I've been very lucky, having lived in Washington since April 4th, 1973 to the present (aside from six months spent in the bay area in 1974). In that time, I've enjoyed the many benefits and pleasures of having been associated with a vital, ever-changing community of poets* and writers. The idea of community is somewhat subjective, I will admit, but I think that it might be argued that a group of poets, centered in one location for more than thirty years in some cases, and with much shared experience, could be regarded as such. The DC “alternative poetry” scene has never been big enough to break into factions, but has enjoyed a steady infusion of newcomers over the last three and a half decades. The exception in the case of factions is the existence of a robust African-American poetry community that has really been separate from the one to which I belong, although there was a good deal of overlap in the 1970s.
"poets" replaced typo "pets"
I am very possessive, and still regard poets who’ve been here a while and departed as DC poets still, most recently Mark Wallace and K. Lorraine Graham. There are other poets, too, whom I regard as honorary DC poets, such as Tom Raworth, Ted Greenwald and Anselm Berrigan, just because of their close connections and regular visits. Of course, the honor is ours.
What “alternative poetry” means to me is that line which extends from the poetics represented in Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry, and goes back to Stein, Pound, Williams and Zukofsky.
The DC poetry homepage has some excellent documentation -- see the History Project at:
What I hope to do with this blog is pay tribute to those who have created and maintained this scene, and to document more of its history, albeit in my own sweet way.
The photograph above shows Becky Levenson, Jack Inman, Peter Inman, Phyllis Rosenzweig and Tina Darragh, back in the day.