April 12, 2016

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Poetry Friday: The Gift Shift 2

Today's host is Buffy Silverman.
Pass the latkes and head on
over to Buffy's blog
for some delicious poetic treats.

Last week, I started a brief holiday series on gift giving. Instead of presents under the tree or gelt beside the menorah, I'm "buying" for some wonderful literary non-profits.

I love this stackable travel menorah from Traditions.
Menorahs are in the news: The New York Post ran this
 adorable article on celebrity's and their menorahs

We have already looked at two organizations committed to social justice in the literary world and beyond. You can read about Split This Rock and We Need Diverse Books here.

Today, my focus is store-front literary centers. I picked one in Baltimore and one closer to Washington, D.C. Full disclosure: I am a member of both organizations.

What makes a great literary center? Things I look for are:

  • Provides a venue for literary readings.
  • Sponsors events such as literary gatherings, book signings, and plays.
  • A library or bookshop including member's books and/or literary magazines.
  • Writing classes focused on craft.
  • Programs for young writers.
  • Bonus: Workspace available for writers.


New on the local scene is Baltimore's LitMore. Poet Julie Fisher and company took over an unused rectory in Baltimore a little over two years ago. LitMore does all of the above, providing a cozy home for the sometimes scattered literary scene in our city. They also offer retreats and book discussion groups. Poet Christophe Cassamassima is in charge of the library. When my bookshelves get overcrowded, I like sending literary magazines and poetry chapbooks to Chris at LitMore.

Here is LitMore's schedule of upcoming events.
Interested in donating/becoming a member? Click here.


Based in the DC suburb of Bethesda, The Writer's Center has been around forever. They are huge supporters of their members, who can share news in the center's regular publication, which also includes their extensive list of courses taught -- and attended -- by fine local authors. Every weekend, you'll find top-notch authors and members with new books reading their work at TWC. The library is a great place to browse regional and national literary magazines if you're looking for places to submit your work to. They also offer craft classes in Alexandria, Virginia and Annapolis, Maryland, if you want to avoid commuting. Sue Ellen Thompson, whose work I featured earlier this fall, is a favorite instructor. You can also take classes with children's authors like Mary Quattlebaum.

Donate to The Writer's Center here.

Since it is Poetry Friday, here is a winter poem by Sue Ellen Thompson.

Falling on Ice
by Sue Ellen Thompson

You're in a hurry, rushing
out the door, just as the January sky

begins to pale. You're looking
at the geese that rise

in a consensus from the river so nearby
and for a moment you, too,

leave the earth and fly.
But as their undersides

pass over you, you
drop the way that blossoms

drop, their momentary
weightlessness turned instantly

to weight when their trajectory's
completed. And all day,

as you hold the wrist you hope
is just a sprain, you're thinking

not about the pain and not
about that moment when your weight

was lifted from you, but of the suddenness
with which the earth reclaimed you--

like the husband who relinquished you
six months ago with your assurances

that he should take the job,
that you'd be fine here on your own.

And now you cannot scrub a pot
or hook your bra without him.

Click here to order a copy of They.

Do you have a great literary center in your home town? Tell us about it in the comments.


Margaret Simon said...

I'm dreaming of a literary center. We have a local art gallery that is very open to allowing me to hold poetry readings there. That is a gift.

I admire your commitment to generosity this Christmas.

Buffy Silverman said...

Love that you're supporting literary centers as a holiday gift. Last year I sent both my kids certificates for Kiva contributions for Chanukah, and they chose what project to support with a loan--need to remember to do that again this week!

Linda B said...

It's good to hear about those centers near you & that you support Laura. There are places in Denver that support poetry readings, but they are bookstores or musical venues (like for slam poetry). Of course, I probably am missing some, but cannot find any through a search. We are lucky to have Lighthouse Writers, an organization with groups and classes, including children. Thanks again for sharing more, and I wish you good holidays with your family, and a happy new year!

Robyn Hood Black said...

What a blessing these folks are, Laura, and you for always championing them! Thanks for sharing.

And that poem! 1.) would love to have personally written this phrase: "geese that rise/in a consensus" and 2.) boy did it hit close to home, after this past year's months of commuter marriage and then the injury which left me without much use of my right hand for a while! Thanks for sharing this, too.

Happy Holidays and New Year to your and yours!

jama said...

Good to hear about Litmore in Baltimore. And yes, The Writer's Center has been around forever. Wish it was closer to home. Admire your support of both organizations!

Liz Steinglass said...

Thanks for sharing these special places and the poem. I love the part about watching the geese.

Karen Edmisten said...

Joining in my admiration of your support for literary centers - wonderful!

Mary Lee said...

Love your spirit of giving! What cool centers!!

(And thanks for the warning to watch for slippery spots!)