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Full Moon on Poetry: 120 Plus 10

On January 11, 2010, the Dresser attended a dual poetry program celebration at the Folger Shakespeare Library. On the heavy end, Poet Lore was marking 120 years of publishing and on the lighter end (but certainly no less literary quality) Beltway Poetry Quarterly, at ten years old, was celebrating the print publication and launch of its anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC edited by Kim Roberts. Moderating the evening was Teri Cross Davis, the Folger Shakespeare Library Poetry Coordinator.


To represent both magazines, Kim Addonizio and Kyle Dargan, who have each been published by these publications, gave what the Dresser calls stylized readings. Dargan read his poems from his laptop computer in a relaxed approach. Addonizio read from books and paper in the traditional approach, but concluded the reading of her original poetry with a harmonica performance of two compositions. The Dresser captured her blues train riff.

After the readings/performance by Dargan and Addonizio, Jon West-bey, director of the American Poetry Museum, led Beltway founding editor Kim Roberts and Poet Lore editors Jody Bolz and E. Ethelbert Miller in a discussion about these publications and the literary scene in general.


Poet Lore's 120th Anniversary Issue begins with newly selected work and then moves to an anniversary showcase of 15 poets (including Kim Addonizio) who were published years ago in the pages of Poet Lore. The twist on this showcase is a then versus now set of poems by these 15. It's an interesting study, particularly the two poems by Addonizio who seemed more formal in "After His Funeral" (published in 1985) versus the more sassy current style of "Let's Get Lost." Among the 15 are John Balaban, Cornelius Eady, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Linda Pastan, and Myra Sklarew.

The anthology Full Moon on K Street gets its title from a poem by the same name and written by Scene4 Magazine's own film critic Miles David Moore. Editor Kim Roberts with a strong attention to history of the Washington, DC area audaciously arranges the poems by the age of the author. May Miller (1899-1995) begins the volume with "The Washingtonian." She is followed by Sterling A. Brown (1901-1989) and his poem "Glory, Glory." The Dresser met both of these venerable African American poets who were part of DC's impressive literary scene at a party at Betty Parry's house in the early 1980s. Betty Parry (1927-1997) is represented in Full Moon also with her poem "Daisy's Garden," which was dedicated to Sterling Brown's wife Daisy. The Dresser won't bother to tell you her age, because, Dear Reader, you can figure it out for yourself. The Dresser's poem "Up Against the Wall," also in Full Moon, while it focuses on Marilyn Monroe and the mural painted on a DC building, is ironically about ageing. The collection also has poems by Teri Ellen Cross (a.k.a. Teri Cross Davis), E. Ethelbert Miller, and Kyle Dargan just to name a few and to make it clear that poets need all the help they can get. Washington, DC, is blessed by a literary community that supports each other and the Folger Shakespeare Library has been a long time center for DC area poets as well as poets across the United States. Full Moon on K Street is a graphically handsome volume that will serve as a literary historian's reference and a unique tour of Washington, DC.

Here are poems read in the celebration program at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Because no reporters came to my door
wanting to confirm my low opinion
of the Bush administration,

because not even the Jehovah's Witnesses,
who can usually be counted on
to arrive each Saturday

bearing informative articles on Satan's wiles
and the hour of judgment
can be counted on this afternoon,

I have no one to tell
that the load of laundry I managed
to carry to the washer

has been transferred successfully
to the dryer. I even was able
to make myself coffee and toss the cat's toy

onto her carpeted platform
before I returned to my bed.
These were little victories

over a sullen god--the one who hunkers down
and rocks back and forth, muttering
that there's no reason to go on

lifting the stone of today
only to watch it roll down into tomorrow.
And now I feel compelled to report

that when the clothes were dry and warm
I got up and folded them and put them away.
Then I finally dressed, late in the afternoon,

and looked out the window and saw
my neighbor, an old black man who lives alone
and sits on his porch most days

in a ratty kitchen chair. So I got my harmonica
and played a bit of Sonny Terry I'd been working on
and I don't know if he listened, if it lit

a match to the damp cigarette of his joy
I can't say, but maybe it did
in some small and unrecorded way.

by Kim Addonizio
from Lucifer at the Starlite

Copyright © 2009 Kim Addonizio


When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often.
But if a man bites a dog, that is news.
~John B. Bogart

Some of you are men. The remainder,
mutts--who do not speak, who fetch
the morning sun with limber tongues
and barks like muted horns.
Unless struck in traffic, a dog dies
in private holds--transitioned
from alive to unseen, barely
a tally. When hunger bites
an expected, when blind rockets
dismember an expected, call them
by their names. When a virus
hunkers in an expected's body,
when the written word remains
foreign an expected's eyes, remember
their faces--chronically passé--
as this is all news of the dog.
No ink will be shed for them. Their press
conferences will be small circles
inscribed with howls, limp tails
and clawed clay. In a blue rage,
in fear, a dog may bite
a dog--which is less than news,
less than assumption. "Reality," it is.
"Sad" even. Neither pause the printers
nor pique our heart's Nielsen ratings.
Men are news. When man
bites dog--his teeth, blackened
with headlines, breaking skin--
only then will the dog become news,
become man--worthy, dying, and worthy.

by Kyle Dargan
from the fortchoming book Logorrhea Dementia

Copyright © 2009 Kyle Dargan

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Comments (2)

Gray Jacobik:

So enjoyed reading this Karren -- makes me wish I'd never left DC (it's been 28 years ago this month!), for I might have been in the audience. Reading this is the next best thing.

My congratulations to Poet Lore & Beltway Poetry Quarterly -- and I met May Miller and Sterling Brown at Betty Parry's home as well (perhaps the same evening!).

Paul Hopper:

Nice video. That was the train song; I wish I had made a note of the names of the two classic blues musicians she played tunes by.

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