Howard art magazine is reborn decades later

Return of `Little Patuxent Review' an effort to stay in sync with growing arts

December 29, 2006|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,sun reporter

In 1977, the Little Patuxent Review published an essay about the challenges of establishing regular readings, films, concerts and plays in a new community.

The writer lamented that "for the moment, the arts in the new town of Columbia have street addresses in Baltimore, Washington and Ellicott City."

Almost 30 years later, Columbia has more theater companies, musical groups, dance companies and art galleries, but local artists are still seeking ways to sustain a vibrant arts scene throughout Howard County.

The latest effort is a rebirth of the local literary art and social review that ran the essay but died out in the 1980s.

The new version of the Little Patuxent Review will launch Jan. 21 with a 3 p.m. reading at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia. Organizers say the magazine will honor its predecessor in name and approach, but it will have fresh ideas.

"It's not just an attempt to perpetuate something that had disappeared off the map," said Brendan Donegan, who contributed to the old publication and helped build support for a new Review. "There is very much a surge toward young poets who are in the community, even at the high school level. We are also going to have the wisdom of old age, old geezers like me. ... It will have quite a range."

Donegan, Mike Clark of Columbia, and several other writers were at a reading at the Tai Sophia Institute in the fall when they started talking about Ralph and Margot Treitel, who created Little Patuxent Review.

Donegan recalled that Ralph Treitel, who died in the mid-1990s, was a poet and social scientist who wrote plays and staged anti-war puppet theater, among other endeavors.

"He was kind of a Pied Piper of Columbia," Donegan recalled. "His intent was to have local writers and poetry and some artwork and to write about local topics."

At the Tai Sophia event, Donegan said he and Clark agreed there still is a need in Howard County for a literary publication like The Baltimore Review or Potomac Review.

"We put together a group of like-minded people, and we all agreed it should be named the Little Patuxent Review," Donegan said. Michael Clark, a Centennial High School English teacher (and no relation to Mike Clark), was tapped to be the Review's editor. He said he envisions drawing readers and writers from across Maryland or the East Coast, but first his group needs to get the publication off the ground.

"We need to have something out there before we can get anything good," he said.

The first issue will have a section focusing on the theme of healing, Michael Clark said. Future issues will have themes put together by guest editors. In addition, every issue will have areas for visual art, senior citizen voices, young writers and other features.

"I'm actually looking forward to it becoming a little more chaotic," said Clark, who earned a doctorate in creative writing at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo) offered an organizational umbrella to help the Review apply for grants and set up its business structure.

HoCoPoLitSo focuses on literary programs, and executive director Tara Hart said a literary magazine would be a welcome addition.

"I think that we're coming to realize more and more, especially as Columbia and the county grow and become more populated, the need for good neighbors and effective communication," she said, "and not just in a political or even purely social way, but in a more profound, artistic, maybe even spiritual sense.

Other local outlets for fiction writing have disappeared over the years, said Susan Thornton Hobby, who will guest-edit the second issue's theme section on Columbia at 30.

"In a city of 90,000, you are going to have literary lights that need to be taken out from under their baskets," she said.

Hobby said she is seeking interesting anecdotes about living in Columbia and visual art. She also is planning to publish the winners of a poetry contest run by the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

"I think having fresh voices spreads out the work, which is helpful, and livens up the magazine," she said.

With two issues under way, Michael Clark, the editor, said, "I think we're in good shape."

He called it "a garage-band kind of approach to publishing," but said the goal is still a quality product.

"We plan to be able to put it on the shelf with any other review and have it be a worthy addition," he said.

The "Little Patuxent Review" can be reached through Mike Clark at or 6012 Jamina Downs, Columbia 21045. The Jan. 21 reading begins at 3 p.m. at 6800 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia. A $10 admission includes a copy of the Review. Information and reservations: 410-772-4568.

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