Saturday, June 24, 2017

Summer Solstice Splendid Wake Poetry Pop-Up

by Karren L. Alenier
from The Anima of Paul Bowles

As the wife fed her cat crab-
meat, the cat that attempted
to walk the ceiling but failed,
the husband tackled the decline
of American civilization—barbarians
populated his tales. If a man cried
out, another lopped off his tongue.
In private, she said TV and
McCarthyism killed the invention
of new games. He just ripped
the caterwauling telephone
from the wall.
                         At a dinner party of all
women except for him, when she
was asked to comment on the world
situation, she excused herself, left
what was tasty and steaming
on the table, curled regally
on a divan like a feline, fell
asleep under an open
                  With its slow white
flakes, snow covered her. Horrified
at her absence, weren’t these women
her friends, he shook her awake—
what game is this? She whispered,
Resistance To Doom. I had to
make room for hope.

Karren LaLonde Alenier is author of seven collections of poetry, including Looking for Divine Transportation (The Bunny and the Crocodile Press), winner of the 2002 Towson University Prize for Literature and her latest collection, The Anima of Paul Bowles (MadHat Press), which was selected as top staff pick by the Grolier Bookshop (Boston) for 2016. Her poetry and fiction have been published in such magazines as: Mississippi Review, Jewish Currents, and Poet Lore. Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On, her jazz opera with composer William Banfield and Encompass New Opera Theatre artistic director Nancy Rhodes premiered at New York City’s Symphony Space Leonard Nimoy Thalia in June 2005. More information at 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer Solstice Splendid Wake Poetry Pop-Up

Random Headlines

In a zoo in Morocco,
a child leans, smiling,
against a fence, to pose
with the elephant
who inexplicably hurls
a rock at her head.

The next day,
a man in Philadelphia
removes a storm drain
and jumps. Sucked
ten feet into a sewer,
he miraculously survives.

Unlike the child in Morocco.

Reading headlines each morning
I can’t decide if the news
defies or declares
a random universe,
one without
predetermined years
allotted each life.

Something to consider
as I stand in a cemetery
talking to a stone
on your birthday,
recall the sound of your voice
in the rustle of a Weeping Cherry
hanging overhead. 

"Random Headlines" appears in Jacqueline's book Itzhak Perlman's Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. 

Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String (Winner, Helen Kay Chapbook Prize 2016). Her work has appeared in over 100 publications. Visit her online at where you will see that she is also the author of 40 books for young readers including the Zapato Power series and Never Say a Mean Word Again.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice Splendid Wake Poetry Pop-Up

Your Hands
by Myra Sklarew
                                        for Dan Pagis and Eliezer

You come up behind me. You put
your two hands over my eyes.

“Guess who?” Your warm fingers
on my face. Your voice.

You are taken on a forced march
to the end of your life. A bomb

explodes. You fall bleeding in a ditch.
Your captors flee. You spit up blood.

Benedictine monks open the monastery
door. Come in, they say. At night

you go out to steal food. Soldiers
shoot at you. Barbed wire, even here.

Your name is Eliezer, God is my help.
But this god has gone away

on a long trip. Your warm fingers
on my face. Your voice.

Myra Sklarew attended Tufts University and the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, and studied bacterial viruses and genetics at Cold Spring Harbor Biological Institute. She conducted research on memory and prefrontal lobe function at Yale University School of Medicine. Her books include collections of poetry, short prose, essays and the forthcoming, A Survivor Named Trauma.

With thanks to Steve Castro and Public Pool where this poem first appeared.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Splendid Wake 5, March 24th at 6:30 p.m.

A Splendid Wake 5 Celebrates Area Poets

Free event on March 24th from 6:30 -8 p.m. in Room 702 of the Gelman Library of George Washington University, 2130 H Street N.W., Washington, D.C.

Join the revelry as we honor several poets and poetry movements who have enriched the DC literary scene over the past 100+ years. We’re proud that the 2017 Youth Poet Laureate of Prince George’s County, Samantha Jackson, and 2017 Youth Poet Ambassador Isaiah Holloway will be joining us this year!

Emceed by Ginger Ingalls, this year’s event includes:

A TRIBUTE TO NAN FRY read by David Fry


STERLING BROWN AND THE HOWARD POETS, presented by Myra Sklarew with Isaiah Holloway and Samantha Jackson. 


KID’S POETRY SCENE, presented by Jacqueline Jules &  Kimberly Schraf


As always, we’ll have time for questions at the end of the event.

Read more about A Splendid Wake on our wiki, housed by the GW Library:

Interested in learning more about the history of DC poetry? Visit our blog, A Splendid Wake,

Saturday, October 8, 2016

DC Poetry Community Mourns the Loss of Nan Fry

written by Jean Nordhaus

Nan Fry, a much-loved Washington area poet and teacher, died suddenly on Friday evening, September 23rd. A longtime member of the academic faculty at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC, Nan also taught poetry workshops for many years at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition to short stories appearing in various venues, Nan, who grew up in Connecticut and earned a PhD in Medieval Studies at Yale, published a collection of poetry, Relearning the Dark with Washington Writers Publishing House in 1981 and, in 1988 with Sibyl-Child Press, a delightful chapbook of riddle poems, Say What I Am Called: Selected Riddles from the Exeter Book,  translated from Anglo-Saxon. Her poem “Riddle” (see below) appeared as a transit system poster in Baltimore, Washington, and Ft. Collins as part of the Poetry Society of America’s “Poetry in Motion” program. A memorial for her will be planned for later in the year.

To read more about Nan’s career, publications, and teaching philosophy, please click on the links below:

by Nan Fry


you hang from your tree
like a teardrop grown solid,
like snow with a freckled skin.
When the handless maiden
came to you in moonlight, hungry,
she stretched up and took you
into her mouth.

Her father had sold her
to the devil and lopped off her hands,
but you bent to her, Pear,
and offered yourself, breast
and milk both, the earth
grown pendulous and sweet.

by Nan Fry

After being so long without windows,
you find that everything opens.

The leaf opens to water,
making itself a room.

When a bird comes,
it carries the sun in its beak.

Over and over, sun is flowing
into the leaf, into the hills

of water. Below, roots tear
water from rock, hurl it upward.

Without wondering if it is right
the worm makes a path

through the leaf, the watery lace.
Under his silent teeth you hear the sea

tolling, and you know
it is not a bell but a doorway. 

by Nan Fry

We are animal cries,
groans the body makes,
the shrill keening of grief,
pain and rage howled out,
grunts of satisfaction,
someone crooning to her young.
We're animal cries becoming
human, five daughters
of your mother tongue.

[Answer: Vowels]

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Celebrating the Washington Writer's Archives

In celebration of George Washington University's Washington Writers Archive Collection, 10 poets who have donated their papers to the Collection took over GWU Gelman Library Thursday night, April 28, 2016 to read wondrously to an avid audience.

The event was designed to showcase the magic diversity of poetic talent in the greater DC area and, in so doing, to klieg-light the Archive Collection holdings as a rich resource for research. 

The DC area is a special treasure trove of poetic talent. In recognition of that gold wealth of voices, the Gelman Library decided a few years ago to create a Washington Writers’ Archive Collection that would hold for posterity the papers of area poets.  The Collection’s intent is to showcase and focus on the interaction between and within the community of DC area poets – how we have influenced and impacted one another.   How we have boosted our voices collectively. 

Currently, the collection contains the papers of about 30 individual poets or poetry organizations.  Jennifer King, Special Collections Librarian at the GW Gelman Library, can provide more information about the collection – its current inventory and its future plans. 

The Collection is designed and intended to be used.  To be used by researchers, by the public, by poets, by anyone interested in the roots of our collective poetry efforts.  It’s a collection that doesn’t want to collect dust – it’s eager to be studied and enjoyed by any and all so that the public better understands how area poets have touched each others’ lives, and how as a group, we’ve influenced life in the greater DC area.  

The photo above was taken just after the reading.  From left to right are poets Beth Baruch Joselow, E. Ethelbert Miller, Cliff Bernier, Patrick Washington, Holly Bass, Karren Alenier, Grace Cavalieri, Sylvia Dianne "Ladi Di" Beverly, Judy McCombs, and at the far right, Sarah Browning.  Jennifer King (second from right) with the Library's Special Collection helped organize and host the event.  Hidden behind her is Sydney March who played his magical flute during the evening.  Ladi Di and the tall bald guy (Hiram Larew) on the back row emceed the event. 

Holdings from the Archive Collection are on display at the Library through mid-May.  And the program was video recorded by poet Jesse Alexander. 

Lots of younger folks attended the April 28th reading along with fine DC-area poets like Miles David Moore, Sistah Joy Alford, Jacqueline Jules, Laureen Summers, Quasar, Andre Brenardo Taylor and many others. 

All in all, it was a might fine evening.  Maybe, even historic.