Friday, May 7, 2010

Poetry Friday: D.C. Poetry Walking Tours and More

If you're trekking to Washington, D.C. next month for the American Library Association's Annual Conference, here are my poetry/writing/book related recommendations:

1) Devour as much of the National Gallery of Art as you can, leaving room for an afternoon shot of energy from the Espresso and Gelato Bar in the East Building and browsing time among the fabulous books of the NGA shop. You might want to check out the exhibit Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg. I have yet to see it, but this description makes me want to: "The same ideas that inform his poetry—an intense observation of the world, a deep appreciation of the beauty of the vernacular, a celebration of the sacredness of the present, and a faith in intuitive expression—also permeate his photography."

2) Ogle the elaborate decor of Library of Congress, including the Poetry Gallery, as well as its more sober collection of Jefferson's original books and the massive Gutenberg Bible. Then go online and discover their wealth of poetry-related programs, including the source of many of my Poetry Friday finds, the amazing high school poetry program, Poetry 180.

3) Wait on line at the National Archives to see the words that established a nation. Or show your respect at Arlington Cemetery to those military men and women whose lives are marked by only a few words on a tombstone. Many journalists and writers are buried there as well.

4) Pay (yeah, I know it's a lot) to view the intrigue and odd hiliarity of the Spy Museum (dog poop surveillance, anyone?) Or don't pay and just visit the ultra-fun shop with unique gifts for writers.

5) Come to the free KidLit Drinks Night.

6) Take a poetry tour. Three downloadable podcasts are available: Full Tour, National Mall, and Northwest Washington. "The DC Poetry Tour features poems by legendary American poets who have called DC home, including Georgia Douglas Johnson, Robert Hayden, Walt Whitman, May Miller, Sterling Brown, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, and Randall Jarrell. In addition to these seminal voices, you’ll hear contemporary poets . . . talk about the ways in which DC inspires their writing today."

7) Check out the progressive vibe of restaurant and poetry venue, Busboys and Poets, named for poet Langston Hughes who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1930s. Even the menus spotlight political and social justice issues. Three locations.

8) Browse the packed bookshelves at Politics and Prose Coffeehouse and Book Store. (I did my first event as a new author here.) Check out their 25 Books for 25 Years List (Children and Teens Edition).

9) Visit the incredible FDR Memorial. It's filled with eminently quotable words ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"), as well as emotionally rendered and thoroughly touchable statues. You can stand beside Eleanor Roosevelt in her sensible shoes and rub President Roosevelt's dog's ears. Don't believe me? Read these vistors' reviews of this oft-overlooked memorial.

10) For more ideas, both literary and non, see the wonderful Going Out Guide from the Washington Post or the list of 62 "Hidden Gems" suggested by readers of Washingtonian magazine.

And you? Do you have something writing/poetry related to add?

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Random Noodling.


  1. Super list! Love it, and agree with all your assessments. I just read this morning that Dashiell Hammett's grave is in Arlington National Cemetery. I have to make it over there, and the FDR Memorial.

  2. Wow, Sara, what a list! Thanks for sharing!

    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  3. Thanks for the great list! I'm so sad that I'll miss the KidLit Drinks Night -- we won't be getting into town until Saturday.

  4. Mary Lee, that means we need to plan another way to get together!


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