A community of writers at the College Park Book Festival

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I’m beginning to build my community of local writers. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that there are other successful writers living close by, working on getting their writing seen, just like me.

On Saturday, March 22, I was a featured reader for the Little Patuxent Review, at the second annual College Park Book Festival. I had 10 minutes—longer than I am usually given—to share my work.

It was one of the noisier readings I’ve attended—each is different. There were crafts tables set up with face painting, children’s authors reading their books, and origami book-making. So the kids were loud and happy. For one of the first times, the podium was small, so I didn’t need a step-stool. I spoke right into the mic and tried to read louder than I usually would. I think it was successful, because audience members came up afterwards and congratulated me and said they enjoyed my poems.

After the reading, I felt strangely like a local celebrity. People took pictures of the LPR readers, Lalita Noronha, Holly Karapetkova, and I. Sung-Min Kim, a broadcast journalism student from the University of Maryland, interviewed me after I read. Even The Writers’ Bloc, the newspaper I helped create in college, covered the event. It was incredible.

Holly, one of the other readers, said D.C. is an extremely welcoming writing community, compared to New York, which can be competitive and cutthroat. I wouldn’t expect anything less from New York. But I am glad to be immersing myself in the D.C. writing community.

With each literary event I attend and read at, I understand how important it is for me to try to publish a chapbook of my poems. A chapbook is more tangible than having a few individual poems published in literary magazines—although that too is an amazing feat and accomplishment. Writers use these events to self-promote their work, maybe sell a few books, and connect with other writers. It’s the perfect place to do so! And without a chapbook, I’m missing out.

So I’m working to change that within the next year. I have a collection of poems that I think are ready to become a chapbook. I’m sending my various series out for chapbook publication to several literary magazines and presses. We’ll see what happens.

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Holly Karapetkova, me, and Lalita Noronha at the College Park Book Festival.

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