Announcing Featured Poets in the 2020 DC Poet Project Reading Series

Through support from individual donors, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Wells Fargo Community Foundation, Day Eight’s DC Poet Project reading series will feature exceptional writers from across the region at five events spring 2020.

Now in its fourth year, The DC Poet Project is a poetry reading series and open-to-all poetry competition that results in publication of a new book of poetry by a DC author. Click on the books names to read about and preview the books by 2017 winner Susan Meehan, Talking to the Night, 2018 winner John Johnson, Love for Her, and 2019 winner Kevin Wiggins, Port of Exit.

The first spring 2020 event will occur Saturday January 25th from 2:00-3:30, featuring poets Venus Thrash and Daria-Ann Martineau, and will continue February 8th with poets Kevin Wiggins, Naomi Ayala, and Shaquetta Nelson. The event February 22nd will be a special “Sister Cities” edition, featuring Parisian poet Malik Crumpler alongside DC poets Jeffrey Banks and John Johnson. The February 29th event, a special reading in partnership with the Anacostia Coordinating Council, features E. Ethelbert Miller, Regie Cabico, and Antwone Ross. The last open reading will be March 7th, featuring Gregory Luce, Anne Becker, and Kim B. Miller.

Each Reading Series event includes an open mic, and at each event one open mic is selected the ‘winner’ by the featuring poets and awarded $100 cash prize!

Tickets are limited, and reserve yours on Eventbrite here.

Keep readings to find bios of the participating poets.

Bios of the featuring poets:

Daria-Ann Martineau was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. She is a Pushcart-nominated poet with an MFA in Poetry from New York University. She is an alumna of several writing conferences including Bread Loaf and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Her poems have appeared in Anomaly, Narrative, and The Collagist, among others. She is the founder of PRINT- Poets Reclaiming Immigrant Narratives & Texts.

Venus Thrash is author of The Fateful Apple, nominated for the 2015 PEN Open Book Award. Her poetry is published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Torch, Gargoyle, and additional magazines and book anthologies. In 2017, she was named co-editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, is co-director of the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series, and teaches at Trinity Washington University.

Kevin Wiggins was the 2019 winner of the DC Poet Project. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland he performs as The Mysfit. A spoken word artist, storyteller, and playwright, his work stares adversity in the face and is unapologetic for the Black LGBTQ community with intensity, rage, compassion, and love. About his book, Port of Exit (Day Eight, 2019) Amy Woolard wrote, “These poems, and this poet, are a gospel.”

Naomi Ayala was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States in her teens, eventually earning an MFA from the Bennington College Writing Seminars. Writing in both Spanish and English, she is author of the poetry collections Wild Animals on the Moon (1997), and This Side of Early (2008). An educator and arts administrator, Ayala has received numerous awards, including the 2001 Larry Neal Writers Award from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Shaquetta Nelson, known by her stage name R.E.I.L (real), was a finalist in the 2018 DC Poet project. At 16 she was one quarter of a slam team that competed in the Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam. She seeks inspiration from past and present life experiences to help the lives of other unsung souls.

John Johnson was the winner of the 2018 DC Poet Project. Through his win, the non-profit Day Eight published Johnson’s book, Love for Her. Maryland poet laureate Grace Cavalieri called Love for Her, “A real find” and E. Ethelbert Miller wrote, “The poems are filled with wit, and wisdom.” A native Washingtonian and father of two, Johnson graduated from the University of the District of Columbia, and as a poet, playwright, actor, and producer, is dedicated to capturing the narratives of African Americans in Washington DC.

Jeffrey Banks, poetically known as “Big Homey,” has worked with artists including the late Fred “Rerun” Berry, gospel singer Maurette Brown Clark, Syleena Johnson, Dr. Bobby Jones & others, and has been featured in media including Essence Magazine, and Black Enterprise Magazine. His album, Exposed-The EP, is the poetic testimonial of a Christian Believer. A licensed minister and substitute teacher, he provides consultant service to non-profits for events and development. He was a finalist in the 2018 DC Poet Project.

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of several collections of poetry and two memoirs. For fourteen years he has been the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. In 1996, Emory and Henry College awarded Miller an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. Miller is regularly heard on National Public Radio and is host of the weekly morning radio show On the Margin which airs on WPFW-FM 89.3. Miller is also host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV. The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, published in 2016 by Willow Books, is a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his career as a poet. His most recent book is If God Invented Baseball, published by City Point Press.

Regie Cabico won The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam and took top prizes in three National Poetry Slams. His television credits include two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, NPR’s Snap Judgement & MTV’s Free Your Mind, and his work appears in over 30 anthologies including Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, Spoken Word Revolution & The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.

Antwone Ross has been writing and performing since he was a child. A native Washingtonian, he participated in the 2018 “Art All Night” and is the founder of “Pop Up Poetry” where he and other local poets perform at random locations in the city. Antwone was a finalist in the 2019 DC Poet Project.

Gregory Luce, author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line Press), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He recently retired from National Geographic and lives in Arlington, VA.

Anne Becker is a poet, teacher and paper artist. Her latest collection of poetry, Human Animal, is forthcoming from Pond Road Press in 2018. Her other books include The Transmutation Notebooks: Poems in the Voices of Charles and Emma Darwin, and The Good Body. For the past ten years she has been developing projects to promote collaborations between poets, visual artists, dancers and musicians, as Poet Laureate of Takoma Park, MD and as Poet-in-Residence at Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center in Hyattsville, MD. She teaches at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, and from her home in Takoma Park she leads a workshop, Writing the Body, for those who have experienced life-threatening or chronic illness as patient, caregiver or family member.

Kim B. Miller is a poet and arts educator and was a finalist in the 2019 DC Poet Project. She has featured in poetry series in New York, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, California, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. She works as a poetry educator with DC Scores and at a women’s prison and has facilitated classes and workshops on Haiku locally and nationally.