Friday, July 27, 2007

September 2007: Barbara Simon's Book of Poems Debuts

In February 2007, a group of Barbara Simon's literary friends and colleagues began work on a collection of Barbara's poetry. Titled The Woman From Away, the volume will debut on September 29 at the 2007 Baltimore Book Festival (BBF). The publication event will take place in the Creative Cafe, a BBF stage, which Barbara--as a founding BBF partner--hosted for Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society. Barbara's family has suggested that in Barbara's memory donations may be made to the Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society (See the story "Passing of a Literary Light" below). MSP&LS is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Donors will be recognized in the published book The Woman From Away and invited to participate in the publication party for the book.

2007 Baltimore Book Festival (BBF) Schedule for the Creative Cafe

The 2007 Baltimore Book Festival (BBF, will take place Friday September 28 from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday September 29 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday September 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Mount Vernon Place. Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society has been a sponsoring supporter of the BBF since its beginning, scheduling the Creative Cafe - always hosted by MSPLS president Barbara Simon - with an entertaining array of literary and musical events.

Among the events you'll find this year at the Creative Cafe are:

Friday September 28

5 to 6 p.m. 2007 Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) Poetry Reading
Fifteen Maryland writers won individual poetry awards from MSAC this year. Several of these poets will read from their work. Pamela Dunne, MSAC Program Director for Arts in Education, Arts Service, Children's Events, Literature and GFO Technical Assistance, and Community Arts Development introduces the event.

6 to 7 p.m. Roya Hakakian - Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran
Roya Hakakian, an Iranian-Jewish writer born in 1966, fled with her family in 1984 from Tehran to the United States. Known for her intellectual fearlessness, she tonight discusses her haunting, award-winning memoir about growing up in post-revolutionary Iran as a Jewish teenager. Recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and the 2003 Dewitt / Wallace Reader's Digest Fellowship for her writing, Hakakian has authored two collections of poetry, the first of which, For the Sake of Water, received honorable mention in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World and was nominated as the poetry book of the year by Iran News in 1993. A contributor to the Weekend Edition of NPR's All Things Considered, she pens opinion columns, essays, and book reviews for a number of notable publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. A founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Hakakian * also filmmaker * documented the worldwide involvement of underage children in wars in the UNICEF-commissioned movie "Armed and Innocent."

Saturday September 28

11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Manorborn Publication Reading
Manorborn is the annual literary journal of the Hartford Poetry Society (HPS). Contributors to the latest issue, being presented today, include Karen S. Elliott, MiMi Zannino, Rosemary Klein, and Alan Reese, president of HPS and most recent Manorborn editor. This issue includes poetry by Barbara M. Simon.

12:15 to 2 p.m. 10th Anniversary Celebration: A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation - Richard Peabody
First published in 1997 by High Risk Press, A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation, now out by Serpent's Tail, was hailed by the Library Journal as a "well-balanced anthology, which should focus more attention on Beat women, and is recommended for all literature collections." Richard Peabody, the editor responsible for A Different Beat has been credited by Beat Generation Women as having "opened up the definition of Beat women to include a whole slew of additional figures." Peabody discusses the incredible publishing journey of this fundamental reference on female Beats. He also brings along the special Beat women issue of Gargoyle, the literary magazine he founded and edits and is backed by local poets reading the work of the Beat Generation females, writers of that poetry said to be characterized by its spontaneous creativity, its chaos, grittiness, and open emotion. Hosted by poet and muscian Brian Langston, a founding editor of the literary journal Into the Teeth of the Wind.

3 to 4 p.m. Attic Publication Reading
Attic is the literary journal currently published by the Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society (MSP&LS). Today the second issue of this journal - ably edited by talented UMBC student Beth Varden and dedicated - with a feature of her work - to Barbara M. Simon makes its debut. Among this issue's contributors reading their work will be Julie Fischer, Charles Rammelkamp, Forestine Bynum, Hiram Larew, Michael Fallon, Kim Roberts, Alan Barysh, Alan Reese, and Karla Mancero.

4 to 6 p.m. Barbara M. Simon - The Woman From Away
This publication party celebrates the considerable talents of Barbara M. Simon, who was much respected in the Baltimore literary and educational community, for her creativity and service. Long overdue, The Woman From Away is a rich compilation of poetry emboldened by self-reflection and strengthened by classic description. Barbara's poems will be read by friends, family, and colleagues.

Sunday September 30

12 to 1:30 p.m. Writers’ Lair Books Presents Deanna Nikaido, Sandra Jones, and Nicole Brown
Writers’ Lair Books has three new publications: Vibrating with Silence by Deanna Nikaido, I Only Meant to Wet My Feet by Sandra Jones, and Conversations at My Sister's Dinner Table by Nicole Brown. Shana Yarborough, the impresario of Writers’ Lair Books, introduces these three fine writers and answers questions about her Nottingham Maryland-based press.

1:30 to 2:30 p.m. VRZHU Press Presents Kim Roberts and Hiram Larew
A publication reading for The Kimnama by Kim Roberts and More Than Anything by Hiram Larew’s , recent poetry volumes from the DC-based Vrzhu Press, which attributes its existence to "either an act of supreme foolhardiness or a cosmic wager on the power of joy." Both Roberts and Larew are tireless advocates for poetry - and fine poets in their own right. Larew's work has appeared in about 80 small press paper and online journals and has received prizes such as the Louisiana Literature poetry prize and the Washington Review poetry prize. Called "quirky, engaging [and] sneakily profound," Larew's work also won the 1999 Artscape Poetry Prize and was published by the City of Baltimore as a chapbook. Kim Roberts, the editor of the highly regarded Beltway Poetry Quarterly, has also published the poetry volume The Wishbone Galaxy and delights in the fact that her poems have been published in journals beginning with every letter of the alphabet.

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tea With Mr. Twain
Imbibe lemonade and coffee and munch on cookies as you listen to Mark Twain, known for starting out as a self-published author, give a half-hour presentation on how to go about self-publishing your work. Twain's speechifying is followed by a half-hour Q&A by the good folks of MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association, a community of independent publishers located in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC and a regional affiliate of Publishers Marketing Association, The Independent Book Publishers Association.

"Vacation Lake," by Barbara Simon

Vacation Lake

Some day we’ll wake
to find this gone,
our lives vanished, no mark
as clear as the line of waves
along the shore. All silent,
the wind after the storm,
the pocket worn
into the middle of the rock
where rain collects
then dries.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Barbara Simon: Passing of a Literary Light

On June 13, 2007, my dear friend and colleague Barbara Simon passed away peacefully at her home in Catonsville, Maryland. Barbara was a staunch supporter of the Baltimore literary arts. She loved her work as a teacher and as president of the Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society. Believing that all writers deserved a voice and a venue, she threw herself into a myriad of projects that supported and provided both: Poet’s Ink, Attic, the 3rd Sunday Reading Series at Minas Gallery, the Baltimore Book Festival, and the Maryland State Arts Council Arts in Education and Poetry OutLoud programs. A private memorial will be held for Barbara on Sunday June 17 in Annapolis, where she was born and raised. A group of us – myself, MiMi Zannino, Alan Reese, Dan Cuddy, Leslie Miller, and Karen Elliott - have compiled Barbara’s poems into a book, long overdue, for which a publication party and reading at the Baltimore Book Festival will be held. Her passion, determination, will, and devoted presence will be sorely missed and not forgotten.

In response to inquiries, the family has suggested that memorials be made either to the Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society (Drawer H, Baltimore, MD 21228) or to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (2141 Rosecrans Ave, Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245).

Rosemary Klein
Executive Director
Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society

Update: Barbara's obituary appears in the Baltimore Sun for Tuesday, June 19.

Alan Reese, "Along the Coast"

Alan Reese, poet and owner of Abcedarian Books, offers this poem he authored in memory of Barbara Michel Simon.

Along the Coast

A chunk of coastline breaks off
and slides into the sea,
disappears into the waves
which shudder in their rhythm
interrupted by this sudden receiving.

Sea birds circle the spot,
searching for the phantom cliff,
home to their memory.
They seek the place where
they once touched down,

the warmth of the sand
welcoming them home,
the protective comfort of high grass,
the spot where they nested
and raised their young,

the point from where they took
wing into the world,
and in that blue expanse
between sky and beach
the empty air rings with their cries.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

About the MSP&LS


For 15 years (ending in 2001), MSP&LS published Maryland Poetry Review, a magazine of national and international prominence that was designed by David Ashton and featured poetry, short fiction, interviews and reviews as well as work by Maryland visual artists.

In recent years, MSP&LS has redirected its efforts into publishing the popular Poets' Ink broadsides and Attic, a new journal dedicated to "building the literary community from the top down."

Attic was brought into being with the express purpose of giving young editors a chance to learn the "trade" of small press literary magazines. The first Attic issue attracted work from some of the area's finest established writers and showcased new talent: Devin Higgins, a recent college graduate, designed the magazine, which featured drawings by talented young artist Meredith Burke, who also was--with UMBC graduates Danny DiCrispino and Mike Beyer--an editor. the The second Attic issue is being compiled by Beth Varden, a UMBC student, who is building on initial efforts by Burke and by Sarah Miller, another UMBC student.

Three Conditions Press continues in its mission to publish poets of merit, giving special consideration to those living and/or working in the Baltimore area. Three Conditions--a subsidiary of MSP&LS--has published several chapbooks, including House of Corners by Bertha Rogers and three volumes of poetry.

10 Tongues, its second volume, by Reginald Harris, Director of Technology at the Enoch Pratt, was a Small Press Selection of the Independent Publishers Guild, a distinction that ensured national and international distribution. 10 Tongues was also a poetry finalist in the Lambda Rising Literary Arts Awards and in the ForeWord Book of the Year Awards.

In 2003 Handprint on the Window by Dan Cuddy, a Loyola College graduate, was published. Reviewer Laura Barnitz wrote: "Handprint on the Window receives my highest praise. It is clear and comprehensible to those, like myself, who read poetry only on days when nothing else will console us. Cuddy's poetry is full of humor, wistfulness, anger, resignation, and empathy--and all of that coming from a point of observation that shifts from wide angle to very specific."

Shades of Light by Dennis Barnes, managing editor of Poets' Ink, will also debut this fall.

Reading Series

For years, MSP&LS has been committed to a monthly reading series that most recently has been hosted as the Third Sunday Reading Series at the popular Minas Gallery (815 W. 36th Street, Hampden, MD, 410-732-4258).

Featured readers have included Richard Peabody, Lalita Naronha, Ned Balbo, Joe Harrison, Luke Tennis, Olu Butterfly, Kim Roberts, Carol Quinn, Sam Schmidt, and Moira Egan.

Poet Carly Sachs immortalized Piotr Gwiazda's reading at her Five Feet Above Water blog: "Baltimore is a lot funkier than DC. Yesterday I went to hear Piotr Gwiazda read at The Minas Gallery. I am so excited that he is going to be the lead editor for my book (his book, Gagarin Street, won the 2004 WWPH first book award). He's my first poetry crush in a while. I think what makes a poetry crush is honestly someone's work. When you just want to read more and more of their poems. Anyway, after a cozy reading in a gallery that has art and vintage clothes we had a beer at one of the most fun and divey bars--Frazier's and then dinner at the Golden West---kitsch kitsch! The menus are old records. A place that kind of reminds me of the Zephyr back in Kent before it turned bar."

The open mic at our Third Sunday Reading Series always attracts stellar novice and established writers and musicians such as Alex Colvin, Karla Mancero, and Karen Elliott.

MSP&LS often hosts publication parties to introduce the newest and latest literary offerings of favorite writers. Recently, works by Ellis Marsalis, Julia Wendell, and Michael Salcman were celebrated at pub parties.

Every Poets' Ink broadside is honored with a contributors' reading held throughout the area at venues that include The Village Learning Place, The Baltimore Ethical Society, Barnes & Noble: Reisterstown, The Enoch Pratt Library, and Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.


Over the years MSP&LS has sponsored workshops lead by writers such as Barbara M. Simon, Reginald Harris and Linda Joy Burke. Currently, our free Poets' Ink workshops provide writers--especially those just finding their voices--with an opportunity to have their poems read and critiqued by established writers and editors, such as Dennis Barnes, Hugh Burgess, Kathleen Cocoran, Dan Cuddy, Brian Langston, and Gregg Mosson.


Over the years MSP&LS has partnered with many area organizations to foster and sponsor state and local literary events: Baltimore County Board of Education, Baltimore Ethical Society, Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, Baltimore Writers Association, Barnes & Noble, Breathe Books, Catonsville Public Library, Chesapeake Arts Center, Clayton's Fine Books & Cafe, Enoch Pratt Library, Harford Poetry Society, Minas Gallery, The CityLit Project, The Learning Bank, The Village Learning Place, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Washington Writers Publishing House.