It’s Here! District Lines: A P&P Anthology of Original Local Work

District Lines

When we decided almost a year ago to solicit contributions for a new Politics & Prose anthology of works by local writers and artists, we had no idea how many submissions we’d get. In fact, we wondered if people still cared about old-fashioned literary journals in this digital age or were even interested in a collection to be published by a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. All we knew was what we wanted to call it—District Lines—a name agreed upon by P&P staffers who volunteered to bring the anthology to life.

Then the submissions started rolling in—essays, poems, sketches, photographs, stories, remembrances, testimonials—all about local places, people, and traditions. By the time the deadline came, we’d received more than 100 works from writers and artists across the Washington community. We were thrilled by the quantity, and even more by the quality.

Our only requirement was that each submission be original and previously unpublished and that each be related to a place, person, or event in our community. We received entries by well-known writers and artists and by some who had never been published before. And their work did exactly what we hoped it would do—enlarge and enrich our collective sense of community by exploring the most granular elements of daily life in Washington.

In the pages of District Lines you’ll find one writer’s memories of a castanet-playing handyman who was a fixture in neighborhoods around Capitol Hill. There are poems about the Zamboni machine at a Capitals hockey game, the Q Street bridge, how literary inspiration comes from working at the Florida Avenue Grill, and the mindset of children attending a funeral. Also in the mix are reminiscences from the wife of a long-time White House plumber and from one who remembers a particular Christmas tree lot on Georgia Avenue. One writer describes seeing Effi Barry on a bus, and another—an immigrant from China—recounts her experience living in Centreville, Virginia.

These are just a handful of the exceptional and evocative works in District Lines, which was printed on Opus, the store’s print-on-demand machine, and made available to the public this week. As part of the launch, we’ll also be hosting an author event on June 15 featuring contributors to the anthology. This event will be a great opportunity for local writers to read from their works and for customers to be treated to a collective portrait of our community.

As store owners, we couldn’t be prouder of this P&P “first” and of a small group of staff members who worked on the book. Organized by our events and programs director, Susan Coll, these booksellers read the submissions, made tough choices about which ones to include, helped design the cover, worked on the lay-out of the book, and printed it on Opus. District Lines would not exist without their energy, dedication, and passion for the cause.

Our only regret is that we couldn’t include every submission we received. But on the bright side, we’re already planning Volume 1, Number 2.

- Brad and Lissa