DC Poet Project Winner Susan Meehan on WAMU

Washington, D.C.’s local NPR station, WAMU, featured DC Poet Project winner Susan Meehan, and her new book Talking To the Night, published by Day Eight. Here are a few excerpts from the article, and link to the full piece at the bottom.

by Ally Schweitzer:

Sitting in her living room in Dupont Circle, Susan Meehan slips on her glasses and begins to recite one of her poems. But first, she wants to make one thing clear.

“I swear to God,” she says, “this is a true story.”

She could prelude many of her poems in the same way. A longtime city employee and neighborhood leader in D.C., Meehan writes raw and descriptive poetry extracted from her autobiography. She arrived in Washington in 1964 like many do — a bleeding-heart liberal determined to make a difference — and became an early supporter of Marion Barry. After helping him win his first mayoral campaign, she embarked on a long career working on behalf of residents addicted to drugs and alcohol. All the while, she involved herself deeply in Dupont Circle politics and her Quaker church, accruing stories and turning them into verse…..

Meehan didn’t expect to be a published poet after all these years. She just lucked into it. She says she was watching TV one day and saw something flash across the screen about a local poetry contest with a generous prize.

“I thought, ‘I can do it. I can do it! I can win that,” Meehan says.

And she did.

After winning a poetry contest sponsored by nonprofit Day Eight, Susan Meehan published her first book of poetry, “Talking to the Night.” Her second book, also out this year, is “The Color of Truth.”Tyrone Turner / WAMU

Grace Cavalieri is a poet and radio host who helped Meehan select the poetry for her books. She says it’s rare to come across a poet making her debut at age 79.

“Never saw it before in my life,” Cavalieri says. “We have poets that get published at 50 … but I’ve never known anyone to premiere at almost their ninth decade…..”

Listen to the article or read the full story at:  http://wamu.org/story/17/08/18/longtime-d-c-activist-recounts-citys-tougher-years-poetry/.

Opportunity for Visual Artists: Seeking Local Art for Book Cover

Catch the flower in its bloom – 

it has no other life.

– Susan Meehan

Day Eight is looking for an image to license for the cover of a book of poetry we’re publishing this summer. This is not a commission: we’re offering $100 to license an existing image for the cover.

Are you a local visual artist, or do you know one that might want their work featured on the cover of the book? Email any images available for consideration to Admin@DayEight.org.

If you’re an artist willing to let us use any image on your site you can email and let us know, “hey, look through my site, you could use anything on here,” or, you can also email url’s or jpg’s of individual images available for the cover.


The book we’re publishing is by Susan Meehan. Susan won the DC Poet Project in an open competition, and her book, The Color of Magic, will be published this summer through partnership with Brink Media, the DC Public Library, Upshur Street Books, LISC DC and support from the DC Commission on the Arts. Learn more about Susan here, and save the date for the book launch reading: August 12, 2017 2pm – 3:00pm at the Anacostia Public Library.

Thank you for forwarding this call for images to any artist you know that might be interested!

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.