Come see Baari Shabazz!

Baari Shabazz will be presenting at the Writing Outside the Fence Poetry Reading on Tuesday, May 26 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library .  The event will take place in the Poe Room between 6 PM and 8 PM.

Baari is the co-author of BhB’s FOR COLORED GUYS WHO HAVE GONE BEYOND SUICIDE AND FOUND NO RAINBOW, which is now in its 4th printing and is also available as an eBook.

Attention all poets: Shirley Brewer poetry workshop in June!

Shirley J. Brewer  will be holding poetry workshop classes at Passager every Saturday in June from 10 AM to 12 PM.  This workshop will be a great opportunity to interact with other poetry enthusiasts, flex your poetic muscles and develop your skills with Shirley’s help.  Click here for further details and information on how to sign up.

CityLit 2015: “Most important festival ever”

BrickHouse Books is proud to have been part of the twelfth annual CityLit Festival on May 2.  It took place at the Enoch Pratt Free Library and was the only event in the city that day not to have been canceled due to the rally at City Hall.

BhB had a table and our own Clarinda Harriss read a poem as part of the panel honoring Michael Salcman’s new anthology, POETRY IN MEDICINE.

Click here to listen to podcasts from the festival.

Cottman Gallery Reading

  • at 6:30pm
  • Mark Cottman Gallery, 1014 S. Charles St., Federal Hill, Baltimore, MD.
Reading sponsored by BrickHouse Books, Inc., with a lot of help from Poetry Editor Doritt Carroll

Join us for a reading by Dan Vera and Cort Bledsoe, two of the most admired poets in the Baltimore Washington area, on April 16th. Dan Vera’s writing offers sharp observations in a wry voice in his latest book Speaking Wiri Wiri. His comments about growing up Cuban-American and a member of the LGBT community have been described as “clear, smart, honest, and funny” by reviewer Martin Espada. Cort Bledsoe writes movingly in Riceland of his childhood on a rice and catfish farm in Arkansas. Jo McDougall has described the poems in Riceland as “startlingly revealing.” Both poets will read at the Mark Cottman Gallery, located at 1014 S. Charles St. Baltimore, MD 21230 on April 16th at 6:30 pm.

Discovering our authors, Alexander Motyl

Most of my novels deal with questions relating to my multifaceted identity.

I was born and raised in a tight-knit Ukrainian community in New York City. My Ukrainian father was born a subject of the Habsburg Empire in a tiny village north of Lviv (or Lemberg as it would have then been called): he lived through two world wars, Stalinist and Nazi occupations, and the hardship of displaced person status in West Germany before coming to this country in 1949. My half-Ukrainian, half-Polish mother was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, grew up in interwar Poland in a small town east of Lviv (or Lwów as it would have then been called), survived World War II, and then, after three years in Slovakia, came to New York in 1947. I have close relatives in Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia. I also developed extremely close ties to Vienna through my former marriage and used to refer to myself as “half Viennese.”

Am I American? Ukrainian? I usually elide the question by saying I’m a New Yorker who speaks English, Ukrainian, German, Polish, and Russian with varying degrees of fluency.

Living at the interstices of several cultures and histories has its advantages. You develop different, usually complementary, perspectives on life. You can more easily step outside your native prejudices. You can feel at home everywhere, precisely because you’re never quite at home anywhere.

It also has its disadvantages. The perspectives on life you develop often clash. You can step outside your prejudices, or you can find yourself immersed in them. You’re always a foreigner, everywhere, even if you think you’re not.

In any case, I’ve found these clashes to be an especially fruitful source of creativity.

Last year, 2014, I also discovered that having so many roots in Ukraine can be traumatic. In November of 2013, Ukrainians launched what they call a Revolution of Dignity that culminated in the overthrow of their dictatorial president. I watched the events unfold on a daily basis—and pretty much lost touch with what was going on around me in the United States. Indeed, although physically in New York, I found that, over time, I was increasingly living their lives and living their emotions. I shared in their sorrows when scores were killed by regime snipers. I shared in their joy when the revolution triumphed.

When Putin invaded the Crimea in March 2014, I feared war between Russia and Ukraine would ensue. As Russian troops poured into eastern Ukraine and the fighting escalated, as thousands fled or died, as friends and relatives in Ukraine told me of their fears of aerial bombardment and a Russian land invasion of all of Ukraine, I came to understand—however superficially—just what my parents had lived through in World War II. For the first time in my life, I think I understand what real fear is, what the desire for revenge is, and, alas, what deep hatred is. This is knowledge that I would prefer not to have.

But I have it. And so I, too, have joined the struggle. I write a weekly blog on Ukraine; I write op-ed pieces and longer analytical articles. I give speeches.

My novels have also joined the fray. A just-finished manuscript pokes fun at the erstwhile Ukrainian dictator. A work in progress satirizes Russia’s dictator, Putin. Why satire? Because, as Jewish comedians know, laughter is the weapon of the hopeful.

In memory of Philip Levine.

Philip Levine was the 18th U.S. Poet Laureate. He was born in Detroit in 1928, and educated at Wayne State, the University of Iowa, and Stanford University. He is the author of more than twenty collections of poetry, and his honors include the Pulitzer Prize, two National Book Awards, and two National Book Critic Circle Awards. Levine’s first book of poems, On the Edge (1963), won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award. Levine’s other prizes include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Frank O’Hara Prize and the Levinson Prize from Poetrymagazine, the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, an award of merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award, and the Golden Rose from the New England Poetry Society. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997, elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000, and elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002.  He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Levine taught Literature and Creative Writing at California State University, Fresno from 1958-1992. In 1970, Levine was chosen Outstanding Professor at the University, and the following year he was chosen Outstanding Professor for the California State University System. He also taught or served as a writer-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley; Vassar College; Vanderbilt University; Princeton University; Tufts University; Columbia University; the University of Houston; New York University; and elsewhere. He divided his time between Fresno, California, and Brooklyn, New York.