Big News–DiVerse Restart-New Host, New Day

Dear Poets and Community Friends,

I’ll give you the punchline first—the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading is planning to re-start this winter on a new day and with a new host!  Got your attention?  Read on…

When the pandemic hit almost two years ago, never in my worst imaginings did I think that the DiVerse Gaithersburg poetry reading would be on pause for this long.  As I write this, the Montgomery County libraries are still not open on Sundays and the meeting room at the Quince Orchard Library has not re-opened for use either.  It is unclear whether the libraries will start operating on Sundays again, so with the help of Eve Burton, the librarian that we work with at Quince Orchard Library, we are moving the reading to 2nd Saturday afternoons beginning in January, exact time to be determined and information about any restrictions nearer to the date. I am grateful to Eve for all her work to make it possible for us to meet at the library.

And now for the really big news:

Like many people, I had plenty of time when things were shutdown to do some thinking about the work that I do and what I want moving forward. One of the things I realized is that after 50 plus years of organizing and community building of various kinds, I really want to be doing other things with my time.  Which led me to start thinking about finding someone to take over hosting DiVerse.  After some thought and talking it over with a few people (and thank you to those of you who helped me think it through!), I realized the choice was obvious and luckily the timing was right for her as well.  I am thrilled to announce that my good friend and amazing poet Kristin Kowalski Ferragut will be taking over as the host of the DiVerse Gaithersburg poetry reading!

Over the next few months Kristin and I will be making that transition happen.  She will be starting to look at programming for the spring and will start sharing that info when she is ready.  We will be posting again on the website and facebook page, so keep an eye out for that.

I will remain as a resource person as needed until things are up and running and will no doubt be at many readings happily sitting in the audience. 

Since I started organizing poetry readings in Gaithersburg, some 50 poets from a multitude of backgrounds have come to share their work with us, plus countless more at the open mics that followed, including some bravely reading for the first time. While always a work in progress, the diversity of our programming is something that I am proud of.

Since the reading began four years ago, DiVerse has become both a community and a community resource. Regular attendees have gotten to know each other, work on our craft together and become friends.  And because we meet at the library, we often attract folks from the community who perhaps have never been to a reading before.

I know that Kristin shares my vision of how important these things are and will bring her own wonderful talent and ideas to continuing the readings.  So please join me in welcoming her to this new role and for goodness sake, help her to get the chairs set up (if you’ve been to a DiVerse reading, you know what I mean)!

With gratitude to all of you for making the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading a success!

–Lucinda Marshall

The Local Poetry Collection At The Quince Orchard Library

As some of you may recall, last winter Librarian Eve Burton and I started working on putting together a collection of poetry books by local authors to be housed at the Quince Orchard Library. We sent out a letter asking poets who had read at DiVerse Gaithersburg to contribute copies of their books that we might include in the initial collection.

We received a number of books and Eve started the process of getting them catalogued and included in the MCPL system. And then the pandemic hit and everything shut down. I am thrilled to report that some of those books are now back at the Quince Orchard branch and will be available for check out sometime in the next month or so. If you sent in a book and you don’t see it in the picture below, they are probably still being processed. Once we get all these books back and ready to check out, I’ll post a list of what is available. And once the library does reopen, we hope to have a proper poetry nook and we will most definitely be holding a celebration for the collection at our first in-person reading!

A huge thank you is due to Eve for her vision and all the work it took to get this rolling and also to all the other library staff who have helped to make this happen. In the middle of a pandemic with the library closed and many people working from home, etc. it feels like a little miracle to have this come to fruition!

Another big thanks to everyone who has contributed books to get this collection started, this would not have been possible without you! We do hope to continue to grow the collection, and when the library is able to accept more books, I’ll let you know. We are starting by opening this up to those of you who have read at DiVerse Gaithersburg, and hope to eventually include others as well.

Our Spring Schedule (or not…)

I know this is probably not a surprise, but the odds of us holding any in person readings this spring are pretty close to nil. The library is still closed to regular use (although you can still get quite a few things online/pick up holds, etc.) and there is no way to know when it will reopen to the public. We could try online readings, but because those readings are now effectively global and anyone can go to a reading anywhere, there is already a cornucopia of readings that we can all attend, and rather than try to stand out in that crowd) and the work it would take to do that!), we are going to stay dormant for now and hold for when we can meet again in person. Not an easy decision to make, but a practical one.

I hope all of you are doing as well as you can and finding good poetry and moments of joy as we all try to navigate through this perilous time.–Lucinda

Fall Update

Due to the pandemic, DiVerse Gaithersburg will unfortunately not be reading in person this fall.  While holding readings online is an option, for a number of reasons, we will not be doing this.  It is possible we may hold a few pop-up readings as we work our way through the second half of the year, but for the most part, we will be holding out until we can read in person again!

DMV Summer Poetry Readings

Although DiVerse Gaithersburg will not resume readings until fall, there are numerous other readings in the DMV that will be offering programming this summer.  The following are some of the possibilities.  The information below is from the organizers or the readings. While every attempt was made to include all readings, there are likely some omissions. Please feel free to add other listings in the comments.

1. Readings on the Pike (Arlington):

2. Inner Loop:
June 16 – Featuring Lauren Francis-Sharma
August 18 – Featuring D. Watkins
September 15 – Featuring Kyoko Mori
October 20 – Featuring Jose Padua
November 17 – Featuring Marion Winik

More information on these events will be posted on our Facebook page:

We are also updating our podcast The Inner Loop Radio for creative writers, which is available on iTunes,  GooglePlay, SoundCloud, and most other podcast providers. We’re about to start our inspiration series, which will have writing prompts and ideas for writing routines and inspiration during the quarantine.

3. The Word Works:

Our monthly Café Muse program runs usually the first Monday of the month, including June 1 at 7 pm featuring Tommye Blount and Molly Spencer on Crowdcast.

Next up on Poets versus the Pandemic, a brand new series created by Henry Crawford for The Word Works, airs June 10 at 7 pm featuring Francisco Aragon on Crowdcast.

The Joaquin Miller Poetry Series will present four Zoom programs on Thursday evenings in June as follows and all at this link.

June 4 Barbara Crooker with our 2020 winners of the Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition Phoebe Price and Lauren Young with special guests Miles David Moore (reads Miller’s poem “Columbus”) and Hiram Larew (judge of the Potter Young Poets Competition) with hosts Karren Alenier, Rosemary Winslow and Julien Berman.
June 11 Henry Crawford and JoAnne Growney
June 18 Venus Thrash and Meg Eden
June 25 Terri Merz and Emilio Iasiello

4. Third Thursday Poetry Readings-Takoma Park:

The City of Takoma Park, after having to suspend its live Third Thursday Poetry Readings in March, began sharing recent poetry readings along with other recent arts performances at www.takomapark.gov/arts
and then starting in April, “gathering” the poets scheduled to read in March and April for on line readings.  There will be one more monthly reading in June, and we are exploring possible summer online poetry events. The public can find the previous readings on YouTube and on our Facebook page, and sign up at www.takomapark.gov/arts  to be notified of future readings.

YouTube link to the recent readings (corrected):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWpj3dkn7I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj_fmKvGvYE

5. It Takes A Community :

June and July events are planned for Zoom, dates will be posted on Meetup when known.

6. Hyattstown Mill Open Mic:

4th Saturday of each month for the duration; 7:30 p.m.
Tentative dates: June 27th;  July 25th; August 22nd
This event takes place via Zoom; an RSVP is required in order to receive the access link which will not be posted on social media. Poets are asked to sign-up prior to the event.

7. Poetry Open Mic at the New Deal Cafe

3rd Saturdays 1pm-3pm
• Open Reading (poetry)
• Free event
• Cafe specialty: Vegan cuisine
• We do not screen material; may not be appropriate for minors. Our intended audience is adults.
Via Zoom video conference until further notice
Contact for questions and to be placed on the mailing list for Zoom details

8. American Poetry Museum:

Mother Tongue multilingual open mic on 2nd Fridays on Facebook Live.

Also:

The Writer’s Center-various, see their website
Split This Rock-various, see their website
Busboys and Poets-various, see their website

Looking Forward

Great thanks to E. Ethelbert Miller and Katherine E. Young for joining us on Zoom for an illuminating and thought-provoking conversation about writing poetry during the pandemic.  We hope to have a plan in place for fall by mid-summer and will post that when we do.

Special Program: How The Pandemic Influences Our Work As Poets–May 17th

DiVerse Gaithersburg is delighted to welcome E. Ethelbert Miller and Katherine E. Young for a special online discussion with DiVerse Gaithersburg host Lucinda Marshall about writing poetry during the pandemic  on May 17th at 7 pm on Zoom. In order to join us, you will need the log-on information which will be sent out by email.  If you are not already on our email list, please email us at diversepoetry@mail.com to receive the log-on particulars.

Writing poetry in a world where everything has changed so suddenly presents both challenge and opportunity and we hope that this discussion will be of interest and use to everyone who is writing in this challenging time.  There will be time for Q&A and perhaps time for a few poems to be shared as well.

E. Ethelbert Miller

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs and several books of poetry including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his work. He is host of the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV. In recent years, Miller has been inducted into the 2015 Washington DC Hall of Fame and awarded the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the 2016 DC Mayor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. In 2018, he was appointed as an ambassador for the Authors Guild. Miller’s most recent book If God Invented Baseball, published by City Point Press, was awarded the 2019 Literary Award for poetry by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Katherine E. Young  by Samantha H. Collins
Photo by Samantha H. Collins

Katherine E. Young is the author of Day of the Border Guards, 2014 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize finalist, and two chapbooks. Her translations of Russian-language poetry and prose have won international awards. She is a 2020 Arlington County individual artist grantee, a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts translation fellow, and from 2016-2018 she served as the inaugural poet laureate of Arlington, Virginia.

Looking Forward

Our April reading was our last regularly scheduled event for the spring.  Thank you so much to everyone who joined us on Zoom for a fabulous evening with Gregory Luce, Diane Wilbon Parks, and Naomi Thiers.  As much as we would rather read in person in our usual venue at the library, it was fun to be able to share our reading with people from all over the country!

Normally right now I would be working on our fall schedule, but it is not yet clear whether it will be feasible to have a normal schedule in the fall, so I am going to wait until we know that.  In the interim, we will likely have some additional Zoom gatherings, so stay tuned and stay well!

April 19th Online Reading At 7PM With Gregory Luce, Naomi Thiers, and Diane Wilbon Parks

We have moved our April reading to an online venue and will be reading at 7 pm instead of our usual afternoon reading time.  Because of safety concerns with trolls, I won’t be posting the log on information here.  If you would like to join us, please send a message with your name and email address and I will add you to the notification list.  An open mic will follow the reading.

Our April Reading…

It will likely come as no surprise that we will not be holding our April reading at the library.  However we are going to try to do an online reading and open mic, probably the evening of April 19th, rather than during the day.  Once the details of that are worked out, I will post them here and on our Facebook page.