Thursday, June 21, 2007


Cases of Whiskey Arrive

Dear Friends,

It is with immense pleasure that I announce the publication by The Word Works of my first book of poems, Whiskey in the Garden of Eden. I would be honored if you would join me for the release party/reading on Sunday, July 15, 6 pm at Busboys & Poets. So many of you have helped birth this crazy baby -- it would be fantastic to have you there to help celebrate. Details are below. If you can't make the 15th, I'll be reading a number of other times this summer and fall (the dates are at the end of this email) and I hope you'll be able to join me at one of those.

Whiskey in the Garden of Eden is available at Busboys & Poets Books or from the publisher; ordering information is in the announcement below.

Release Party/Reading
Whiskey in the Garden of Eden by Sarah Browning
Sunday, July 15, 6-8 pm

Langston Room, Busboys & Poets
14th & V Streets, NW
Washington, DC
U Street/Cardozo on the Metro green line, 202-387-POET

Consider coming at 4 for Sunday Kind of Love, when we'll celebrate new chapbooks by E. Louise Beach, Michael Gushue, Alan King and Melissa Tuckey. Plus an open mic!

With huge gratitude to all of you,

For further information contact: Bernie Geyer 703-255-2769 or

The Word Works Publishes First
Poetry Collection by Sarah Browning

(Washington, DC) The Word Works is pleased to announce the publication of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden, the first collection of poetry by Sarah Browning.

“Was there whiskey in the garden?” Sarah Browning asks in “Things They Never Tell You.” “They don’t say / how long Eve dreamed / of reaching…before she took.” In these 44 poems Browning examines the joys of the female body but also the torments (“Assess Your Own Eating Behavior”). Venturing beyond the personal landscape, Browning fearlessly navigates the political: raised in an activist family, she marched against the Vietnam War at age five and at nine, campaigned for George McGovern for president. Any Washingtonian or Chicagoan will recognize the poet’s unique embrace of the places she has called home. In a voice Martín Espada calls “tough and funny and smart,” these poems alternate between the heartbreaking (“In a City of Barricades, I Dream of Baghdad”) and the hilarious (“Falling for Tiger Woods in a St. Louis Airport Bar”).

Browning is coeditor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology, a founder of D.C. Poets Against the War, and coor­dinator of Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness. She has received the People Before Profits Poetry Prize and an individual artist grant from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities.

Whiskey in the Garden of Eden can be ordered online at or contact

The Word Works Capital Collection is a book imprint established in 1989 to showcase the outstanding poetry of writers in the greater Washington, DC, area. In 2006, the series was renamed the Hilary Tham Capital Collection after Ms. Tham, who passed away in June 2005. Tham served for 11 years as The Word Works’ Editor-in-Chief and was the author of more than 10 books of poetry, fiction and memoir.

The Word Works is a non-profit literary organization, based in Washington, DC, publishing contemporary poetry and poetry in translation in collectors’ editions.

Praise for Whiskey in the Garden of Eden:

When was the last time you were tempted by a good book of poetry? After reading Whiskey in the Garden of Eden all I could think about was the "Browning" of America. It comes none too soon. Sarah Browning writes like a woman who understands the world is too often divided between blacks and whites.

One can experience the joys of motherhood in this collection. This woman loves her son. I also like how Browning is able to navigate the streets and politics of Washington D.C. This is her home- her city. Praise for the poet who wrote this book.

- E. Ethelbert Miller

Sarah Browning has broken away from the pack with a lyrical discourse on race, class and the myriad mystifying ways our lives are shaped by cities. In these pages are words many of us have struggled to say, but can't, and words that we repeat endlessly, but not nearly as well. With unflinching language that is both lush and fearless, Browning burrows beneath the surface and gives voice to what lies dormant. Her courage forges an unforgettable signature.

- Patricia Smith

Whiskey in the Garden of Eden is aptly named. As the title suggests, these poems have a bracing honesty, at once stinging and clear. This poet has the courage to say what needs to be said, from the personal to the political (and the two are often intertwined). Sarah Browning takes on the hard questions—war, race, urban poverty—and never loses her cool. Her voice is tough and funny and smart. Read on. Find out for yourself.
- Martín Espada


Upcoming readings and signings by Sarah Browning, Whiskey in the Garden of Eden:

Sunday, July 15, 6 pm
Release party!

Langston Room, Busboys & Poets
14th & V Streets, NW
Washington, DC
U Street/Cardozo on the Metro green line, 202-387-POET

Saturday, July 28, 2 PM
Karibu Books, Pentagon City Mall
1100 South Hayes Street, Arlington, VA

Wednesday, July 18, 7:30 PM
Honfleur Gallery
1241 Good Hope Rd. SE
Washington , D.C.
Refreshments provided. Suggested donation is $2

Tuesday, July 24, 7:30 pm
Miller Cabin Series
Joaquin Miller Cabin
Rock Creek Park, Picnic Area #6, Beach Drive at Military Road Overpass
For more information and rain location, call Julie Enszer at 301-537-6570

Thursday, August 23
Northampton, MA
Location and time TBA

Friday, September 14, 6:30 pm
NW Washington, DC house party reading
For details, contact:

Wednesday, September 26, 7 pm
Kensington Row Bookshop
3786 Howard Avenue, Kensington MD
301 949 9416

Monday, November 5, 7:30 pm
Cafe Muse at the Friendship Heights Village Center
4433 South Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD
301 656-2797

Sunday, December 9, 6 pm
Iota Bar and Restaurant
2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA
703-522-8340 or 703-256-9275

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Chapbook Comes Into Its Own


Please join us for July's Sunday Kind of Love as we celebrate four wonderful poets with new chapbooks, the short-form poetry collection. (Then stick around afterward for the launch party for my first collection, Whiskey in the Garden of Eden, at 6. Details coming soon.)

Hope to see you in July!

Here's the Sunday Kind of Skinny:

Sunday Kind of Love: Celebrating the Poetry Chapbook
With E. Louise Beach, Michael Gushue, Alan King, and Melissa Tuckey

Sunday, July 15, 4-6 pm
Followed by an open mic
Hosted by Sarah Browning of DC Poets Against the War and Regie Cabico of Sol & Soul.

Busboys & Poets
14th & V Streets, NW
Washington, DC
U Street/Cardozo on the Metro green line
Wheelchair accessible
Free and open to the public
For more info: 202-387-POET, womenarts2 (at) aol (dot) com

E. Louise Beach is a teacher of languages and literature. Her first chapbook of poems, Blue Skies, was published by Finishing Line Press in December 2006. Her poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Big City Lit, The Bitter Oleander, descant, Ellipsis, Poem, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Wisconsin Review, and elsewhere. Read poems here:

Michael Gushue is poetry editor for the Washington Spark, co-coordinates the Brookland Poetry Series, and co-runs Vrzhu Press (, a small press dedicated to publishing great poetry as beautiful books. His poems have appeared in many journals, including Indiana Review, Hotel Amerika, Redivider, Third Coast, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly. His chapbook, Gathering Down Women, is available from Pudding House Press. Read poems here:

Alan King has been published in Warpland: A Journal of Black Literature & Ideas, When Words Become Flesh: An Anthology of New Generation Poetry, Taboo Haiku, and The Hurricane Katrina Haiku Anthology, among others. He is the author of his self-published chapbooks, Transfer and The Music We Are, which is also the title of his full-length manuscript. Read poems here:

Melissa Tuckey is an activist, poet, and teacher. Her poems have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poet Lore, Southeast Review, and others. Her chapbook Rope as Witness is published by Pudding House Publications. She's the Events Coordinator for DC Poets Against the War ( and teaches writing at George Mason University. Read a poem here: and here:

Readings made possible in part by a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, a public agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Monday, June 18, 2007


New Review of DC Poets Against the War Anthology

Afrika Midnight Asha Abney sent me a terrific review she wrote of the DC PAW anthology, below. Read her other reviews here:

DC Poets Against the War: Anthology Review

DC Poets Against the War is one of my favorite anti-war groups in Washington, DC. I have had the opportunity to meet some of its members, invite them to several events and perform at some of their functions. I believe that they did an outstanding job publishing an anthology which was released June 2003 and inviting many authors to participate in such a much needed project. Furthermore, their anthology is excellent and the messages displayed within the contexts of the anthology are depicted very well. It consists of poems by such authors as Naomi Ayala, Luis Alberto Ambroggio, Rei Berroa, David Brescia-Weiler, Richard Blanco, Sarah Browning, Kenneth Carroll, Grace Cavalieri, Jahayra Corrales, Charlie Cray, Katy Didden, Scott J. Ecksel, Zein El-Amine, Michele Elliott, Wade Fletcher, Yael Flusberg, Martin Galvin, David Gewanter, Jomo K. Graham ,Patricia Gray, Leah Harris, Roberto (Bert) Ifill, Esther Iverem, Peter Klappert, Ann B. Knox, Dan Logan, Carmen Lupton, Mike Maggio, Chelsie Miller, E. Ethelbert Miller, Samuel Miranda, Michael Willett Newheart, Gregory Orfalea, Patric Pepper, Kim Roberts, Danny Rose, Joseph Ross, Kaia Sand, Elizabeth Sullam, Dan Vera, and Rebecca Villarreal.

My favorite poem was Greetings from the War, written by Samuel Miranda. His poem was filled with power, truth, and brillance. It’s message still exists today!

“Greetings from the War”

I will greet you with flowers
no matter how many
bullets you bring.

I will greet you with bullets
because the flowers you greet me with
are from my garden.

I will greet you with song
though you curse me
and raise arms against me.

I will greet you with curses
because the wounded child at your feet
is my only son.

I will greet you with embraces
though the knife you carry
cuts away at my arms.

I will greet you with knives
they are made from the shrapnel
I pulled from my leg.

DC Poets Against the War is an informal group of Washington area writers and activists who came together during the winter of 2003 to protest the planned U.S. invasion of Iraq.
For further information about DC Poets Against the War, please visit them at

- Reviewed by Afrika Midnight Asha Abney

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Melissa Tuckey Interviews Iranian Poet Farideh Hassanzadeh

Foreign Policy in Focus brings us Melissa's terrific interview with the poet Farideh Hassanzadeh. Here's an excerpt:
During the imposed war between Iran and Iraq, one journalist reported about the poetry he found in the trenches and foxholes survived after the dead soldiers, poems like this from Forough Farrokhzad:

Remember the flight
the bird is mortal

And everybody knows that one of the most important reasons why people rebelled against the Shah regime was the persecution and execution of a young poet, Khosro Golsorkhi, who was a political prisoner. In military court he refused to ask the Shah for amnesty and bravely declared: "I don't beg for my life. I have always written for my people and I defend only my people not my own life. "

My people never forgive the execution of a poet. It is the execution of words. That is
why Federico Garcia Lorca is the most popular foreign poet in Iran.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Truth: The First Casualty of War

** Defend A Marine's Right to Speak Out: Support Liam Madden of the Boston Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and co-founder of the Appeal for Redress.

Because of his courageous antiwar activism, the Marines are attempting to go after him and saddle him with an "other than honorable discharge"

Sign the Online Petition in defense of Liam Madden:

Background: Former Marine Liam Madden and Adam Kokesh, who is also under attack, both served in Iraq and were both honorably discharged. Upon their return, they both joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Liam is also a cofounder of the Appeal for Redress, a statement signed by nearly 2,000 active-duty troops that garnered a lot of media coverage, and he has been helping to organize a bus tour to some 20 military bases throughout the eastern U.S. Adam has been in Germany, reaching out to soldiers at the U.S. Army base at Ansbach. Both Adam and Liam participated in the first installment of Operation First Casualty, in which IVAW members brought the war home through street theater by mounting "patrols" in the streets of Washington, D.C., on March 19. Now the Marine Corps is trying to make an example of them. Both men are still part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), an inactive status that practically all troops pass through prior to final separation from the military.

Now, Both Adam and Liam are being charged with appearing in uniform at a political event. Additionally, Liam is being charged with "disloyal statements" for calling the war in Iraq "a war crime." Adam is facing a military hearing on Monday June 4th in Kansas where he will be "tried" by a panel of 3 officers. If found guilty, an "other than honorable discharge" will prevent him from ever being able to get a government job or many other types of jobs, similar to the effect of a criminal record. Liam has not received a hearing date yet, but he expects to.

Why we need to fight this: "The military is trying to stifle the IVAW's voice in the public discourse about the war," Liam has said. "If we are to have an informed and free discussion in society about the most pressing issue of our generation, the war in Iraq, then the voices of returning veterans are a crucial aspect."

This is an attempt to squash informed discussion of the true reality of their war as well squash the budding movement of antiwar soldiers and veterans turning against the war. "They perceive me as a figurehead or a vocal component of this, and it's their tendency to nip that in the bud by going after the figurehead. The troops are allegedly fighting for freedom and democracy, yet their voices are suppressed when they get home--if their voices go against the grain." They want to silence Liam's message that the whole war is a war crime- and you cannot "win" a war crime, you can only end it-- immediately. The military's charges against Liam send a threatening message to other soldiers and veterans that they should not dare to speak or organize against the war. If they get away with punishing Liam, the military will be emboldened to go after many other dissenters.

The antiwar movement must step up and send a message that it will have the backs of its antiwar brothers and sisters within the ranks of the military. Gary Kurpius, the national commander of the 2.4 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars has recently made news with his statement that "Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic right we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about."

At a time when the majority of people in the US, the vast majority of Iraqis, and unprecedented numbers of US troops are against this war, we can't let some of the most important voices in the antiwar movement be silenced. This is about the important antiwar voice and contributions of Liam Madden but also about the current and future antiwar leadership of countless soldiers and veterans whose vocal and active opposition will be essential to ending this war.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Blogging about blogging about Book Expo

The Oxford University Press Blog has a roundup of blogs about Book Expo at which this blog makes an appearance.

Unable to resist the temptation to get all circular, here it is:


Long Island Rejects Poet Nominee Over Words About War in Iraq

Nassau Rejects Poet Nominee Over Words About War in Iraq


Published: June 5, 2007

GARDEN CITY, N.Y., June 4 — The news release announcing the designation of Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr. as Nassau County’s first poet laureate had already been drafted. But it was not to be.

After a lifetime devoted mostly to poetry and nature, Mr. Wheat on Monday found himself the focus — and the legislative casualty — of a passionate debate over United States soldiers in Iraq.
Mr. Wheat, a Freeport resident who declined to give his age, had seemed to be a shoo-in. The County Legislature had appointed a six-member advisory panel of experts, which unanimously nominated him after reviewing 14 candidates.

The panel enthusiastically cited Mr. Wheat’s accolades after decades of writing, teaching and promoting poetry, including the Long Island School of Poetry Award from the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, and an award from the New York State Outdoor Education Association. He is also a naturalist who leads local tours, and many of his poems are about the flora and fauna of Long Island.

But then there was his volume, titled “Iraq and Other Killing Fields: Poetry for Peace” (Sheraton Enterprises, 2004), which lamented the horrors of the current and past wars. His poem “Torture” features the subtitles “Saddam Hussein Regime” and “George W. Bush Administration.” Several poems were prefaced by President Bush’s pre-invasion claim that Iraq had “some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

From “Torture”:

Balance black-hooded prisoner,
draped in make-shift poncho, on narrow box
wire his out-stretched hands
warn him he will be electrocuted if he falls

The issue reached a critical point on Monday at a hearing before the County Legislature’s Government Services Committee, a body not previously known as a literary or foreign policy forum.

Members of the Republican minority quickly voiced outrage at the selection of Mr. Wheat, accusing him of attacking American soldiers, a charge he denied.

“He does not represent me, he does not represent veterans,” said Legislator Dennis Dunne, a former marine. “I won’t put up with it. My son left just yesterday for Iraq.”
Paula Camacho, chairwoman of the panel that nominated Mr. Wheat, noted that he was also a former marine, but that did not mollify the critics. She was one of more than a dozen poetry fans at the hearing, who all spoke on Mr. Wheat’s behalf.

Another Republican legislator, Norma Gonsalves, said she was not being political and was not taking a position on the war, “but we want to support our troops.” She said the Legislature wanted a poet to celebrate Long Island’s beauty.

Ms. Camacho said that 90 percent of Mr. Wheat’s poems are about nature and that while he opposes the war, he also supports the troops. “What happened to freedom of speech?” she asked.

Mr. Dunne replied, “He can say whatever he wants, but not to represent me.”
A Democratic legislator, David Denenberg, said that what had started as “a feel-good law to have a poet laureate” had lapsed into “arguments, bickering and divisiveness.”
When Mr. Wheat himself rose to speak, he quoted from his prepared acceptance speech, saying he had intended “to make Nassau County an open classroom for poetry” to explore “the meaning you feel, the meaning you find in the poem.” Inadvertently, he suggested, that had already been accomplished, since “there has been a very serious discussion of poetry” at the hearing.

In the end, the committee voted 6 to 1 against the designation. It is unclear what, if anything, the selection panel would do next, or whether the county would continue its search for a poet laureate.

The only legislator to cast a supporting vote, Wayne Wink, a Democrat, said that although he did not agree with everything Mr. Wheat had written, he had been nominated fair and square.
After all the turmoil, “I apologize to poets everywhere,” Mr. Wink said. “I’m beginning to appreciate why poets are not celebrated till after their deaths.”

(Thanks to Kathi Wolfe and Kathy Engel who both brought this to my attention.)


End the Israeli Occupation Cultural Evening June 10

I'll be reading with some other marvelous poets at the cultural celebration in the evening of June 10 after the rally and march to oppose US support for the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Hope you can join us!
For more information on the mobilization, cosponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and United for Peace & Justice, click here.


More on colonial drinks -- and on Book Expo

The marvelous Kim Roberts, who knows everything about everything, tells me the following about another colonial drink, the "flip":

"You take a big pitcher of beer, add sugar and a jigger of brandy or rum, then take the red-hot poker out of your fire and push it down into the pitcher. The resulting drink is warm and the sugar crystallizes. Evidently it was a big winter-time pub fave."

I'm sure the photo is not of a flip -- looks more like a rusty cappucino -- but it's what came up when I image googled the drink, colonial flip.

Beginning to unpack my four (count them, four) tote bags of swag from Book Expo, I was reminded of other good connections I made: Interlink Books, which published We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine & Lebanon, in which I am honored to have a few poems; Small Beer Press, out of Northampton, MA, near where I made my home for 9 years (and where Interlink is also published -- who knew?); and the artist Gilbert Fletcher, who has published a beautiful book of his paintings of Black writers, called Painted Voices.

Monday, June 04, 2007


From the Sublime to the Absurd - Book Expo 2007

After almost two weeks hanging out with Martín Espada's sublime Hampshire College commencement address (see previous post), your intrepid blogger took herself to New York City, the center of the book biz, for Book Expo, the annual hawking of all things literary, and many things not in the least bit such.

Among the many ridiculous highlights:

Of the many, many good things -- a new novel by Kwame Dawes called She's Gone, from Akashic Books. An "Iraqi rhapsody" called I'jaam by poet Sinan Antoon, from City Lights. Meeting folks from Coffee House Press, with a new book by Ron Padget; Milkweed Editions, who kindly gave me a copy of Every War Has Two Losers, William Stafford's writings on war and peace; Archipelago Books, who publish poetry in translation, including Mahmoud Darwish; and a favorite poet of mine, Barbara Ras, who is now running Trinity University Press, in San Antonio.

Read Barbara's poem, "You Can't Have It All," from her book Bite Every Sorrow, here.

Now thoroughly fried, and having worked all morning trying to get caught up (and only just denting the To Do list...) I think I will take a nap.

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