Playwright/Novelist Jake Shore, Poet Tim Seibles Set to Share Their Work
College of Southern Maryland Professor Neal Dwyer believes literature is powerful. It can “inspire, inform and spark conversation,” he said. It makes an impact.
With this aim in mind, Dwyer, who coordinates CSM’s Connections Literary Series, has scheduled readings by established and emerging writers this fall to give CSM students and the community a particularly intimate way to experience the power of the written word.
This fall, the series will showcase playwright and novelist Jake Shore on Oct. 13 at the Leonardtown Campus and Tim Seibles, Poet Laureate of Virginia, on Nov. 10 at the Prince Frederick Campus. The writers will read from their work and talk about themes that inspire them and the writing process. The community is invited.
“The series gives Southern Maryland audiences a chance to engage with important issues of the day through the works of some of our country’s most dynamic writers,” Dwyer said. “It brings people together to share stories. Through sharing stories we build community. This series uses poems and stories and plays to start conversations.”
After a Connections reading by a poet last year, a student approached Dwyer. The student was an Iraq War veteran and had faced some beyond-normal challenges. The veteran told Dwyer that the poetry had saved him.
“You can’t get much better than that,” Dwyer said. “When Southern Maryland audiences get a chance to interact with our visiting writers, lights go on. This never gets old.”
A third presentation in the fall’s Connections events will feature Southern Maryland writers reading poems and stories selected for publication in the college’s “Connections” literary magazine, a regional literary journal published twice a year that features poems, stories, artwork and photography of Southern Maryland residents as well as featured material from visiting writers. The community is invited to attend this free reading and to submit materials for consideration. Deadline for submissions is October 24.
Both Shore and Seibles were selected for the Connections Literary Series with the Southern Maryland audience in mind, Dwyer said.
“These authors’ works will engage. The words and character of each writer will remind people that writers are not all long-dead white men, that literature is not some lofty subject, boring, out of reach. Their work is a reminder of the beautiful language we share, what can be done with it and how stories and poems can serve as discussion-starters on issues like race, history, cycles of violence, the natural world, building community, transforming conflict through creativity, inspiration and personal growth.”
Dwyer said he looks forward to the Connections Literary Series’ impact on participants, he said.
“We need poems and stories now more than ever,” Dwyer said. “We cannot afford to lose faith in the healing power of literature, poems and stories break down barriers between people because they remind us of our shared humanity. Our country is extremely divided. We need less division, more connections — our series encourages more connections.”
Shore is an award-winning, up-and-coming playwright and novelist who was selected for the Connections Literary Series because of his passionate belief in the power of art, Dwyer said.
“Shore will read excerpts from his plays, discuss how to tell a story through dialogue, how to create resonant characters,” Dwyer said. “We chose him in part because he said, ‘Theater operating on the highest level is so immediate and powerful that the audience leaves and integrates elements of the play into their lexicon of what it means to be alive.’”
Shore teaches courses in creative writing and literature at Wagner College. His short stories have appeared in Litro, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Pitkin Review, Calico Tiger and Fiction365. He ghostwrote “The 87 Rules for College” for New Chapter Press. Shore’s play “Down the Mountain and Across the Stream” won the New York International Fringe Festival’s Overall Excellence in Playwriting Award in 2013. Shore also wrote and directed “Sick City Blues,” which premiered at The Connelly Theater as part of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.
Joseph Verlezza of Theatre Reviews Limited praised “Sick City Blues,” saying “The plot is clever and complicated … a novelty that rarely exists in today’s bombastic theatre world … It is interesting, intriguing, involved and … appears to be real.” Shore received his MFA in creative writing from Goddard College
Last summer Shore released a play and a novel. Playbill’s news headline states “Off-Broadway’s Holy Moly Uniquely Connected to Real-Life Novel.” Broadwayworld says “The debut and simultaneous release of ‘Holy Moly’ and ‘A Country for Fibbing,’ an innovative multi-media experience, marks the first time a play with a correlating novel have been simultaneously released in the United States.”
Shore’s Connections reading is sponsored in part by the St. Mary’s County Arts Council.
“Seibles is one of our country’s most important African American poets,” Dwyer said. “We feel his voice must be heard in these days of political, social and cultural unrest. His poems will help bring us together.”
Seibles was born and raised in Philadelphia. He approaches themes of racial tension, class conflict and intimacy from several directions at once in poems with plainspoken yet fast-turning language. In a 2010 statement he shared in “From the Fishouse,” Seibles states, “I think poetry, if it’s going to be really engaging and engaged, has to be able to come at the issues of our lives from all kinds of angles and all kinds of ways: loudly and quietly, angrily and soothingly, with comedy and with dead seriousness. […] Our lives are worth every risk, every manner of approach.”
Seibles is the author of several collections of poetry, including “Body Moves” (1988), “Hurdy-Gurdy” (1992), “Hammerlock” (1999), “Buffalo Head Solos” (2004), “Fast Animal” (2012), which won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize and was nominated for a 2012 National Book Award, and “One Turn Around the Sun” (2016). His work has also been featured in the anthologies “In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African American Poetry” (1994, edited by E. Ethelbert Miller and Terrance Cummings), “Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry” (2009, edited by Camille Dungy), and “Best American Poetry” (2010, edited by Amy Gerstler).
Seibles’ honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, as well as an Open Voice Award from the National Writers Voice Project. In 2013 he received the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for poetry.
Seibles teaches at Old Dominion University. This program is sponsored in part by the Arts Council of Calvert County.
The Connections Literary Series is sponsored by the CSM Languages and Literature Department. Since 1990, the Connections program has featured writers such as National Book Award winners Tim O’Brien and Robert Stone, Pulitzer Prize winning poets Yusef Komunyakaa and Henry Taylor and Maryland Poet Laureates Lucille Clifton and Michael Glaser.
The literary series will continue in the spring and will include visits to CSM by poets Fleda Brown on March 2 and Nickole Brown on April 6.
Tickets for the Shore and Seibles readings are $3 in advance at the CSM box office, $5 at the door and $3 with a CSM Student ID. For tickets, contact Connections@csmd.edu.
For information on Connections, study guides and author links, visit www.csmd.edu/connections. Featured books are available at any CSM College Store or online at www.csmd.edu/CollegeStore. Audio files of previous readings are available on the CSMDTube YouTube site.
CSM Connections Literary Series: Jake Shore. 7:30 p.m., Oct. 13. College of Southern Maryland, Leonardtown Campus Auditorium, 22950 Hollywood Road. Jake Shore, novelist/playwright, will read from his work. The event is sponsored in part by the St. Mary’s County Arts Council. $3 in advance, $5 at the event, $3 with CSM Student ID. Connections@csmd.edu, 301-934-7864, http://www.csmd.edu/community/connections-literary-series/connections-readings/.
CSM Fall Connections Magazine Submission Deadline. Oct. 24. College of Southern Maryland, all campuses. Authors, poets, photographers and artists are encouraged to submit their works for publication in the CSM Fall Connections Magazine. Reception and reading of published works is 7:30 p.m., Dec. 1. Free. For submission instructions, visit www.csmd.edu/connections/ or contact Connections@csmd.edu, 301-934-7864.
CSM Connections Literary Series: Tim Seibles. 7:30 p.m., Nov. 10, College of Southern Maryland, Prince Frederick Campus, John E. Harms Academic Center, Room 119, 114 J.W. Williams Road, Prince Frederick. Poet Laureate of Virginia Tim Seibles will read from his work. This event is sponsored in part by the Arts Council of Calvert County. $3 in advance, $5 at the event, $3 with CSM Student ID. Connections@csmd.edu, 301-934-7864, http://www.csmd.edu/community/connections-literary-series/connections-readings/.
CSM Connections Literary Series: Literary Magazine Publication Reading. 7:30 p.m., Dec. 1, College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Center for Business and Industry (BI Building), Dr. John M. Sine Conference Room (Room 103), 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. Contributors to the Fall 2017 “Connections” Literary Magazine will read and discuss their published works. Free. Connections@csmd.edu, 301-934-7864, http://www.csmd.edu/community/connections-literary-series/connections-readings/.