Given our devotion to literary fiction and non-fiction at Politics and Prose, it’s easy to overlook how much we also promote poetry and poets. In addition to the extensive poetry section in our fiction room, we offer an array of poetry classes. Poems are featured in District Lines, our P&P anthology of original works about our local community, and last spring an enthusiastic crowd participated in an event we hosted at Comet Pizza highlighting three poets published by Graywolf Press.
But poetry lovers have asked us to do more. And this spring we’re taking the request to heart by expanding P&P’s list of events devoted to poetry, including monthly readings with small groups of local poets and much-anticipated appearances by several Pulitzer Prize winners.
We begin with a trio of poets in a single event on Saturday, February 28, at 3:30 p.m. that focuses on nature. Jynne Dilling Martin will read from her first collection of poems, We Mammals In Hospitable Times, some of which were inspired by a six-week visit to Antarctica as part of a National Science Foundation artist-in-residence program. A veteran of the publishing world—she is publicity director at Riverhead Books—Martin in her poems captures the wonder of the natural world and laments our failings as stewards of the planet. Reading with Martin will be local poet Elizabeth Rees, author of Every Root A Branch, and award-winning nature writer Lisa Couturier, whose new volume of poetry is called Animals / Bodies.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon will be at the store on Friday, March 6, at 7 p.m. to read from his new collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing. A student of Seamus Heaney, Muldoon taught at Princeton and Oxford and over several decades has earned his own rank as one of the great modern Irish poets. Appreciated for being at once traditional and innovative, Muldoon’s work includes ballads, sonnets, and rhyming verses, often with a twist.
Another Pulitzer Prize winner and a former U.S. poet laureate, Charles Simic, is known for meditative, sardonic, and sometimes humorous poems that evoke the complications and paradoxes of life in lands marred by conflict (he grew up in Yugoslavia during World War II). Simic will be at the store on Wednesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. to read from two new works: The Lunatic, a collection of 70 new poems, and The Life of Images, which includes literary criticism, photography, musings on philosophy, and other offerings culled from his previous collections.
Also this spring we’ll host two celebrated American poets who are publishing memoirs. Tracy K. Smith, a 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of creative writing at Princeton, will read from her new book, Ordinary Light, on Saturday, April 11, at 6 p.m. at the Connecticut Avenue store, and on Sunday, April 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets in Brookland. Elizabeth Alexander, a treasured national poet and local product (she graduated from Sidwell Friends School) who was tapped to compose a poem for President Obama’s first inauguration, will be at the store on Saturday, May 2, at 3:30 p.m. for her memoir, The Light of the World.
Other poetry events to look forward to this spring (and to be held at the Connecticut Avenue store unless noted otherwise) include:
Saturday, April 25, at 1 p.m.: Another duo of poets! Local poet and teacher Don Berger will read from a bilingual English-German collection called The Long Time. Poet, writer, and musician Terence Winch will also be on hand to read from his collection This Way Out.
Tuesday, April 28, at 7 p.m.: Terence Hayes, a MacArthur awardee who won the 2010 National Book Award for Lighthead, his fourth collection of poems, will read from his new book, How to be Drawn.
Tuesday, May, 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Busboys & Poets Brookland: A Four Way Books Reading with Elizabeth T. Gray, Josh Kalscheur, Paul Otremba, and Cynthia Cruz. (Four Way Books is a nonprofit literary press located in New York City, which publishes poetry and short fiction by emerging and established writers.)
Sunday, June 7, at 5 p.m: Acclaimed local poets Sandra Beasley and Kyle Dargan will appear together for their new works—Beasley’s Count the Waves and Dargan’s Honest Engine.
Sadly, we’ve had to cancel the event that had been scheduled March 1 with Pulitzer Prize-winner Jorie Graham due to illness. We hope to find another date for the event in the spring.
And for students of poetry looking for classes, this spring we’re offering a two-session follow-up to Gigi Bradford’s popular winter course on Jack Gilbert and Linda Gregg. It’s called Poetry Circle Intensive. Also on the schedule are Chris Giffin’s classes on Yeats and Heaney . These fill up quickly, so sign up soon if you’re interested, and keep an eye out for more classes coming this summer.
--Brad and Lissa