Issue 21.1 Introduction


When Venus Thrash and I discussed themes for the first issue of the Beltway Poetry Quarterly’s new life—after the retirement of its long-standing editor, Kim Roberts—we listened to the inner beat and tapped our feet. In the call for submissions, we wrote “The corner of 7th Street and Florida Ave., NW. is known for the voluminous Go-Go music blasting all day from speakers outside the Metro PCS store. In the spring of 2019, it became known for an incredible and nearly spontaneous stirring of people when that Go-Go sound was threatened. That music has inspired more than a few passersby to break into dance or song over the last 24 years. Whenever anyone approaches, Go-Go is what they expect to hear. Some look forward to the instant lift it gives whenever they are within earshot. The music energizes that entire intersection otherwise indistinct from any other. Moreover, because it has been such a mainstay, it has come to represent DC culture. More than 3,000 Washingtonians gathered at that corner and rallied to save a slice of DC life from stuffy new neighbors. In a powerful demonstration of protest, Go-Go blaring over their heads, they shouted, “Don’t Mute DC”.

Go-Go music is an iconic representation of the city’s character because it is DC’s own invention. Go-Go is also a message about staying power. It is about a small but thriving business in spite of sweeping gentrification. Go-Go music is a living symbol of the roots laid firmly down in DC and a reminder to newcomers that to live in this city is to love this city including its homegrown music and how it chooses to listen. Suffice it to say, there is still Go-Go music blasting from the speakers at 7th and Florida. That’s the power of the people. That is also the power of music.

Music awakens and transforms. Music can ignite revolutions in thought, word, and deed. Music can define an era, a people, a city. Poetry can do the same. That was the theme of this call for poems. In the spirit of ‘Don’t Mute DC’, we planned to feature poems about music’s revolutionary, transformative power. Whatever the origin or genre, we asked for poems in response to music that has defined movements, places, and cultures—poems about music that tell the mean and ugly truths about our world and that shows what our world can become.

So here are the poems. They come from throughout the DMV, with one exception, for one that came all the way from the Ukraine. There are poets here who have received the highest accolades, such as E. Ethelbert Miller and Terence Patrick Winch, and there are some who are publishing for the first time in English and in America. We are thrilled to introduce Raga Ayyagari, Kirk Greenway, and Alexis Soto to readers.

We are also saying goodbye as Venus will be stepping away from Beltway to focus on other projects. Thank you, Venus for your work on this issue and over the recent period.

We are also introducing sparkling talent, with the new Associate Editor, Sara Cahill Marron.

Of course, our most bittersweet goodbye is to founding editor, and publisher of BPQ for the last 20 years, Kim Roberts.  Thank you, Kim. We hope you will send poems for our review in future issues.

To all readers of the Beltway Poetry Quarterly, we present the Revolutionary Music Issue, Volume….

Indran Amirthanayagam, Editor