SHORE Magazine - May 2024

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Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival ALIVE MAGAZINE THE ART OF Words + Tour with the Talbot County Garden Club Prize-winning authors with Shore Lit The
legacy of Gilbert Byron

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I have always loved to read. I think it’s why I became interested in writing and then journalism. So this edition is particularly exciting for me as we dive into the world of writing and literature.

Some of my favorite authors are Ted Dekker, C.S. Lewis, Robert Jordan, J.R.R. Tolkein, Franklin W. Dixon and Louis L’Amour. Who are some of yours? As I began typing this, I had to question myself because I realize there are a lot of stories or series I’ve enjoyed by authors who I’m not sure I can claim are in my “favorite” list just because they wrote something I liked, such as T.A. Barron, J.K. Rowling, Gary Paulsen, Brian Jacques and Will Hobbs.

As you can see, I enjoy fantasy, adventure and mystery. I’ve read a lot of classics, too, and think that “classic books” are generally better than “classic movies.” Give me To Kill a Mockingbird over Citizen Kane any day.

I really appreciate a good story, so I think it is great that we get to share some in print with you. And what great subject matter we have to pull from, as literature and tales of fiction and nonfiction abound on Maryland’s historical Eastern Shore.

Truly soak up these stories in this edition, and be ready to dive into so much more beyond what you find inside, as each of these articles will lead you on a journey. Don’t be afraid to meander in these words. After all, remember that “not all who wander are lost.”

President Jim Normandin

Executive Editor Eli Wohlenhaus

Assistant General Manager/Sales

Betsy Griffin 443-239-0307

Creative Director

Jennifer Quinn

Page Design

Jennifer Quinn

Meredith Moore

Community Coordinator

Amelia Blades Steward

Contributing Photographers

Jennifer Quinn

Amelia Blades Steward

Tracey F. Johns

Cecile Storm

Caroline J. Phillips

Kerry Folan

Contributing Writers

Amelia Blades Steward

Tracey F. Johns

James Young

Michael Valliant

Hannah Armstrong

Samantha Facciolo

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MAY 2024 | SHORE MAGAZINE 5 First Friday Gallery Walks Every First Friday Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival at the Ebenezer Theater ART IS ALIVE

Atmosphere: Finding solace

The legacy of Gilbert Byron

PROFILE: Self-discovery through words

Laura Oliver’s story within

HEARTHBEAT: Enriching inspiration
House and garden tours in Talbot County
MAY 2024 | SHORE MAGAZINE 7 CONTENTS GIVING BACK: Perfect your craft Eastern Shore Writers Association helps local writers 37 STAGE LEFT: Shore Lit A thriving literary community 30 42 SHORE ROOTS: The Delmarva Review A unique opportunity to get published

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The legacy of Chesapeake Bay poet Gilbert Byron

Chesapeake Bay poet Gilbert Byron was a man who lived thinking and feeling deeply about his natural surroundings, with his poems offering glimpses into a life lived in harmony with nature. For Byron, solitude wasn't a mere absence of company; it was a companion, guiding his pen through the prose and pages of his life.

Growing up in 1903 in Chestertown, Byron’s childhood days were filled with wanderings along the Chester River’s marshy edges, where he forged an intimate bond with the natural world. As an adult, Gilbert became a teacher and spent much of his life in solitude, living along San Domingo Creek.

In many ways, Byron's life mirrored that of Henry David Thoreau, who famously sought refuge in the solitude of Walden Pond. Both men embraced simplicity, eschewing the trappings of modern life in favor of a deeper communion with the natural world.

“Gilbert was certainly the Voice of the Chesapeake and spoke for its people and especially the watermen, the proggers, and their vanishing way of life almost before anyone else was,” said Jim Dawson, owner of the Unicorn Bookstore in Trappe, which has an extensive selection of Byron’s works. “His poetry speaks of the quiet beauty of the Chesapeake Bay, capturing moments of solitude and reflection that many of us yearn for, but will never be seen again.”

Gilbert’s modest cabin along San Domingo Creek became a sanctuary — a sacred space where he could commune with the elements and weave his thoughts into verse. Gilbert lived much of his life in what some might call poverty, yet he was rich in his appreciation for the world around him.

That cabin was later saved from demolition under the leadership of Byron’s friend, historian and author


Jacques Baker Jr. of Easton. After Gilbert’s death, Baker led a group of donors and volunteers to help move the cabin to the Pickering Creek Audubon Center, where it was restored and remains today for all to enjoy.

“Byron was a quiet, gentle person,” said Baker, who met Byron while he was in ninth grade at Easton High School in 1951. Gilbert was his substitute teacher and later served as his class adviser.

Baker recalls a later time when he and classmate Alex Fountain picked Byron up for their 25th high school reunion.

“He was living in squalor conditions, with no indoor plumbing, or any of the modern conveniences of life,” Baker said. “He had been married, but was now living by himself, with his poetry and quiet solitude.”

“So we kept in touch; and later I assisted him while he continued his writing as his eyesight began failing,” said Baker, who later served as personal representative for his estate.

Since that time, Baker has spent countless hours researching Byron’s life and authored Gilbert Byron, A Life Worth Examining , which was published in 2013.

“Gilbert Byron has written more literature about the Eastern Shore than anyone else,” Baker said, and others agree.

“He knew the land much better than many other Chesapeake Bay writers,” said Bill Thompson, a Chesapeake Bay writer and author who has delved into

Gilbert was certainly the Voice of the Chesapeake and spoke for its people and especially the watermen, the proggers, and their vanishing way of life almost before anyone else was

the depths of Byron’s life and work. “I think Byron was born a natural poet and tried to discover what to write about, rather than somebody who sought to be a writer first.”

Today, the legacy of Gilbert Byron lives on through his poetry, a timeless testament to the enduring power of nature and the human spirit. In a world that often feels fragmented and chaotic, his words offer a glimpse of the Chesapeake Bay’s idyllic past — and a reminder that even in solitude, we are never truly alone. S

Some of the places to find Gilbert Byron’s works: All local public libraries

Unicorn Bookshop 3935 Ocean Gateway Trappe, Md. 21673


Visit the Gilbert Byron Home Pickering Creek Audubon Center 11450 Audubon Lane Easton, Md. 21601


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You can gain clarity in writing and then you can let go or at least you have a chance of letting go.


WWhere do stories originate? Sitting down with award-winning author, editor and teacher Laura Oliver of Annapolis, the answer appears to be simple.

In her book, The Story Within: New Insights and Inspiration for Writers, which has been reprinted eight times by Penguin/Random House, she wrote, “Writers hear in metaphor, which means they can find inspiration in any subject.”

That sounds easy when sitting down with my blank paper canvas in front of me. I know a little bit about a lot of things. But I may be overthinking the process. Oliver added, “. . . good writing is a process of discovery in the act of writing itself. Remember: it is the physical act of writing that brings forth ideas. You never need to wait for the idea to come first.”

Oliver, whose fiction and essays are published in national newspapers, magazines and top-tier literary reviews, started out writing personal essays, selling them to Country Living Magazine and some other national publications. After a while, she decided she wanted to write about other experiences that were not necessarily her own. So, she got a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and literature from Bennington College.

“Most of my fiction is autobiographically based with a true relationship or incident in it and then it takes off and becomes fictionalized from there. But it was so hard in the beginning — the minute I veered into fiction, I would feel like the police were coming because it wasn’t true. It took me so long to come to understand how to weave fiction and nonfiction elegantly together. Some fiction writers, but not all, have an autobiographical core to their work.”

Oliver said that writing is important to unlocking things within us and that often we are compelled by what we don’t understand when we sit down to write. She added, “You can gain clarity in writing and then you can let go or at least you have a chance of letting go.”

With creative writing, Oliver never knows what her next column will be about. She will pick an event to write about — something concrete but shared it’s not what the story is really about.

“The event is what happened — that’s the situation. That’s not the story. The story is always going to be how I was changed by it, which I hope is how the reader is changed too,” she explains.

“That’s why in all the stories I write, I hope there is a moment of transformation. You take the reader on the journey, but you don’t give them answers. The magic for me is in the moment when the reader knows what it’s about at the same moment I know what it’s about. We’re both arriving at the same point at the same time — that’s the thrill of writing for me. It’s when I know the story is going to live — that it’s got a heartbeat and it’s more than an event. It’s knowing there’s going to be an emotional takeaway.”

Image courtesy of Laura Oliver

Oliver states that all the writer has is his or her curiosity, which she deems as a gift. “I’ve said to writers that I think curiosity is the greatest thing you can have in your writer’s toolbox. Knowing what you don’t know is what makes you a good writer,” she added.

For the past two years, Oliver’s Sunday Essays have appeared weekly in an online news site. She also reads her essays on “This is How the Story Goes” every Wednesday on Mid-Shore Mid-Day on WHCP, a National Public Radio member station on the Eastern Shore.


Oliver believes that reading our writing out loud can greatly improve it. Over the last several decades, she has taught both essay and fiction writing at the University of Maryland and St. John’s College, as well as writing workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. She has also given workshops combining positive psychology and the transformative power of writing at Anne Arundel Medical Center, Wellness House and Hospice of the Chesapeake.

“I do like reading aloud published examples in workshops. I have found it’s a really engaging, teaching mechanism. I always read my work aloud multiple times as I am revising, as well, and tell all my writers to always read their work aloud. It helps with the cadence and syntax,” she shared. “The ear can hear what the eye can’t see.”

“Reading aloud also infuses an energy into the words. I think of it as projecting outward that energy that you hope the story contains.”

Oliver shared that writing is about truth-telling and a tool by which you can make more discoveries about yourself. Some of the classes she teaches on writing are to help people use their writing for healing. In these classes, she gives her students a writing prompt to write a page that no one will see on what it is they can’t say. She added, “If everybody did that once a day, we would probably excavate a lot of feelings we need to understand or let go of.”

Her therapist mother, who was also a writer, wrote journals her whole life. Oliver said, “My mother taught me from the time that I was little that you’re here to learn and to grow. Her appreciation of beauty and all things that are kind are in part why I want every story I write to be inspiring.”

Although her parents, grandparents and greatgrandparents are no longer with her, she feels they help her identify stories to write about and find meaning in them.

As a developmental story editor, Oliver also finds joy in taking writing with promise and making it better. Her book, The Story Within: New Insights and Inspiration for Writers, has been praised by Poets and Writers Magazine as “One of the Best Books Published on Writing.” The book employs


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the art of memoir to illuminate craft. She weaves anecdotes from her life as a writer, mother, and teacher throughout the book, infusing fresh advice and inspiring prompts.

I am drawn to these words from Oliver’s book about the reasons we write, “You write to entertain and, in fiction, to stretch the imagination to incorporate what you’ve experienced with what you can envision. And you write for connection: to yourself, to humanity, to something greater than yourself.”

To learn more about Laura Oliver’s writing, teaching, and editing services, visit S

Below: Author Laura Oliver’s book, The Story Within: New Insights and Inspiration for Writers, has been praised by Poets and Writers Magazine as “One of the Best Books Published on Writing.”

Photo by Amelia Blades Steward
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The Talbot County Garden Club, a nonprofit organization for local gardening enthusiasts, will host its biennial Talbot County Tour on Saturday, May 11, as part of the Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage.

The tour will showcase seven of Talbot County’s historic properties; this year’s selection offers some of the most beautiful homes and gardens in Easton and Trappe. Proceeds from the tour will support the preservation and restoration of two historic churches in Talbot County: Scotts United Methodist Church and St Paul’s Episcopal Church, both located in Trappe.

The pilgrimage hosts tours throughout Maryland, but according to garden club co-chair Kim Eckert, “Talbot County, historically, has had the largest number of visitors, so it’s quite a draw.”

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The stops on this year’s tour are Canterbury Manor, Ellenborough, and 219 S. Hanson St, in Easton, and Chloras Point Farm, Trappe Landing Farm, Ferry Farm House, and Lloyd’s Landing, in Trappe.

The locations offer a wide variety of gorgeous views, pristine gardens and meticulously preserved architecture of diverse styles, from the Colonial revival brick mansion of Ellenborough to the pastoral waterfront views of Chloras Point Farm. The properties each have unique historical value, spanning over three centuries; the oldest property, Lloyd’s Landing, began construction in 1720.

According to co-chair Zandi Nammack, the tour is an “all-hands-on-deck project, [with] over 250 volunteers. It’s a tremendous community event, and everyone is willing to help, which makes a huge difference.”

To pull off the ambitious event, volunteers must perform various roles, so the garden club organizes committees oriented to specific tasks, including a property selection committee, an advertising committee, a flower design committee, and several more.

It’s a tremendous community event, and everyone is willing to help, which makes a huge difference.
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Lloyd’s Landing Trappe Landing Farm

“We divide tasks based on our interests and strengths, so we can get things done well,” Nammack said.

The Talbot County Garden Club’s history began in 1917 with its 10 founding members. In 1939, it joined other garden clubs across the state to arrange the first Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage, which has since taken place every year, with the exceptions of World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The club has taken part in numerous beautification and preservation initiatives, including landscaping the Talbot County Courthouse, planting trees at the Easton Hospital and State Police barracks, restoring the Easton Railway Station, and creating and maintaining the Talbot County Historical Society garden.

Co-chairs Eckert and Nammack emphasized the importance of the tour in supporting local efforts to preserve historic sites. The two sites selected for the garden club’s preservation efforts this year, Scotts United and St. Paul’s, are both of historical importance to Talbot County.

Scotts United, built in the 1700s, was originally a Friends meeting house, and was given as a gift to the local African-American community in the mid-1800s; funds from the tour will go toward water damage prevention at Scotts United.

Planning is underway for the 2024 Talbot County Tour of the Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage. The Tour is co-chaired by Kim Eckert and Zandi Nammack.

The TCGC Talbot County Tour Committee includes (front row, l. to r.): Louise Peterson, Mary Helen Cobb, Nancy Thompson, Caroline Benson, Chloe Pitard, Eleanor Denegre; (middle row): Laura Carney, Colleen Doremus, Tracy Garrett; (back row): Co-Chairs Zandi Nammack and Kim Eckert, Carolyn Rugg, Pam Keeton, Fran Jenkins, Maxine Millar, Georgia Adler, Virginia Sappington, and Maribeth Lane. Committee members not pictured: Rebecca Gaffney, Susie Granville, Marsie Hawkinson, Pat Lewers, Rita Mhley, and Sara Robins.

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Trappe Landing Farm 219 Hanson Street

St. Paul’s, which has also been active in Trappe for hundreds of years, will receive repairs to its foundation courtesy of Marth Masonry.

As Nammack put it, “We are able to provide funds for these historic churches to do things they otherwise couldn’t do, and that’s really important to me.”

Members of the garden club are eager to contribute to the county they call their home.

“I fell in love with the county; the grace of the people, and the charm of Easton itself,” Eckert said. “I really value what we can do as a club, and as a community, to give back.”

The Talbot County Tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $40 from the Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage website (, by mail to TCGC, PO Box 1524, Easton, MD 21601 with checks payable to MHGP, or in-person at Bountiful and Garden Treasures in Easton.

Tickets can also be purchased day-of at any tour site or at Momma Maria’s in Trappe for $45. An optional $17 box lunch can be ordered from S

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Pulitzer Prize–nominated nature writer David George Haskell addresses a sold-out crowd at the Avalon Theatre, February 2024 Photo credit: Caroline J. Phillips


A thriving literary community

For the past two years, Shore Lit has been bringing incredible writers to the Eastern Shore for readings, conversations and literary events that have caught on with both the regional community and the writers themselves.

For Shore Lit founder and director Kerry Folan, creating this type of experience for both the community and the visiting writers is intentional.

“I think of our events as an exchange,” Folan said. “We have an audience that is connecting with the writing and who show up to support it. And for the writers, coming to Easton isn’t just a stop on their press circuit, but more like a retreat, something for them to experience — a beautiful, rural place where they can take time to reflect and write while they are here. Over time, we are building literary culture by introducing a whole cohort of writers who may not otherwise have a reason to visit the Mid-Shore.”

Author Tania James reads from her National Book Award–nominated novel Loot at the Academy Art Museum, September 2023 Photo Credit: Cecile Storm

Jung Yun, the author of the acclaimed novel, “ O, Beautiful,” was new to the Eastern Shore when she came to give a reading for Shore Lit.

“I’m not exactly sure what I expected when I agreed to take part in the Shore Lit Series, but I remember being blown away to see over a hundred readers gathered at the Academy Art Museum on a cold Thursday night in February,” Yun said. “What Kerry has done with this series is really remarkable. Not only has she created connections and community around the Eastern Shore through a shared love of reading, she’s a wonderful ambassador for her hometown, introducing newcomers like me to Easton and the surrounding area. I tell Baltimore-based writers all the time that if Kerry ever reaches out to them about participating in Shore Lit, definitely don’t say no.”

Folan is no stranger to the appeal of the Shore for writers: it’s a big part of the reason she moved to Easton. She was an English major at Dickinson College. She went on to get her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from George Mason University, where she currently teaches both writing and literature. Folan moved to Easton in 2017 and balances her time on campus with her life writing and living on the Shore.

She found Easton to be a hub of cultural activity centered around visual and performing arts, with key organizations and facilities, including the Academy Art Museum and Avalon Theatre. She noticed that there wasn’t a consistent presence for the literary arts and founded Shore Lit two years ago to address this need.

Folan’s sense of building and creating community includes keeping programs free to the public and partnering with organizations like the Academy and Avalon to develop events that connect the resources and talents that are already here. Shore Lit recently worked with Adkins Arboretum to bring Pulitzer Prizenominated environmental writer David Haskell to the Avalon. An event that was slated for the Stoltz listening room quickly sold out and ended up filling the whole theater.

Sam Van Nest has been a regular participant in Shore Lit’s programs. He has seen the gap in literary events in the community that Folan is filling.

“Shore Lit has filled an essential gap. With each event, I am surprised by the turnout and enthusiasm,” Van Nest said. “Ms. Folan has indeed brought something unique and special to our intellectually curious community.”

Folan’s efforts to build a vibrant, active literary community go beyond developing public events. She

Author Jung Yun reads from her novel O Beautiful at the Academy Art Museum, February 2023 Photo credit: Cecile Storm Author Andrew Leland signs copies of his memoir The Country of the Blind at the Academy Art Museum, March 2024 Photo credit: Caroline J. Phillips Community members Brenda Fike (far left), Katie Sevon, Kulveen Virdee, and Kentavius Jones at Shore Lit’s book talk with novelist Jung Yun, February 2023 Photo credit: Cecile Storm Memoirist Andrew Leland and Shore Lit Founder Kerry Folan discuss The Country of the Blind at the Academy Art Museum, March 2024 Photo credit: Caroline J. Phillips

also creates a monthly newsletter that highlights not just Shore Lit’s events, but other readings and programs throughout the region. Brenda Fike looks forward to the newsletter each month.

“The Shore Lit newsletter is an under-appreciated resource in the community,” Fike said. “I eagerly anticipate the first of each month when Kerry’s cultural calendar of regional programs arrives in my inbox— there’s just nothing else like it on the Mid-Shore. So many of the enriching programs I have attended this year were not just Shore Lit’s programs, but other cultural events that I wouldn’t have known about if it weren’t for the Shore Lit newsletter — poet Naomi Shihab Nye in Chestertown, the Bluegrass Nutcracker in Cambridge, and The We Will Be Elders Soulfest and hike to the Harriet Tubman witness tree in Preston.”

Andrew Leland, author of the book, “The Country of the Blind,” was part of an immersive event at the

Academy Art Museum, which introduced him to the Eastern Shore.

“I was very impressed by my experience at Shore Lit,” Leland said. “The crowd was bright and engaged, and the museum even shaped its programming to align with my event – there was a sculpture show on and Kerry asked if the artist would be open to tactile (touch) tours of the work, and he agreed — when I was there, I felt the marbles alongside a group of visitors which included a toddler who seemed about as delighted as I was. The event put the Eastern Shore on the map for me to an extent that I won’t soon forget — I’m eager to return.”

In just a couple years, Shore Lit has garnered a huge following in a community eager for literary events. And it has created a name for itself among internationally known writers who are telling their friends and hoping to come back. Keep your eyes and ears open for what Folan and Shore Lit do next — you can sign up for the monthly newsletter at S

I felt the marbles alongside a group of visitors which included a toddler who seemed about as delighted as I was.
Community member Sam Van Nest (far left) participates in a small group discussion about Javier Zamora’s memoir Solito at Shore Lit’s summer bookclub at the Academy Art Museum, August 2023 Photo credit: Kerry Folan
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Eastern Shore Writers Association helps local writers

STORY BY HANNAH ARMSTRONG PHOTOS COURTESY OF ESWA Bottom: From left: Dylan Roche, ESWA president, ESWA board member Gene Garone, speaker Michele Chynoweth Middle: Grace Cavaleri, the 10th Poet Laureate of Maryland, keynote speaker for Bay to Ocean Writers Conference 2024 Top: Judy Reveal, ESWA’s 2024 Legacy Award Winner with Tara A. Elliott, ESWA Executive Director

Since its inception in 1985, the Eastern Shore Writers Association (ESWA) has been supporting writers by helping them to perfect their craft and find opportunities in their field.

The nonprofit volunteer organization works to support writers, writers’ groups and to promote the literary arts on the Eastern Shore. ESWA serves and supports amateur, aspiring and professional writers in their educational and literary pursuits.

According to Tara A. Elliott, the Eastern Shore Writers Association’s executive director, the organization’s early days mostly consisted of Saturday sessions, where ESWA would host one writer every Saturday. Each week, members were invited to participate in these sessions, which would consist of readings of different writers’ works and workshops where members could perfect their craft.

“Perfecting their craft is working on the details of their writing and editing, proofreading, making sure their writing makes logical sense, and pushing the bounds and coming up with new ways of looking at things,” Elliott said.

Although these sessions have continued to be a fundamental part of ESWA’s offerings, over time they have developed into something completely new.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the sessions not only moved to Thursday, but they also shifted to a virtual format.

“We were really successful, and now we offer a weekly writing workshop that is free and open to the general public every Thursday night on Zoom,” Elliott said. “The program is called Thursdays with ESWA.”

Moving the sessions online has helped the writer’s association to expand and impact writers beyond the Eastern Shore.

“Even though we are the Eastern Shore Writers Association, we now have writers from all over the world, which is kind of crazy,” Elliott said.

Before the sessions were moved online, attendance would typically consist of 10 to 15 individuals. Now, every week anywhere from 30 to 100 writers register

It’s all about the craft of writing

for the event and log onto the Zoom session to enhance their writing skills and learn from the resources that ESWA provides. The sessions are also recorded and members of the organization can watch them anytime they would like.

“It’s all about the craft of writing, how they can become a better writer based on craft,” Elliott said. “We have done workshops on publication, or how to get published, and generative workshops where the entire session is dedicated to creating your own work on that night.”

ESWA has invited and featured writers from all over the world, such as Eric Kaplan, a writer and executive producer for the hit television show The Big Bang Theory . Other featured writers include poets such as Brian Turner, Christopher Salerno and Gerry Lafemina.

The traditional workshops have been moved to Thursdays; however, ESWA occasionally hosts special Saturday workshops that serve as fundraisers for the organization. For example, they recently had a special session take place on April 27, where internationally renowned poet Luke Johnson hosted a critique roundtable with attendees.

In addition to these sessions and workshops, ESWA also hosts an annual writers conference every March at Chesapeake College. In 2025, the conference will be held on March 8.

ESWA supports writers throughout their creative endeavors, not only by helping them learn and perfect their talents, but also by helping them connect with publications where their work can potentially be featured. Networking opportunities are often presented and promoted by the organization, which helps writers connect with prospective publishers and media outlets.

“We make sure to promote everything we can literary arts wise that is happening on the Eastern Shore,” Elliott said. “One of my missions has always been to make sure that everybody knows what’s happening on the Eastern Shore so that they can plug into the different events.”

ESWA also seeks to serve and foster the next generation of writers. Elliott herself is a teacher, and the organization sends writers to speak to children at schools.

The work of ESWA has helped many writers from the Eastern Shore and far beyond enhance their writing skills and learn about opportunities to promote and publish their work. S

James Irwin, author, speaking to audience.
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The Delmarva Review offers a unique chance to be published

The Delmarva Review didn’t set out to become a nationally recognized literary magazine garnering submissions from 47 states, the District of Columbia, and 19 countries. It grew as the brainchild of Wilson Wyatt Jr., then president of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, who recognized an opportunity to convert the ESWA members’ publication into a literary magazine with broader reach.

According to Wilson, “The publication was re-invented to become an independent literary magazine that sought submissions from all writers, regardless of geographic borders. Its standards were for ‘evocative prose, great storytelling, and moving poetry that exhibit skillful expression.’”

The first submissions period saw over 200 submissions, including one from Denmark. In year two, that number grew to 1,000 submissions, and by 2023, that number had blossomed to between 4,0006,000 submissions each year. The Review’s primary goal was to offer a competitive opportunity that would result in a byline of which writers could be proud.

It’s a substantial feeling for a writer to see one’s name in print, and since its first issue was released in 2008, The Delmarva Review has offered that thrill to 550 authors. It is a competitive process, and acceptance rates hover near 2%.

2023 was The Review’s 16th Issue, featuring poetry, fiction, nonfiction, author interviews and book reviews. It boasts close to 400 pages, and its 72 authors hail from states as diverse as Massachusetts, Arkansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and California and from countries as farflung as Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Malaysia.

While the magazine started as a regional publication, today, only approximately 45% of its writers come from the Delmarva region. Some of these authors are affiliated with the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild, the Eastern Shore Writers Association, The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

There is an open call for submissions, but according to Wilson Wyatt Jr., current executive editor, the


theme that naturally emerges is change, which, in his words, “…is significant because in this modern world, people are facing a lot of change.”

Change can manifest in a variety of ways, and writers’ explorations often include reflections on anxiety, loss, love, belonging and place.

Authors whose work is showcased in The Delmarva Review often win prizes elsewhere. Each year, the editors make six Pushcart Prize nominations, for a total of over 90 nominations across the Review’s history and to prizes including the Best of American series.

For The Review’s editors, print publishing is meaningful because it allows a writer’s work to be discovered, read, shared and celebrated by those in the literary community—writers, editors, and publishers — as well as by a discerning general public.

The goal of The Review is to “help writers think beyond local borders,” according to Wyatt, especially among the smaller towns dotting Delmarva, and to help communities expand

Photo image featuring all of the Reviews’ front covers since the first issue in 2008. Delmarva Public Media radio panelists pose for a photo at the Salisbury, Maryland, studio following a Don Rush interview taping session featuring a new issue of the Delmarva Review. From left to right, author Neal Gillen of Potomac, Maryland, Harold O. Wilson, the review’s fiction senior editor, from Chester, Maryland, Bill Gourgey, managing editor, from Washington, D.C., and executive editor Wilson Wyatt.

their literary horizons while, at the same time, honoring “the regional language and stories of local writers.”

This endeavor is especially important against the backdrop of the shuttering of many small newspapers. Being published in a literary magazine gives local writers a publishing opportunity they might not otherwise have.

The Delmarva Review also supports young writers through the Delmarva Review-Talbot County Youth Writing Scholarship. This unique collaboration, supported by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council, allows a high school student to spend a year receiving mentorship from a managing editor and preparing a piece for publication in that year’s issue. 2023’s youth scholarship winner was Mia Mazzeo of Easton.

In 2024, the Review will produce a best of anthology, highlighting the best writing published in the magazine over the past 16 years. In all, the Review has far surpassed its original goal of providing a regional publishing outlet for local writing and continues to strive for higher ambitions — celebrating the literary arts and the artists whose work thematically connects and resonates for us all. S

In this modern world, people are facing a lot of change
Front cover, Volume 16, 2023: Eye of the Beholder, photo by Wilson Wyatt.
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