Some Shimmer of You book review

Check out this review of Some Shimmer of You by Marilyn McVicker written by BhB’s Clarinda Harriss!


Welcoming Verlando Brown!

He’s been with us for a few weeks now, but here is the formal welcome for Verlando Brown, BhB’s new Special Adviser for Diversity and Outreach. His story truly is inspirational, so I’ve attached it below to share with you, dear readers. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from him in the future, so be on the look out!

––Kate, BhB Online Editor

Verlando Brown grew up Maryland in the heart of West Baltimore. He was raised in a single-parent household where his mother was his sole caretaker, and he was her only child.  Growing up in the inner city, his environment was filled with drug dealing, drug addiction, prostitution, crime, poverty, and broken families. Verlando’s mother told him as a child that she did not want him to end up in jail or dead on the streets –– she wanted him to stay in school, get a great education, and be successful.  She did not want him to become like the guys on the corner who sold drugs for a living, she wanted him do better than she had been able to do with only a high school diploma.

Verlando went to Frederick Douglass High School in West Baltimore. During the time he went there, many kids were failing in their courses, and there was a high rate of drop-outs and teenage pregnancy. There were fights almost every day among the other kids and kids fighting with their teachers. The Maryland state test scores were also low.

Verlando wanted to be successful in life and not be like his peers. He thought about college, but felt unsure of himself; he didn’t think that he could get into college, much less make it through.  Fortunately, his high school guidance counselor saw a lot of potential in him and encouraged him to apply. With that encouragement, Verlando applied to Towson University, was accepted, and became the first in his family to go to college. When he received his acceptance letter from Towson, he dashed home to show to it to his mother. She burst into tears of joy.

At  Towson, Verlando went through a lot of challenges in learning how to adapt. It took him some time to get adjusted –– how to manage his time, how to meet professors’ expectations, and how to network on campus.  Verlando struggled with low self-esteem and a learning disability while he was at Towson, but had the courage to gather a support system of people who believed in him and his capabilities. This support gave him confidence not to give up and to focus on graduating. He also struggled with his weight while he was at Towson, where, initially, he weighed close to 325 pounds. Through learning to eat healthier and concentrating on fitness, he has lost over 100 pounds. He couldn’t have done it without the help of his support system.

With his passion for higher education, Verlando is now a graduate student at the University of Baltimore obtaining his Master’s degree in Human Services Administration.  He is a writer, a motivational speaker, and an advocate for students in his communities. He will be assisting BhB with work ranging from corporate structure analysis and grant seeking through contributions to the BhB blog.

R.I.P. Carolyn Kizer

Unfortunately, the world lost a great poet and writer just last week. On October 9, 2014, Carolyn Kizer passed away, and no article can better give her tribute than this article by Lewis Turco. During Carolyn’s life, BrickHouse’s Clarinda Harriss had the honor of interviewing her for the Goucher Weekly when Clarinda was still a student. She will be deeply missed.

Please welcome our new Poetry Editor!

I’m proud to present our very wonderful and talented new Poetry Editor: Doritt Carroll. She’s written her very own introduction piece, so as to not steal any of her thunder, let’s cut right to the chase here!

––Kate, BhB Online Editor

I first met Clarinda Harriss when I boldly sent her the manuscript for my first chapbook, which was promptly and resoundingly rejected by her graduate student intern.  My stanzas jumped around too much, the graduate student wrote, and the parts of the poem did too many different things.  But then, beneath the rejection, in a handwriting i have come to recognize well, was a second note that said, “I’m not sure that those points aren’t virtues.  – Clarinda.”   Being the kind of person who is rarely accused of subtlety, I called her.  How close to publishable was it, I asked.  Could i attempt some corrections and try again?  Clarinda said yes, and that spring Brickhouse Books published my chapbook In Caves.  Somehow in that process, we began to refer to each other as “twin sisters whose births have been separated by a very brief almost 25 years.”  The kinship has something to do with a shared tendency to take on waaaay too many assignments, as well as shared joy in a daily email discussion about Poetry’s Poem of the Day – a subject about which we almost always agree.  And then of course there is the joint foodie obsession with concocting new recipes, the desperate, and almost always failed, attempts not to act like helicopter parents to our children, and a sense of humor for which “offbeat” is a rather charitable compliment.  Which is a long way of saying that it is with great pleasure that I hereby formalize my relationship with Brickhouse Books, stepping into an official role as Poetry Editor as opposed to simply insisting in sidebar discussions that all of my opinions are correct.  Onward!

Reminder about the Geopoetics event!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Room 3150, College of Liberal Arts, Towson University, 8000 York Rd, Towson, MD
Free and open to the public
See details:

Geopoetics: Poetry in Geography and the Place of Poetry

Geography, literally meaning “description/writing of the Earth”, and the art of poetry, are both brought together here to express the important symbolism of place.  Both can be used to show how places are experienced and interpreted through metaphor, subtleties, and descriptive dexterity.  There is poetry in place, and there is a place for poetry in geography.  Places can evoke powerful emotions in people.  And such emotions can provide innovative and compelling approaches to helping us understand the intricate layers and perspectives in geography.  This multi-and-interdisciplinary discussion strives to understand the experience of place and the important intersections between geography and poetry.

Keynote speaker:
John Hessler, Library of Congress, “In Parry’s Shadow: Ramblings on the Poetics of Geographic Space”

Introduction by Michael Ratcliffe (U.S. Census Bureau)

Readings by Poets:
Shirley Brewer
Leslie Harrison
Clarinda Harriss
Barbara Morrison

Art by Mark Cottman

Complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served
Sponsored by the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning

John W. Hessler is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology and History of the Early Americas at the Library of Congress. He is the author of over 100 articles and books and has written extensively on archaeology, cartography and the environment. His research has been featured in national media outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post and most recently he was the subject of a profile in Discover Magazine (June, 2014). An avid mountaineer he is a regular contributor to the climbing and exploration journal Alpinist and his latest book, entitled, Columbus’ Book of Privileges, 1502: the Claiming of a New World, was published in September, 2014. Hessler is also a Lecturer in Early American Archaeology and the Environment at the Graduate School of Advanced Studies at Johns Hopkins University. You can read more about him here.

Michael Ratcliffe is an assistant division chief in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Geography Division. Throughout his career, he has worked at the intersection of the conceptual and the operational, defining boundaries for places, urban and rural areas, and metropolitan areas.  Ratcliffe’s first published poem, “Jessup,” appeared in You Are Here:  The Journal of Creative Geography.  Since then, his poems have appeared in various print and on-line journals, including Deep South Magazine, Commonthought Magazine, Kumquat Poetry, Free State Review, and Dead Beats Literary Blog.

Poets BIOS:
Shirley J. Brewer was born and raised in Rochester, New York, and moved to Maryland for careers in speech therapy and poetry. She loves to travel, but cannot fold a map. Recent poems have appeared in the Comstock Review, Little Patuxent Review, Pearl, Passager, The Cortland Review, and other journals. Her two books of poetry are A Little Breast Music, 2008, Passager Books, and After Words, 2013, Apprentice House/Loyola University. 

Leslie Harrison is the author of Displacement, selected by Eavan Boland as the 2008 Katherine Nason Bakeless prize winner in poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Displacement was published by Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in 2009. She was born in Germany and raised mostly in New Hampshire. She holds graduate degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and The University of California, Irvine. Poems have appeared in journals including Poetry, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, FIELD, Subtropics, Pleiades, Orion and elsewhere. A former photojournalist, book designer and publishing manager, Harrison has held a scholarship and fellowship at The Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a fellowship at The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In 2011 she was awarded a fellowship in literature from The National Endowment for the Arts. She was the 2010 Philip Roth resident in poetry at Bucknell University, and then a visiting assistant professor in poetry and creative nonfiction at Washington College. In the fall of 2012 she joined the full-time faculty at Towson University.

Clarinda Harriss is a professor emerita of English at Towson University where for many decades she was the faculty “overseer” of GRUB STREET, Towson’s award-winning literary magazine.  She is the author of 8 books, including, most recently, DIRTY BLUE VOICE, MORTMAIN, and THE WHITE RAIL.  She has directed BrickHouse Books, Inc., Baltimore’s oldest literary press, for many years.  One of her main research interest continues to be prison writers.

Barbara Morrison, who writes under the name B. Morrison, is the author of a memoir, Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother, and two poetry collections, Terrarium and Here at Least. She conducts writing workshops and, as the owner of a small press, speaks about publishing and marketing. She tweets regularly about poetry @bmorrison9, and her award-winning work has been published in anthologies and magazines. Visit her website and Monday Morning Books blog at

Mark Cottman In 1999, after a successful career as an architectural engineer, Mark Cottman decided to become a full time artist.  He knew then his decision would lead to a more fulfilling existence. Born and raised in Baltimore, this self taught, award winning artist, favors a large variety of subject matter. “Through my art and words”, Cottman says, “I feel it’s necessary to contribute something of meaning in this world. I believe there is no ‘us’ or ‘them’ only ‘we’. We all share the Earth as our home. Only through a conscious mind can we really know ourselves and find peace.”In 2010, Cottman founded and established the Mark Cottman Gallery.  Mark Cottman Gallery is committed to raising consciousness through Mark’s artwork and writings. The gallery also gives back to the community through partnering with non-profit and community based organizations.1 x 144  Traveledn on canvasmounted on masonite