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Blackbird Poetry Festival

The Blackbird Poetry Festival "Poetry: The Power of Voice


It is with profound sadness that we have made the decision to cancel the Blackbird Poetry Festival for 2020 in order to support efforts to maintain public health and safety.  We hope that you'll continue to celebrate poetry in the month of April and all year around. We look forward to gathering together again soon, and rest assured that preparations for the 2021 Blackbird Poetry Festival are well underway already.  



Festival Events 

Poetry Police (Canceled)

Poetry police will report for duty at 10am in the Duncan Hall Lobby. Poetry Police Captain Rick Leith and his force, in celebration of Poem in Your Pocket Day, will distribute citations to students and staff who find themselves without a poem in their pocket and reward those who carry a poem. Please contact to volunteer for a shift.

"Poetic Reporting" (Canceled)

Featuring Ann Bracken (see bio below)
Poet and essayist Ann Bracken 
will lead participants in exercises on how they can use poetry to share how they see events in the world. This event is free and open to the public. Diversity credit is available for faculty and staff. Diversity Index TBA. Please RSVP to

"Morning Songs" (Canceled)

Featuring Sandra Beasley (see bio below)
Poet Sandra Beasley will lead an interactive workshop on the Power of Voice called, “Heart, Tongue, Home: Poems of Origin.” A poem is a powerful way to capture a story—the family that anchors you, the places you have been, and where you are going now. Poets use bright images and sound-play to bring those experiences to life on the page. We will read an array of contemporary poems, including George Ella Lyons’ “Where I'm From,” and then work to create poems of our own that give a sense of our heritage, language traditions, and origin stories. This presentation is welcoming to those who do not regularly read or write poetry. This event is free and open to the public. Diversity credit is available for faculty and staff. Diversity Index TBA. Please RSVP to

Sunbird Reading  (Canceled)

Ann Bracken, Sandra Beasley, and festival poet Jeffrey Brown (see bio below) will be joined by students, faculty, and staff for an afternoon of poetry. This event is free and open to the public.  You may bring your entire class - no need to RSVP! If you or your students would like to read during this event, please bring a poem!  We will have open mic opportunities throughout the afternoon to share and celebrate our own original and favorite poems. Diversity credit is available for faculty and staff. Diversity Index TBA.

Nightbird Reading (Canceled)

Jeffrey Brown, poet and PBS journalist, will read from and discuss his work, including The News, followed by Q&A, reception, and book signing.  Nightbird admission tickets are $15 each (seniors and students $10) available online or by sending a self-addressed envelope and check payable to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044. Diversity credit is available for faculty and staff. Diversity Index TBA.

For more information, call HoCoPoLitSo at (443) 518-4568 or email

Poet Bios

Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown is a poet and senior correspondent and chief arts correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. 

Poet and PBS Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown headlines the Blackbird Poetry Festival, April 30, 2020, on the campus of Howard Community College. At Nightbird, an evening reading, Mr. Brown will read and discuss his work. His 2015 poetry collection The News was selected as one of the best poetry books of the month by the Washington Post. In this collection he recalls and retells stories from the places he's been and the people he's met. 

"The News is more than a venture into art by someone prominent in another field. In these poems, an unconventional subject for poetry is dealt with from within, by a real poet." —Robert Pinsky

Sandra Beasley

Sandra Beasley is author of three poetry collections: Count the Waves; I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Theories of Falling, winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. Honors for her work include a 2015 NEA Literature Fellowship, the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize, the John Montague International Poetry Fellowship, and four DCCAH Artist Fellowships. She is also the author of the memoir Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, and editor of Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the University of Tampa.

Ann Bracken

 Ann Bracken 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 Wilde Readings Poetry Series in Columbia, MD. Her poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. Ann’s advocacy work centers around arts-based interventions for mental health and prison reform.

Photo Credit: Gace Cavalieri

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