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.