Tag: literature

Thank God We Are Always Surprised



Fiction writer Michael Downs recently received the largest Individual Artist Award given by the Maryland State Arts Council. In this frank yet philosophical talk, he ponders the role of art in a world rampant with violence and tragedy.

What follows is adapted from remarks made at the Maryland State Arts Council’s reception for winners of 2013 Individual Artist Awards. This year, the state government supported 87 Maryland artists, writers, and performers. The reception was held May 20 at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

Moments before, they had been running: Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour laced in tight knots across their unhappy feet, feet which had complained at Mile 11 or 18 or 22, but hurt no longer because this was the finish and nothing hurt anymore, not their crunchy ankles or their sore knees or that sharp cramp felt near the heart just a few strides ago. Those quicker runners who had already arrived ate bananas and smiled for cell-phone cameras, hands upraised and fingers making a V for victory, not for peace, not really, though peace is a thing much wished for, a thing on which so much depends.

Event of the Day: “Call Me Zelda” Author at The Ivy Bookshop



From the Baltimore Fishbowl events page…

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

7:00pm – 8:30pm | FREE!
The Ivy Bookshop
6080 Falls Road
Stevenson University graduate Erika Robuck discusses and signs Call Me Zelda, a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald’s struggles to differentiate herself from her famous husband, and Anna Howard, a nurse who grows entangled in the couple’s tumultuous relationship.About the Author

From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity. When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard. Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius. but in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended.

World Book Night Baltimore: “Books Can Only Make People Better”

Jamie Watson reads Jon Green -- all photos by Howard Yang.
Jamie Watson reads Jon Green — photos by Howard Yang.

On Wednesday evening, five Baltimore book lovers shared excerpts from works they’ve adored for some time, novels and nonfiction that landed on the World Book Night reading list for 2013. Afterward, volunteers with Moveable Feast were all set to deliver boxes of great paperbacks to less fortunate Baltimoreans in need of a great read.

Stephanie Barber Creates Poetry from YouTube Comments with ‘Night Moves’



If it is the job of the poet, as Emerson says it is, to “[re-attach] things to nature and the Whole” — to assimilate the ugly and novel into the “great Order” of poetry — then Baltimore polymath Stephanie Barber‘s forthcoming Night Moves (Publishing Genius), a compilation of hundreds of YouTube comments left on a video for the classic pop song, is a very necessary book of poetry.

Pigtown Design: Armistead Maupin Pens “The Virtues of Baltimore” to Settle Bet with Laura Lippman


When it was determined that San Francisco and Baltimore would be playing each other in the Super Bowl, all sorts of bets were made between our two mayors, senators, congress-people and others. Amongst those who bet were novelists Armistead Maupin and Laura Lippman, who agreed to pen an ode to the other’s city upon losing the game.image

Herewith is the poem that Armistead Maupin wrote.

The Virtues of Baltimore (After Pondering Weak and Weary)

By Armistead Maupin

Who makes Baltimore so fine?

The Duchess of Windsor or Divine?image

Manil Suri Reads from His Latest Novel at The Ivy


suri city devi

Manil Suri comes to The Ivy Bookshop Thursday, February 7 at 7 p.m. to read from the last novel in his acclaimed trilogy that began with The Death of Vishnu and The Age of Shiva.

Letter to America (from Mouth-Breathing Idiot)

image courtesy of The Rumpus

Goucher prof Kathy Flann describes what it’s like — for her and her “family” of local writer friends — to be wrapped up in the dream of writing the Great American Novel in the age of Kindle, Twitter, and Twilight.

In the past year, my writerly self-loathing has reached new lows. Or should that be highs? If I weren’t such a total mouth-breathing idiot, I’d know.

My agent has been trying to sell my first novel. These efforts yield a steady stream of rejections to my inbox. Editors have explained their decisions in a variety of ways. The plot/setting/character (circle one) is fascinating, but the plot/setting/character (circle one) isn’t quite believable.

Annoy Your Friends with Talk of Your Novel-in-Progress for the Entire Month of November!


November is National Novel Writing Month — NaNoWriMo for short. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel from scratch from starting November 1 and ending before midnight on November 30. That averages to more than 1,600 words each day. Sound like a recipe for a story that gets unreadable near the end? Well, it probably is. From NaNoWriMo’s Facebook page: “Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap.”

Baltimore Poet Chris Toll Earns Tearful, Funny Memorial Service


I’ve been to my share of funerals, but last night’s tearful and comic (but mostly tearful) tribute to visionary poet and collage artist Chris Toll at Ruck Funeral Home in Towson — on what would have been his 65th birthday — holds a few distinctions. First, the whole service was coordinated and emceed by Chris’s sons — a heart-wrenching, emotionally exhausting task, no doubt. Second, the place was packed. There had to have been something like 200 people there, with some standing in the back. Third, there was frequent clapping.

The Baltimore Lit Parade for September: “Big Ray,” & Bold New Poetry


We’re pleased to present writer Joseph Martin’s new Ivy Bookshop-sponsored column for the Baltimore Fishbowl, “The Lit Parade,” a celebration and thoughtful examination of the epic local lit scene that too often goes unreported, unread.

“For my dead dad” reads the dedication to local novelist Michael Kimball’s excellent new book, Big Ray (Bloomsbury) – a heavy, final-sounding thud of a phrase if there ever was one.  And why not?  After four novels stuffed with death, familial friction, and an almost scientific interest in the protocol for (and detritus of) relationships, Big Ray feels like the end product of a long, difficult birthing process, a merger between the post-suicide bricolage of 2008’s Dear Everybody (Alma Books) and the slow, procedural mortality of 2011’s Us (Tyrant Books).  Like those books, Ray presents a precise catalog of mourning; skipping their likeable victims, however, the novel instead turns its fictive eye on an unsympathetic corpse – an abusive, selfish father – allowing Kimball to write with a previously untapped range of emotion and intimacy.