After several years of participating in the Gaithersburg Book Festival, working with teen writers and as a panel moderator, I am excited to share that I will be expanding my involvement this year and will be helping to put together poetry programming–including panels, workshops, and more. This is GBF’s 10th year and promises to be better than ever. Please plan to join us on May 18th, 2019 and if you are an author who would like to be a presenter, applications are due November 2!
Many thanks to The Rising Phoenix Review for including my poem, “Playing Bang Bang With A Shiny Pistol That Wasn’t A Toy (He Was Only Three Years Old)” in their Disarm collection of poems. The poem is about a little boy named Tmorej Smith who killed himself with his grandmother’s pink handgun in Greenville, SC in 2013.
A themed issue addressing mass shootings in America. An issue that memorializes those who have lost their lives in mass shooting. An issue that attempts to put into words what it is like to be a survivor. An issue that depicts how people are advocating to change gun laws and gun culture in America. An issue that proclaims that we want a world where the lives of our friends and loved ones are not cut short by the finality of a bullet. We want our children to grow old and live to build beautiful things. Melt down guns and ammunition. Disarm the tools of violence.
It is an honor to be a part of this fine collection!
I am looking forward to hosting the continuing DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic at the Gaithersburg Library with fall readings on September 9th, October 14th, and December 9th. All readings take place upstairs at the Gaithersburg (MD) Library (18330 Montgomery Village Ave./Gaithersburg 20879), 2-4 pm. Featured poets will be followed by an open mic. Please join us!
Took awhile to get here, but I finally got my copies of Poems in the Aftermath, an anthology from Indolent Books of poems written between the 2016 election and the inauguration, including my poem “Patriotism Reconsidered. I’m honored to have my work included in this fine collection.
The DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic has 3 fabulous readings scheduled this fall. All readings are hosted by Lucinda Marshall and take place upstairs at the Gaithersburg Library, 2-4 pm.
Please also check out the DiVerse Booklist which has now been updated to include books by our fall authors.
November: No reading because the library is closed for Veteran’s Day.
I am delighted to share that I will be a featured reader at the December 11th, 2018 Wilde Reading at the Columbia Art Center (6100 Foreland Garth/Columbia, MD 21045). The reading starts at 7 pm and I’ll be sharing the mic with Pamela Murray Winters. Come join us for a wonderful evening of poetry!
In June, 2017, I hosted a poetry reading over at the now defunct Chesapeake Framing Crown location, followed by a second reading there in September. In January, 2018, the reading, under the name of DiVerse Gaithersburg (thank you Serena Agusto-Cox for the fabulous idea), moved over to the Gaithersburg Library and has been held monthly since then. The eight readings have included 28 featured poets, as well as everyone who has read at the open mic.
When I started the readings, I did so with the intention of making poetry more accessible in the Gaithersburg/NW Montgomery County area, as well as creating a community for poets. Both of those goals have been met in many ways and I’d like to share some of the highlights here:
- Attendees of the readings have told me that they have been inspired to read and/or write more poetry.
- Because of the reading, I was invited to moderate a poetry panel at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and hope to continue to be involved in poetry-related activities at GBF in future years.
- Several area cultural event organizers have asked for recommendations of poets to speak at their events and I’ve been delighted to suggest poets from our community.
- The Gaithersburg Poetry Workshop has been meeting monthly since November, providing an opportunity for local poets to get and offer feedback on work in progress.
- A brainstorming session at one of the readings led to the creation of a poetry in the community action list.
- Poets have met and connected over common interests at the reading, further creating a strong, supportive community for area poets.
- In conjunction with the readings, there is a booklist on the website with books by our featured poets. The Gaithersburg Barnes and Noble has used this list to add local poets to their collection. Shortly after they did this earlier this spring, we noticed that more than half of the books on their poetry display were by authors who were DiVerse Gaithersburg featured poets! The list will be updated later this summer to include poets who will be reading in the fall.
- Poet and blogger Serena Agusto-Cox has reviewed books by a number of the DiVerse poets on her blog, Savvy Verse & Wit.
We will resume readings in September, and I’ll have the full fall schedule posted in the next few weeks. DiVerse Gaithersburg has gotten off to a great start in its first year, and I am really looking forward to hosting our upcoming readings and watching our poetry community continue to blossom!
Many thanks to everyone who has helped to make this program a success!
(cross-posted from the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic website with minor edits)
After three and a half wonderful years as a co-mentor of the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club, I have decided to move on to other projects. As I told the kids at our last meeting, they may think that they learned a lot from me, but I probably learned more from them. It truly has been a privilege to work with such dedicated young writers and to watch them learn and grow. Aside from an uncountable number of writing prompts, we also took on introducing authors at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, entering some of their work in the three Emerging Voices anthologies that the Maryland Writers’ Association (sponsor of the program) published, chalk publishing, and much more, including a final group poem in which we each wrote a stanza (although please note that it was not possible to fully keep the original formatting when inserting it into this post):
This Is Why I Write
I write because I found a word
I found a word for green and growing things
And another word for battle smoke
I found a word
For sunlight starlight moonlight
I write because I found a word for world
(stanza by Peggy Ruppel, club co-mentor)
I write because there are no walls
to stop my pen,
It’s my world of infinite freedom
where I can illustrate creations and fantasies
from my own mind,
and the stories can unfold
in an infinite number of ways.
(stanza by Marysol H.)
I write because of
All the special things in the WORLD
And when I write
I’m a magician
And I make magic
Out of all
The special things in the WORLD
(stanza by Comfort O.)
I write because
I believe my thoughts are
made magic through my words
because my hands can mold letters
my lips can’t.
because days I’m feeling low and
down, writing becomes
therapeutic; a microscope
to my mind that can be viewed
for a very limited time.
because I always sound like
myself on paper.
I write because
it is my fix.
(stanza by Josephine O.)
I write because I
because I am
this is how I speak my truth.
(stanza by Lucinda Marshall, club co-mentor)
I write because I do
no boundaries but mine
(stanza by Emma D.)
Many thanks to my co-mentor, Peggy Ruppel, who is also leaving the program. We leave the club in the fine care of Henry Caballero, the new club mentor and meetings will resume in the fall.
I had so much fun introducing the poetry panel at the Gaithersburg Book Festival featuring Kateema Lee, Erica Wright, Kurt Olsson, and V.P. Loggins and being there with one of the teens from the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club while she introduced YA authors Jessica Spotswood and Winifred Conkling! Despite the rain there was a great crowd and lots of wonderful authors. If you missed it this year, it will be on May 18th next year, save the date!
I’m very pleased to have two new poems published in Tuck Magazine. Both poems, Patriotic Amnesia, and Dying In The Land Of The Free, address the deeply flawed narrative of American patriotism and its celebration of militarism.