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Blackbird Poetry Festival

Blackbird Poetry Festival 2014: "Poetry Unmasked"

 Featuring Billy Collins, “The Most Popular Poet in America”

Billy Collins Headshot

Howard County Poetry & Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), in partnership with Howard Community College’s Office of Student Life, English and World Languages Division, and Arts & Humanities Division, presents the annual Blackbird Poetry Festival on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at Howard Community College. The all-day event features readings by two-term National Poet Laureate Billy Collins, called “the most popular poet in America” by The New York Times along with workshops for HCC students by Bruce George, poet and co-founder of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. The festival will also include readings by student poets from HCC and on-campus patrols by the Poetry Police, who will award individuals carrying a poem in recognition of national Poem in Your Pocket Day. The theme of this year’s Blackbird Poetry Festival is “Poetry Unmasked,” exploring the bare truths of poetry.

Here is the festival lineup:

9:30am-10:50am – Student Workshop with Def Poetry Jam Co-Founder Bruce George (DH 100)

10am – Poetry Police begin patrols looking for poems in pockets across campus

11am-12:20pm – Student Workshop with Def Poetry Jam Co-Founder Bruce George (DH 100)

2:30pm-4:30pm – Billy Collins will read in the festival Mainstage Reading along with students, faculty and staff in Smith Theatre.  This reading is free and open to the public.

7:30pm – Billy Collins will read and discuss his work at Nightbird, the Blackbird Poetry Festival’s evening event, at Smith Theatre. A book signing and reception will follow. Tickets are required for this event (see information below).

Tickets to Nightbird are $50 for the first five rows in the center aisle and $30 for orchestra and balcony ($15 for students). Tickets can be purchased at or For more information, call HoCoPoLitSo at (443) 518-4568 or email

Get Involved!

There are several ways to get involved with the festival.  First and foremost, bring a poem in your pocket!  We are also looking for active participants throughout the day.  The Mainstage Reading is a great opportunity for you and your students to participate in the festival.  Did I mention that this event is free??  No reservations are necessary for the afternoon reading (2:30-4:30pm in Smith Theatre), so bring your whole class!  If you would like for your class to participate in a workshop with Bruce George, if you would like to find out about participating in the Mainstage Reading, or if you and/or your students are interested in serving with the Poetry Police, please contact Rick Leith (  

Past festival poets.