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An Accidental Diary

A sonnet a week for a year

An Accidental Diary has just been published. I am both surprised and extremely proud of my unusual book.

In writing a sonnet a week for a year, I discovered — almost 20 years later — that I'd created a wild subconscious diary in a year of transition.

It was whatever was on my mind Sunday night while working to meet my deadline.

It was what I had kept hidden from myself back then and what years later would happen: fond recollections and musings on loss, lust, love of family, my fear of dying alone, a sad divorce and, back then, even efforts to quit smoking.

I hope you’ll give it a read.

“The Naked House Painting Society”

“Easily the festival’s best. Riveting drama with genuine humor and intense relationships. Mystical in nature, the play turns on incisive philosophical dialogue.” — Winifred Walsh, The Baltimore Sun

 

“Slavery,” a play in one act

Ownership is the issue as two associates draft a patent at a huge law firm in Robert Bowie, Jr’s one‑act play “Slavery.”

“Crash & Burn PA”

“It’s pretty damned refreshing. Tightly woven, with comic prowess and a nicely fast pace. If you want a carefree night of fun and laughs, this is your ticket.” — Pandora Locks

“Witchcraft,” a play in one act

“‘Witchcraft’ offers the suspenseful flavor of Alfred Hitchcock show. The drama unfolds with many unanticipated twists and turns…” — Janet Stidman Evleth

Poet Laureate - Harvard Alumni Association

Robert is also an accomplished poet and HAA Poet Laureate. You can read some of his poems here.

 

Plays by Robert Bowie, Jr…

Sold-Out Shows, Rave Reviews!

Our FringeNYC premiere could not have gone better…

ONAJE sold out all five shows, the performances were riveting, and both audiences and critics were exceedingly positive. Check out these great reviews from onstageblog.com and Theatre is Easy (theasy.com) .

Thanks again to our incredible cast, crew, and creative team — and to everyone whose generous support helped bring ONAJE to life!

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How Shame Can Be Forgiven with Humor at Your Own Expense

How Shame Can Be Forgiven with Humor at Your Own Expense

I’ve always been a little shy about confessing my love of poetry.

Over 40 years ago, my love of poetry got into a head-on collision with my decision to be a successful lawyer. This collision was the final confirmation I needed to reenforce my belief that I should probably keep my mouth shut about poetry.

This year, however — in fact, this spring — I have outgrown this conclusion once I appreciated the humor in my mistake and that I wasn’t the center of the universe, which is probably why it took over 40 years.

On Saturday, June 1, in less than a week, we will be celebrating “Poetry Day” at Manor Mill in Monkton, Maryland. Manor Mill is a beautifully reborn pre-revolutionary gristmill on a little tributary off the Gunpowder River. There, Angelo Otterbein, its new owner, has created a center for the creative arts in the middle of the verdant horse country of northern Baltimore County.

For the last year and a half, on the first Monday of every month, Mel Eden and I have run a poetry open mic at the Mill. We start at 6:30 pm with a reading by one or two well established mid-Atlantic poets. Then, after a brief break, we turn to the open mic sign-up sheet, with each poet sharing one poem each, providing a wide variety of work. Then, if possible, we do a second round so each poet has an opportunity to read twice.

This group has grown into an ever increasing source of inspiration and community for both established and upcoming poets from all walks of life. From the beginning, we also set up a poetry class at the nearby Hereford Library for new poets to perfect their chops before they elect to perform. This class has been led by Michael Fallon, a celebrated retired professor of poetry who has taught and published for over 35 years.

Poetry Day on June 1st was created by Mel to celebrate this new artistic community as well as the art and creation of poetry. Mel is also largely responsible for a beautiful professionally published bound book of Manor Mill open mic poems and poets that is scheduled to be available early this September.

Back to my head-on collision, though, which years ago separated my two passions and broke my fragile poet’s heart.

All through law school on Saturday nights I didn’t go out drinking with my friends. Instead, I would cook a Cornish game hen, drink whiskey and listen to one of my extensive collection of recordings of Shakespeare plays.

I kept this eccentric behavior to myself for the most part, except in my second year, I met a Baltimore Sun reporter, Carlton Jones, at our local Maryland Institute of the Arts art student bar, which featured big display panels on the walls where artists were offered a chance to display their work.

Carlton was in his early 70s, I would guess, and it turned out one night we both confessed our love of poetry. Without my knowledge he went to the owner and I was offered a chance to post my poems on the large panels in the bar, normally reserved for art and thereafter Carlton wrote a glowing review in the Sun.

I almost came out of the closet and admitted to myself that I was a poet until an all-important second job interview at a large law firm broke my heart and I went underground again.

In hindsight I was foolish and easily injured but it is funny, so here goes:

At this interview, four lawyers and a senior partner went over my resume and asked me questions until the senior partner took control. I took this as a good sign, particularly when he pointed out that at the end of my resume under “Other Interests” I had included “poetry.“

He asked me, “What is the difference between poetic writing and statutory writing?” I took this as a great final line of inquiry!

“Okay,” I said. “If you want to write a statute to prohibit throwing up on the street you would say, ‘No throwing up on the street’ and then define ‘throwing up.’ But if you were Shakespeare you would say, ‘speaking with a full flowing stomach.’”

I could not have been more excited to be so erudite on a subject I felt I knew quite well, so of course I couldn’t leave it alone.

“If you wanted to forbid fornication,” I continued. “You would write a statute prohibiting fornication and then define fornication, but if you were Shakespeare, you would say, “Making the beast with two backs.’”

I was a little surprised when the senior partner announced that the interview was now over and they would be in touch.

As I went down the elevator I was very proud of myself, but as I walked home the doubt came on slowly. By the time I reached my neighborhood bar, I went in and had a double scotch.

A couple of days later, I got a letter, and jumped to the conclusion that they thought I might not fit in. They wished me well on my future career as a lawyer.

To this day, I remain a proud (now retired) lawyer but I’m now proud to call myself a poet, too.

Thanks to Manor Mill, I have been around poets nonstop for the last year and a half and I have been welcomed. I have made wonderful, lifelong friends and have come to believe that perhaps Mel and I have encouraged future poets to find their voice and sing. These poets are remarkable people. They step out of the grind and observe it for others. They are fun to be with.

I hope you can join us for Poetry Day on Saturday and see for yourself. There’s a full schedule of events at www.manor-mill.com/poetryday.

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About Robert Bowie, Jr.

Playwright and Poet Robert Bowie, Jr. of Baltimore, Maryland has had ten plays produced, including  “Onaje,” which was selected for professional production at FringeNYC in October 2018. Its five sold-out FringeNYC performances received rave reviews. Other plays include “There Ain’t No Wyoming” and “Naked House Painting Society,” which were produced through The Baltimore Playwrights Festival. Bowie’s political farce “Crash & Burn P.A.” was the only submission selected by the 2016 Festival Committee for a full production at Theatrical Mining Company, Baltimore.

Bowie’s plays are focused on social justice and span a broad spectrum between drama and comedy. His subject matter ranges from racial prejudice and civil rights to political farce.

Bowie is a graduate of Harvard University and is the Poet Laureate of The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA).

His well-reviewed collection of sonnets, An Accidental Diary, is available to order online.

“Without the arts, we are a rudderless boat.”
— Robert Bowie, Jr.