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.
The Gaithersburg Book Festival takes place on May 19th and I am delighted to have the opportunity to be introducing a poetry panel which features poets Kateema Lee, Kurt Olsson, V.P. Loggins, and Erica Wright. The panel begins at 10:15 at the Rachel Carson Pavilion.
At 12:15, members of the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club (which I co-mentor) will be introducing authors Winifred Conkling and Jessica Spotswood at the Ogden Nash Pavilion.
Also at 10:15, Kim Roberts, one of the featured poets at the upcoming June DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry and Open Mic will also be talking about her new book at the H.L. Mencken Pavilion.
This is the third year that I have been a part of GBF and the fourth year that our teens have introduced authors. It is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of our very literature-centric community and a lot of fun. So check out the full schedule and come out and join us for a great day of books, authors, readers, and more!
At our April DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading, I asked those in attendance to do a little brainstorming about places in the community where they would like to see/hear poetry. I handed out index cards and provided a little box where they could put the cards after the reading.
As I was cleaning up, I absentmindedly put the lid on the box, threw it in my bag, and headed home. I didn’t think about it again until later when I cleared out the bag and there was this lovely box to open, which turned out to be a gift of wonderful ideas!
I will also be posting this list on the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Facebook page. Please feel free to add more ideas in the comments or suggest ways in which we can make these ideas reality!
- Have a poetry contest.
- Have a poetry contest for kids.
- Display poetry in art galleries.
- Have readings at charity events.
- Televise poetry readings on local access stations and/or broadcast on local radio stations.
- Put featured poems/poets on flyers advertising the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and put them on community bulletin boards (Starbucks, grocery stores, etc.).
- Write poems on sidewalks.
- Put poetry on bus stops, benches, and the sides of buses.
- Hold poetry slams.
- Have cooperative writing events where poets get together and write.
- Have a poetry bulletin board at the Gaithersburg Book Festival where people can post poems.
- Connect with the English department at Montgomery County Community College.
- Hold a kids-oriented poetry event/reading.
- Hang poems/quotes from poets from lampposts.
- Haiku signs in flower beds (an idea that has been done in DC).
- A zine.
- Put poems on the sides of buildings.
- Poetry workshops at assisted living/senior centers.
- Have poets visit schools.
The first two DiVerse Gaithersburg readings were a resounding success and we have a wonderful lineup for the rest of the spring! Please join us on 2nd Sunday afternoons, 2-4 pm, at the Gaithersburg Library to hear these wonderful poets:
Mother’s Day! And what better way to celebrate than with an afternoon of poetry:
- Kim Roberts
- Camisha Jones
- Eve Burton
- Clarence Williams
Each reading will have an Open Mic and Q&A following our featured poets . Readings are hosted by Lucinda Marshall.
Please note: There will be no readings in July and August.
The inaugural DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic in January was an enormous success! 35 people came to hear Luther Jett and Sunil Freeman (Kim Roberts was unfortunately not able to join us due to illness). Their wonderful readings were followed by 12 people who read at the Open Mic.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to making the afternoon a success, especially the library staff and the folks who volunteered to help with set up, including members of the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club. Thanks also to everyone who helped to promote the reading in so many ways and to Serena Agusto-Cox for broadcasting the reading on Facebook.
Please join us at 2 pm on February 11th at the Gaithersburg Library when our featured poets will be Alan King, Sarah Browning, and J. Howard.
Emerging Voices, Volume 3, the anthology of teen writing club members published by the Maryland Writers’ Association is now in print and includes work by three of the members of the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Club which I co-mentor. I’m so very proud of all of them for not only submitting their work for publication, but also for participating in a rigorous editing process to polish and finalize their work! Many thanks to the editors of the anthology, Jeneva Stone, Mark Willen, and Christina Lyons for all their hard work in getting this latest anthology published.
The book is available for purchase on Amazon, for a very affordable price that covers the publication costs. Neither MWA or any of the authors or editors make any money from the sale of the books.