Happy POEtry Friday, everyone.
I’m excited that so many of you are coming to Baltimore next week for the National Council of Teacher of English conference. Lucky me — I get to host Poetry Friday friends Kat Apel and Irene Latham for a few days!
To put everyone in a Charm City mood, I am sharing one of my favorite poems about Baltimore City. It’s by Steven Leyva, who I met through the local literary magazine Little Patuxent Review, which he has edited for many years.
(Insider info: I met Steven when this poem won 2nd place in a statewide contest run by LPR and the Enoch Pratt Free Library — before he became editor. And more insider info: If you have a free hour or two during the conference, visit the Pratt’s Central Library. It’s a glorious building and has been newly renovated.)
Steven’s poem stays with me because it captures the city’s grittiness, acknowledges its history, and includes a dash of Bawlmerese.
Highlandtown after the Zappa Statue
By Steven Leyva
Children of dull import, and stevedores
for life, dock work passed down
like family deeds and ground rent.
Orthodoxy burned instead of incense.
Sons of Highland Ave. know well to assuage
their Greek around the Chesapeake “O”
for the city’s charm is a snake of language
eating its own tail. And to that end, oh
Hon, nothing can be done. The men wake
to the sun running roughshod through steel mills
gutted, seasons of dead fish, and Spartan women,
unmoored in waves of row homes.
NCTE attendees — you can take a workshop with Steven Leyva, a professor at Unversity of Baltimore, during the conference. Look for Folger Library: Poetry Immersion! A Reading and Workshop with Baltimore Poet Steven Leyva. It’s on the schedule for 9:30 am next Thursday.
Reminder: You are all invited to a Poets of KidLit dinner on Thursday (note the date change!) November 21, 7 pm, at Nick’s Fish House. Let me know if you’ll be there.
And if you’re looking for me at NCTE, here are my panel and signing times. It’s my first official event with Saadia Faruqi, my co-author for A Place at the Table, which publishes in May. We are very excited!
SATURDAY, November 23
8:00-9:15am Dismantling the Patriarchy: Girl Power in MG Fiction
With Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Barbara Dee, Saadia Faruqi, Hena Khan, Laura Shovan, Elly Swartz, and Becky Calzada — moderator
11:00-12:15pm First Generation Stories: Stories of First-and Second-generation Americans
With Saadia Faruqi, Nalini Krishnankutty, Minh Le, Laura Shovan, Sandra Neil Wallace, Rich Wallace, and Emma Otheguy — moderator
1:00-2:00pm Laura Shovan and Saadia Faruqi signing A Place at the Table in the HMH Booth, #711
3:00-3:45pm Laura Shovan signing Takedown in the Random House Children’s Booth, #1110