2nd Annual Moon Madness

freefalllogoOctober is just around the corner, and that means FREEFALL. This year, Literary Arts Week comes early, and the Baltimore Chapter of the Maryland Writer’s Association & the Village Learning Place will kick the week off with our 2nd Annual Moon Madness. So fellow lunatics, dust off those moon inspired stories and poems, write some, if you already haven’t, or just locate your favorite Luna musings. Anything goes in this open mic extravaganza. We’ll kick the night off with a brief writing prompt to get the juices flowing. We’ll have prizes, snacks, wine, soft drinks, & tarot readings. Best of all, it’s all FREE.

AUTHORS: Please bring copies of your books to donate to VLP’s small press section of their library.

wolf-moon-490x332This year’s Moon Madness will take place on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 7PM in the Village Learning Place, 2531 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, 21218. There is ample of free parking in the VLP’s lot across the street, as well as free street parking.

By the way, we deeply appreciate the support of our donors who make Free Fall Baltimore possible.  Special thanks goes to the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, American Trading and Production Corporation, The Abell Foundation, Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, and Pearlstone Family Fund. In other words, you can thank them for the wine & grub.


The Next Year

On behalf of the Board, let me say thank you all for welcoming your new officers to the Board of the Baltimore Chapter of the Maryland Writers Association.  We are currently setting up our agenda for the year, including scheduling speakers, and working out the details for the Baltimore Book Festival.  As things develop, we will keep you posted through this site, as well as through the e-mail announcements for each meeting that come out every month.  We are looking forward to working with you through this year and can’t wait to meet more of you in person.


Meet the Candidates

With elections coming up this Monday, we figured it’d be useful & informative to offer a bit of introduction to the wonderful folks who will likely be running things for the Baltimore Chapter over the next year. Here are this year’s current slate of candidates:


Ken Gauvey: President

Ken Gauvey is an attorney with Taylor & Ryan, an immigration firm located in Baltimore, Maryland. As an attorney, Ken spends most of his days writing for a living, mostly nonfiction, though the state and federal governments might debate that.  On any given day, he puts a couple of thousand words down on paper, mostly in a professional capacity.  When he writes on his own schedule, he typically writes fiction.  His personal writing is more akin to escapism, as he abhors sitting in front of a TV and doing nothing (and practicing a saxophone with sleeping children down the hall seems to be a problem for his family).   In 2012, Mr. Gauvey was named by Superlawyer magazine as one of Maryland’s “Rising Stars” in immigration law. In 2013, Mr. Gauvey began serving as the co-chair of the Maryland Legislative Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He regularly provides testimony to the Maryland Legislature on immigration issues.


LaDonna Smith: Vice President

LaDonna M. Smith is a native of Fairmont Heights MD (Prince George’s County) and graduated from Fairmont Heights High School (1996), Prince George’s Community College (Associate of Arts in General Studies 2001) and is only 26 credits away from graduating from Bowie State University. She is persuing a Bachelor of Science in Communications concentrating on Broadcast Technology.

LaDonna has worked with The Dr. Michael Eric Dyson Show (WEAA), The Bernie McCain Show (WOL/WOLB), Justine Love Sex Talk and Slow Jams (WPGC), Community Affairs with David Haynes (WPGC). She also served as the Events Coordinator and Board Member on the Board of Directors for the Black Writer’s Guild of Maryland, Inc.; and a member of the Maryland Business Roundtable Speaker’s Bureau. Her book has also been listed on Essence Magazine’s http://www.essence.com. She is also the Editor and Founder of G.R.A.Y. Magazine, and G.R.A.Y. TV Show. She will be releasing the exciting infotainment follow up to “I Married Satan” called “Oh! Is That Why I am Still Single?” She also hopes to release her children’s book “Hannah’s Song: A Musical Approach to Potty Training” in 2013 as well.

Mary Stojak, Secretrary: Mary Stojak is a long-time member of MWA and a member of SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators), Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America.  She received her MA in fiction from Johns Hopkins University in 2007, and has been accepted to literary workshops including Sewanee and the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Her literary short stories have been published in a variety of journals, on-line and in print. Her story “Clear Lake” was in the MWA Anthology. Mary has taught some writers’ classes but is now focusing on her book-length projects. Currently, she’s finishing up revisions for a middle-grade fantasy for an agent. She also has a literary novel and several mysteries that she hopes to find homes for soon.

June Chapter Meeting: Election Day

ImageThe Baltimore Chapter’s June meeting is almost upon us, which means it’s election season. Although we’re losing three of last year’s board members, we’ve found three great candidates to replace them. Gary Lester will remain as treasurer and provide guidance to the new team members. Potential new officers include Ken Gauvey, running for Baltimore Chapter President, LaDonna Smith for Vice President, and Mary Stojak for Secretary. Of course, any MWA member is welcome to run.

Immediately following elections, we will have an open mic. This is your chance to share what you’ve been working on with us. Make sure to bring something to read, but please, keep it to six minutes or less so that everyone will have an opportunity to share.

Be sure to join us on Monday, June 24 at Ukazoo Books, 730 Dulaney Valley Rd, Towson, MD 21204, at 7pm to cast your vote, read your work, and celebrate another year of Baltimore Chapter greatness.

Baltimore Chapter Looking for New Officers

mwablogoMWA Chapter Election season is upon us, and sadly, we are losing three of the Baltimore Chapter’s officers. Fernando, Shirley & Neal (our current president, vice president & secretary, respectively) will be moving on to other projects after their terms are over. Fortunately, our treasurer, Gary Lester, has agreed to run for treasurer again. The time you would have to invest as an officer would not be onerous, but the experience would be enriching and valuable to your career as a writer. And with Gary’s veteran guidance to help you along, you can’t go wrong.

This year’s election is critical because three posts are becoming vacant simultaneously. The Baltimore Chapter needs to find candidates for at least President and Secretary to stand for election by our next chapter meeting on June 24. Otherwise, the Baltimore Chapter will be at risk of losing its standing with the MWA. Of course, we hope it doesn’t come to that.

If you would be interested in keeping the Baltimore Chapter going and helping to guide it over the next year, please contact us at mwab@mdwriters.org. Elections are currently scheduled for our chapter meeting on Monday, June 24 7pm, at Ukazoo Books.


ImageSPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to Baltimore Chapter’s typical meeting date (fourth Monday of every month, save December) coinciding with Memorial Day, we have decided to move our May meeting to… JUNE 3, 2013.

We know. It’s a bit odd, but it’s better than competing with all the other Memorial Day activities. Besides, the date works better for our honored guests, Diane Booth and members of her Teen Writers’ Club.

Diane founded the Maryland Writers’ Association’s Teen Writers’ Club, and has worked diligently to nurture and expand the program from its original group to several all around the state. Please come and help us support Diane’s efforts to help turn teen writers into great writers.

Our May Chapter Meeting will take place on Monday, June 3, 2013 at Ukazoo Books, 730 Dulaney Valley Rd, Towson, MD 21204. Meeting begins at 7pm.

MWA’s Teens Writers’ Club brings highschoolers together after school to share their interest in writing. They learn how to improve their writing and try new approaches by meeting with authors and experts in the field. Topics include overcoming writers’ block, introducing dialogue, digging for facts and structuring poetry.

From the TWC Mission Statement:

“After more than 25 years as an on-staff writer/editor/reporter then as a freelance writer, I took a contract job with Baltimore County Public Schools Home & Hospital. I taught students determined by physicians to be too sick to attend school and, also, a limited number of expelled students who were deemed by court magistrates to need one-on-one instruction. Almost immediately I met high school students who bulked at writing assignments. They said that they did not like to write. Their attitudes soon changed, however, after I taught them how to develop a topic and how to move forward. Some went beyond minimum requirements. They took short essay-writing assignments and developed them into long stories or, even, books. Many embraced writer’s fever; they seemed to thrive on words and the creative process of writing. The students tried lots of different genres. Before my contracts ended, I realized that these teens likely had much in common with other teens who also liked to write but had no social outlet to share their talents. The Maryland Writers’ Association agreed to sponsor teen clubs to meet that need. MWA members volunteered to lead different clubs, and thus the number of clubs began to grow across the state and beyond.” Diane Booth


Kat "Shiori" Hellen

Kat “Shiori” Hellen

We’re introducing a new feature for our little blog-that-could, today: Member Spotlight. The Baltimore Chapter gets a lot of amazing writers attending our events and chapter meetings. We figured, let’s use the blog for more than just announcing meetings. Since it’s National Poetry Month, we’ve opted to kick it off with fabulous local poet, Kathleen Hellen. We presented Kat, who sometimes writes under the pen name Shiori, with a series of questions, which she generously answered. We hope her answers can help you with your personal writing endeavors.

1)   Tell us about your writing life. When did you start to write? What genres do you write in?

The first poem I remember writing was, of course, awful—an ode to flowers. I remember the lines but would be embarrassed to recite them now. I was about 12. I would go to my room after school or whenever I needed to shut out everything: my family, the world I knew. There, I was able to connect more fully with myself. I filled notebooks. I was infatuated with the sounds and rhythms of the language, a kind of self-soothing, like a cradle rocking inside me.

My first publication was a short story titled “Now You See It, Now You Don’t,” and though I had tried for several years to have a go at fiction, I eventually realized that poetry and other short and hybrid forms like the prose poem and haibun are where my sensibilities locate.

2)   Do you have a regular writing routine, i.e. writing in the a.m., writing for 30 minutes a day?

A habit for writing is essential. The time, place, the money. As Virginia Woolf so aptly phrased it: A room of one’s own. Usually I write in my small home office between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., before the sun is up and the sanitation truck growls up the street. In these hours between dream and waking, poems are free to find their meanings. They speak before they are understood. I write until I feel myself trying to make sense of it. Later, in successive drafts, I attend to craft, my fingers counting out the syllables, my mouth announcing consciousness of line breaks, the sounds that approximate sounds. As I grow older, I revise more.

3)   What writers inspire you?

The good ones. The great ones.

Now, for example, I’m re-reading The Odyssey, and I am stunned by Robert Fitzgerald’s exquisite translation, those lyrical moments in the description of Odysseus’ journey home to Ithaca. I go to Dickinson and Blake, often.  Keats, of course. Rumi. To Rilke and Baudelaire. Basho. Akhmatova. Lorca. Plath and Neruda. I browse collections and contemporary journals to read the work of poets I admire, a long, eclectic list, including, in no particular order, Carolyn Forché, Frank Bidart, Franz Wright, Jane Hirshfield, Charles Wright, Rae Armantrout, Stephen Dunn, the late Lucille Clifton— so many. I read the work of local poets, my friends who inspire me. And then too I find a poem that rises from anonymity to float in my consciousness for days.  A poet I’ve never heard of. A poem I wish I would have written.

4) Do you submit work for publication? If so, tell us about your experiences. Where have you been published? How do you deal with rejections?

In Edward Hirsch’s How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry, he looks to Paul Celan who said: “A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the—not always greatly hopeful—belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps.”

I think of this often when I submit. I send out a poem that might be rejected a dozen times before it washes up on the heartland of a particular editor who says she absolutely loves it. The challenge is to be patient. If you believe in a poem, if it is finished, be persistent. But do not submit before the poem is ready, as Yeats reminds us in his often-repeated quote that a “poem makes a sound when it is finished like the click of the lid of a perfectly made box.” It’s that click you wait for. You know it when you hear it.

Most recently my work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary; The Evansville Review; Harpur Palate; Pedestal; Poemeleon; and Poetry Northwest.

5) What advice would you offer to new writers?

 Read everything. Write every day.

6) What are your writing goals for this year & beyond?

 It’s always one goal: To write the best poem, the perfect poem, and every poem I write hopefully approaches that standard in some small measure.

7) What would you consider the high point of your writing life, thus far?

My collection Umberto’s Night in 2012 won The Jean Feldman Poetry Prize from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House. To be recognized by a community of writers I respect, whose work I admire, was an honor.

Kathleen’s latest collection of poetry, Umberto’s Night, is currently available throughout Baltimore, as well as from Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites.