Tuesday, April 7, 2009

High Noon at the Library of Congress

National Poetry Month has begun with a lot of fanfare for the Steiny Road Poet. First was the WOM-PO reading at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Next, April 7 was the 15th Anniversary Reunion Reading of Poetry at Noon series at the Library of Congress. I was one of 27 poets to read. It should have been 28 – Greg McBride I saw you last night at Café Muse and Judy McCombs did a shout out to you to come to the mic if you were hiding behind the celebration cake. I hope all is well with you.

Beginning with Nan Fry who was the first Poetry at Noon reader, the quick succession of readers to the mic was quite a survey of styles and subject matter. Nearly everyone knew each other and so there was an energetic exchange of greetings and news. A hearty thank you to poet Patricia Gray who started and continues to run this important program in our Nation’s Capital. And by the way, George Bilgere was right to expect the President—Barack and Michelle Obama should be invited to EVERY reading on the LOC schedule.

Here is the list of readers:
Karren Alenier
Nancy Arbuthnot
Cliff Bernier
George Bilgere
Jody Bolz
Kenny Carroll
Grace Cavalieri
John Clarke
Nan Fry
David Gewanter
Barbara Goldberg
Patricia Gray
Erich Hintze
Reuben Jackson
Hiram Larew
Lyn Lyfshin
David McAleavy
Greg McBride
Judith McCombs
Miles Moore
Yvette Moreno
Jean Nordhaus
Linda Pastan
Heddy Reid
Kim Roberts
Marty Sanchez Lowery
Rosemary Winslow
Kathi Wolfe
Edwin Zimmerman

Monday, April 6, 2009

Letters to the World: Meet the WOMPOnies

On April 5, 2009, the National Museum of Women in the Arts hosted a celebration reading of Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv edited by Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace, and Lesley Wheeler. The 452-page anthology nicknamed the WOMPOlogy contains poems from 258 women and one man. Yes, the WOMen's POetry Listserv allows men as long as they talk about women in poetry or women's poetry.

The creation of the book, with a preface by Annie Finch—the founder of the WOM-PO and an introduction by D'Arcy Randall, is a study in an unusual collaboration. The egalitarian process took much longer than anyone predicted but everyone agreed the results were worth the wait. In my experience with creating anthologies (I have edited two: Whose Woods These are, I was the sole editor, and Winners: A Retrospective of the Washington Prize, I was co-editor with Hilary Tham and Miles David Moore), they always take longer than you originally plan.

While there are poets from five countries represented in the anthology, the gathering in DC brought WOMPOnies from such American states as California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, DC, and the greater DC area of Maryland and Virginia. On a beautiful spring day during the peak of blossoming cherry trees and its annual festival, the NMWA auditorium was respectably occupied and the audience attentive. After all, the the National Museum of Women in the Arts is a prestigious space and place for women's voices to be heard.

The featured readers included Rosemary Starace, Lesley Wheeler, Kim Roberts, Julie Enzer, and Rosemary Winslow. Eleven other WOMPOnies read from the anthology including some like me who joined the WOMPO listserv after the call for Letters to the World had ended. The event was a grand opportunity to meet women poets, put faces to names known on the WOM-PO listserv, and display our books along side the new anthology.

The bottom line is buy the book and join the WOM-PO listserv now. You will not find a warmer and more welcoming community anywhere in our world. I love the blend of cyber and real world contact. Wherever I go, I make a point to meet WOMPOnies.