won the Washington Writers Publishing House award), In Yolo County,and She Was a Cathedral(both from Finishing Line Press.) Her poems, fiction, and essays have been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Grist, Sojourners,and other magazines and anthologies. Former poetry editor of Phoebe, she works as an editor for Educational Leadership magazine and lives in a condo on the banks of Four Mile Run in Arlington, Virginia.

 

MAY 14, 2019 — TEEN NIGHT
Host: Faye McCray

Kate Hillyer lives, works, and runs the trails near Washington, D.C. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction, and her essay “Learning to Dance” appears in the anthology Raised by Unicorns. Kate blogs at From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors and The Winged Pen, and serves as a Cybils judge for Poetry and Novels in Verse. You can find her on Twitter as @SuperKate.

 

 

Leah Henderson’s novel One Shadow on the Wall, is an Africana Children’s Book Award notable and a Bank Street Best Book of 2017, starred for outstanding merit. Her short story “Warning: Color May Fade” appears in the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America and her forthcoming picture books include Mamie on the Mound, Day For Rememberin’, and Together We March. Leah has an MFA in Writing and is on faculty at Spalding University’s MFA program.

 

JUNE 11, 2019
Host: Laura Shovan

Wallace Lane is a poet, writer and author from Baltimore, Maryland. He received his MFA Degree in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from The University of Baltimore in May 2017. His poetry has appeared in Little Patuxent Review, The Avenue, Welter Literary Journal and is forthcoming in several other literary journals. Jordan Year, his debut collection of poetry, is a coming of age narrative, which uncovers what it means to live and survive in Baltimore City. Wallace also works as a Creative Writing teacher with Baltimore City Public Schools.

 

Jen Michalski  is the author of the novels The Summer She Was Under Water  and The Tide King (both Black Lawrence Press), a couplet of novellas, Could You Be With Her Now (Dzanc Books), and two collections of fiction. Her work has appeared in more than 100 publications, including Poets & Writers, and has received five Pushcart nominations. She was named as “One of 50 Women to Watch” by The Baltimore Sun and “Best Writer” by Baltimore Magazine. She is the host of a fiction reading series in Baltimore, called Starts Here! and editor of the weekly online literary journal jmww.

 

 

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Free Wilde Readings Series Continues with Winter Line-up, Open Mics.

Wilde Readings is a free monthly literary reading series that provides local writers — poets, fiction, non-fiction — a chance to share their work with the community. The format showcases featured authors, as well as an open mic for interested audience members.

The open mic session offers a safe and supportive environment for teens and adults to share writing of all different forms. Open mic presenters are asked to keep their readings to five minutes or less. Come explore how a range of creativity can inspire and fuel the imagination and nurture one’s one craft and well-being.

Wilde Readings is sponsored by HoCoPoLitSo and coordinated by Laura Shovan, Ann Bracken, Linda Joy Burke, and Faye McCray.

 

Second Tuesdays at the Columbia Association Art Center in Long Reach. Starts at 7 p.m.

Featured Reader Line-up:

JANUARY 8, 2019

Danuta Hinc and Luther Jett
Host: Ann Bracken

Danuta Hinc’s essays and short fiction have appeared in Washingtonian Magazine, Literary Hub, Popula, Consequence Magazine, The Word Riot, Litteraria, among others. She holds an M.A. in Philology from Gdansk University in Poland, and an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature from Bennington College, VT.  She is the recipient of the Barry Hannah Fiction Award, and the author of the novel, To Kill the Other.  Hinc is a Senior Lecturer at University of Maryland at College Park where she teaches writing.

 

Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals,as well as several anthologies. His poetry performance piece, Flying to America, debuted during the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival in Washington D.C. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks: “Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father” (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and “Our Situation” (Prolific Press, 2018).

 

FEBRUARY 12, 2019

Dr. Dorothy Adamsnon and Gregory Luce
Host: Faye McCray

Dr. Dorothy Adamson Holley, aka Drum Dr. Dot, is a Developmental Psychologist and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is the co-founder of Nyame Nti Cultural Healing Arts Therapy, a nonprofit organization that integrates mental health and the arts to promote healing. Dr. Holley is the creator of Drumetry™, an art form that integrates two of her passions, drumming and poetry, and she is a proud member the Baltimore band, Roses n Rust.

 

Gregory Luce, author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line Press), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He is retired from National Geographic, works as a volunteer writing tutor/mentor for 826DC, and lives in Arlington, VA.

 

MARCH 12, 2019

Andrea Nacina Cole and Lisa Vihos
Host: Linda Joy Burke

Andria Nacina Cole’s short stories have appeared in The Feminist Wire, Baltimore City Paper, and Ploughshares, among others. She has received multiple grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, including the organization’s top prize for fiction. She is the 2010 recipient of the Cohen Award, a Rubys Award grantee and Baltimore’s Best Storyteller (2017). She co-founded A Revolutionary Summer in 2015 in response to the murder of Freddie Carlos Gray.

 

Lisa Vihos is the Poetry and Arts Editor at Stoneboat Literary Journal and an occasional guest blogger for The Best American Poetry. Along with two chapbooks, A Brief History of Mail (Pebblebrook Press, 2011) and The Accidental Present (Finishing Line Press, 2012), her poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals. She has two Pushcart Prize nominations and received first place recognition in the 2015 Wisconsin People and Ideas poetry contest for her poem, “Lesson at the Checkpoint.” She is active in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change global movement and recently returned home from the group’s first world conference in Salerno, Italy. Visit her blog at Frying the Onion.

 

 

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Wilde Readings: A Great Place to Share Your Love of Literature

Wilde Readings, Columbia’s literary reading and open mic series, eagerly launches season two on September 12th at the Columbia Art Center. When poet and author Laura Shovan approached Linda Joy Burke and myself about starting a reading series in Columbia, we offered our full support. Because Wilde Readings is funded through private donations and a generous grant from HoCoPoLitSo and is housed in the Columbia Art Center in Long Reach, any concerns about funding and a venue disappeared. Before the three of us could begin the daunting yet exciting task of selecting authors for our first year’s lineup, we first solicited naming ideas from several of our friends in the writing community. While there were many names we liked, we selected Patricia VanAmburg’s suggestion to use Wilde Readings—a dual homage to Wilde Lake, Columbia’s first village, and Oscar Wilde, a writer known for both his wit and his bravery. His words, which appear as a tagline on our promotional materials, “A writer is a person who has taught his mind to misbehave,” capture the spirit of what we hope good writing encourages.

Mahitha Vijily

It was especially important to all of us that we present a variety of voices and styles, as well as represent the demographics of our area and balance male and female voices. With those parameters in mind, I hope you’ll agree that our 2016-2017 inaugural series fulfilled those goals and provided our audience with ten evenings of engaging, thoughtful, and provocative voices. Fiction was well represented when Jen Grow, Jan Bowman, Austin Camacho, and Susan Muaddi Daraj shared short stories and novel excerpts. Poetry and spoken word performances, both with political undertones, captured our audience’s attention when Michael Rothenberg, Ron Kipling Williams, Ken “Analysis” Brown, Maritza Rivera, and Shelly “Says So” Washington performed. Le Hinton had a most unusual approach to his rendition of poems from his “Cotton” collection—he passed around real cotton bolls for the audiences to feel both the velvet smoothness of the white fiber and the contrasting prickles of the supporting stamen and leaves. The remaining readings featured the impressive and highly regarded poetic voices of Grace Cavalieri, Merrill Leffler, Sally Rosen Kindred, Michael Ratcliffe, Nancy Naomi Carlson, Sue Ellen Thompson, Virginia Crawford, Sam Schmidt, and City Lit’s own Carla Dupree.

Wilde Readings’ lineup of literary artists for the fall of 2017 promises to be as engaging and diverse as our opening season. We kick off the series with Debbi Mack, New York Times best-selling author of the Sam McRae Mystery Series and Pat Valdata, whose most recent work, Where No Man Can Touch, is a book of persona poems in the voices of female aviation pioneers. In October, Michael Salcman, poet, physician, and art historian, will speak about his latest work, A Prague Spring, Before and After, along with his photographer, Lynn Silverman, a professor of photography at MICA. In November, we will feature the work of D.C. poet Henry Crawford reading from his inaugural collection, American Software, and Susan Sonde, author of several books and a two-time Pushcart Nominee and winner of numerous prizes and awards. We close out 2017 with Doritt Carroll, D.C. native and author of a new chapbook entitled Sorry You Are Not an Instant Winner and poet Alan King, Bowie, Maryland, resident and author of Point Blank and Drift.

This year, in addition to lining up an exciting roster of literary guests for Wilde Readings, Laura, Linda Joy, and I plan to reach out to local teens who aspire to become writers. We’d love to put together a roster of interested writers to participate in a dedicated teen night as part of Wilde Readings. Last year, Mahitha Vijily, a teen writer from Marriotts Ridge High School, saw our event in the local papers and decided to bring her family and her book of poetry to the April Wilde Readings event. She blew us away with her provocative voice and skillful use of language and even sold a few copies of her book, Thoughts of a Wildflower. We hope to engage more voices in the coming year.

When we open the fall series on September 12, 2017, at the Columbia Art Center at 7pm, Laura, Linda Joy, and I will be there to welcome everyone, sign up open mic readers, and introduce our featured authors. We hope to see many attendees from last year and anticipate welcoming new folks as well.

 

By Ann Bracken

 

 

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