DC Poet Project Winner: Susan Meehan

On Saturday May 13 the finalists in the DC Poet Project read their work in a shared poetry reading at the Anacostia Public Library. At the conclusion, the audience voted to select a winner: Susan Meehan.

Interviewer: Congratulations, Susan, on your win! How long have you been writing poetry?

SM: I’ve been writing poetry ever since my mother read poetry to me. Age 6, I think.

Interviewer: I know you’ve lived in DC for a long time, but are you a DC native? What first brought you to DC?

I am not a native Washingtonian, but I’ve lived here ever since July 6, 1964. I know the date well because of two things – first, I have a splendid photo of the moon that night, and two – the man sitting next to me in the first day of training as a Management Intern at the State Department/AID, and whom I had never met before, turn out to be the man I married some 50 years ago. Bob was talking rather loudly and ever so constantly, that our trainer came over to me and whispered in my ear that I was being given a special – and immediate assignment – that of keeping him from being the sole speaker. I must confess that I have failed that assignment – he’s still talking! But I did SOLVE the problem by marrying him.

Susan and Robert Meehan

The reason I came to DC was idealistic; Kennedy had been shot not long before, and I wanted to do my part in ensuring that his ideals would be carried out by the young people he had attracted – like me and Bob. Both of us had had to take a lengthy 2-day test in written and oral Spanish and French, and both passed. I wanted to save the world – especially women and children in the third world. I had lived in both Spain and Mexico, and cared greatly that democracy needed to be taught. I would do it!

Interviewer: I heard you worked for DC’s “Mayor for Life” Marion Barry for like 20 years. How was that? Any poetic experiences with him?

SM: Marion was a fine person to work for; I learned a great deal. Were it not for his dependence on the ladies, he might still be there – and we’d be better off if that were true. While I can recall no poetic experience, I did have one incident with Marion that still makes me laugh. We received word that the Black Panthers were in town and acting not at all well. Nixon set up the PDP to keep trouble away his DC residence, but some were still angry. Marion and I were chosen to go over to the Black Panther office to find out what was going on – and fix it. As we walked over to the building they had taken over, I gave him a brief précis of the role of the Black Irish sailors in the planned Spanish invasion of Great Britain. By the time we arrived at the building which the Black Panthers had taken over, he knew they were angry and ready to fight. The building had had all of its windows bricked up – except for small slits good for weaponry and little else. He informed the Panthers that I was a member of the Black Irish, and as such they had better take care of me, as well. I didn’t know whether to gulp at his totally untrue tale, or to look exceptionally fierce. I chose the latter, and we were invited in without further ado. It didn’t take too much to work out an acceptable plan…

Interviewer: Have you given any thought to what you might title your book, how you might focus it? We’re looking forward to working with you on it, and congratulations again on your win.

SM: I am thinking about, THE COLOR OF DISTANCE UNKNOWN, or maybe, THE COLOR OF MAGIC…

Meet Cute in Crestwood

This summer Day Eight will publish a book of poetry and launch a local history project in partnership with the American University Art Museum.

Help us match the grants provided to start those project at a house party in DC’s Crestwood neighborhood Saturday May 20th. At the event you’ll be able to meet a bunch of the folks involved with those projects, and in addition, the following honored guests will be attending in support:

Brandon Todd,  Ward 4 DC Councilmember
Joy Austin,  Executive Director of DC Humanities Council
Ebone Bell,  Publisher of Tagg Magazine
Matt Wood,  Policy Director of Free Press
Jon West-Bey,  Board Chair of American Poetry Museum
John Chambers,  Founder of Bloombars
and
John Mason,  Board Chair of Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts

It’ll be a fun chance to get into some great conversations at a gorgeous private home. Get your tickets here.

Thanks to Mr. John Mahshie and Mr. Michael Faubion for hosting us.

Mahshie is senior vice president with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty and is Chairman of the Education Committee of the Washington Mid Atlantic Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art.

A native of Texas, S. Michael Faubion spent 35 years at the National Endowment for the Arts, holding several positions in the Visual Arts Program. Following retirement from his first career, in 2012, he joined his partner, John T. Mahshie, at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

Hope to see you this weekend, and thank you for your support.

Announcing Finalists for the DC Poet Project

Thanks to poets Abdul Ali, Gregory Luce, Ethelbert Miller, Melanie Figg, Joseph Ross and Danielle Evennou for selecting the four finalists in the DC Poet Project from among tens of participants in the three open mic events — March 25, April 1, and April 8 — at the Anacostia Branch of the DC Public Library.

The selected finalists will feature read (20 minutes each) at the culminating reading series event — May 13, also at the Library — at the conclusion of which the audience will LIVE VOTE to select the winner of the DC Poet Project. Through our partnerships with the Library, Upshur Street Books, Brink Media, Day Eight will publish a book of poetry by the winning poet.

Get your free ticket to attend the poetry reading event May 13 here.

Michael Cameron (Ghostwritah) was born in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has been writing in his head for years, but only writing in a notebook for two months. He is a chef, currently obtaining a Commercial Drivers License. He loves artistic expression.

John Johnson is a native Washingtonian and holds a B.A in Theater form the University of the District of Columbia. Mr Johnson uses his background in theater to create a unique interactive experience when writing and performing poetry. Mr. Johnson has worked as a drama therapist with a partnership with the Districts Youth Services Center. His most recent contribution is to a radio project at American University WAMU 88.5 call “Anacostia Unmapped” which he captures the narratives of local residents in rapidly changing communities “East of the River” in Washington D.C. ‎

Rose Strode’s personal essays have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Little Patuxent Review, The Delmarva Review, and Viator. Her first published poem appeared last year in Poet Lore; more of her poetry will appear later this year in Sequestrum and Bourgeon. Rose is currently teaching a poetry class called “The Art of Gratitude”. When she is not writing or teaching she works in the Japanese Garden at Ekoji Buddhist Temple. Rose received the “Undiscovered Voices” fellowship from The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland in 2014 and a 2017 scholarship from the Key West Literary Society.

Susan Meehan is a New Englander transplanted to the District of Columbia in 1964. After the riots in DC that followed Rev. Martin Luther King’s death, she began to work on black-white relations, initially as an elected member, along with Marion Barry, of the Police Pilot District Project, then as a community activist, and later working in the Mayor’s office – including being the City’s first Patient Advocate for all DC residents seeking help with their substance abuse problems. For a number of years she worked with families of homicide victims. Poetry has always been in Susan’s writings, filled with emotion, diversity, intensity and whimsy. It reflects her searches for both her Irish and Jewish heritages, her Quaker views, her commitment to Washington, DC, and her relationships with some of DC’s best poets, including Sterling Brown, Gaston Neal and Nap Turner. Mayor Barry asked her to write and read one of her poems to over 3000 people at his third inaugural. At 78 she remains an enthusiast for DC statehood.