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A Splendid Wake
A Splendid Wake -ening
When my close poet friend Ann Knox suddenly died at 86 while launching her newest book, I knew she would not want a lugubrious funeral but rather a splendid wake. I mentioned this to our fellow poet Myra Sklarew, and instantly the name took off. Myra and I birthed this project, though in the last year Myra has been in the lead, and from the beginning other poets have joined in, more and more, including from the several reading series and universities, to celebrate Washington-area poets from 1900 on.
This includes the various poets around Howard University, a sort of Harlem Renaissance in Washington, and later salons and workshops and journals, and in time the successive immigrant groups and the foreign nationals here with the World Bank, the embassies, etc. English and MFA departments of several universities as well as several professors and current students have attended our open evenings, and the Washington Post's Ron Charles has faithfully touted these.
The Gelman Library, a part of the George Washington University library, already has a section for Washington poets living and passed, so it was natural that head librarian Jennifer King, albeit not a poet herself, become much involved with the project. She organized a Wikipedia site specifically devoted to A Splendid Wake, and all of us contribute to this. (My own contribution, to kick things off, was an article on ten Wineberry Press Poets (most of whom have now passed on).
Editor Kim Roberts and Myra Sklarew are working on a new issue of BELTWAY on the web and asked me for my original article on "when a close writer friend dies." Then Kim decided that since Potomac Review has already published a version of this on their blog and another as ìIf We Had A Choice in the Matterî in their special print anthology, she wants me to do a new article.
So I am writing an expanded piece on the numerous now-deceased poets who participated in a number of workshops held at and/or born at 3207 Macomb St. from before 1980 to recent years.