Thursday, December 29, 2011

Inspired by Gertrude Stein: A Workshop

Saturday, February 4, 2012, The Word Works, in cooperation with Stanford in Washington, will sponsor Inspired by Gertrude Stein, a special master class workshop on Gertrude Stein, a unique opportunity to learn about Stein and to be inspired by her work and the work of artists already influenced by this great Modernist. 

The 10 am to 5 pm workshop will take place at the Stanford in Washington Art Gallery, 2661 Connecticut Ave NW Washington, DC. The program, which includes an overview of Stein and her work, a curated tour of the exhibition (now extended to March 2012) “Insight & Identity: Contemporary Artists and Gertrude Stein,” writing time, and an opportunity to share newly created work, will be led by Karren Alenier, author of the libretto Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On, and Hans Gallas, co-curator of the “Insight & Identity” exhibition.

The program is open to writers of all levels and genres. The cost is $50. Visit  for more information or call 301-581-9439.

KARREN LaLONDE ALENIER, poet, librettist and innovator of educational programs, specializes in creative work related to Gertrude Stein. Since 2003, she has been writing The Steiny Road to Operadom, a monthly column on Gertrude Stein and opera for She is author of five volumes of poetry, with a sixth — On a Bed of Gardenias: Jane & Paul Bowles — forthcoming January 2012. Her opera Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On premiered in New York in 2005 with a good review from the New York Times.

HANS GALLAS, writer and artist, is a San Francisco-based collector of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas memorabilia. Items from his collection have been included in exhibitions around the world and are featured in the Stanford in Washington gallery show.  He is also the author of the recently published picture book, Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom. 

The Word Works is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit literary organization publishing contemporary poetry in artistic editions and sponsoring public programs for more than 35 years.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cafe Muse Celebrates Fine Poets September & October

September 19, 2011, at Café Muse, The Word Works had the pleasure of hearing poets Megan Synder Camp and Michele Wolf read from their new books as well as host Greg McBride who gave moving tribute to our recently departed friend Ann Knox.

Here are the opening poems from The Forest of Sure Things by Megan Snyder-Camp:


O sockeye O rock sole O starry flounder
O red Irish lord O spiny lumpsucker

Dear threespine stickleback, sweet broken-backed shrimp—
hear the dreadful voices from the balcony.  You’re the blind

taking the bull by the horns.  You’re snow on a stick,
a stuck jukebox, a ribbon-swamped trike.  O gum boot,

O lemon peel nudibranch—do not fear the leafy horn-mouth;
dogwinkle and moon snail walk the floor and burn their bridges.

Lonely whitecap limpet, days are not true.  You stand on one foot,
and we brush past.  To live a life is not to walk across a field.

Pity the ghost shrimp, heart on his sleeve, or the glassy sea squirt,
run through with tears.  O to have gathered no moss, to know a clam’s

muddy joy.  You shut with a snap, you blur with silt, you poke
among barnacles.  A bunch of one-trick ponies, even brave wolf-eel. 

Cornered, the plainfin midshipman sings when afraid.   
They say it fears only the elusive cloud sponge.

and from Immersion by Michele Wolf: 

She recognizes its crest in the way he looks at her.

The wave is as vast as the roiling mass in the Japanese

Print they had paused in front of at the museum,

Capped with ringlets of foam, all surging sinew.

That little village along the shore would be

Totally lost. There is no escaping this.

The wave is flooding his heart,

And he is sending the flood

Her way.It rushes

Over her.

Can you look at one face

For the whole of a life?

Does the moon peer down

At the tides and hunger for home?

Greg McBride read two poems by Ann Knox and in this video, you can hear one of these. Note the photo of Ann that Greg brought to the reading. It was taken at Ann’s last reading on the day of her death. Ann was a great asset to our literary community and we miss her very much.

Our our next program is October 3 with poets Linda Pastan  and Jane Shore with tribute to Ann Darr.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Miller Poetry Series Wrap Up

Word Works had a successful partnership with the National Park Service as we teamed up to present eight programs from June 9 to July 28 in the Rock Creek Nature Center planetarium in Washington DC. We had a great mix of familiar audience and newcomers. Here are some images from the July programs and a poem written by Rhonda Williford who attended every program!


The Word Works Graces
have tipped the bowl
of the night sky free

of humidity, light pollution --
to expotential stars,
skim of Milky Way creamed.

The Lyra held upright to strum
sound bright to twin the lights --
too various to connect all dots --

intimate as a lost love,
extraterrestial as the setting,
neither desert or the whale

neglected.  The poets drew
the pictures -- and the pictures
sang.  We sat under

the constellations, grateful
for the created
community of words.

--Rhonda Williford

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cafe Muse Celebrates Hispanic Poets in Washington DC

Café Muse was sizzling hot for its July 18 program when Luis Alberto Ambroggio and Carlos Parada Ayala brought together luminaries associated with their new anthology Al pie de la Casa Blanca: Poetas hispanos de Washington, DC (At the Foot of the White House: Hispanic Poets in Washington, DC). The program opened with tribute to Egla Morales Blouin by her daughter Wendy Harmic Blouin and Egla Blouin’s best friend Dr. Miriam Davis. Blouin worked on Al pie de la Casa Blanca but did not live long enough to see the work in print. She also did translation work for DC’s Gala Hispanic Theatre.

Congratulations to Luis Alberto Ambroggio for his upcoming induction in the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (an honor from the government of Spain). The ceremony will take place September 30, 2011 at the Library of Congress.

Congratulation to Rei Berroa for The International Poetry Award that will be bestowed to him by the City of Trieste, Italy in December 2011. The International Poetry Award is an honor that has been given to highly esteemed writers from around the world for each of the past 12 years in recognition of lifetime achievement.

Here is the list in the order of their appearance and the country of origin:

-Wendy Harmic Blouin, Egla Morales Blouin's daughter (US)

-Dr. Miriam Davis, Egla's best friends (Argentina)

-Rei Berroa (Dominican Republic)

-David Camero (Venezuela)

-Carlos Parada (El Salvador)

This poem is a translation of Sami Miranda’s word play poem “Como vino.” Word play is very difficult to translate, but this translation by Yvette Neisser Moreno seems to please those in the know. 

WINDING UP HERE (“Como vino”)

Like wine.
Like red wine,
like white wine.
How’d a black man wind up here?
Wandering on a raft.

How’d he wind up here?
Like wine in a bottle,
a message crossing
the sea.

When I saw that
they didn’t want me,
I drank a bottle
of wine. So what?

Red wine.
White wine.
Black man came on a raft,
four days on a raft.

When the helicopter wound down
and took me to Guantánamo
I stayed.
They asked: How’d you wind up here?

Like a bottle of wine
crossing the sea
with a message
no one reads.

Since he had come,
I sat and talked with him.
We drank a bottle of wine
and when he asked:

How’d you wind up here?
I said, what does it matter  
if I'm already here.          

‘Como vino’ by Sami Miranda
Translation by Yvette Neisser Moreno


Como vino.
Como vino tinto,
Como vino blanco.
¿Cómo vino el negro?
En una balsa.

¿Cómo vino?
En botella,
un mensaje cruzando
el mar.

Como vi que no
me querían,
me tomé una botella
de vino. ¿Cómo?

Vino tinto.
Vino blanco.
Vino negro en balsa,
cuatro días en balsa.

Como vino el helicóptero
y me llevó a Guantánamo
me quedé.
Me preguntaban: ¿Cómo vino?

Como botella de vino
cruzando el mar
con un mensaje
que nadie lee.

Como vino,
me senté a hablar con él
y nos tomamos una botella de vino
y cuando me preguntó:

¿Cómo vino?
Le contesté, qué importa
si ya llegué.

by Sami Miranda

About Al pie de la Casa Blanca: Poetas hispanos de Washington, DC:

The anthology includes the work of 24 of the most prominent Hispanic poets who have lived in the DC area in recent years, including Naomi Ayala, Quique Avilés, Rei Berroa, Consuelo Hernández, Gladys Ilarregui, Mayamérica Cortez, Arturo Salcedo Martínez, Alberto Avendaño, Marty Sanchez-Lowery, Milagros Terán and Vladimir Monge.

It also includes a pair of essays by the editors, putting in context the thematic and aesthetic development Hispanic poetry in Washington within American poetical perspectives and the local history of Hispanic-Latino poetry. The poetry is interspersed with photographs by the Spanish academic, writer and photographer Gerardo Piña Rosales, which offer a cutting-edge visual essay that creates a stimulating dialogue with the poetry. The English translation of this anthology is in progress now.

The NEXT CAFÉ MUSE program will happen August 1, 2011 and feature Poets Kyle Dargan & Lew Watts with tribute to Sterling Brown. Please join us for another outstanding program.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Miller Time Update

Are we flying high at the Rock Creek Nature Center Planetarium with the newly relocated Joaquin Miller Poetry Series? You betcha!

Maybe you saw our opening night post.

Our June16, Kathi Morrison Taylor & Deborah Ager presented Pia Taavila & Ian Williams. Pia gave us a look into deaf culture—she was raised by deaf parents and now teaches at Galludet. Ian gave us a 21st century look into the life of a single man but not before telling us the story about how his condo apartment house burned down days before he came from the greater Boston area to DC for his reading.

 On June 23, Adam Tavel and Melissa Tuckey joined us in the Planetarium. We were also pleased to have The Word Works resident star-gazer Dr. Jim Beall who runs his own planetarium at St. Johns College.

June 30, we had a big crowd for Yvette Neisser Moreno and Iain Pollack. The heavens were rocking with lots of celestial imagery and sound effects.

If you missed any of these readings, you can still check out the books from many of these authors in the lobby of the Nature Center. It's not hard to get to the Rock Creek Nature Center by car or by public transportation.

The Planetarium is totally cool in every sense of the word. (No bugs either!) Join us July 7 for the next reading by Hailey Leithauser & Suzanne Rhodenbaugh.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heavenly Graduation, Kelly Cherry, Jacklyn Potter Young Poets

How did The Word Works ever manage to spend 35 seasons doing poetry at the Miller Cabin? The answer: we had Jacklyn Potter running the show for 22 years and she loved the out of doors.

Moving the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series to the Planetarium of the Rock Creek Nature is clearly a heavenly graduation, especially on a day such as June 9, 2011 was with its 100 degree Fahrenheit reading, the oppressive humidity and annoying gnats. None of that inside the pleasantly air-conditioned Planetarium where Ranger Scott treated us to the night sky that Joaquin Miller saw over the cabin when it was still in its original location (now Meridian Hill Park).

Our featured readers were: Kelly Cherry and our Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Julia Holemans and Cori Stash. Mel Belin read Joaquin Miller’s poem “Columbus.”

Kelly read from two books, both of which are now being sold in the lobby of Nature Center for entire eight weeks of the Miller Poetry Series.

Here’s a poem from The Retreats of Thought, which is a collection of sonnets that according to Daniel Tobin “dares nothing less than ‘to drag truth from hiding.’”


I think that something and nothing are one
thing, the moon with one side bright as joy,
the other dark, unshined on by the sun
and cold as January in Sheboy-
gan. I think creation and consciousness
are the same one side of a Moebius strip,
unending, so that each is more or less
the other. I think time is round trip,
a journey sweet but often hard and lonely
and taken on the train of thought from here
to here, that all times happen at once, only
past, present, future are how they appear.
I think that when we die we die for good
and ever, making room in the neighborhood.

Kelly Cherry
from The Retreats of Thought

Copyright © 2009 by Kelly Cherry

Join us Thursday June 16 at 7 PM
Rock Creek Nature Center
5200 Glover Road NW DC for

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blessing Lucille, Rod, Marty

This year at Café Muse, The Word Works has been paying tribute to poets whose bodily presence we miss. The programs have brought incredible audiences together. June 2011 in tribute to Lucille Clifton was especially poignant as we featured poets Martin Galvin and Rod Jellema who created a poetic conversation as they went back and forth in their readings, sharing subject matter and their own poems that “talked to each.”

Jeffrey Coleman, a Saint Mary’s College of Maryland associate of Ms. Clifton shared his story about how she mentored him and how she sent out her graduating seniors with this poem:

Blessing the boats
(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Lucille Clifton

Copyright © 2001 by Lucille Clifton

Word Works author Donna Denize provided a humorous anecdote about how she came to sign a book
for Ms. Denize. 

The open mic heard some new voices to our forum.

And outside the Friendship Heights Village Center after the program was done, Rod Jellema added a story about how her first book Good Times came to be published by Random House. It’s a story the remaining audience of a dozen people had never heard. Carolyn Kizer, who Rod Jellema called as strong as Sherman tank,  by some chance read Ms. Clifton’s manuscript and asked if any of these poems had been published. Ms. Clifton responded none had been published because she didn’t know how to go about doing that. Ms. Kizer got on the phone and called Random House and said they must publish this manuscript, which, by the way, was only enough for a chapbook. However Random House published the manuscript with blank pages in between each poem to make up the difference. Good Times published in 1969, was cited by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year.

Don’t miss our July 18 program when Poets Carlos Parada Ayala and Luis Alberto Ambroggio read from Al Pie de la Casa Blanca: Anthology of Spanish-Language Washington-Area Poets with tribute to Egla Morales Blouin.

Friendship Heights Village Center
4433 South Park Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD

7:00 pm with open readings after featured readers. Free.

Adele Steiner, Hailey Leithauser, and Laura Golberg host.
Michael Davis plays classical guitar at most programs.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Word Works Tribute to Lucille Clifton

At the June 6, 2011 Café Muse program featuring poets Martin Galvin and Rod Jellema, the Word Works will pay tribute to the late Lucille Clifton, a beloved poet and teacher in the national literary scene. Café Muse located at the Friendship Heights Village Center, 4433 South Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD begins at 7 pm.

Participating in the tribute are Jeffrey Coleman who will speak briefly about Ms. Clifton’s accomplishments and Donna Denize, who will read a Lucille Clifton poem.

The program is free and open to the public. More information at

(Photo courtesy of Karren L. Alenier)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Praise for Michele Wolf's Immersion

Michele Wolf is deeply amazed and grateful that her new collection, Immersion, was a poetry best-seller for distributor SPD Books in March, and that her new website,, has received more than 1,200 unique visitors, including guests from Poland and Ghana. Of Immersion, Washington, D.C.’s examiner.comnoted, “Get immersed in Immersion…wonderful…very moving, very powerful….Every poem is delightfully unexpected, pulling the reader into the next poem.The poems are nicely crafted, tight with economy of words….Wolf has opened herself up to her readers, and provided them with a better sense of their own family belief system.” AARP the Magazine wrote, “‘Can you look at one face/For the whole of a life?/ Does the moon peer down/ At the tides and hunger for home?’ So asks…Michele Wolf, a poet of uncommon insight, inImmersion, her third collection. From family life to world events, her words will touch you.”

The gorgeous cover of Immersion--painting by Hellenne Vermillion, design by Susan Pearce--invariably draws attention. Wolf, who continues to teach at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, has a new blog post and three poems on the affecting site Poets on Adoption ( She wishes to fondly thank Nancy White, Karren Alenier, and Denise Duhamel for their support.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Barbara Louise Ungar is thrilled to have received another rave review from blogger Rabbit Reader, who discovered her work when the Amazon logarithm suggested he might like it; intrigued by the title, Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life (and no doubt by the excellent cover by Susan Pearce as well), and ended up selecting it to be on his Top Ten reads of 2011 list! He has since reviewed her two prior books, with another push for Charlotte, at, comparing Ungar not only to Margaret Atwood, but also James Joyce (she can die happy now).

Ungar was also surprised and delighted to see that Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life remained a Poetry Best Seller for Small Press Distribution in April for the second month in a row (, and is grateful to Nancy White for having gone to some trouble to get The Word Works books distributed by SPD.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

AWP 2011

Word Works bought a booth #420 and here's what it looked like before we unloaded the boxes.
Here is the set up crew:
President Nancy White
Book Manager Brian Marx
Board Chairperson Karren Alenier
Brad Richard, 2010 Winner of the Washingotn Prize

Table after setup !!!

Participants in the Washington Prize Celebration Reading:
Back Row: Brad Richard, Jay Rogoff, Peter Blair
Front Row: Fred Marchant, Nathalie Anderson, Enid Shomer

All of our Washington Prize winners came from long distances, including Boston, Saratoga Springs, New Orleans, Florida, Philadelphia, South Carolina. This year travel was hard because of bad weather but we had a fabulous reading and crowd of about 60 people. Then we went out to dinner to continue the celebration! 

Come to Booth 420 on Saturday to meet them. AWP Bookfair is free & open to the public Feb 5. 
10 am - 4 pm.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cafe Muse Pays Tribute to Hilary Tham January 3

In 2011, Cafe Muse will pay tribute to late poets the literary community hold dear.

Our Monday, January 3 program featuring poets Charles Jensen & Alexandra van de Kamp will honor Hilary Tham.

Friendship Heights Village Center, 
4433 South Park Avenue, 
Chevy Chase, MD 20815 
7:00 pm 

Here are biographic details for our feature readers and for Hilary Tham

CHARLES JENSEN was a finalist for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award for his book of poems The First Risk. He is the author of three additional chapbooks, including Living Things, which won the 2006 Frank O'Hara Chapbook Award. His poems have appeared in New England ReviewThe JournalWillow Springs, and 32 Poems. A past recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

ALEXANDRA VAN DE KAMP is the author of three chapbooks, and the full-length collection, The Park of Upside-Down Chairs, (WordTech Press, 2010.) She is one of the founding editors of Terra Incognita, an international literary/cultural journal in English and Spanish. Her work appears widely in MeridianGreensboro ReviewPoetry Northwest and other publications. She lives in Port Jervis, NY and teaches at Stony Brook University.
HILARY THAM (1946-2005) was an artist and author of nine books of poetry, including Counting: A Long Poem. Her second book, Bad Names for Women, won second prize in the Virginia Poetry Prizes (Judge: Gerald Stern) and third prize in the Paterson Prize for Poetry (judge: Diane Wakoski). She also wrote a memoir: Lane With No Name, Memoirs and Poems of a Malaysian-Chinese Girlhood and a set of interlinked short stores Tin Mines & Concubines. A new project will make her books electronically available to libraries in 2011.

January's tribute to Ms. Tham is with grateful acknowledgment to the New Room Poets, a group organized by Hilary Tham. We also look forward to a reading of one of her poems by her husband Joe Goldberg who will kick off the open mic portion of the program.