Passager (passage + passenger) is a small, independent literary press whose mission is to publish the work of older writers, encourage the imagination in the later stages of life, and create beautiful and welcoming publications.
In 1990, in Baltimore, Passager was born. The idea was to bring attention to writers over 50 by giving them opportunities to publish with a nationally recognized press. At that time, it was unusual to find men and women writing in their 80s and 90s, but now we are happy to report that more and more authors join those ranks every day.
Passager Books, founded in 2005, has published anthologies, poetry collections, short fiction and memoirs by authors whose work has appeared in our journal. Our writers are our high flying birds, our muses, who make public the passions of a generation vital to our survival.
2023 Passager Open Issue Staff
Guest Editor, 2023 Passager Open Issue
Christine Lincoln is an internationally award-winning author and motivational speaker. Her stories have appeared in many literary journals such as Pleiades Magazine and the Paris Review. They have been read and performed by Don Cheadle, Gary Dourdan, and Lizan Mitchell.
Lincoln is Poet Laureate Emeritus of York, PA. As Laureate, she created a writing group at a local domestic violence safehouse where she helped survivors of trauma and abuse explore poetry as a means to healing. Christine has traveled throughout the U.S. and the world, including South Africa where she was the first author to represent the United States in South Africa’s annual Year of the Writer Celebration. She has appeared on NPR, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and has been featured as a “Phenomenal Woman” in O: The Oprah Magazine.
Guest Editor, 2023 Passager Open Issue
Ladi Glori’s is an innovative Baltimore-based spoken word artist, actress, and author, as well as a passionate activist. She was named a top ten poet of Central PA by Jump Street. Ladi was featured on radio and performed as part of the ‘Becoming Human; Voices to End Rape Culture’ production. She has served as Master of Ceremonies at concerts that speak to the power and vibrance of culture, such as The Imani Concert, Equality Fest and Central Penn College Poetry Slam. Ladi Glori’s passion on stage is only surpassed by her urgency to retell the narrative through empathy, self-love and unapologetic truth.
Editorial Assistant, 2023 Passager Open Issue
Breasia Boyd is an aspiring writer with a fascination for the imagination. As a child she experimented with writing poetry, fanfiction and screenwriting. She said, “I love all forms of creative writing and there’s nothing more magical than watching something you dreamt of come to life.” Growing up in both Maryland and Virginia contributed to her appreciation for culture, arts and her ever growing imagination that fuels her writings. “I’ve experienced city life, country life, beach life and everything else in between. I feel like I’ve lived all over without having to go very far.” Breasia is an alumna of Old Dominion University and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore.
Intern, 2023 Passager Open Issue
Shira grew up between England and Israel. In one, she learnt the wonders of Shakespeare and literature, and in the other, she got (many) tattoos. Shira loves to write, edit, do cat stuff, perform, hide in the shadows, watch way too many horror movies, and then complain that she has multiple stalkers who can enter her dreams. She’s lovingly involved in the LGBTQIA+ community and used to be a psychologist, counseling and treating people from that community in Israel, as well as those with mental health issues. She has always wanted to be a writer and editor, has written a fantasy novel, lived in multiple countries and considers NY her chosen home. Following this bio, she will continue referring to herself in third person, as it makes her feel important.
Mary Azrael, Passager editor for over thirty years, said, “I’ve come to know remarkable people, ages 50 to 103, through their poems, stories, memoirs, and letters. What they say continues to surprise me and enrich my life.” Author of four books of poetry and the libretto for Lost Childhood, an opera, she has led poetry workshops for people ages 8-80 through Maryland’s Poets in the Schools and the Johns Hopkins Odyssey (continuing studies) program. As a Feldenkrais practitioner, she guides people through lessons to improve flexibility of movement and thinking. Words that make her heart leap up: bird, puppet, book, boots, post office. She loves finding real letters in her mailbox. Born in 1943, she is the oldest Passager staff member.
Baltimore native Kendra Kopelke holds degrees from Ohio University and The Johns Hopkins University; she also often holds the leashes of her two poodles, Gracie and Mimmy, who delight and astonish her as much as good poetry. She directed the University of Baltimore’s MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts from its inception until her retirement. Founding editor of Passager, she is the author of four books of poems, plays ukulele so she can sing along, and loves to pretend she’s Matisse making cutouts. She said, “Passager is a dream [Mary and] I have been having for over 30 years. We make it up as we go along, and in that creative process have had so many marvelous encounters it’s impossible to stop.”
Christine Drawl comes from a family of farmers, carpenters and historians. She’s a small town Ohio girl and proud of it. A fiction writer and designer, Christine received her MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore. Her book of short stories, Grandmother Tree, was a 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist. Christine spends at least some of her non-Passager time “reviving” the 1890s house where she and her musical husband Peter live. She said that “as the youngest Passager staff member, I am continually inspired by writers decades older than me whose voices have given me a tremendous amount of hope for my own future.”
University of Baltimore MFA Barbara Appell Fellow
After 25 years as a teaching artist of poetry in the Maryland schools and two years in northern California where her husband pursued a late-career job, Rosanne is back in Maryland doing the unexpected: getting an MFA in Creative Writing & Publication Arts at the University of Baltimore. She said, “Although I’ve had my work published over the years, I never knew what went on behind the scenes at a small press. I’m still in awe of the careful and loving process Passager’s editors go through as they read and choose material for their twice-yearly journals and individual collections.” Rosanne’s own most recent publication is a collection of poems, Little Red Dot.
Pantea Amin Tofangchi
Pantea Amin Tofangchi is graphic designer by profession and a writer by heart. She grew up counting swallows, pomegranate, persimmon, magnolia and acacia trees along with missiles and bombs. She was eight when the Iran-Iraq war started and a teenager when it ended. It wasn’t until she immigrated to the US, though, that she realized how much the war had affected her, not the things that are said and shown about wars, but those that aren’t. Ironically, that describes poetry and graphic design, too: the most important part is often left unstated, the white space, the silver area that is left for anticipation, a white spark of hope that hugs each letter and shape. As Passager’s art director, she said, she “embraces each word, one letter at a time, until they become not just a book, but a home to hold all the wisdom and creativity that Passager writers have to offer.”
Podcast Producer & Host
Growing up, Jon Shorr loved listening to radio drama, the “theatre of the mind.” He still does. Over the course of his career, along with teaching high school and college, he’s hosted a late night “classic” poetry show on Baltimore’s big band radio station and written and produced audio and video documentaries. Now that he’s retired (and, ironically, wearing hearing aids), he spends a lot of his time writing short stories and essays, writing and producing Passager’s weekly podcast Burning Bright, and looking for ways to bring more attention to Passager’s mission of publishing work by older writers.
Dina Sokal is a child and adult psychiatrist, mother of three, and grandmother of one. She secretly read books into the late-night hours as a child and dreamed of becoming a writer. Instead, her father encouraged her to become a doctor, so she majored in English at Goucher and took all the requirements for medical school. After completing her medical training at the University of Maryland, she chose psychiatry and devoted herself to helping people tell and revise their own stories. Now that her career is winding down, she is excited to pursue her MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing at the University of Baltimore and switch her focus to writing stories, stories she hopes readers will connect to and be inspired by. She is delighted to work with the dedicated founders and staff at Passager. She looks forward to learning more about the process of publishing, writing and design and to being inspired by the works of writers over age 50.
Board of Directors
Attorney, poet and novelist Kathleen Shemer is a lifelong Maryland resident. She is Chief Financial Officer of Shemer Bar Review and served as Executive Director of Maryland Defense Counsel and the Women’s Law Center of Maryland. She is most proud of her work to create access to justice programs for underserved populations, particularly in domestic violence cases. In the early 2000’s, she volunteered for Passager, copying subscription checks and packaging journal issues. Mostly retired now, she was drawn back to Passager by its visionary commitment to expanding publishing opportunities for older writers, though, as Treasurer, her responsibilities have been upgraded a bit.
John Wilson, elected Passager’s secretary only partly because of his elegant penmanship, moved to Baltimore in the 1970s as a theatre artist, graduated from the University of Baltimore’s publications design program as a graphic designer, and spent the next 40 years moving among theatre performance and graphic design, ceramics and book design, magazine art directing and stage directing, teaching, and on and on, very often integrating them in unique ways. Before joining Passager’s board, he served for 28 years on the Baltimore Theatre Project board of directors.
S.B. Merrow studied literature and Japanese, then apprenticed as a flute-maker. For years she worked with her hands and ears, helping to build concert flutes for musicians around the world. She established her own flute repair business and worked on the instruments of performers, collectors, and conservatories, before returning to her first love, poetry. At 61, she submitted a chapbook to a contest – and won – convincing her that writing was an excellent way to inhabit her senior years. Now she writes, bikes, and plays the ukulele, although not at the same time.
Joyce Ritchie retired after a career in institutional advancement in the non-profit sector. An Indiana University Jacobs School of Music graduate, she performed and taught French horn before relocating to Baltimore. Here, she served in leadership capacities in the arts, public broadcasting, and higher education, including 10 years as Associate Dean for Development for the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. She has sat on both sides of the “grant-making” table: directing grants programs for a regional arts foundation; and securing funds as the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the University of Maryland, Baltimore. “Now,” she said, “I view the world through a poet’s lens, rediscovering my love of words and music — word music — and their power to communicate.”
Our Commitment to Diversity
Passager shall not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, sex, race, color, national origin, gender identity or expression, physical ability, or political or religious opinion or affiliation in any of its policies, procedures, or practices.