Last month, we looked at new and forthcoming books from four alums of the University of Baltimore MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts. This month, we’re sampling work from two alumni-founded publishing houses, Mason Jar Press and Ink Press.
A couple of years ago, my colleagues and I at the University of Baltimore Creative Writing MFA program watched with pride as D Watkins published The Cook Up and The Beast Side, a memoir and a collection of essays from two major publishing houses, and quickly became recognized as a major voice of his generation of African-American writers. D had just graduated from our relatively young program, and his level of success was a first for us.
As soon as I heard about Hurricane Harvey, I started worrying about the animals. The ones tied up in backyards, the ones waiting on roofs, the ones peering out attic windows. I hoped it would go better for them than it did in 2005 when according to the Louisiana SPCA, tens of thousands of pets died.
For Vince’s 27th birthday, his longtime girlfriend Shannon decided to throw a surprise party. Shannon is a gorgeous blonde and a smart cookie too, but her real superpower is worrying. She can worry ordinary people under the table. As you might imagine, planning a surprise party gave her some material. Whom to invite, and how many, and is this everyone? Can they all keep a secret? Might Vince find out some other way? Let’s say it comes off — does he even want a surprise party? Vince can be a crank. As one of his friends recently pointed out, Shannon is “the only person Vince is actually nice to.” Where to have it, what to serve, how much is all this going to cost?
A couple of months ago, as we were stuffing our blocks into the cubbies after a yoga class, a woman I saw frequently but knew only as “the short one with the beautiful blond hair” introduced herself. Alex Hewett is one of the producers of the Baltimore/DC chapter of Mortified, a show where adults present diaries, letters and other archival materials from their childhoods. She wondered if maybe I, or some of my students, would be interested in performing.
Here’s a preview … don’t miss the launch on June 22, 7 pm, at Bird in Hand.
According to the bio on the back of his fifth book, Lonesome Lies Before Us, Don Lee “splits his time between Philadelphia and Baltimore.” I laughed when I read this. Don’t most two-city authors split their time between San Francisco and Paris? Or New York and Rome?
Big news: My son got married last week, and now I have a daughter-in-law. I have lucked out in this department. Maria is a formidable person with beauty, brains and a lovely family hailing from the country of Ecuador. I often describe her as “the younger, prettier Penelope Cruz.” She is bilingual, she is doing her residency in orthodontics at Harvard, she is sweet and has a lot of really cute dresses. In general, she is a pretty upscale specimen of the human race.
I’m sitting here trying to recover from reading Madison Smartt Bell’s new novel, which is quite unlike most anything else (except previous books by MSB – I’d recognize the ferocity of the prose style anywhere). I’m a little shaken, I’m spent, and I truly feel like I have been Somewhere Else.