Thursday, February 7, 2013
Splendid Wake, Discovering the Scope of Poetry in the Nation’s Capital
Something very huge in scope is happening in the greater Washington, DC area and adds fuel to the fire concerning why poetry matters.
Splendid Wake, a project initially conceived to honor dead poets who lived and worked in the Nation’s Capital, is the brain child of poets Elisavietta Ritchie and Myra Sklarew, with logistical help from George Washington University Gelman Library Special Collections librarian Jennifer King. At the first meeting held June 27, 2012, the project immediately expanded to include a broader historic scope of what happened in the DC community with poetry, poets, literary movements, publishing houses, reading series, and more.
By the second meeting held December 11, 2012, such poets as Karren Alenier, Anne Becker, Patricia Garfinkel, Mary Ann Larkin, Merrill Leffler, Judith McCombs, Jean Nordhaus, Bill Rivera helped Sklarew, Ritchie, and King decide that they wanted to create a record for posterity. Creating an Internet Wiki seemed to be the best solution for gathering such voluminous information. King was able to negotiate that through GWU, but counseled that categories had be established and named that would bear the test of time.
This brings the Steiny Road Poet to the third meeting February 7, 2013, where categories and boundaries were established. So the project encompasses all that happened involving poetry from 1900 to the current day in the greater Washington, DC area where poets as far away as Baltimore, St. Mary’s City, the outer reaches of Northern Virginia consider DC their spiritual center. The Wiki categories after much passionate discussion were boiled down to poets, publications, and public presentations. Under these three categories will cluster information about poets dead or alive working in the DC area and influencing the DC literary scene, publishing houses and institutions, reading series, informal workshops and literary salons, media outlets and programs, bookstores, literary movements and whatever else surfaces to be included. The plan is to have a one evening public program at Gelman Library in 2013 to share some of this information.
What is clear is that Washington, DC, with its history of poets sponsored by the Library of Congress, its active small press, workshops and reading series scene with public radio broadcasts and occasional cable TV programs featuring poetry as well as its interest in international poets and poetry in translation is unlike any other literary community in the country. Myra Sklarew wondered out loud to the Steiny Poet what would be the outcome of this documentary project? Thinking large, the Steiny Poet believes that the audience for poetry will expand to prove once again that poetry matters.