The Book – St. Paul Street Provocations

Charm City one block south of North Avenue one block east of Charles four blocks west from Greenmount Cemetery

I never seem to know what to say in the blog there are so many good blogs out there in cyberspace about every topic one can stretch the mind to think of but I’m feeling like I’m shortchanging my friends and myself by not sharing words of my life as a poet and emerging visual artist. I value both the language and the canvas so much that it pains me at times that I did not start this journey sooner. I suppose we all have that moment when we are mid-career or even late career and go “jeez wish I’d stuck with painting.” In my case it is drawing or “tangling” as I like to say. My tangling is my version of Zentangle and I have included a few pieces in the book. The pieces in the book are hearts with a center off circle which I interpret as the ‘soul’ of the heart. We all have one. I know we all have a heart if not wouldn’t we be made of tin? It’s our souls that I relish. What’s there? What’s been planted? How do we reclaim it? How do we nourish our souls? In the book (or collection I like to say – I never thought I would have a book) I have several poems around my time living in Baltimore city. It was 2011 and I was in the beginning of a divorce so to start anew I moved to a city I loved from a distance. I was completely ‘charmed’ by the Charm City until I lived in it.

For Rent

I read a blog today about transformation and while that blog was about moving into a new space it got me thinking about writing and drawing and the transformation of language. If we think of hieroglyphics as the first writings then communicating through drawing is simply an outgrowth of that. The blog got me thinking. I researched transformation in linguistics the definition reads: a process by which an element in the underlying deep structure of a sentence is converted to an element in the surface structure . Wow, that is what I was trying to create with both the book and the drawings. In the drawing attached I have a whole story draw within. It could be about ‘Big Mama’ who dies never owning her home – she is in the book in the poem ‘Indemnity.’

Transformation to most means ‘change’ and that is something I am also in the process of doing. My body is changing daily (whose isn’t) and my hair which is often a subject of conversation is changing. I have allowed my hair to grow however it pleases. I used to dye my hair but after a while I noticed it started thinning and so I stopped, much to my friends’ chagrin but it was the right transformation for me.

I am so grateful to Gwen Van Velsor and the folks at Yellow Arrow Publishing for taking a chance on me and my transformation to author. It’s the grays in my hair that remind me of my ancestors and how they sacrificed creating their own language in a foreign land. The last poem in the book asks the question: ‘Why my history got to be only month long?’ This book asks that question and the question of why we are here. Let’s be here to create transformation from what is to what can be. Let’s challenge ourselves and our stories until “the truth be told.”

St. Paul Street Provocations


Patti Ross lived in Baltimore, Maryland from 2010 to 2013, just one block south of North Avenue on St. Paul Street. She found herself in a neighborhood somewhat blighted, slighted by its own city. The chess moves of gentrification were becoming more evident and in a short time, Maryland Institute College of Art would move in to change the face of North Avenue between Howard and St. Paul Street forever. Those from the neighborhood saw their displacement coming. They preached about it to whoever would listen and often Patti did.

St. Paul Street Provocations gives proclamations to her friends’ stories and their lives in a city given the nickname of “Charm City.” As an advocate for the poor and marginalized, she wanted to share the stories and illuminate the voices of those forced to live with daily pauperism. While walking her dog often through the neighborhood she met several homeless and drug abuse individuals many of whom others walked past or scoffed at regularly. Patti stopped to listen to their stories, some believable, some not, but she listened each time they wanted to share. And wrote it down.

After retiring from a career in technology, Patti rediscovered her love of writing and shares her voice as the spoken-word artist “little pi.” Patti hosts EC Poetry and Prose Open Mic in Ellicott City, Maryland, and the online series First Fridays under the organizational umbrella of Maryland Writers Association. She also actively supports several Baltimore youth nonprofits as a board member and advisor.

A lifelong advocate for the disenfranchised and homeless, Patti writes poems about the racially marginalized as well as society’s traumatization of the human spirit. Her poems are published in the Pen In Hand Journal, PoetryXHunger website, and Oyster River Pages: Composite Dreams Issue as well as other online zines.

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