Net of Wonders


What follows is the text of a performance piece I developed for E.M.P. Collective’s devised theatre workshop in winter 2015. The text has been slightly modified for use online.



Through such variety is nature beautiful.
-Georg Hoefnagel


The dessicated corpses of starfish;


A figurine of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II as Vertumnus, Lord of the Seasons, rendered in seeds and nuts;


A string of oxbone prayer beads shaped like human skulls.

In the 16th century, European aristocrats and scholars began collecting cultural items and objects from the natural world and displaying them in rooms called wunderkammern, or chambers of wonders.

Curiosity cabinets were a way for the affluent to show off their worldliness. They were a source of inspiration and contemplation for scientists and philosophers who cast forth the nets of their intellect and imagination and hauled in treasures from the seas of knowledge and dreams. They arose at a time when the axis of the Western world tilted, and Europeans began to draw borderlines between science and superstition.

According to the Baroque German artist Gabriel Kaltemarckt, a wunderkammer had to contain three types of items:

  1. Paintings, sculptures, and other objects of art.
  2. Preserved animals, minerals, and vegetable matter.
  3. “Curious items from home or abroad.”

Curiosity cabinets were designed to evoke amazement in others, to depict the cosmos in miniature, and to showcase nature and art in all its beauty, diversity, and strangeness. They were also a form of cultural propaganda. Artifacts from Africa, Asia, and the Americas were ripped from their contextual roots and arranged in careful patterns that reflected the collectors’ ignorance and obsession with the exotic. These early, self-styled curators wove together these fragments of history, myth, and personal aesthetics into a net of otherness. The wonders they gathered were physical evidence from those parts of the map marked HIC SUNT DRACONES (“Here be dragons”)


A row of bleached ruminant skulls.

Six silver instruments of ritual circumcision.

A small ivory statue of Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva of Compassion, holding a small child.

Over time, the curiosity cabinet evolved and mutated, its conceptual net spreading wider to encompass the the museum and the art gallery. The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, with its fascinating and horrifying arrays of medical oddities, is a direct descendant of the wunderkammer, as is the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles. The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore contains a recreation of a 17th century chamber of wonders.

Other successors to the wunderkammer include the freak show and the antique shop and the home collection: bric-a-brac, bagatelles, tchotchkes, gomi, other people’s junk. 


The shadow of a dragon.

A collection of Pez dispensers.

A narwhal tusk; or the horn of a unicorn.


A jagged splinter from an oak tree; or a fragment of the True Cross.

A Tibetan wall hanging; or a gateway to the Tusita heaven.

Other people’s junk.



I moved around a lot as a child; by my 18th birthday, I had lived in seven countries. Every couple of years, the axis of my world would tilt and new objects from far-flung lands would appear in my parents’ cabinets.

A beaded jaguar head from the Huichol (Wixaritari) people of western Mexico.

A Lladro figurine of a young soldier in the long-defunct Spanish Foreign Legion, the grenade in his hand broken off and lost sometime in the 1980s;

A Burmese teakwood carving of the historical Buddha in earth-touching pose.


These carefully arranged curiosities became gateways of reminiscence for me. I spent hours contemplating them, touching them, valuing them not because they evoked amazement in others, but because they were physical evidence of the places I had been, because they proved that the travels of my childhood had not been just a dream. This junk, these wonders, formed a net of memory, each item a strand connecting me to some part of my past. 


Every object triggers a recollection: my father drunk at the dinner table, his eyes watery and bloodshot just before he explodes; the smell of clove cigarettes and petrichor on a nightime Jakarta street; the soft curve of my wife’s neck, her earrings dangling.


Here, I will give you a wonder: the axis of the world is a mountain 400,000 miles tall. On the top of that mountain rests the palace of the god Indra. Suspended over Indra’s palace like a canopy is a net. At each vertex of the net is a multifaceted jewel that glitters like a star. Each jewel reflects all the other jewels in the net. The net extends infinitely in all directions.


But even as enormous as Indra’s Net is, it is still not large enough to capture all the wonders in this moment.

Or this one.

Or this one.

The vastness of it: everything is happening right now, in this moment. We are experiencing it all at once, but we are constrained in our apprehension by the borderlines of intellect and imagination, and by time. Time vanishes in a gasp, in a wince, in the final pump of a striving heart. All these wonders run through our lives like water through a net. We cannot carry them with us, even in your memories, because memory inevitably runs out.


Your memories are propaganda. Every place you have ever traveled will come to seem like a dream. The axis of your world will shift and you will wake to find yourself on a strange part of the map, one without borderlines: hic sunt dracones, terra incognita, Ultima Thule.


You will cast forth your net again and again on an unknown sea under a canopy of unfamiliar stars and you will haul in other people and their junk. You will carefully arrange each person, each object, within your chamber of wonders, so that each memory reflects every other memory.

You are another wonder in a chamber of wonders. You are another. You are other. All memory is otherness. The axis of your world is tilting. You are falling through this moment. There is no net.


May 16: Single Carrot presents Never Have I Ever


I’m thrilled to be hosting Single Carrot Theatre‘s Featured Second Series Event, Never Have I Ever, on Saturday, May 16 at 8pm.

We’re taking inspiration from everyone’s favorite drinking game (with a twist) and creating an evening of completely original entertainment, and the best part is: you help us create it.

It’ll start with a writing exercise. We’ll ask you to write a story about something you’ve done that you’re almost certain others haven’t done. We’ll take a couple of those stories and create brief performances based on them while you enjoy some drinks and games.

Want to see your story on stage at SCT? Join us

Tickets: $15-18
Season 8 Member? Your ticket is FREE
FREE beer and wine with valid ID
FREE parking available

The Girl Who Went Looking for the Weatherman

Aurora Boralis by Gonzalo Pineda Zuniga

Not so very long ago, but quite far away, in the prairie lands that lie many hundreds of miles to the north and west, a girl lived with her younger sister and their parents.

specimenjarNearly every afternoon, the girl and her younger sister played in the back yard. They fed snowballs to the hippopotami that lived in the asphalt lake and the hunted for tiny alien creatures that traveled to earth from strange worlds and hid in the tall grass. Sometimes they caught the little aliens and trapped them in little jars of metal and glass. At night they lay in their beds and gazed up at the burning white stars and listened to the growling, scraping sounds made by the snow whales as they lumbered through the icy city streets.

Every morning, the sisters would hear a whistling noise far off in the distance. They knew that this was the sound the Weatherman made when he was creating weather. And each time they heard the eerie whistle, the girls would stop playing and wave at the Weatherman and sing songs to him.

One morning the sisters awoke and listened for the Weatherman’s daily whistle, but it never came, and they knew that something was very wrong. When they stepped outside, everything was muffled and still as a graveyard that nobody ever visits. No breeze blew, no sun shone, nothing fell from the sky. There was simply no weather that day.


The sisters were alarmed. They hoped that this strange phenomenon was only temporary, but when they woke up the following day to the same oppressive quiet and greyness, they grew increasingly upset. On the third day with no weather, the girl whispered to her younger sister what both had been thinking, but had been afraid to put into words:

“Something’s happened to the Weatherman.”

The younger sister began crying. “This is terrible,” she sobbed. “Without the Weatherman, there is no weather! And without weather, there won’t be any snow to feed the hippopotami! Without weather, there will be no ice for the whales to swim through! Without weather, there won’t be any sun to warm us when we go camping in the summer, or rain to make the pink prairie roses blossom in the spring!”

The girl comforted her younger sister as best she could and agreed that something needed to be done. Just then, they heard a tok tok sound, and a harsh voice from the rafters above them croaked:

“There is no weather because the Weatherman has been captured. And I know where he is.”


Looking up, they saw a large, black crow with a scarred beak and beady eyes peering back down at them. The crow explained that the Weatherman was being held captive by a group of fearsome witches far to the north, in the Caribou Mountains on the banks of Mamawi Lake. The crow went on to say that it planned to rescue the Weatherman, but could use the girls’ help.

The girl, being bold and fearless, immediately volunteered to accompany the crow, but her younger sister refused. It wasn’t that the younger one was afraid – though she was less eager for adventure than the her older sibling – but that she just didn’t trust crows. And anyway, if she stayed behind, she could make up a story to tell their parents so that the girl wouldn’t be in trouble, and be grounded, and be forced to go to bed without watching the Muppets, which was the standard punishment their parents handed down for wrongdoing.

“I’ll go,” said the girl to the crow. “But I don’t know how I can help.”

Tok tok, went the crow before replying. “The Weatherman is fettered by a silver chain that can only be unlocked by this.” The crow stretched out its claw and dropped a small, rough stone into the girl’s palm.


“This might look like a perfectly ordinary pebble, but it is actually a magic key that can only be used by someone pure of heart.” Ruefully, it added, “I am not pure of heart, so I cannot use the key. But you can, girl.”

So it was settled. The crow stretched out its hard, cracked talons, flapped its ragged wings, and lifted the girl up by the tip of her toque as if she weighed nothing, and the pair began the long journey north to rescue the Weatherman.

As they flew, the girl looked down and saw the town give way to scattered houses, and scattered houses yield to canola fields, and canola fields dissolve into wild prairies. They followed the Peace River as it snaked its way through farms and hamlets, past Grimshaw and Notikewin, past La Crete and Fort Vermillion and over the great forest tree trunk road.


They were high above Sled Island when the crow announced that it was getting tired and had to rest for the evening. They descended into a meadow, at the edge of which stood a rickety mobile home up on stilts, with a pickup in the gravel driveway and rusting oil drums scattered around the front yard.

“In that house is a family who will give you food and a bed for the night,” said the crow to the girl. “They are Fond du Lac Dene, and they are my people, after a fashion, though they don’t know it.” At that the crow winked and gave a nasty chuckle.

The girl didn’t understand much of anything the crow had said, but since she had no alternative, she knocked on the screen door of the mobile home. She was greeted by a woman whose face was lined and tired, but kindly. The woman listened to the girl’s story and invited her inside.

Though the family was poor, they were generous, and they ate very well, from the girl’s point of view; the evening meal was Kraft Dinner with peas and tater tots (the girl’s favorite). After supper, the family gathered around the television to watch the hockey game. The children ate strawberry ice cream while the adults smoked cigarettes and drank beer out of cans.

cooking mac & cheese challenge - don harder

When it was time for bed, the woman gave the girl a threadbare pillow and a Hudson’s Bay blanket that was clearly very old, but soft and warm. The girl slept deeply and dreamed dreams of frozen waterfalls and the Aurora Borealis.

The next morning, the girl bid a fond farewell to the Dene of the Fond du Lac. Once again, the crow took her by her toque and resumed flying north along the Peace River until they finally came to the borders of the Caribou Mountains Wildland and the shores of Mamawi Lake.

The crow set the girl down on the stony bank and perched on her shoulder. The breezeless air felt stagnant and wooly, like an old, moth-eaten coat forgotten in the basement of an abandoned house. The surface of the lake itself seemed as motionless as a corpse.


From beyond a low rise, the girl could hear a pulsing sound. She crested the ridge and saw a group of women dancing in a circle at the water’s edge. The women made throaty, coughing sounds and pounded on small drums with deer antlers. As they stomped and twirled on the lakeshore, the girl noticed with a thrill of fear that their faces resembled eggshells, smooth and white.

“Witches!” croaked the crow into her ear. “You must be careful, girl.”

chain links

The women appeared to be dancing around a thin, silver chain anchored in the sand of the beach. Its length rose straight up from the ground until it disappeared into a sky that was as flat and featureless as the faces of the dancing women.

So transfixed was the girl by the scene before her that she yelped when strong fingers closed around her upper arm and spun her around. The crow on her shoulder squawked in surprise.

The girl found herself staring at a boy some years older than she. His clothes were made out of some type of animal skin. The left half of his face was made out of jagged, grey stone.

“Who are you?” asked the boy sternly. “What are you doing here?”

“I – I came to rescue the Weatherman,” the girl stammered. “I brought the magic key!” She showed him the stone the crow had given her.

“I don’t know what you mean,” said the boy with the half-stone face, relaxing his grip on her arm. He looked stonefacebemused. “How did you even get here?”

“The crow — “ began the girl, but trailed off when she saw the boy’s eyes narrow in anger.

“You!” he cried. And quicker than a striking serpent, he snatched the startled bird from her shoulder just as it spread its wings to fly away.

“So the spell worked, old man” snarled the boy, his hand tightening around the crow’s throat. “You were forced to return.”

The enraged bird pecked viciously at the boy’s hand, drawing blood which sprayed into the air. A drop landed on the girl’s head, and she flinched.

“Squeeze all you want, boy,” rasped the crow. “You’ll never be able to kill me.”

“I don’t intend to,” the boy with the half-stone face growled. And with that, he threw the bird with all his might into the center of the circle of women, who responded by increasing the pace of their dancing, and beginning a fearful chant: Silaga nauk! Silaga nauk! Silaga nauk!

“What do I do?” asked the girl.

“Nothing,” replied the boy. “Just wait and watch.”

“But I have the magic key!”

The boy took the hand that held the small stone and regarded her with a sad smile. “That is no key, and it is not magic,” he said gently. “That is nothing more than a chip from my face, which the crow pecked out of me during our last battle.”

“But then why am I here?” cried the girl. “I don’t understand!”

“That’s because this is not your story,” the boy explained. “You just stumbled into someone else’s story because of the crow’s mischief. He’s a mean old man who likes to play pranks on children. He was the one who trapped the weather. The women made magic that called him back to undo his crime. Now see what happens.”

The crow tried to fly out of the circle, but one of the women smacked him out of the air with a deer antler. It tried to ravendrumburrow under the sand, but another woman stopped it with a stamping foot. Eventually the crow grew tired and stopped trying to escape.

“Whatever,” it sulked. “I’m getting bored of this anyway.” And with that, the crow used its weathered beak to undo the silver chain, which fell spinning out of the sky.

As soon as the chain hit the lake shore, the greyness in the air dissolved to reveal a brilliant blue sky. Sunlight boomed through high, white clouds, and a fresh breeze cast swift ripples over the face of Mamawi Lake. From far off, the girl heard happy peals of thunder rumbling across the horizon, and her nostrils were filled the scents of rain and snow. The Weatherman was free.

The girl closed her eyes to feel the warmth of the sun on her eyelids. She listened to the wind getting tangled and torn by tree branches. She inhaled deeply and tasted the cold air as it dove down her throat and into her lungs. She was suddenly aware, in a way she had never been before, of the dirt under her feet, of the plants that pushed up through it, of the currents of water and stone that flowed so deep underground that no light had ever touched them. She sensed the open sky above her, wheeling, ever-changing, flowing upward and outward in all directions. The sheer immensity of it made her want to cry.

The girl opened her eyes to find the boy with the half-stone face regarding her calmly. The group of women had taken off their white masks and were chatting as they laid out a picnic lunch on the banks of the lake. One of them unfolded camp chairs while another turned on a portable radio. A third handed out bottles of pop.

Of the crow, there was no sign.

“Come,” said the boy with the half-stone face, drawing the girl’s attention away from the sound of laughter and rock music. “It’s time to go home.”

canolaLater, the girl struggled to recall the details of the return journey. She remembered a great deal of walking, and feeling hungry and thirsty, and getting a ride from a woman in a pickup truck, and watching canola fields slip by in a yellow blur, and her parents offering the boy with the half-stone face a cup of coffee.

And one more curious thing: even though the trip seemed to take a very long time, she still got home in time to watch the Muppets.

The girl went on to have many more adventures. In some of them, she was the central character. She became a musician and a scholar, and she married a young man who was of the Fond du Lac band of the Dene first nations people. The union ended in sorrow, but that is another story.

In time, the girl traveled east to the far side of the continent, where she took another husband, one who loved nothing more than to listen to her stories. She told him about growing up on the western prairies; about how she and her sister would feed snowballs to manhole covers, which they called hippopotami; about scouring the back yard for insects, which they called aliens; about being lulled to sleep by the sound of snow plows, which they imagined were giant whales; and about the morning train whistle which brought the weather.

And she forever bore the mark of where she had been struck by the blood of the boy with the half-stone face, for it had stained her hair as pink as the wild prairie roses that blossom in the spring.



Devised Performance Art Show 3/14

devised poster

For the past eight weeks, I’ve been participating in an excellent devised theatre performance workshop hosted by E.M.P. Collective and led by dramatist, musician, and filmmaker Jason Chimonedes. The class, which includes participants from a range of artistic sensibilities and experience levels, has been extremely helpful to me in exploring different approaches to live storytelling, such as the incorporation of movement, music, film, audience interaction, etc.

This Saturday, March 14 at 7pm, the workshop will formally come to a close with a public performance of works-in-progress by the participants. The program includes:

  • An audio mosaic and multimedia storytelling work by Leah White based on recorded stories about people’s scars, both physical and psychological;
  • A shadow theatre piece from puppet artist Christopher Holmes, inspired by the Popol Vuh;
  • A spoken word performance by Suzie Doogan of the band Boy Spit;
  • A snippet from a food-themed cabaret in development by performance artist Laure Drogoul;
  • My meditation on Renaissance-era curiosity cabinets;
  • Other performances;
  • Beer.

After the devised performance show, stick around for N\A\P Works in Progress by EMP resident artists. All art, all night, all free.

Snowmelt Coffee


In February 2010, during the winter of what much of the Mid-Atlantic region came to call The Snowpocalypse, my friend Abby and I got trapped on a sheep farm in the northern Shenandoah Valley for four days.

At the time I was living on my own in East Baltimore. News of the impending blizzard conjured bleak images of my being stuck inside my tiny apartment alone for days, most likely in the dark (it took little more than a stiff breeze to knock out the electricity at that place), subsisting on canned beans and a dwindling supply of alcohol, with only my cat for company. Resolving that if I had to be snowed in, it should be in the company of other humans, I rang my friends John and Kelly, who live on a small sheep farm in rural Virginia, and asked if I might ride out the Arctic blast at their place. They agreed, so I bought a pound of single-origin coffee and a six-pack of decent beer, and took to the highway on the wings of the coming storm.


Along the way, I stopped in Washington, D.C. to collect Abby. By the time we left her place, travel conditions had already deteriorated to an alarming degree. We inched our way along increasingly treacherous roads that were all but invisible in the whiteout. As we navigated around stranded vehicles and strained to make out the lane dividers, we buoyed our spirits with thoughts of a relaxing couple of days with our friends.

Here’s what we were expecting: Abby and I would get to the farm, eat lunch, say hi to the animals, enjoy good conversation with Kelly and John, read books, brew up some of my fair-trade coffee, build a snowman, watch movies, get tipsy, sleep in, shovel out the driveway, and head home.

Here’s what happened. Shortly after we and our jangled nerves finally reached our destination, the inclement weather brought down power lines, which left the house without light. Because the switch that controlled the water pump was electric, the four of us found ourselves also without running water. The snow accumulated with unnerving speed, rendering the narrow country roads impassable and effectively cutting us off from the outside world. We were imprisoned on the farm.

Weathering a major winter storm without electricity or water is an inconvenience, to say the least. But we also had a flock of about two dozen sheep to worry about, including several newborn lambs, as well as assorted chickens, ducks, farm cats, and a dog, many of which would surely perish if we didn’t work quickly to safeguard them against the cold.

Since Virginia’s climate is reasonably temperate, there’s usually little need to worry about animals’ exposure to the elements. But with temperatures dropping and some three feet of snow expected to fall, we needed to act fast. We spent much of that first day reconfiguring the sheep barn, segregating the nursing ewes from the rest of the flock, and trying to move as many animals as possible under shelter.

Nor could we humans overlook our own biological imperatives. John converted the tool shed into an outhouse by dumping out a bin of sheep feed and filling it with kitty litter, and knocking together a toilet seat out of two-by-fours. For some reason he also brought out a stack of back issues of the ‘New Yorker’ magazine, as if any of us was going to be taking a leisurely time on the privy with our sensitive bits exposed to the bitter cold while surrounded by five-foot-high piles of snow.


The days that followed were humbling exercises in priority-setting. Our first responsibility – before breakfast, before brushing our teeth – was to check on and feed the animals. Then Abby would stoke the fire in the hearth and the house’s two woodstoves while Kelly prepared food and I collected buckets of snow to melt for drinking and washing both dishes and ourselves. John spent a lot of time shoveling and making sure the pipes didn’t freeze. He dug out his John Deere tractor in an effort to plow the driveway, but the little machine proved no match for the daunting mounds of snow in its path.


We ate a lot of lamb stew, which Kelly kept replenished and bubbling aromatically atop the wood stove. She found an antique coffee mill handed down from some Italian relative, and I used it to grind the fair-trade beans I had brought with me from Baltimore. I mixed the grounds with melted snow and brewed it in a steel kettle.

A couple of the lambs died. We lost one on the first night of the storm. Abby discovered its little corpse stiff and strangely angled, as if it had been flash-frozen in mid-leap. The adult sheep stamped and bleated their distress. Abby lifted the frozen lamb by its tail and trudged out to the edge of the property, where she hurled the carcass over the fence. Some days later, after the snow had receded, we returned to see if the corpses were still decomposing there, but scavengers had done their work quickly and efficiently, and had left only scattered bones.

dead lamb

In the evenings, after dinner, we lit candles and sang shape note hymns from the Sacred Harp. We drank wine and told each other stories in the firelight. We learned that each of our lives had been shaped by rebellion against our parents, whether it was their patrician disdain for manual labor, or their pathological lies, or their alcoholism, or their depression.

Outside, black branches susurrated in the northeasterly wind and the blazing moon cut across glittering pastures of white.

Ester-LiverpoolThe rhythms we fell into were ancient, older even than the ones my farmer friends were accustomed to. Rise before dawn. Care for the animals. Dispose of the dead. Feed the fire. Feed yourself. Drink something hot. Tend to the dwelling and the grounds. Piss. Shit. Sponge yourself clean with frigid water. Wrap yourself in blankets. Sing songs and tell tales to push back the darkness and the chill. Sleep. Dream dreams.

We did make one concession to 21st century technology. John dug a track between the front door of the house and my car so that I could charge my smartphone. Once the power indicator had turned sufficiently green, I brought it inside so that we could huddle around its pale blue light while I read articles from the New York Times aloud, like the lector in a Cuban cigar factory.

It was past midnight on the fourth day when the electricity was finally restored. Kelly and John had long since gone to bed. Abby and I lay on the floor on our stomachs in front of the fire, sharing secrets. When the lights jumped back on, our first reaction was elation. Then we looked at each other in silence.

After a moment I got up and switched off the lights and we returned to murmuring in the dark.


Letitia VanSant Album Release Show w/ Potluck Storytelling 2/27/15

bonafides fb cover

Potluck Storytelling is thrilled to partner with Letitia VanSant and the Bonafides for the release of their new album, “Parts & Labor,” at the Creative Alliance on Feb. 27, 2015.

Letitia VanSant & the Bonafides are a Baltimore & Washington, DC-based quartet that straddles the boundary between acoustic string band music, roots rock, and the confessional folk of a singer-songwriter. Ms. VanSant’s heartbreaking soprano has been compared to a steeple bell ringing “strong and true through the discordant noise of an urban soundscape.”

Here’s what the band has to say about its new album.

When you return to a garage to pick up your car after repairs, you are handed a bill for “parts and labor.” The “parts” are things like spark plugs and oil-drain pans, while “labor” is the hours spent by the mechanics. But you seldom see the mechanics at work, so it’s tempting to think of the gadgets and workers as interchangeable cogs in the great machine that keeps society running.

“Parts & Labor,” the new album from Letitia VanSant & the Bonafides, fights that temptation with all the considerable skill and passion the folk-rock band’s four members can muster. The ten original songs—eight by lead singer Letitia and two by drummer Will McKindley-Ward—work hard to proclaim that we are all much more than parts and labor to the machine of our economy.

At the release event on February 27, Baltimore storytellers from different walks of life will share tales of work, the economy, and living through challenging times. Join the Bonafides and Potluck storytelling for a rich evening of story and song.

Purchase tickets

Facebook event page 

Potluck presents: The Art of Risking Your Neck 12/2/14

The Art of Risking Your Neck - 12/2/14

Potluck Storytelling presents

THE ART OF RISKING YOUR NECK: Baltimore writers read and tell the stories behind their work

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Area 405
405 East Oliver Street, Baltimore 21202
$5 at the door (cash only); attendees warmly encouraged to bring snacks

RSVP on Facebook!

Eudora Welty once wrote, “No art ever came out of not risking your neck. And risk — experiment — is a considerable part of the joy of doing, which is the lone, simple reason all [writers] are willing to work as hard as they do.”

Where do writers get ideas? How do they turn inspiration into words on a page? What keeps them motivated? Bring $5 and a snack and join Potluck Storytelling for an interactive evening of poetry, short plays (volunteer readers needed!), essays, and fiction by five local writers who will read from their written works, tell the stories behind them, and talk about how they risk their necks for their art.

Rodney Foxworth, essayist, recovering journalist, advocate
Justin Lawson Isett, playwright, bringer of the ruckus
Amanda Rothschild, purveyor of mostly true things
Kristine Sloan, poet
Marceline White, woman of many letters

Hosted by Kevin Griffin Moreno.

Storytelling Workshop at Single Carrot Theatre 11/15/14


Single Carrot Theatre Workshop: Storytelling with Kevin Griffin Moreno

Saturday, November 15, 2014
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard St., Baltimore, MD 21218

$50 (20% off for Single Carrot Theatre members)

Storytelling is our species’ most unique and indelible gift. Since the very beginnings of language, humans have used stories to forge relationships with each other and find meaning in the world around them. Join storyteller Kevin Griffin Moreno, host of The Potluck storytelling and arts series, for a lively, interactive workshop designed to help you find your storytelling voice. Share your words with others, and learn how to engage a group while painting a verbal picture.

SCT offers low-cost courses for community members of all experience levels over the age of 16. Enroll now!

[poem] Blessing, for Adote Akwei

Adote Akwei, by Paris Johnson

for Adote Akwei

Bless means “to sanctify;” blesser means “wound.”
Their roots are watered in ancient blood.
It is difficult to be sanguine when
The heart pumps so far from home.
But our ancient roots cover oceans and
Course with the blood of the Lamb
Who blesses our hearts, sanctifies our wounds.

– Kevin Griffin Moreno

Adote Akwei immigrated to the United States in 2005 with his wife and five children. A union organizer and human rights activist in his native Togo, Adote is active in his church and in the community at large as a champion of West African emigres in Maryland.

Adote Akwei - photo by Jessica Keyes

Photo by Jessica Keyes

This poem is one of seven 49-word poems written as part of the Autumn Leaves Project, a multi-part, intergenerational art and performance exhibit conceived and curated by Baltimore artist and activist Peter Bruun. Each of the seven poems is dedicated to a member of the Autumn Leaves Chestnut Group, and was performed by students of Muse 360 Arts at the Chestnut Group’s event on October 14, 2014. The event was hosted by Pamela Eisenberg and Kevin Griffin Moreno. Portraits of the Chestnut Group members were painted by artist Paris Johnson.

To learn more about the other groups, writers, and artists associated with the project, visit the Autumn Leaves site.


[poem] The Word is Freedom, for Tamra Settles

Tamra Settles by Paris Johnson

The Word is Freedom
for Tamra Settles

When word comes down, you will spring
From bed with your shoes already tied.
You refused to crumble like stale bread
Or dash away your own stinging tears.
Hope struck you and you kept ringing.
Take a step forward. Remember to breathe.
You will astonish yourself with your singing.

– Kevin Griffin Moreno

Tamra Settles is, in her own words: “tantalizing, amazing, morally correct, magnificent, intelligent… a mother, a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a woman… motivated, full of life, spiritual, thoughtful, caring, honest, forgiving, strong, an overcomer, but mostly free.” Tamra spent over two decades in a Maryland state penitentiary before receiving a gubernatorial pardon.

Tamra Settles - Photo by Jessica Keyes

Photo by Jessica Keyes


This poem is one of seven 49-word poems written as part of the Autumn Leaves Project, a multi-part, intergenerational art and performance exhibit conceived and curated by Baltimore artist and activist Peter Bruun. Each of the seven poems is dedicated to a member of the Autumn Leaves Chestnut Group, and was performed by students of Muse 360 Arts at the Chestnut Group’s event on October 14, 2014. The event was hosted by Pamela Eisenberg and Kevin Griffin Moreno. Portraits of the Chestnut Group members were painted by artist Paris Johnson.

To learn more about the other groups, writers, and artists associated with the project, visit the Autumn Leaves site.