Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday of Reflection & Hope

Take this time to reflect on the freedoms we have in this country, and how there was a lot of sweat and blood that went into making them a reality.

Also take a moment to think about how precious those freedoms are and what you are willing to do to keep them.

Finally, the time is NOW to take action to actively preserve your rights.

What would you do, if you were Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Here are some books about the Civil Rights Movement:

First Book of 2024

Review can be found on Substack.

One Word 2023

Literary Hill BookFest 2023

What: Literary Hill BookFest 2023
Who: 40+ Capitol Hill authors, booksellers, and literary organizations
When: THIS WEEKEND! Sunday, September 17, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: The North Hall at Eastern Market, Capitol Hill
Why: To showcase local authors and Capitol Hill-based booksellers, publishers, and other literary organizations and celebrate the Hill as a respected center for literacy and the humanities

Check out the Bourgeon and DayEight table in the exhibitors hall — and you might just see me there.

After the BookFest, I’ll be reading at Tunicliffe’s Tavern with some other more accomplished poets.

Remembering 9/11

(Photo credit: Lerone Pieters on Unsplash)

Sept. 11, 2001, was a journalist’s nightmare. Working in an office and waiting on copyedits from a client in New York City that day was not only surreal, but also devastating. Realizing that people you may have never met in person but worked with daily were no longer at the other end of your emails was horrifying.

I will never forget all of those colleagues lost. I will never forget the sadness. But I also remind myself that we cannot let hate win. We can pull together and let love guide us in recovery and moving forward together.

Take a moment today for silence and remembrance.

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day!

2023 has had a lot of ups and downs. I’ve seen an uptick in violence across the nation and increased division. This is not what discussion and differences of opinion should lead to. We all need to be a little more empathetic and meet in the middle. Compromise is the answer. Love is the answer. Can we please try a little harder to see outside our own perspectives to embrace our fellow man?

Here are a couple book recommendations for this Independence Day:

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (my review)

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood—where greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him.

In Colson Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman’s will to escape the horrors of bondage—and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (my review)

As the Revolutionary War begins, 13-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate, become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

The Turncoat: Renegades of the Revolution by Donna Thorland (my review)

Major Lord Peter Tremayne is the last man rebel bluestocking Kate Grey should fall in love with, but when the handsome British viscount commandeers her home, Kate throws caution to the wind and responds to his seduction. She is on the verge of surrender when a spy in her own household seizes the opportunity to steal the military dispatches Tremayne carries, ensuring his disgrace—and implicating Kate in high treason. Painfully awakened to the risks of war, Kate determines to put duty ahead of desire, and offers General Washington her services as an undercover agent in the City of Brotherly Love.

Months later, having narrowly escaped court martial and hanging, Tremayne returns to decadent, British-occupied Philadelphia with no stomach for his current assignment—to capture the woman he believes betrayed him. Nor does he relish the glittering entertainments being held for General Howe’s idle officers. Worse, the glamorous woman in the midst of this social whirl, the fiancée of his own dissolute cousin, is none other than Kate Grey herself. And so begins their dangerous dance, between passion and patriotism, between certain death and the promise of a brave new future together.

Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys (my review)

A new historical adventure series starring the dashing Jack Absolute that has already been called “the finest historical novels since O’Brian.” (Good Book Guide UK) In 1777 Jack Absolute, the charming lover in Sheridan’s comedy The Rivals, is famous throughout London. However, this notoriety comes as something of a shock to the real Jack Absolute when he arrives in England after four months at sea. But there’s barely time for outrage before he finds himself dueling for his life. Even worse, as soon as he’s won the duel he’s forced to flee London by the quickest means possible, becoming a spy in America’s war of Independence. Thus we meet Jack Absolute – rogue, duellist, charmer and Captain in the Light Dragoons. From the field of honor in London through the pivotal battle of Saratoga to a hunt for a double agent in wintry Philadelphia, this novel marks the impressive debut of this new series.

What books will you be reading?

Gaithersburg Book Festival 2023 Recap

You’ve already seen all of my delightful purchases from the 2023 Gaithersburg Book Festival.

I wanted to take a moment to share some photographs from the Edgar Allan Poe tent full of poets and the High School Poetry Contest awards ceremony.

If you attended the book festival, I’d love to hear about your experience and what books you purchased!

Tonight at DiVerse Gaithersburg 7 p.m.: A Night of Poetry

May 4 at 7 p.m. I’ll be joining Fran Abrams at the Casey Community Center in Gaithersburg, Md., for the DiVerse Gaithersburg poetry reading series.

You can register here. This is an in-person event.

Address of the center: 810 S Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Can’t wait to see everyone! May the 4th Be With You!

Join Me on May 4 at 7 p.m. for DiVerse Gaithersburg @ Casey Community Center

May 4 at 7 p.m. I’ll be joining Fran Abrams at the Casey Community Center in Gaithersburg, Md., for the DiVerse Gaithersburg poetry reading series.

You can register here. This is an in-person event.

Address of the center: 810 S Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Can’t wait to see everyone! May the 4th Be With You!

Poetry Activity: Pop Song Turned Shakespearean Sonnet

When the pandemic started and many of us were in lockdown, I had more time to read articles online and try out new poetry forms. Some of which worked for me, and some that didn’t. But what I loved was seeing the vast amount of creativity out there.

One that I found really interesting, because I love music, is turning your favorite pop song into a Shakespearean sonnet on LitHub. The author of the article points to this book as inspiration:

The Bard meets the Backstreet Boys in Pop Sonnets, a collection of 100 classic pop songs reimagined as Shakespearean sonnets. All of your favorite artists are represented in these pages–from Bon Jovi and Green Day to Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, and beyond. Already a smash sensation on the Internet–the Tumblr page has 50,000+ followers–Pop Sonnets has been featured by the A.V. Club, BuzzFeed, and Vanity Fair, among many others. More than half of these pop sonnets are exclusive to this collection and have never been published in any form.

Inside these pages, there are songs by Taylor Swift, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, and others.

What pop songs would you like to see turned into sonnets? By the same token, what sonnets would you like to see turned into pop songs?

Poetry Play: Creating a Fill-in Poem

When creating poems, I often view it as play. Playing with words, phrases, images, etc. Isn’t this what we do as children? We often make games out of everything, and teachers are great at making learning fun.

Today, let’s create a Fill-in poem. I’ll provide the phrase, and you provide the ending for each line.

Under the stars
under the moon
under the trees
under your arms, I am free.

Here’s a phrase for you to try:

Over ___________
Over ___________
Over ___________
Over ___________

Let’s see what you got!

National Poetry Month 2023

Welcome to National Poetry Month!

I encourage everyone to read poetry this month or take in a reading near you.

Every day, you can get a poem in inbox!

On April 26 at 7 p.m., the Academy of American Poets will host its virtual Poetry & the Creative Mind gala. You can register for free or make a donation.

If you’re a teacher, here are some classroom resources to help your students celebrate poetry.