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Two poets will share their unique words and power at Howard County events

When Maryland Poet Laureate Grace Cavalieri asked Teresa Girod what she hoped to experience at the Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center Arts Event on Saturday, Girod replied she wanted “participants to experience artistry.”

Cavalieri replied with a request of her own.

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“She asked our community to bring paper and pencils,” Girod said, laughing. “She also requested that people be able to see her.”

It has been three years since the riding center has hosted an arts event, and organizers are thrilled that Cavalieri will be part of it.

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“We are very excited to have her sharing poetry with us,” said Girod, chairperson of the event and an ambassador for the riding center. “She is just one of the coolest ladies.”

An author of 16 books and chaplets of poetry, Cavalieri was appointed Maryland Poet Laureate in 2019 and lives in Annapolis.

“I ordered about five of her books and read through parts of each,” Girod said. “There was not one I didn’t enjoy. Her speech ... is so powerful.”

The in-person event will feature wine and dessert tastings as well as an art gallery and silent auction. Cavalieri will be featured via Zoom on a big screen followed by a live music performance by Afro-Cuban percussionist Orlando Cotto.

Girod admitted that the decision to host an art show and auction again after three years, especially with the coronavirus pandemic going on, was not an easy one. The center, however, already follows strict guidelines to ensure the safety of its riders — individuals with either physical, mental or emotional disabilities — and needed only minimal changes to meet COVID-19 requirements.

“We opened the school up again about two months ago,” Girod said. “We have a lot of acreage for people to move around.”

For the event, masks must be worn and people are asked to keep social distancing in mind. Hand washing will be encouraged.

The art auction will feature works by Maryland artists including paintings, jewelry, wood turning, glass blowing, sewing, crochet and needlework.

“We have 20 different artists participating,” Girod said. “We received a lot of advice from Howard County Arts Council and Maryland Arts Council.”

The Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center Arts Show and Auction will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, in the Bank Barn, 3750 Shady Lane, Glenwood. Contact Girod for more information at mtagirod@gmail.com.

Poet Joseph Ross to read selections from his new book, ‘Raising King’

Howard County Poetry Literature Society, most commonly known as HoCoPoLitSo, began plans last year — before George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May — to feature Joseph Ross at this year’s Lucille Clifton Reading Series on Oct. 2.

Ross released his fourth book of poetry, “Raising King,” on Tuesday, and members were excited to feature him reading his new poems in person for the first time. His work features his own words along with those of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

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Howard County Poetry Literature Society will feature Joseph Ross at this year’s Lucille Clifton Reading Series on Oct. 2
Howard County Poetry Literature Society will feature Joseph Ross at this year’s Lucille Clifton Reading Series on Oct. 2 (HANDOUT)

“This poetry collection is not just timely, but it is vital,” said Susan Thornton Hobby, a HoCoPoLitSo board member. “King’s words, the way it echoes now, is heartbreaking and powerful. It makes you think again that history repeats itself.”

Ross considered writing a book of poems about King for some time, he said in an email, with the idea taking hold in 2012 when he finished two years of teaching a class at American University based on King’s life and work.

“I deeply believe that if more people knew Dr. King’s life and work, our world would be more just and more peaceful,” Ross wrote. “Simple as that. We need his insights, his critical assessment of our culture.”

The society has been hosting the Lucille Clifton Reading Series since 2012 in memory of Clifton, poet laureate of Maryland from 1979 to 1985 and a longtime supporter/friend of the society, who died in 2010.

“We try to pick writers with the same spirit of humanity that she carried in all of her poetry,” Hobby said. “She used to say, ‘Poetry is not about how smart you are, it is about how human you are.’”

An author of four books of poetry, Ross is a former HoCoPoLitSo writer-in-resident and is currently a high school teacher in Washington, D.C.

“Lucille Clifton, whose memory the reading celebrates, wrote about race in her own rich and powerful ways, too,” Ross wrote. “I am grateful to read in her memory this year. Great thanks to the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society for keeping her name alive!”

Ross will be introduced by E. Ethelbert Miller, a literary activist, poet and friend of Ross.

“Miller has known Joe a long time,” Hobby said. “It will be a very sweet moment.”

Due to the pandemic, the free event will be entirely virtual.

“We did try to figure out how to do a hybrid version of streaming online and in person,” Hobby said. “It is sad to not be able to gather in one room. It does make for a powerful experience, but the virus could be with us, too. We believe safety is important.”

The Lucille Clifton Reading Series “Why We Can’t Wait: Poetry of History and Justice” will be offered on Zoom and streamed on Facebook beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2. To register, go to ci.ovationtix.com/32275/production.

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