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)