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We mentioned previously on the blog that our editor-in-chief Julie Wakeman-Linn did a reading at The Writer’s Center recently.  Now, our blogger Nathan Blanchard revisits The Writer’s Center and attends Free State’s reading.


By: Nathan Blanchard


Sunday, July 21st, Free State Review hosted a reading at the Writer’s Center in Bethesada, MD, to commemorate the release of their second issue.


Six writers presented their work to a packed room. Each writer entertained, but I responded most to Maria Abate and Rachel Adams, two poets. They read poetry featured in Free State Review and elsewhere, each with an engaging and distinct style.


Marie Abate’s April poems contained the most memorable phrasing: “whiskey lips” and “clanking beasts” repeating in my thoughts for several days afterward. Her work grapples with the volatility of human relationships and she grounds her lines with striking natural imagery.


Rachel Adams is the founder of Lines + Stars, a Dc-based literary journal. Her poem “Shark Message” appeared in Free State’s issue 1. She can spin a line with verbs that make me think, “of course, it could only be that verb.”


The most entertaining delivery came from Barbara Decesare. She was animated and jubilant and loosened up the room with a lively reading. We also heard from Alan Britt, W.F. Lantry, and a haunting short story by Kevin Lavey.


Hosting an event at the Writer’s Center is the right choice. Most people who attend events like a reading for a local literary journal are interested in writing and local resources and the Writer’s Center has plenty to offer. After the reading, the crowd hung around to chat with each other over wine, beer and snack platters (another excellent choice!). I overheard two conversations from people who had never been to the Writer’s Center and how excited they were to sign up for workshops and classes.


Free State Review has made a place for itself in Maryland’s literary circles with its attention to quality writing and cultivating a community. Each issue has packed around thirty writers of poetry and short fiction in a beautifully printed journal that just feels good to hold.


In the latest issue, each writer was asked to include in their bio their parents’ vocations. Associate Editor Barrett Warner said that this was a fun way to show the vastly different backgrounds that writers come from. For me it also shows that Free State Review has its own twist on literary reviews that’s fresh.


Free State Review will have another reading at Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore on October 3rd and will also appear at the Baltimore Book Festival. Free State will have a reading at Ram’s Head Annapolis in the jazz lounge, September 8th featuring writers from Chicago, West Philly, and local.

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