Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC
Kim Roberts, editor
Featuring over one hundred contemporary poems, the book captures DC's unique sense of place, from monuments to parks, from lawyers to bus stations, from go-go music to chili half-smokes. All poems were written between 1950 and the present, by past and current residents of the city. Edited by Kim Roberts, the publisher of the acclaimed online journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly, this anthology captures the city's many moods: celebratory, angry, and fiercely political.
Contributors include: two-time US Poet Laureate Reed Whittemore; DC's first Poet Laureate, Sterling A. Brown; senator and five-time presidential candidate Eugene J. McCarthy; Cervantes prize winner for lifetime achievement in Spanish-language literature, Jose Emilio Pacheco; renowned gay rights activist Essex Hemphill; and President Obama's official inauguration poet,Elizabeth Alexander.
Full Moon on K Street is available at Busboys & Poets, Politics and Prose in Washington DC and elsewhere!
The Washington Post called it "the first anthology of modern poetry to be wholly for, about and by current and former Washington residents—[that] teems with poets who've distilled the region's lifeblood into verse over the past 50 years."
The Current Newspaper's family of neighborhood papers (The Northwest Current, Georgetown Current, and Dupont Current) noted, "If you love D.C., even if you haven't read a poem since high school, you'll find that the book is full of intriguing perspectives on familiar places and events...And for newcomers--or those who want to send the book to folks back home--the introduction to each poem explains the local references."
The Hill Rag acclaimed, "What better place for a poetry journal than the nation's capital?"
Q&A with editor Kim Roberts by Plan B Press publisher stevenallenmay.
Plan B Press: What prompted you to start Beltway Poetry Quarterly online magazine?
Kim Roberts: It was the idea of my friend Kathy Keler. Kathy is a painter and graphic designer, and she started a website called "washingtonart" to showcase other area visual artists. She thought it would be a great idea to pair this with some poems, and--after convincing me, since I initially took some convincing--Kathy taught me some basics of html, and designed the logo and overall look of the journal. I can't believe that it will be ten years old this coming January! The journal has taught me so much, and introduced me to so many poets.
Plan B Press: The anthology, Full Moon on K Street has evolved from a celebration of Beltway Magazine to a more sweeping look at the city’s poetry over the past 50 years. How did that happen?
Kim Roberts: The anthology is an overlapping of my several obsessions: poetry, of course, but also literary history, and the built environment. love cities--their architecture, their grid, the way large groups of people use the space--and I love DC especially. I've looked at a lot of other anthologies, and nothing like this exists--a portrait of the city from 1950 to the present, and the places within the city that have meant something special to these authors.
Plan B Press: What types of obstacles have you had to deal with in preparing the anthology? What has been most frustrating and most rewarding in the effort?
Kim Roberts: Compiling an anthology is much harder than I imagined! There were lots of authors I knew I wanted to include, and I looked back over their work, and was surprised to see that many never wrote poems set in DC. That includes such authors as wide ranging as Larry Neal, Archibald MacLeish, Owen Dodson, and Anthony Hecht. There were other authors, such as Dierdra Baldwin, Gloria Oden, and Haki Madhubuti who did not respond to my request for poems. It would have been lovely to have included all of them. But there were lots of wonderful coups as well. I spoke to the next-of-kin of many authors who have passed away who were enthusiastic about the project. Some, like Ed Cox's family, were thrilled to be reminded that their loved ones are still read and loved by the larger literary community. I am so grateful to them (as well as the families of Hilary Tham, Ann Darr, Betty Parry, and others) for the warm responses they gave. I was also gratified by the poets who--like Myra Sklarew--decided to write poems specifically for this anthology. And I was pleased to be able to track down so many authors who once lived in DC and have since moved away, such as Michael Lally, Gray Jacobik, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and Sharan Strange. There are also poets included who I think should be better known to readers. I was able to get permission to reprint a poem by Essex Hemphill, the pioneering African-American gay rights activist whose poetry is a revelation, but whose work was long kept out of circulation by family members wanting to preserve their privacy. There are poems by Percy Johnston, a leader of the Howard Poets of the 1970s, and Eugene McCarthy, best remembered as a Senator and five-time Presidential candidate. Their poems, different as they are, show great humor and an deep engagement with the world around them. Jose Emilio Pacheco, little known here, is widely considered Mexico's greatest living poet. He taught at the University of Maryland for one semester a year for many years, and his poem about Sligo Creek is a terrific addition to the book. And Gaston Neal, who published so little during his lifetime but was a mentor to so many, is included with a tribute poem to Sterling Brown.
You can catch readings from Full Moon on K Street by poets who appear in this wonderful anthology here:
Poet's Corner radio show, featuring a reading from the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC with editor Kim Roberts and contributors Teri Ellen Cross, Hayes Davis, David Moore. Interviewed by Abdul Ali.
Monday, 7:00 pm
WPFW 89.3 FM
Poetry at Noon: Reading from the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC with editor Kim Roberts and contributors Jonetta Rose Barras, Merrill Leffler, Ramola D, and Venus Thrash.
Tuesday, 12:00 pm
Free. Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Whittall Pavilion, First St. SE, DC. (202) 707-5394.
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Just a reminder:
The YorkArts Gallery
10 North Beaver Street
The Prufrock Project Mini Exhibit
November 16 to November 28, 2009
with an opening reception on November 21, 2009 @ 6:00 pm to celebrate:
over forty artists and writers from your neighborhood across the globe contributing to York’s Prufrock Project—each creating art based on stanzas from T. S. Eliot’s famous poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” This image-packed poem is transcribed in art to create a meditation on its various elements.
Visit http://www.emster.com/prufrock/ for more information.
And here's a video of Michael Gough reading The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
By Harriet Monroe
MAX EASTMAN speaks up again for exact metrics and against the freer forms which he once called "lazy verse." This time his argument—American Ideals of Poetry he calls it—forms the preface to his new book of delicately wrought "poems and songs and sonnets," entitled Colots of Life (Alfred A. Knopf). In this thirty-page article he sums up his case, the case of a man whose lingering conservatism, chased out of other departments of his mind, finds a last refuge in art.
Why not admit that Max Eastman is one of the most vivid and exuberant of human souls—an ardent creature who works, as he lives, with passion, convinced that he would not cringe before the white light of truth ? The truth—he finds it in the old pagan clarity, uniting, across the Christian centuries, with the pitiless searching breath of modern science to bear away speculative fogs and aristocratic snobberies and humilities of faith. Like Rupert Brooke, he gives his ardor, to a cause, and would die for it in glamorous ecstasy if need were. And, again like Brooke, he sees the figure of Beauty not quite lithe and nude, as Blake saw it, or—let us venture to say—as H. D. sees it today, but decorously draped in the sheerest and most softly colored of veils—silken chiffons that fall, almost with but effort, into rhythmic folds, into wistful modern reminders of the austere Greek line.
But, in presenting the fine brief sonnets and other lyrics which are the result of his prayerful communings with Beauty, he is not sure enough of them to offer them without preliminary theory, without a plea. His plea takes the form of a contrast between Whitman and Poe, and an indictment of free verse as necessarily unrespectful of the line and therefore unstructural and formless! He quotes from Whitman's proud invitation to the poets of the future—that assertion that "there is something inevitably comic in rhyme," and that "the truest and greatest poetry, while subtly and necessarily always rhythmic and distinguishable easily enough, can never again, in the English language, be expressed in arbitrary and rhyming metre;" and over against this he sets certain "icy" admonitions from Poe's Philosophy of Composition which he thinks assert that poet's "preoccupation with 'verbal melody' " and his point that "beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem." And Mr. Eastman adds: "The details of this difference are fascinating, but the generalization of it is what will illumine the modern problems about poetry."
Well, in Mr. Eastman's generalization one gets indeed his point of view, the clever argument of a special pleader, but not much illumination. He says, "The opposition of these two characters and attitudes is complete;" when, in fact, however the personal characters of Poe and Whitman may be in contrast, their aesthetic principles are far from irreconcilable. Does Mr. Eastman seriously ascribe to Whitman "a grand contempt for beauty?" or think that Poe, in asserting, "beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem," means by beauty merely "verbal melody"—indeed, a metrically restricted verbal melody at that—and does not include spiritual motive? Does Mr. Eastman mean to imply that iambic metrics, rhyme, the pentameter line, or any other familiar instruments of English poetry, are anything but tools and aids, are in themselves structure? Does he find more "form" (much abused word!), more sheerly structural modelling, in The Raven than in that glorious elegy When lilacs last in the door-yard bloomed, even though the former poem is in the school, let us say, of Houdon and the latter in that of Rodin?
To come down to our own immediate moment, does Mr. Eastman find more form—a more severely modelled classic shape—in Witter Bynner's fine Celia lyrics, or his own purely carved love sonnets in this volume, than in Carl Sandburg's Lost or The Great Hunt, H. D.'s Oread or The Shrine, Aldington's Choricos, Amy Lowell's Venus Tran- siens, or Ezra Pound's Dance Figure and certain other lyrics? Mr. Eastman may prefer strictly measured iambics to free verse—no one will deny him a right to his preference; but when he tries to ascribe to these all the architectonics of the poetic art he is treading on shoals and quicksands.
Mr. Eastman complains that the line-divisions of free verse are arbitrary, that if they were once scrambled together in any poem even the author could hardly unscramble them. But may one ask him what that alleged fact has to do with the case? If this scrambling makes prose of any piece, then it was always prose—as indeed much verse is, both bond and free. Would Hamlet's soliloquy or Antony's death-speech be any the less poetry if written out as prose, or if scrambled into irregular lines ? Is Lincoln's Gettysburg speech any the less essentially poetry, in rhythm, structure, and spiritual motive, because it happens to be printed without line- divisions ?
If the eye-test shatters Mr. Eastman's arguments, the ear- test is similarly destructive. He says: if "two or three of the most free and subtle" of the vers-librists were "to read one of their favorite passages into the ear of an instrument, it is safe to assert that there would be less identity in the actual pulsations recorded than if the same two or three were reading a passage of highly wrought English prose." Possibly; but if these same two or three were to read Paradise Lost or the Ode to the West Wind, or any other poem of subtle or sweeping cadences, there would be still less identity. Such investigations as Dr. Patterson's (sensibly approved by Mr. Eastman and thoughtlessly disapproved, in a recent Dial, by John Gould Fletcher) will turn the pitiless light of science upon the empiricism of prosody, and upon the unrhythmic misinterpretations of poetry which most readers are guilty of. A life-time of theatre-going, including more Shakespeare and other poet-playwrights than may be found on the stage today, has convinced me that ninety-nine per-cent of actors deliberately hash poetic lines into prose so that even Mr. Eastman could hardly unscramble them. And few poets, whatever their rhythmic instinct, may be trusted to read their own poems.
In short, Mr. Eastman's argument will not hold water. It is a wistful effort to give the sanctity of unalterable law to merely individual theories and preferences. ( Mr. Eastman wants poetry as a refuge from life's passion and turmoil, and he uses the great name of Poe as his authority—Poe, to whom "a poem was an objective thing," Poe, who "would take sounds and melodies of words almost actually into his hands, and carve and model them until he had formed a beautiful vessel." Ah, but Poe's passion was beauty, especially beauty as it is found in poetry, whereas Mr. Eastman's passion is life, and its enhancement through social revolution. In politics and social ethics he is a radical; but shocked conservatism must take refuge in some sacred corner of one's being, and in his case the muse presides there with draped and decorous dignity. ) H. M.
Poet Inspires Archie
This alternative future will be a relief to the fans who reacted negatively to the marriage to Veronica. “The polls that I’ve seen ran about 80/20, Betty over Veronica, with Jughead continually coming in a strong third,” said Mr. Uslan, a comic-book historian, a longtime “Archie” fan and a producer of the big-screen “Batman” films. Mr. Uslan said his inspiration for the story included a film (“Sliding Doors”), a poem (Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken”) and a song (“Both Sides, Now”).
Confirmation Hearings For Poet Laureate
For those of you who live in the immediate area of Washington, D.C. (motto: Visit Washington! It’s a *Capitol* offense!), Kay Ryan will be kicking off her second term as Poet Laureate with a reading at the Library of Congress on October 21, 2009.
I encourage you to attend this reading if you have a chance, whether you are a writer or not, and, if you are a writer, whether you find Ryan’s poems congenial or not.
As it happens, the online journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, has just put up an issue on the U. S. Poets Laureate, aka The Consultant in Poetry aka Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, that last being the current official title, courtesy of, no doubt, The Department of Redundancy Department.
Upcoming (imminent!) Vrzhu author Carol Guess, who we are just crazy about, is a featured writer over at the Genpop Books, where you can read four of her wonderful prose poems, a form of which she is a master.
Cavalieri: How much are we missing? We see and hear English translations of your poems and some are called brilliant in any language.
Brodsky: You can’t say you are missing much. You can’t say you are missing the prosody of another language. You can’t miss the acoustics of another language. The original is rooted in the euphony of the Russian language. That of course you can’t have and you’re not missing it. You can’t miss something that you don’t know.
Cavalieri: We can get a good lyrical poem anyway that is matchless.
Brodsky: That’s what it is if it works in English. You have to be a judge of solely how it is in English.
Cavalieri: We shouldn’t feel we’re getting only ninety percent of something which is absolute.
Brodsky: You get a poem in English, good or bad. You can’t fantasize about what it’d be like in the original.
That seems like one of the more reasonable remarks about the fraught issue of translating poetry.
Also I suggest giving serious consideration to Brodsky's advice to write your Nobel Prize acceptance speech NOW, "just in case."
Apparently, Jane Campion, the director of kinescopic entertainment best know for The Piano, is opening today her latest, entitled the Strawberry Statement.
No, wait, that is entirely incorrect. Where are my notes? (shuffle, shuffle) Ah, yes. Here.
Jane Campion’s Bright Star, a movie starring John Keats and Fannie Brawne…I’m sorry, a movie about English Poet John Keats and Fannie Brawne is opening today in theaters in this area. It sounds like it will be very good, and I recommend you see it.
In honor of this event, I am re-re-posting what may be the only undiscovered fragment of poetry by Keats. The ms. was found in the sixth sublevel of the extensive Vrzhu archives. Written on foolscap, this unfinished draft bears a remarkable similarity to Keats’ Ode To Psyche. Since there is no indication of the date, and we have been unsuccessful at determining the date of composition by other means, we can only speculate on it’s place in Keats’ oeuvre. Is it an earlier, unsuccessful poem that he later cribbed from to write Ode To Pysche? Or was it written after that ode in attempt to change and expand the subject? We must also mention that there has been speculation that Keat’s frenemy, Charles Armitage Brown, is responsible for this work. Analysis of the handwriting has been inconclusive. The hand appears to be Keats’ own, but certain marks and loops and other uncertainties make it impossible to rule out a clever, indeed brilliant, forgery.
We leave it to you, the reader, to judge.
Ode to the Accordion
O Accordion! Hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
Even into thine own squeeze-boxèd ear:
Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
The strapped accordion with awaken'd eyes?
I wander'd in a forest thoughtlessly,
And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couchèd side by side
In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof
Of leaves and tremblèd blossoms, where there ran
A brooklet, scarce espied:
'Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
He lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;
Arms embraced an accordion new;
His lips mov'd not, but had not bid adieu,
As if disjoinèd by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still to play a Polka number
At tender eye-dawn of Tyrolean love.
The winged boy I knew;
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
His Accordion true!
O German born and loveliest vision far
Of Terpishore’s faded hierarchy!
Fairer than Banjo or torso’d Guitar,
Or Bagpipes, amorous wheeze-drones of northlands high;
Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
Nor altar heap'd with flowers;
Nor dirndl’d-choir to make delicious moan
Upon the midnight hours;
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no Pilsner sweet
From foaming beer stein teeming;
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
Of pale-mouth'd Polka dreaming.
O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
Yet even in these days so far retir'd
From gay pieties, thy lucent bellows,
Fluttering among the Czech-Slovak fellows,
I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspired.
So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
Upon the midnight hours;
Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy keyboard sweet
From swingèd tempos teeming;
Thy reeds, thy grill, thy buttons bass, thy heat
Of pale-mouth'd Polka dreaming.