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Blackbird Poetry Festival

The Blackbird Poetry Festival "Poetry of Wit and Wonder" featuring Beth Ann Fennelly and Teri Ellen Cross Davis

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, is thrilled to present the 11th annual Blackbird Poetry Festival on Thursday, April 25th, 2019. The all-day event in RCF 400 will feature readings and workshops with poets Beth Ann Fennelly, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, and Steven Leyva. The festival will also include readings by student poets from HCC and on-campus patrols by the Poetry Police in recognition of National Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Festival Events

Poetry Police
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.

"The Poetics of Anime" - RCF 400, 9:30-11am
Featuring Steven Leyva (see bio below)
Poet and professor Steven Leyva will lead an interactive discussion on the transformative, lyrical possibilities of anime. This event is free and open to the public. Diversity credit is available for faculty and staff. Diversity Index #2158. Please RSVP to

"Morning Songs" - RCF 400, 11am-12:30pm
Featuring Beth Ann Fennelly and Teri Ellen Cross Davis (see bios below)
Two master poets will lead an interactive workshop with a dynamic mix of readings and poetry exercises. This event is free and open to the public. Diversity credit is available for faculty and staff. Diversity Index #2160. Please RSVP to

Sunbird Reading - RCF 400, 2:30pm-4:30pm
Beth Ann Fennelly and Teri Ellen Cross Davis will be joined onstage 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 email to get on the list. Diversity credit is available for faculty and staff. Diversity Index #2163.

Nightbird Reading: Monteabaro Recital Hall at 7:30pm
Beth Ann Fennelly will read from and discuss her work, including Unmentionables (2008), 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 #2164.

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

Poet Bios

Beth Ann Fennelly

Photo Credit: Mike Stanton

Poet Laureate of Mississippi, headlines the 11th annual Blackbird Poetry Festival for HoCoPoLitSo. The Rumpus noted Fennelly’s most recent “collection will invite you into the delicate balance between the challenging, sometimes squalid, human condition and the beauty and sadness of the transcendent.” Fennelly’s newest book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs (2017), was selected as one of the ten best Southern books of 2017 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.Readers, you are in for a hootenanny of a wild ride. This is Fennelly at her most laid-bare, wickedly funny, and irrepressibly poetic best,” raves Kirkus Reviews. Beth Ann Fennelly teaches and directs the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants and awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Fennelly has published three poetry books: Open House (2002), Tender Hooks (2004), and Unmentionables (2008). Her book of essays, Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother” (2006), “may be the best book ever to give for a baby shower” noted the Tampa Tribune and The Tilted World (2013), a novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin. Fennelly and Franklin live in Oxford with their three children.

Cross Davis

Teri Ellen Cross Davis
Photo Credit: Mignonette Dooley Johnson  
Author of Haint, published by Gival Press and winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry.  A Cave Canem fellow, she has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook, the Soul Mountain Writer’s Retreat, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is on the Advisory Council of Split This Rock (a biennial poetry festival in Washington, DC), a semi-finalist judge for the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Out Loud and a member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. Her work has been published in many anthologies including: Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry JamGathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First DecadeGrowing Up Girl, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DCCheck the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets & Emcees, The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks and Not Without Our Laughter: poems of joy, humor, and sexuality. She is the Poetry Coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and lives in Maryland with her husband, poet Hayes Davis and their two children.  
Steven Leyva
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 2 Bridges Review, Fledgling Rag, The Light Ekphrastic, jubilat, Vinyl, and Prairie Schooner. He is a Cave Canem fellow and author of the chapbook Low Parish.  Steven holds a MFA from the University of Baltimore, where he is an assistant professor in the Klein Family School of Communications Design.
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