Meet the Neighbors: Q&A with Shaileen Beyer

Little Patuxent Review reminds all its readers and contributors that we are sponsoring a free poetry contest for Maryland residents with the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The winning poem will be published in Little Patuxent Review, honored at a reading at the Library, and celebrated at Baltimore’s CityLit Festival. Runners-up may also be considered for publication. The deadline is March 1, 2019.

Shaileen Beyer is a librarian and member of the Poetry Programming Work Group, which administers the contest. A native Baltimorean, Shaileen has worked in the Fiction Department at the Central Library since 2005. She has a Ph.D. in English and a master’s degree in library science.

We’re very grateful she’s willing to answer a few questions for us.

Q: What’s the mission of the Enoch Pratt Free Library?

The Pratt’s mission is to “provide equal access to information and services that empower, enrich and enhance the quality of life for all.” As the State Library Resource Center, the Central Library has an additional mission. It “provides cooperative, cost effective, statewide resources and services for Maryland libraries and their customers.”

The Poetry Contest realizes both missions: it creates free opportunity for Maryland artists and shines a bright light on poetry, which brings out the best in us all.

Q: What’s the history of this contest?

The Poetry Contest was the idea of my colleague Lisa Greenhouse in 2011. We were brainstorming ways to make poetry more visible, and she said, “We should have a contest and put the winning poem in the window!” (The Central Library has enormous show windows.) LPR came on board to judge the entries and publish the winner—a collaboration that we’ve repeated now for six of the contest’s eight years, turning to Poet Lore for the other two. The CityLit Festival organizers have helped every year by making room in their schedule for the winner. The Pratt has such good neighbors.

Q: What resources for writers do you have at the library?

Writing begins in reading, as poet Charles Wright reminds us when he quotes poet Theodore Roethke: “You want to be a writer? There’s the library.” At the Pratt we have terrific retrospective and contemporary collections in all imaginable genres. Looking for oodles of plays? Publishing tips or writing prompts? The poetry scene’s newest arrivals? Stop by the Central Library, or visit our online catalog to find e-books or request transfers of print books to any Pratt branch.

We also feature wonderful free programming for would-be authors. Poetry & Conversation and Writers LIVE! readings—often preserved on podcasts—inspire listeners with magical passages. Writing workshops led by esteemed teachers such as Clarinda Harriss cultivate skill and confidence. And gatherings like the Central Library’s Writers’ Roundtable allow people to share what they have made.

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Enoch Pratt + LPR = a winning contest

When Shaileen Beyer of the Enoch Pratt Free Library contacted Little Patuxent Review to inquire if we’d be interested in partnering on a statewide poetry contest for a fourth year, we jumped at the opportunity.

By the time the contest concluded on March 1, 300 entries from 93 cities and towns, representing 22 counties plus Baltimore City, were submitted in the blind contest. Little Patuxent Review editor Steven Leyva and LPR poetry editor Evan Lasavoy judged the poems. Although they chose three finalists, all of whom appeared in our Summer 2016 issue, “Charlotte Darling” by Saundra Rose Maley was the winning poem.

Enoch Pratt-LPR contest

Contest winner Saundra Rose Maley has had poems in Dryad, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Full Moon on K Street: Poems about Washington D.C., and D.C. Perspectives. Her first book of poems, Disappearing Act, was published in 2015, by Dryad Press. She co-edited A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright with Anne Wright and is currently working again with Anne on a book about Wright and translation, tentatively titled Where the Treasure Lies. She also published Solitary Apprenticeship: James Wright and German Poetry. She teaches Composition and Research at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Join poets Le Hinton and Laura Shovan on Wednesday, July 20, from 6:30-8 pm at the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library as they read in the company of the 2016 Pratt Library Poetry Contest winner and finalists—Saundra Rose Maley, Maggie Rosen, and Sheri Allen. The host is Steven Leyva, editor of Little Patuxent Review, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

Attention, Poets.

shutterstock_121715392St. Valentine’s Day has come. And gone. St. Patrick’s Day is still a month away. In between, lay an opportunity ripe for the plucking. Rather than divulge outright what is afoot, let me offer for your edification a little quiz. Sharpen your yellow No. 2 pencil and your wit. Cheating will not be tolerated. (Don’t worry this multiple choice test won’t burn too many brain cells.)

  1. Are you 18 or older?
  2. Are you a Maryland resident?
  3. Are you a poet?
  4. Do you have an unpublished poem not exceeding 100 lines (this includes in print, on the Web, Twitter, or Facebook)?
  5. Do you have an unpublished poem (not exceeding 100 lines) which is not currently under review for possible publication?
  6. Are you or any member of your immediate family a paid or volunteer staff member of the Enoch Pratt Free Library or the Little Patuxent Review?
  7. Have you ever won first place in a previous Pratt Library Poetry Contest?

You may put down your pencil.

If you responded “Yes” to questions 1-5 and “No” to questions 6-7, you really must consider submitting a FREE entry to the Enoch Pratt Free Library Poetry Contest. Why? (Other than you have nothing to lose.) The winning poem will be published in Little Patuxent Review, enlarged for display in a Central Library show window, and honored at a public reading at the Central Library. Runners-up may be considered for publication in LPR.

Would you like examples? Check out 2015’s winning poem by Inga Lea Schmidt and 2014’s by Joseph Ross.

What are you waiting for? Submissions are due by March 1, 2016. Rules and submission guidelines can be found on the contest page www.prattlibrary.org/poetrycontest.

To learn more about how the collaboration between LPR and the Enoch Pratt began, read “Meet the Neighbors: Enoch Pratt Free Library.”  A reminder that the submissions period for the summer issue closes on March 1, 2016.

Enoch Pratt + LPR = “Sole” mates

When Shaileen Beyer of the Enoch Pratt Free Library contacted Little Patuxent Review to inquire if we’d be interested in partnering for a third year on a statewide poetry contest, we agreed without hesitation.

Inga Lea Schmidt (Photo by: Shannon Finnell).

Inga Lea Schmidt (Photo by: Shannon Finnell).

By the time the contest concluded on March 1, nearly 250 entries from 93 cities and towns, representing 17 counties plus Baltimore City, were submitted in the blind contest. Little Patuxent Review editor Steven Leyva, LPR poetry editor Laura Shovan and LPR poetry readers Evan Lasavoy and Patricia VanAmberg judged the poems. Although they chose three finalists, all of whom will appear in our Summer 2015 issue, “Sole” by Inga Lea Schmidt was the winning poem.

I asked the judges what made this poem a stand out. Patricia, who is also an English professor at Howard Community College, said:

Playful wording of the poem “Sole” appeals in many ways: The first of these is vivid and specific imagery—all the way from a fish that “looks like a tongue”—to the solitary cup of coffee. Consistent themes of loneliness/flatness ensure that the diverse meanings of the word “sole” bond coherently. Sound devices like the judicious alliteration of S (solitary—seven—seconds) enhance the flow. Finally, the poem is well crafted with effective line breaks and transition.

Evan added:

“Sole” is a clever poem that doesn’t get caught up in its own cleverness, doesn’t get smug about it. While it’s structured like a dictionary definition, it reads like a plain spoken explanation. This allows the poet room to explore beyond the strict meaning of the word, to wander off on tangents right from the beginning that open the poem up and give it room to reach out beyond itself. It was the simple, yet compelling, voice of “Sole” that first struck me; its movement and nuance won me.

Inga shared her own thoughts about “Sole.”

I love when poems veer off course. With the first few lines you have a pretty good idea of where the whole thing is headed, you know exactly what you’re looking at, and then it happens: a turn. It can be subtle at first, but soon the poem is turning and twisting away from you and before you know it, you are so far from where you started.

This is the effect I wanted to achieve with “Sole,” which was inspired by Phillis Levin’s beautiful “Part,” another poem that breaks down the definition of a word. I began with the structure of a dictionary entry, straightforward and dry, then gradually introduced bits of myself and what the word “sole” means to me personally. I liked the idea of something so clinical — a dictionary definition — becoming something revealing and human. The flatfish turns to feet, turns to solitaire, turns to intimate feelings of isolation and unsettlement. I hope when readers finish the poem, they feel they are far from where they started.

“Sole” can be seen on display in Enoch Pratt Free Library’s front windows starting next week. On Saturday, May 2 during the CityLit Festival, please join us at the Little Patuxent Review session in the Poe Room (11 to 11:45 am) where Inga will read “Sole.” In addition LPR editors Ann Bracken and Steven Leyva will joined by contest finalists James Carroll (“Nick’s Diner”) and Micia White (“Rest Stop”).

Enoch Pratt Free Library Poetry Contest Winner:

SOLE

By Inga Lea Schmidt

Sole: a flatfish,

small fins, small eyes,

small mouth, it looks

like a tongue. Also

a shoe’s solid base or

the undersurface of a foot,

a calloused pillar where

the weight of a person

is carried, where the one hundred

and forty eight pounds of

blood and bone and brain

and too much thought and fear

rest. An adjective:

having no companion: solitary.

A card game I can win

in two minutes and

seven seconds. From the French

seul, meaning only, as in,

being the only one, as in,

am I the only one? Sole:

having no sharer. Sharing

with no one. Use it in

a sentence: I make a sole cup

of coffee, sit at the window,

and wait.

Online Editor’s Note: Inga Lea Schmidt is a poet and fiction writer living in Baltimore. Her work has appeared in Off the Coast, Puerto del Sol, and Best Indie Lit of New England, and, in 2013, she received the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ Intro Journals Project Award. When she isn’t writing, Inga works as a mediator resolving conflicts in Baltimore prisons. In the fall, she will begin an MFA program in Creative Writing at Hollins University.

To learn more about how the collaboration between LPR and the Enoch Pratt began read “Meet the Neighbors: Enoch Pratt Free Library.” 

I Resolve…

red resolutions

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin

shutterstock_111393362The new year stretches before each of us like a blank page or newly stretched canvas. What will you do with your year ahead to push yourself to blossom and create? I’ll be honest: I prefer making goals rather than resolutions. Goals can be achieved and measured. There’s accountability, if only to myself. Because written goals are more likely to be accomplished, I’ll share a few of mine with you. As 2014 fades into memory, pull out your own pen, rip out a clean sheet of paper, and jot down your own goals. A year from now, what do you resolve to have completed?

Write More. Commit to getting words on the page. As Neil Gaiman said, “Embrace your fear of failure. Make peace with the impostor syndrome that comes with success. Don’t be afraid of being wrong.”

  • Join other writers at The Writer’s Center.
  • Attend a writing retreat someplace like The Porches.
  • Consider personal goals and do a weekly check-in with an accountability buddy.

Submit. A key to publication is submissionLittle Patuxent Review‘s deadline for our summer edition is March 1. Focusing on a submission goal and setting deadlines for myself works for me. How about you?

shutterstock_116035345Read Less. This may sound counterproductive, but I want to select books which inspire me to become a better writer. These novels or short stories are the kind I’ll want to savor, possibly analyze, and discuss.

Attend Readings. Hearing authors read from their novels, and learning about their process helps me feel part of a tribe. Listening lifts me up when I’m in the throes of darkness, hearing that gremlin who resides under my bed, whispering, “You think you’re a writer?”

  • January  15: J.M Tyree and Elizabeth Kadetsky , two authors selected as Vogue’s “best under-the-radar reads” share their most recent work, at The Ivy Bookshop, 7 p.m., FREE.
  • January 24: Little Patuxent Review Winter 2015 Launch Reading, 2-4 p.m., FREE
  • February 7: An Irish Evening with Emma Donoghue at the Smith Theatre, 7:30 p.m., Tickets required
  • March 3: Michael Salcman,”The Enemy of Good is Better” at The Ivy Bookshop, 7 p.m., FREE

View more Art. I’m a big fan of the artist date, where I step away from my own work to view others’ art. This act of appreciation fills me with gratitude and inspires me to work longer and harder at my own craft. What methods to you use to refill your own artistic well?

From all of us at Little Patuxent Review, thank you for a wonderful 2014.

Happy New Year.

Meet the Neighbors: The Ivy Bookshop

A journal such as ours requires a vibrant literary and artistic environment to thrive—and even survive. In appreciation of the various cultural entities around us, we present “Meet the Neighbors,” a series where we provide you with personal introductions to a diverse assortment.

Rebecca Oppenheimer

Rebecca Oppenheimer

Little compares to a well-tended bookshop. Whether traveling alone or with friends, it seems that in every city I explore, I explore my way into a bookshop. Today Rebecca Oppenheimer offers you a peek into The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore. Rebecca maintains The Ivy Bookshop’s blog, keeping visitors up to date about news in and beyond the literary world of the shop. Here’s what she had to say about the place:

Founded in 2001 as a more intimate alternative to the big chain stores, The Ivy Bookshop has grown from a beloved neighborhood fixture to a major presence across the Baltimore metropolis and beyond.

Our mission as Baltimore’s literary independent bookstore is to serve as a bridge between writers and readers – on a large scale by hosting and participating in author events and other literary happenings, and on a smaller scale every day by offering our customers the best literature of all types and genres.

The Ivy Bookshop’s storefront located at 6080 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD.

We host over 100 in-store author events a year. Our recent events have included readings by Man Booker Prize winner James Kelman, Momastery blogger Glennon Doyle Melton, Edgar Award winner Paul French and national security expert David Sanger. Earlier this year, we launched two popular event series: Crimes and Misdemeanors, which focuses on the best in mystery, suspense and true crime, and Front Table, which spotlights authors of outstanding literary fiction and memoir. We also host many writers who hail from closer to home – from debut authors just building an audience to national figures like Laura Lippman, Jessica Anya Blau and Marion Winik. We’ve held panels and discussions on topics ranging from Jane Austen to the Preakness.

The Ivy is also a presence in the greater Baltimore literary community. Through partnerships with the Baltimore Speakers Series, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University and other pivotal institutions, we are connecting all the time with new readers. We look forward to our annual appearance at the Baltimore Book Festival, where we get to introduce ourselves to a huge pool of book lovers.

So yes – we enjoy getting out and about! But an equally vital part of who we are is what goes on our shelves. The Ivy is a store run by book people for book people. Every member of our staff – both front and back office – loves to read and feels strongly about getting the best books possible onto The Ivy’s shelves. Will you find the latest bestsellers here? Absolutely! But you can also venture off the beaten path by delving a little deeper into our inventory.

Each of our sections includes classics and current popular titles – but also books you might not have heard of before seeing them on our shelves. We have titles from university presses, small presses and boutique imprints of larger publishing houses. These books are here not because they have a massive marketing budget behind them, but because we’re intrigued by them and think you will be, too.

We are delighted to count Little Patuxent Review among our partners. LPR shares The Ivy’s commitment to a thriving local literary scene, and to providing space for extraordinary voices, both established and new.

Rebecca mentioned the plethora of events that The Ivy hosts, and it’s absolutely true. Their calendar is flush with happenings  through November! What she didn’t mention is that another way The Ivy Bookshop is working hard to connect readers and literature is their book club registry, which also well-worth checking out.

Of course, Rebecca’s words and your imagination can only take you so far. What you really must do now is navigate your way to 6080 Falls Road and begin to map out the yet uncharted regions of The Ivy Bookshop.