Town Square February 2014

Town Square February 2014

Open Mic FOLLOWING our three lovely features this month:

Michael Ratcliffe writes along the boundary between Washington and Baltimore. His poems reflect his interest in people, places, and landscapes, as well as spirituality. Michael’s poems have appeared recently in Free State Review, Commonthought Magazine, and Kumquat Poetry. When he is not writing, Michael bicycles, gardens,and manages geographic programs at the Census Bureau. He lives in North Laurel with his wife, some sons, and some cats.

Writer, burlesque performer & 1940’s pin-up at heart, Margo Christie writes jazz- and burlesque-themed literary fiction that focuses on creative but fallen characters and their struggles to set their stories straight. She grew up in Baltimore, a city described by local crime writer Laura Lippman as a place where “the true local malady is nostalgia.” You can read excerpts at or catch a performance online at

& the lovely lady who began Town Square: Sarah Jane Miller is a public librarian. Her poetry as has appeared in WhatWeekly, Void Magazine, Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore, and Artichoke Haircut. She also reviews new literary fiction, memoirs, and creative nonfiction on Baltimore County Public Library’s Between the Covers blog.


Dear Editor

Free State Review

I was so nervous submitting poems to the Carolina Quarterly in 1982 that I composed four slightly different versions of a cover letter and—overcome by brilliant anxieties and wanting to be done with the whole affair—I hastily included all of them with my poems. Mercifully they were rejected, but the editor replied with four slightly different rejection letters. It was my first lesson in irony.

Since then, I have tried to bolster my natural shyness with unnecessary formalities or excessive personal details—anything—to scatter an editor’s eye from the real purpose of the submission. In 1986, I wrote cover letters which included phrases like “Perhaps you saw the review of my short story in the Los Angeles Times” or “Let me tell you about my Uncle Turner…” But no one liked the bobcat story as much as I did.

Each experience writing a cover letter came with its customary discomfort…

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Tell it to the Birds


We’re kicking off Spring with a celebration of our third issue. We’re tickled to bring you the best of the best in local art, local music & of course, great local writing!

Readings by FSR contributors:
C. L. Bledsoe
Barbara DeCesare
Elizabeth Hazen
Jim Warner

CL Bledsoe is the author of 12 books, most recently Riceland. He lives in MD with his wife, poet Jillian Meyer, and their daughter.

Barbara DeCesare has performed poetry and/or tiny plays at the Geraldine R. Dodge poetry festival, the Knitting Factory, The New School, and a million laundromats, bookshops and sketchy basements. Most recently, her work has appeared in the premier SwanDive anthology. She lives in her car with a bag of almonds and her softball equipment.

Elizabeth Hazen is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2013, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. She teaches English at Calvert School in Baltimore, Maryland.

Jim Warner is the Managing Editor of Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public Radio Program at Benedictine University and the author of two poetry collections Too Bad It’s Poetry and Social Studies (Paper Kite Press). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including The North American Review, The Oyez Review, PANK Magazine, Five Quarterly, and The Minnesota Review. He lives in Springfield, IL.
artists, bands, podcasters and creators of music & audio. You can listen to his podcast, Best Worst Year, at

Music by:
Community Center
Baltimore’s indie rock band Community Center has spent the last year taking their highly-arranged bar rock anthems from every stage in the city to every radio station around still playing rock music. Known for energetic shows featuring cello, violin, clarinet, saxophone, and accordion, this group of seven storytellers has worked hard to become one of Baltimore’s most promising bands.

Hosted at Gallery 788 in Hampden.
Current gallery showing by Lania D’Agostino (

$10 at the door, with your pick of one of our delicious back issues.
Check out the Facebook event page here!


January Town Square

January Town Square features announced! Check out the Facebook event page or Town Square for details.


October Town Square

October’s Town Square is around the corner, featuring Christopher Bowen, Jane Rosenberg La Forge, & Alan King. Don’t. Miss. It. Facebook event page here.


wish you were here: Free State Review Issue #2 Launch Party, September 8th, 2013

Because why shouldn’t writers get the stage and the bright lights sometimes? Their name on a poster taped to a dingy bathroom wall? And some photos to remember it by.

Free State Review Issue #2 Launch Party @ Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis, MD. Readers: Leslie F. Miller, Joseph Ross, Shevaun Brannigan, Daniel Ferrara, Rupert Wondolowski, Sandra Ramirez.

jmww chapbook contest!


There’s still time to submit to our inaugural poetry chapbook contest,  judged by Oliver de la Paz!

The winning poet will receive $500, plus publication and 5 letterpress-cover copies of the chapbook.

Deadline: October 1, 2013; Entry fee: $15.

For guidelines, submission information, and to submit, please visit our submission manager. Good luck, and thanks for supporting jmww and our writers!


Oliver de la Paz is the author of four books of poetry: Names Above HousesFurious LullabyRequiem for the Orchard, and the forthcoming Post Subject: A Fable. He is the co-editor of A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Persona Poetry, is co-chair of the advisory board, and serves on the Association of Writers & Writing Programs board. He teaches creative writing at Western Washington University.

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friday lit list

And for this stunt, we will need a full tank of gas, 72 ounces of espresso, and a clown nose. The clown nose will come into play later. Am I missing anything?

Friday September 6th:

Saturday, September 7th:

Sunday, September 8th:

Monday, September 9th: