Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Gatsby's Chapter 4 - The most boring?

Kim Roberts claims I'm going to be reading the most boring chapter of The Great Gatsby at Chapter's marathon reading. There is a certain amount of drunken malingering in the chapter -- not to mention some choice racism and anti-Semitism. But there's some amazingly beautiful stuff, too. Come on down and listen to the book over the next several days. It's all part of the big Big Read DC.

Tea with Gatsby: A Marathon Teatime Reading

From Chapters Literary Bookstore:

The Great Gatsby

We are delighted to again be a partner for the BIG READ DC, presented by the Humanities Council of WDC, the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, and of course, the National Endowment for the Arts. As we did last year, we are hosting a marathon reading of this year's selection, The Great Gatsby, for nine consecutive weekdays, reading a chapter a day, and discussing it afterwards.

Our Tea with Gatsby Guest Readers are as follows:

Mon. 4/28: Patrick Hyde, author of The Only Pure Thing and President of our nonprofit Chapters Literary Arts Center Board.

Tues. 4/29: David Kipen, NEA Director of Literature.
Wed. 4/30:TBA
Thur. 5/1: Sarah Browning, Poet, activist, coordinator, and author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden.
Fri. 5/2: TBA
Mon. 5/5: Josephine Reed, Program Director Sonic Theatre, XM Satellite Radio.
Tues. 5/6: NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, the very mastermind behind THE BIG READ.
Wed. 5/7: Arnold Orza, U. Conn Professor Emeritus and Board Member of Chapters Literary Arts Center.
Thur. 5/8: Maureen Corrigan, NPR/Fresh Air's ever popular reviewer.

Just the sort of illustrious company Jay Gatsby would invite to tea...

We'll be encamped for the marathon (and savoring Salty Oats cookies) at Teaism Penn Quarter, lower level, at 400 8th St. NW. (Metro: Navy Memorial/Archives or Gallery Place.) Do join us!



WPFW Sterling A. Brown Active Culture Series

Thursday, May 1, 7-10 pm
801 K Street, NW - the Carnegie BuildingMt. Vernon Square/Convention Center Metro

Come one come all to the Sterling A. Brown Active Culture Series presented by WPFW in partnership with the Historic Society of Washington. Hosted by Askia Muhammad, and Sophie's Parlor diva Elise Bryant, the series will showcase art as a vehicle for political and social transformation.

The inaugural event will be held on Thursday, May 1, from 7-10 pm, with doors at 6pm, and will be broadcast live over the airwaves of WPFW. The evening, which will commemorate the workers' day of international struggle, or Mayday, will include performances by the DC Labor Chorus, Opus Akoben, Pam Parker, Fred Joiner, Sarah Browning, Thomas Stanley, Luci Murphy, in process, and a host of Washington's finest poets and performers.

Though this event is free to the community, seating is limited, so please arrive early. Also, as this is a benefit for WPFW, donations are urged. Again, we invite you to be a part of something new and exciting at WPFW- the Sterling A. Brown active cultutre series at the Historical Society of Washington - Thursday, May 1, from 7-10 pm.

For further information, please call 202.588.0999 or email stitt_katea@wpfw.org.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Expanding Her Vision - The Helen Keller poems of Kathi Wolfe in The Blade

For Kathi Wolfe, a local poet, freelance journalist and contributor to the Washington Blade, her recently published chapbook, “Helen Takes the Stage: The Helen Keller Poems,” is the next step on what has been a life-long relationship with the famed deaf and blind activist. Wolfe, a lesbian who has been legally blind since birth, wrote the poems in the book after her initial impressions of Keller began to change.

Read the Washington Blade piece here: http://www.washblade.com/2008/4-11/arts/books/12388.cfm

Kathi will be reading from Helen Takes the Stage at Sunday Kind of Love in July. Stay tuned for details.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Patricia Smith to Judge the 2009 Kore Press First Book Competition

Deadline for submissions is July 31, 2008

Chicago native Patricia Smith is the author of four books of poetry, including Teahouse of the Almighty, a 2005 National Poetry Series selection, winner of the 2007 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and the 2007 Paterson Poetry Prize. Teahouse was also voted the Best Poetry Book of 2006 by About.com. Blood Dazzler, a book of poems chronicling the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, will be published by Coffee House Press in 2008. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly and many other journals.

She is also the author of the groundbreaking history Africans in America and the children's book Janna and the Kings, winner of a Lee & Low Books New Voices Award. In addition, she is a Pushcart Prize winner, a Cave Canem faculty member and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam. In 2006, during a ceremony at the Gwendolyn Brooks Center of Chicago State University, she was voted into the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.

Click here for submission guidelines


Pilgrimage Press

New to me, a journal called Pilgrimage out of Colorado, that is:

~a small magazine living the big questions
~a community-in-print serving an eclectic fellowship of readers, writers, artists, naturalists, contemplatives, activists, seekers, adventurers, and other kindred spirits
~a place to tell the stories that matter
~an invitation to inward and outward exploration
~and an appreciation of the way home

Upcoming themes include The 60s (July 1 deadline) and Deep Democracy (October 1 deadline).

Check them out here: http://pilgrimagepress.org/index.html


Grace Paley, from Fidelity

Tom bought me Paley's posthumous collection of poems, Fidelity, at Split This Rock and I spent some time this morning reading them. As with all of Paley's work, they are funny, tender, clear-eyed. With her as my model, I fear growing old much less.

Here's a poem I love, untitled:

freedom has overtaken me I

had run ahead of it for years

along an interesting but

narrow road obeyed at least

half the rules imposed by

lovers children a house a

political position now out

of breath probably I'm stuck

freedom has hold of my jacket

won't let go I am alone

Friday, April 25, 2008


Alix Olson on the power of the word, and Split This Rock

Alix wrote a terrific posting on her MySpace page after the festival. Here's an excerpt:

The United States was not founded upon its espoused principles of liberty, freedom, and equality. And so, we artists are faced not with the task of reclaiming those "original ethos", but of fighting to instill them: layer by layer, decade by decade, citizen by citizen, poet by poet. We are fighting to Constitute a new America.

This Administration has waged a war on words. Their commitment to pre-emptive and perpetual war has claimed the dominant narrative. "Spin media" is in full effect: twirling us like little tops until we are dizzy, disoriented, disaffected, and ultimately disorganized.

Poets are determined to win words back. After all, words offer us the ability to reclaim the transformative power of the imagination: the freedom to imagine a new world, one where air, water, and love are free. Words should afford us communication, explanation, and empowerment. Instead, they are being manipulated to denigrate, debilitate, target, terrorize, and propagandize us into obedience.

This week forced me to remember that it is disobedience that affords progress.

Read the whole posting here: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=39192770&blogID=369848011


Nature's Engraver by Jenny Uglow wins 2007 National Award for Arts Writing

The Arts Club of Washington has announced the winner of the second annual National Award for Arts Writing. The winning book, published in the previous year, must be about the arts and written for a general audience. The prize of $15,000 is one of the largest monetary prizes in the U.S. for a single book. Intended to help increase access to the arts, the prize is given in recognition of excellence in writing about the arts for a broad audience, and celebrates prose that is lucid, luminous, clear, and inspiring.

The honors go to Jenny Uglow for Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. The book describes the life and achievements of the man who produced the first Field Guide to birds for ordinary people, illustrated with woodcuts of remarkable accuracy and beauty. These woodcuts, in turn, influenced book illustration for the next century.

The book was unanimously chosen by three prestigious judges: former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, award-winning novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and America's favorite librarian Nancy Pearl. The judges write: “Uglow’s plain, richly elegant sentences present a career that, fascinating in itself, becomes a way of thinking about all art: the tools, the materials, the personality and the surroundings, all interacting with the artist’s craving to make a new reality.”

Jenny Uglow is an editor at Chatto & Windus and lives in Canterbury, England. Her book The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future 1730–1810 won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography in 2002, and the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for history from International PEN in 2003. Her biographies Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories and Hogarth: A Life and a World were both finalists for the Whitbread Prize for biography. She will be presented with the Order of the British Empire by the Queen of England this May 16.

Ms. Uglow will give a public reading from Nature's Engraver at the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I Street, NW, Washington, DC, on Monday, May 19 at 7:00 pm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Split This Rock - It was something else

These are the incomparable Patricia Smith and Alix Olson each reading a line as part of the group poem we created, a Cento, in front of the White House on Easter Day, March 23, 2008.

It's been almost a month, and I'm still digesting everything that went down. On Sunday 134 people created this poem. It followed a magnificent reading by Galway Kinnell and Naomi Ayala. In researching Kinnell so I could introduce him, I learned that one of his earliest jobs was in the Civil Rights movement, working for CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. The shoulders on which we build this work.

I have been trying to overcome exhaustion and then the worst cold that ever knocked me upside the head, and so I can't write much here - yet. But I will.

In the meantime, check out http://www.splitthisrock.org/ to see some other great photos by Jill Norton and for links to some of the great press coverage and blog reports. We'll be getting a lot more of the same up on the site over the next couple of weeks, so keep checking.

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