Want to go to a poetry event in Montgomery County, MD but don’t know who is reading or presenting where when? Check out the new MoCo Poetry Events page on Facebook, which will post listings for events throughout the county. Huge kudos to Gaithersburg poet Kristin Kowalski Ferragut for this great idea and for doing the hard work to make it happen!
DiVerse Gaithersburg is delighted to be participating in Kensington Day Of The Book’s poetry program, All The Imagination Can Hold, on April 26th, 2020. Many thanks to Kensington Day Of The Book Poet Laureate, Nancy Naomi Carlson, for including us. The DiVerse Gaithersburg roster will include poets who have been featured at our readings–Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Marlena Chertock, Kristin Kowalski Ferragut, and host Lucinda Marshall. Come join us for a day of poetry and literature!
Reminder–March 8th is the first day of Daylight Savings, reset those clocks unless you want to miss the first hour of DiVerse!
Please join us on March 8th, 2-4 pm, when our featured poets will be Susan Sonde, Sistah Joy Alford, and Melanie Figg. The reading will be at the Quince Orchard Library (15831 Quince Orchard Rd./Gaithersburg 20878) and is hosted by Lucinda Marshall and will be followed by an Open Mic. Please feel free to bring a poem that you have written to share (one page maximum).
Susan Sonde s an award winning poet and short story writer. Her debut collection: In the Longboats with Others won the Capricorn Book Award and was published by New Rivers Press. The Arsonist, her fifth collection was released in 2019 from Main Street Rag and her sixth collection, Evenings at the Table of an Intoxicant was a finalist in the New Rivers New Voices 2019 contest. The Last Insomniac, a chapbook, now working its way to a full collection, was a 2019 finalist in The James Tate Award. Grants and awards include, a National Endowment Award in poetry. grants in fiction and poetry from The Maryland State Arts Council, and the Gordon Barber Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America. Her collection The Chalk Line was a finalist in The National Poetry Series. Individual poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The North American Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The Mississippi Review, American Letters and Commentary, Bomb, New Letters, Southern Poetry Review, and many others.
Sistah Joy Matthews Alford is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Prince George’s County, Maryland as well as the Poet Laureate of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Fort Washington. She is an author, arts advocate, as well as the producer and host of award-winning poetry-based cable television show, Sojourn with Words. She is an alum of the late Washington, DC Poet Laureate’s “Poets in Progress” series and the Mariposa Writers Retreat and the founder of the socially-conscious poetry ensemble, Collective Voices. Sistah Joy is the author of three books, Lord I’m Dancin’ As Fast As I Can (2000); From Pain to Empowerment, The Fabric of My Being (2009); and This Garden Called Life (2011).She is a Charter Board Member of C.A.A.P.A. (Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts, Inc.) and a Lifetime Member of the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center.
Melanie Figg is the author of the award-winning debut poetry collection, Trace, as well as a chapbook. She has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The McKnight and Jerome Foundations, the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and other. Her poems, essays, and reviews have been published in dozens of literary journals, including The Iowa Review, Nimrod, Conduit, and Iron Horse Literary Review. Melanie curates Literary Art Tours in DC galleries (a Washington Post Editor’s Pick) and teaches writing at the Writer’s Center and privately. As a certified professional coach, she offers women’s writing retreats and works one-on-one with writers and others.
Heads up all you poets who complain about the one poem/one page Open Mic rule–In February you have the opportunity to read as many as 3 poems! But of course there’s a catch–in addition to a poem that you’ve written, usual rules, you can also read responses to our 2 Valentine’s verse gone wild prompts. Courtney LeBlanc came up with a delicious little prompt (that’s a hint) that we will share with you at the reading and you can work on the following one now or at the reading where we will build in a short quick write break:
Lucinda’s Roses are Red prompt: Write a 4 line verse in the traditional Roses are red/violets are blue form. For instance:
Roses are red/Violets are blue/the 3rd and 4th lines/are entirely up to you.
Have fun but beware–this is addictive!
I always look forward with great anticipation to the Open Mic portion of our readings. Sometimes a well established poet will try out new material or share a prize-winning poem. We’ve had poets who are reading at an open mic for the very first time. Some poems are sad, some funny, formal verse, rhyming verse, free verse, you never know what might be next. At our January reading Beth Riley, who was attending our reading for the first time, treated us to a poem that she wrote about the reading while it was going on. With her kind permission, here is Beth’s poetic observation about our January DiVerse reading:
My First Visit to QO Second Sunday
DiVerse Poetry Open Mic
Audience response is akin to going to the symphony.
After each piece there is no applause,
Just a pause.
But listen closely and you will hear the modest praise:
“Mmmmm” like after a good piece of chocolate.
Sometimes a thoughtful “hmmm.”
Sometimes a quiet sudden “Oh!”
Signaling that the point was well made.
And then there was that one response,
Just after the Vessel piece,
A descending “Mm, mm, mm.”
–by Beth Riley
Beth Riley of Frederick, MD is Lead Vocalist of local classic rock band SR3. She dabbles in poetry, sketching, and painting for catharsis from her day job as document formatter and editor of dry and lengthy medical research reports.
Please join us on February 9th, 2-4 pm, when our featured poets will be Courtney LeBlanc, Brandon Johnson, and Marty Sanchez-Lowery. The reading will be at the Quince Orchard Library (15831 Quince Orchard Rd./Gaithersburg 20878) and is hosted by Lucinda Marshall and will be followed by an Open Mic. Please feel free to bring a poem that you have written to share (one page maximum).
Courtney LeBlanc is the author of Beautiful & Full of Monsters (forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press), and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. She has her MBA from University of Baltimore and her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos.
Brandon D. Johnson is the author of Love’s Skin, Man Burns Ant, The Strangers Between, and co-author of The Black Rooster Social Inn: This Is The Place. He is published in several journals and anthologies, including Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade and The Listening Ear: Cave Canem Poets Look South, Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century, and Callaloo. He is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and has attended the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Born in Gary, Indiana, he received a BA from Wabash College and his JD from Antioch School of Law. Brandon is also a photographer and short story writer. He lives with his wife and children in Washington, DC.
Martha Sanchez-Lowery was born in La Paz, Bolivia and lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Her poem “The Dark Earth Call” was set to dance by Jane Franklin Dance Company as part of the program Dancing the Page. Her poetry has appeared in Gargoyle, Beltway, Hispanic Culture Review, and Poets Against the War, and appears in the anthologies Knocking on the Door of the White House (Al Pie de La Casa Blanca), Winners: An Anthology, and Cabin Fever. She has read widely in the DC area including the Gaithersburg Book Festival, Whitman 200 Festival, The Library of Congress and appeared on Grace Cavalieri’s radio show The Poet & The Poem. Her chapbook Bocanegra was published by Mica Press. She was Executive Producer for the Poetry Alive at IOTA – 20th Anniversary CD.
Please join us on January 12th, 2-4 pm, when our featured poets will be Ann Bracken, Tara Campbell, and Julie Bloss Kelsey. The reading will be at the Quince Orchard Library (15831 Quince Orchard Rd./Gaithersburg 20878) and is hosted by Lucinda Marshall and will be followed by an Open Mic. Please feel free to bring a poem that you have written to share (one page maximum).
Ann Bracken, an activist with a pen, has authored two poetry collections, No Barking in the Hallways: Poems from the Classroom and The Altar of Innocence, serves as a contributing editor for Little Patuxent Review, and co-facilitates the Wilde Readings Poetry Series. Her poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in anthologies and journals, including Bared: Contemporary Poetry & Art on Bras & Breasts, Fledgling Rag, and Gargoyle. Ann’s poetry has garnered two Pushcart Prize nominations and her advocacy work centers around arts-based interventions for mental health, education, and prison reform.
Tara Campbell is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Jellyfish Review, Booth, and Strange Horizons. She’s also the author of a novel, TreeVolution, and two collections, Circe’s Bicycle and Midnight at the Organporium. She received her MFA from American University in 2019.
Julie Bloss Kelsey is a short-form poet based in Germantown, Maryland, best known for her haiku, scifaiku, and tanka. Her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Jersey Devil Press, Frogpond, The Heron’s Nest, Scifaikuest, Star*Line, among others. In 2011, she won the Dwarf Stars Award for one of her science fiction haiku. She won the Marlene Mountain Memorial Haiku Contest in 2018 and placed first in Sonic Boom’s Fifth Annual Senryu Contest in 2019. Julie is married and has three children, one dog, and three fish. Connect with her on Twitter (@MamaJoules) and Instagram (@julieblosskelsey).
We have four wonderful readings scheduled for the spring of 2020. All readings will be from 2-4 pm at the Quince Orchard Library in Gaithersburg. All readings are hosted by Lucinda Marshall. Please note that our first 3 readings will be on the 2nd Sunday of the month. In April, however, we will read on the 3rd Sunday due to Easter falling on the 2nd Sunday.
- Brandon Johnson
- Courtney LeBlanc
- Marty Sanchez-Lowery
- Diane Wilbon Parks
- Naomi Thiers
- Gregory Luce
Please join us on December 8th, 2-4 pm when our featured poets will be Sami Miranda, Linda Joy Burke, and Fran Abrams. In addition to sharing their poetry, the poets will also be discussing their other artistic, performance, and artistic endeavors and there will be time for Q&A.
The reading will be at the Quince Orchard Library (15831 Quince Orchard Rd./Gaithersburg 20878) and is hosted by Lucinda Marshall and will be followed by an Open Mic (time permitting because of the expanded discussion time). Please feel free to bring a poem that you have written to share (one page maximum).
Linda Joy Burke is a 2002 Distinguished Black Marylander Award recipient for Art from Towson University’s Office of Diversity, a 2004 Coca Cola Company/NFAA Distinguished Teacher in the Arts nominee, a 2004 Poetry for the People Baltimore Legacy Award recipient, a 2008 Fox 45 Champions of Courage nominee, and a 2013 Howard County Women’s Hall of Fame inductee. She is a contributing editor to Little Patuxent Review, and co-hosts the Wilde Reading Series based in Columbia, Maryland. Burke’s poetry, fiction, op-ed columns, reviews, profiles and feature stories have appeared in numerous publications including: The Little Patuxent Review, Obsidian II Black Literature in Review, Beltway Quarterly, Passager, and many others. She blogs at Moods Minds and Multitudes, The Bird Talks Blog Too, and I Grew Up to Be the Neighborhood Nosey Lady, and is on Twitter @ljoybird, and Instagram as Birdpoet.
Fran Abrams holds an undergraduate degree in art and architecture and a master’s degree in urban planning. She worked in government and nonprofit agencies in Montgomery County for 41 years, writing legislation, guidelines and reports. In 2000, she began creating polymer clay wallhangings. In 2010, she retired from her job to spend more time on her artwork. Fran’s art has been shown in juried shows throughout the country and in numerous shows in the DC region. Her work has won many competitive awards. In early 2017, Fran decided to write poetry and began taking classes at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. She continues to write, take classes and attend poetry readings and open mics and has recently published several poems.
Sami Miranda is a poet, teacher and visual artist from the Bronx who has made Washington, D.C. his home. His poetry collection, “We Is” was published this year by Zozobra Press and his chapbook, “Departure” was published by Central Square Press in 2017. He has performed his poetry at venues throughout the Washington, DC region, New York City, and Charlotte, NC. He holds an MFA in poetry from the Bennington Writing Seminars.
Please join us on November 10th, 2-4 pm when our featured poets will be Miles David Moore, Tanya Olson, Katherine Gekker and special guest Lydia Wei. The reading will be at the Quince Orchard Library (15831 Quince Orchard Rd./Gaithersburg 20878) and is hosted by Lucinda Marshall and will be followed by an Open Mic . Please feel free to bring a poem that you have written to share (one page maximum).
Tanya Olson lives in Silver Spring, Maryland and is a Senior Lecturer in English at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her first book, Boyishly, was awarded a 2014 American Book Award. She was a Discovery Poetry Contest winner from Boston Review and the 92nd St Y and is a Lambda Fellow of the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices. Her most recent book, Stay, was published by YesYes Books in May 2019.
Katherine Gekker is the author of In Search of Warm Breathing Things (Glass Lyre Press, 2019). Her poems have been published in Delmarva Review, Little Patuxent Review, Broadkill Review, Poetry South, Apple Valley Review, among others, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Gekker’s poems, collectively called “…to Cast a Shadow Again,” have been set to music by composer Eric Ewazen. Composer Carson Cooman has set a seasonal cycle of her poems, “Chasing the Moon Down,” to music. She was born in the District of Columbia. When not writing, she practices piano.
Miles David Moore is a Washington reporter for Crain Communications Inc. and film reviewer for the online arts magazineScene4. From 1994 to 2017, he was organizer and host of the IOTA poetry reading series in Arlington, Va. From 2002 to 2009, he was a member of the Board of Directors of The Word Works. His most recent poetry has appeared in Gargoyle, Bourgeon, and Arlington Literary Journal (ArLiJo). His books of poetry are The Bears of Paris (Word Works, 1995); Buddha Isn’t Laughing(Argonne House Press, 1999); and Rollercoaster (Word Works, 2004).
We are delighted that Lydia Wei will also be joining us to share several of her poems at the November reading. Her poem, Bulletholes. was chosen by Maryland Poet Laureate Grace Cavallieri as the first place winner of the 2019 Gaithersburg Book Festivals High School Poetry Contest. Lydia was also recently named as one of 15 winners in the UK Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year competition for her poem, the opiod diaries. She lives in Gaithersburg and is a senior at Richard Montgomery High School.