Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009 Washington Prize Winner - Mayweed, by Frannie Lindsay

The Word Works proudly announces that Mayweed, by Frannie Lindsay, of Belmont, MA, is the winner of the 2009 Washington Prize.

Lindsay’s two previous books are also prize winners: Lamb won the 2006 Perugia Press Intro Award and was runner-up for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Where She Always Was (Utah State University Press) was selected for the 2004 May Swenson Award.

The Word Works thanks all participants who entered the prize competition. Purchase Mayweed now. All contestants will receive a copy of this book. For more information about this year's prize, visit the Washington Prize page.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Faces at Miller Cabin Programs

There are only two more programs in the 2009 Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series. Because life is uncertain, I urge you not to procrastinate about attending. Miller Cabin is a huge challenge even with the best possible circumstances. This is an historic literary happening and after 34 years who is to say there will be a 35th?

Here are highlights from

June 16 ---Tyler Caroline Mills with Jacklyn Potter Young Poets: Katherine Casey & Baobao Zhang

June 23 ---Chris Goodrich & Nancy Krygowski

June 30 ---Melanie Henderson & Luke Johnson

July 7 --- April Linder & Bonnie Naradzay

July 14 --- George Drew & W. Luther Jett

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Miller Cabin's Moveable Feast

While Joaquin Miller had to deal with the “perils of civilization,” the volunteers and audience of the June 9, 2009, opening night program had to deal with the perils of Mother Nature. Thunder, lightning, and rain sent participants directly to the Sixth Presbyterian Church where we typically have our receptions and our programs when inclement weather occurs. However, the church was dark and locked despite assurances from our contact Mr. White that he was primed to be there for us.

Karren Alenier suggested that we drive to Connecticut Avenue and try the new café attached to the Avalon Theatre. One of the assembled audience members called ahead and asked for permission and voila—a moveable feast (Marcela Sulak, one of the readers, had brought her birthday cake)!

The gracious manager and staff of the Avalon Café welcomed the dozen people with carrot cake and were happy to serve us coffee, tea, and spirits. Marcela had poems fitting the occasion—sonnets about food and coffee that got the staff chuckling and nodding their heads.

Deborah Bernhardt who had driven all the way from Massachusetts with a friend presented a lush landscape of language in the tradition of Gertrude Stein.

It was definitely a family affair. Lead co-host Kathi Morrison-Taylor invoked the spirits of Jacklyn Potter (the former director of the Cabin Series) and the late Word Works Board Members Robert Sargent and Hilary Tham. Mel Belin gave an inspired reading of Joaquin Miller’s poem “Columbus.” Paul Hopper in the open reading hosted by co-host Deborah Ager read a trio of poems honoring Jacklyn, his mother, and a late NIH doctor who had visited the Cabin. Marcela’s daughter wander on and off “stage” as her mom read.

We apologize to anyone who came either to picnic grove 6 where the Cabin sits or to the church and couldn’t find us. Nonetheless, we had an inspired reading in an unexpected and wonderful venue. Thank you to Henry Passman and his staff at the Avalon. Join us next week on Tuesday June 16 to hear Tyler Caroline Mills with the Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Katherine Casey and Baobao Zhang.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Word Works at AWP Chicago

At the instigation of new Board member Nancy White, current director of the Washington Prize and past winner of said prize, The Word Works bought a table at the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) convention in Chicago February 11-14, 2009. At the table, Nancy and WW president Karren Alenier were joined by other past winners Peter Blair, John Bradley, and Fred Marchant as well as Word Works Hilary Tham Capital Collection Sarah Browning and loyal WW volunteers JoAnne Growney, Helen Park, and J.D. Smith.

The idea was to promote the Washington Prize and in that effort hundreds of WW book brochures with the contest rules and news letters were handed out in effort to reach of portion of 7,000 plus attendees. Washington Prize-winning books were set out on the table for visitors to see and book signings were announced and held. Among the many people who visited the WW table was John Hoppenthaler.

Who had time to eat or sleep or visit the local sights except to wander through a ice sculpting show across Michigan Avenue where the Chicago Hilton stands and was home to the AWP book fair, panels and readings. Well, there was time to go hear a bunch of Split This Rock principals including Word Works own author Sarah Browning give a poetry reading offsite in the Roger's Park Insights Arts gallery.

Reb Livingston & Karren Alenier smile for Deborah Ager (32 Poems)

Karren Alenier did however attend a panel on Page to Stage that included David St. John and Cornelius Eady (David St. John has a new opera under way), Michael Halberstam, Gregory McGuire, Susan Terris and a second panel entitled "Women of a Certain Age" that featured power-broking poets and writers: Linda Pastan, Alicia Ostriker, Rosellen Brown, Hilda Raz and Janet Borroway.

If asked, Karren would say that the most surprising thing that happened was she was asked twice about how Hilary Tham was. So Hilary's name continues to be spoken in the halls of poetry.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

State of the Art

One of the few “jobs” left in this large country of ours that is recession proof remains in the hands and minds of us poets. Because we rarely get paid for anything we do and only the rare individual listens to us, we are like monks—free to create our art.

In 2009, The Word Works will celebrate its 35th anniversary of helping poets realize their potential. Take, for example, our Café Muse Literary Salon, which began its 10th year of monthly programs in January when Brian Brodeur and Kathi Wolfe were our featured readers. And typically we have begun our programs with the live music, most often featuring the classical guitar concerts of poet Michael Davis.

Today, February 1, 2009, The Word Works holds its annual meeting. While our nonprofit charter requires this meeting, it is a meeting that typically goes to dreams of our future. Why not make this year your year to join with The Word Works to promote American poetry? Consider becoming a volunteer. We have a lot of jobs and projects and while volunteering does little for one’s pocketbook, it does a lot for your mortal soul.

Contact Karren at if you would like to be a co-director with Adele Stein at Café Muse helping to run this program, or a co-director with Kathi Morrison-Taylor at the Joaquin Miller Cabin summer poetry series, an archivist working with our archive at George Washington University, our quarterly newsletter editor, our chief publicist, our web master. We have room for your energy and we would like you to become a part of our family.

Don't forget to join us in Friendship Heights February 2nd for Cafe Muse when we present Brandel France de Bravo and Wendell Hawken.