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.

Launch of the DC Poet Project

Talent is equally distributed through the population, but opportunity is not. It’s impossible for a poet to rise in the profession without a book. And you can’t get a book contract without a lot of individual poems published in the right places. And to get a lot of individual poems published in the right places you have to have the time to make submission after submission over a period of years. That means people without that kind of time to dedicate are unintentionally excluded from the top ranks of the profession. For that reason, Day Eight, with partnership and support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Lisc DC, DC Public Library, Brink Media, Upshur Street Books, individual donors and sponsors, and the featuring poets, is launching the DC Poet Project.

The DC Poet Project is a poetry reading series with open mic. At each event the Featuring Poets will select one ‘winning’ open mic reader to receive a $100 cash award, and invitation to compete at the final event for a book contract.

Read on to learn more about the featuring poets and partners in this project.
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From Gregory Luce

As you know, Day Eight strives to support the arts in all forms. One of the most important ways we accomplish this vital task is by providing a space where artists can showcase and write about their work. In 2016, we expanded this endeavor with our revitalized poetry publishing program. As Board Chair of Day Eight and Literary Editor of our journal Bourgeon, I am very proud to have published poems by a number of fine poets this year. For example, in November, Megan Alpert took us to China:

“In Xi’an I’d wake / in the dark, unable to find my hands. / Remember how we went for oranges? / We held them, sweet and tart, the only bright things / in the sudden fog.” (from “Kahee and the Dark“)

In May, J.D. Smith tried to sell a farm:

“You get the feed lot’s smell from that direction. / The stream is muddied by a neighbor’s goats. / Let’s step inside. The gun rack’s over there. / This far from town, you’ll want a gun somewhere.” (from “Working Farm for Sale“)

And in August, Kate Horowitz wrote of a mysterious kitchen fire:

“There is no fire extinguisher / In the photo of the kitchen fire; / Perhaps my boyfriend / Had gone to get it. Still my mother and I / Are not leaving. My sister / Has reached for her camera.” (from “Kitchen Fire“)

These excerpts should give you some idea of the variety and excellence that we have been privileged to share with our readers. Please visit http://bourgeononline.com/ and read them all if you haven’t already.

If you, like us at Day Eight, value and appreciate such work and would like to see more, please consider an end-of-the-year gift to Day Eight. You can make a secure donation here: http://dayeight.org/support-us/.

Thanks for your support and Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Gregory Luce

Board Chair