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Maryland's poet laureate to visit The Flying Camel

Maryland's poet laureate to visit The Flying Camel

Maryland’s Poet Laureate Grace Cavalieri will visit The Flying Camel in Hagerstown to teach poetry writing and self-awakening.

Cavalieri will give a live reading on Saturday, July 13, at 5 p.m., and offer a free poetry workshop on Sunday, July 14, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be held at the literary café and piano bar located at 28 S. Potomac St., Level B (side entrance) in Hagerstown.

“We are trying not to charge for events because we don’t want anyone to be priced out of them, and because we want to be the kind of place people can walk in and discover new things,” said Julie Castillo, owner of The Flying Camel Literary Café and Jazz Bar.

Cavalieri, of Annapolis, is the author of 21 books and chapbooks of poetry. When asked, what is it about poetry that she chose to make it such a large part of her life, Cavalieri said she believes poets are born wired a certain way.

“All those I know were summoned very early onto words, and the way words sounded and looked and played with each other. Maybe we saw that language was the only way to understand the world. And poetry was like the joy and essence of that. The heart of language,” she said.

This past November, Gov. Larry Hogan appointed Cavalieri Maryland’s 10th poet laureate.

“It’s just a better platform for what I already do in life. Poets laureate can make their own agenda. The only requirement is, at some time in the tenure, to visit all 24 counties in Maryland.”

She said she’ll be conducting a poetry workshop for teens in each county.

“That’s the age when insight and self-discovery can be expressed, and even helped by writing,” she added.

For 42 years, she produced and hosted “The Poet and the Poem,” a weekly radio show that aired the first 20 years on WPFW-FM. She now presents this series to public radio from the Library of Congress through NPR satellite and Pacifica Radio.

“I’ve also had a career in radio so there will be a Maryland State Arts Council website where I can hang new podcasts of Maryland’s poets. I already in my archives have broadcast approximately 85, so they’ll be added to the site from the archive. I may get podcasts from the teen workshops if all goes well,” Cavalieri said.

She also founded two poetry presses in Washington, D.C., and is a poetry columnist for “The Washington Independent Review of Books.” Her papers are in George Washington University’s Gelman Library special collections and she has received numerous awards for her work.

In addition to her poetry, Cavalieri has also written texts and lyrics performed for opera, television and film, and she has had 26 plays produced on American stages.

Cavalieri teaches poetry workshops throughout the country at numerous colleges.

“I love to wake people up to themselves,” she said.

This will be her second workshop she has offered in Hagerstown. The first was hosted and presented by the youth division of the Hagerstown (Main) Washington County Free Library for teens held this past April.

Castillo said that since The Flying Camel is a literary cafe, they attract many writers and poets as clientele and presenters. After having a great turnout for readings by poets Sierra DeMulder, Edward Zahniser and others, she said they realized that there’s an “enthusiastic poetry community” in Hagerstown. They started a weekly drop-in poetry workshop, “Poets on the Patio,” which now meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m.

“Several of the poets had requested that we invite Grace Cavalieri to do an event here. Cam Millar, a jazz professor and musician who plays at the Camel twice a month, knows her and offered to reach out to her on our behalf,” Castillo said.

Millar will be providing music for Cavalieri’s Saturday performance that evening from 7 to 10 p.m.

Sunday’s workshop is open to the public and designed for all ages. Castillo said the cafe can hold up to 100 people, and can seat up to 65. She said advanced registration is not required, but is requested, especially for the workshop.

“We always get quiet together and that makes a safe space. No outsiders may observe us at work. It’s for participants only. I share a personal story and give a prompt that leads into the interior of their own lives … and we respond to that. We write margin to margin first. No one makes a relic instantly,” Cavalieri said.

Participants should bring paper and pens, and/or digital writing equipment with them.

“Bring an open mind. Leave the censor home, the critic home, the judge home,” Cavalieri said.

Ann Culey, of Hagerstown, said she is planning on attending Cavalieri’s workshop. She said she remembers writing a poem about her grandfather’s hands in fourth grade and she is inspired to write multiple times a day.

“I don’t remember there being a time when I didn’t write poetry and prose,” Culey said.

Culey, who is the leader of “Poets on the Patio,” has even had some of her work published in “The Tuscarora Review,” the arts and literary magazine at Frederick Community College, as well as other non-profit newsletters over the years.

She said she is familiar with the poet laureate’s work and likes that Cavalieri has a mixed background of poetry, plays and work in the arts.

“I too have written and produced plays but never at the level she has. I am curious to know how she suggests we go about all the things she did — such as submitting one poem at a time to various magazines and how she got her books of poetry published. ... and I hope to learn all I can to then be better leading the group,” Culey said.

Culey said she is most excited to learn how Cavalieri writes, thinks and publishes.

Following the workshop on Sunday, the cafe will feature live jazz with Michael DeLalla from 3 to 6 p.m.

Attendees can make a reservation for the workshop and other events by calling 240-513-6347.

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