Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Poetry Archive

Special Issues

Chiseled, We need and celebrate poems that are chiseled to the hair-line, the fine crack between joints in a word sculpture that stands while exposing all of its component parts, lovingly selected, with a jeweler’s eye, a musician’s ear, a painter’s fingers and brush.

Vessels, Poets are vessels for the Muse’s messages. The students are the future of our human society. This magazine is a vessel too, a bridge between the Muse and society.

Poems for the shade bloom in the height of humid and hot August not only today, but throughout this climate change-induced heat wave of summer. Come inside. Snuggle up with these refreshing poems from all over the world. They form part of the resistance and make us more resilient. They are frank explorations of the dilemmas of modern life, and of its wonders.

Borderless, we call ourselves, as a sovereign is seized, her borders ignored, constructed lines do not belong to any one builder—but the line, the word, the space and the poem, all require some emptiness, sometimes. See what you will, in the spaces between. Perhaps you will see new borders, or none at all.

Rooted is an issue that holds ancient secrets, deep rings of sadness, strength, and song. There is a mycorrhizal network between the poets; not all write of ecology, but together are a palm tree spreading her branches skyward, one poem reaching towards the next. These poets sow, seed by seed, a forest pulsing with decayed ghosts of war, peace, home-cooked meals, accents, and scents melding together on a cemetery wind. To all the poets gathered under the shade of this grand tree, welcome. To all readers, enjoy their lyric flights, their resolutions in sound and meter, their poems.

Elegies, Lamentations, Prayers Lately, it seems everyone is thinking about death; dying has become quotidian and separate. One or two people are allowed in a hospital room with a covid patient, funerals go off without bells and whistles, and each of us can rattle off the list of souls to whom we have said goodbye, written an elegy for, sung a dirge, a lamentation, a song, cried, yearned to embrace for the last time. And who, now, do we embrace? Who is willing to leap from their virtual windows, rip down the walls of their fear? Dear reader, we implore you to pick up a poem, whether you believe in prayer or not, and pray the lyric (September 2021).

Reconstitute:  To reconstitute means to build again from parts; to change the form, Adrienne Rich wrote “with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” In poesis an artist brings something new into existence, recreates history that needs new feet, constructing caissons deep in the earth that did not exist before. Moving in and out of each other’s orbits, we share our suborbital electrons— we become light through exchange. You and I reconstitute the world, draw a line with our energy, from the core of the earth. A nuclear reaction. These poems explode, create new earth (April 2021).

The Dream Returned. This issue appears when America and the rest of the world have witnessed the siege on the Capitol, when Americans and friends of the Dream elsewhere are hurting, smarting, trying to understand how the citadel could have been breached and with apparent ease. Why did the mob act, and on whose instruction? We know the answer and we are ashamed. These poems are being released at a time of Dream restoration. We are proud to have harvested again in the Dream orchard, the one that had gone to seed, the one served again to the world on Inauguration Day (January 2021).

Art in Times of Crises, Vol. II:  a companion volume, includes 42 poets and translators writing about crises. How does one compose when crises go on and on? The poems gathered here brace us fierce, release us into day dream, heal us with their word music-— stopping to gaze at Black Lives Matter Plaza, at the White House, at the Mason-Dixon Line — saying let us step back, disarm, stretch out our hands, make signs of peace (Fall 2020).

Art in Times of Crises, Vol. I: features 28 poets writing in a time of global crises. The poets speak to the critical nature of poetry and the arts during events that have destabilized individuals, groups, communities, and whole societies: from the COVID-19 pandemic, to childbirth, loss, memory, and death. These are songs in a larger chorus of the suffering human condition, and the struggle for survival (Summer 2020).

Revolutionary Music Issue: poems about music’s transformative power. Don’t Mute DC! This is the first issue compiled by the journal’s new editor, Indran Amirthanayagam, and the last with co-editor Venus Thrash (Winter 2020).

20th Anniversary Issue: Featuring 22 poets who have served as editors or guest editors of the journal during the past decade. This is the final issue edited by founder Kim Roberts (Fall 2019).

Jewish Poets Issue: Featuring 53 poems about Jewish identity written by 37 authors who live in DC, MD, VA, and DE. Guest co-editor: Yermiyahu Ahron Taub (Spring 2019).

U.S. Poets Laureate, Part II: Poems, interviews, essays and correspondence by the laureates, and contemporary essays and criticism, as well as ample photographs and drawings, examine the role of the U.S. Poets Laureate at the Library of Congress. Guest edited by Dan Vera (Winter 2019).

Envisioning the Future: If artists are the architects of the future, what is the world we seek to create? This special issue features 30 poems by 20 women and non-binary poets who live or work in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Guest edited by Saida Agostini (Fall 2018).

First Books, Part V: the fifth in a series celebrating first single-author full-length books by authors from the greater DC region, this issue highlights seven women poets (Summer 2018).

The Resurrection Issue, Part II highlights the work of eight foremothers, bringing back into print the work of women poets from the DC region who have passed away. This is the second part in a series that honors poets whose work deserves a wider readership, but whose poems were previously difficult to find online (Winter 2018).

The Sterling A. Brown Tribute Issue honors DC’s first Poet Laureate, featuring 27 poets writing work inspired by the life or poems of Sterling A. Brown, or work that addresses some of his primary themes, including music (primarily jazz and blues), racial identity, and folklore. With an audio interview of Brown by Grace Cavalieri, and an introduction by Marcia Davis (Fall 2017).

The Cave Canem 20th Anniversary Issue features 57 poems by 31 poets with strong ties to DC who have been fellows or faculty of Cave Canem over the past twenty years. Cave Canem Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that cultivates the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. Guest co-editors: Holly Bass and Joel Dias-Porter (Spring 2017).

The Virtual Salon Issue features 29 authors, with poems written in conversation with (or in response to) another author with strong DC ties, past or present (Winter 2017).

The Slam Issue features 20 poets who have represented the DC/MD/VA area in regional and national slams over the course of twenty-three years, from 1993 through 2016. Guest Co-Editor: Elizabeth Acevedo (Fall 2016).

The Poets Respond to Shakespeare Issue documents a reading series at the Folger Shakespeare Library that took place from 2013 through 2015. Eleven contributors; guest editor: Teri Ellen Cross Davis (Summer 2016).

LGBTQ Issue: 40 poems by 24 poets from DC, VA, and MD that reflect on cultural and historical erasure, and assert human rights and human dignity. Guest co-editor: Venus Thrash (Spring 2016).

SomeOf Us Press Issue: Celebrating the history of a landmark small press in DC and one of the best examples of the idealism and high standards that marked the Small Press Movement of the 1970s. With an introduction by Michael Lally,a preface by Kim Roberts, and a full bibliography. Excerpts from books by thirteen authors, plus historical notes, ample photographs, book covers, flyers (Winter 2016)

Nine Women Poets: The first issue compiled by Gowri Koneswaran as Beltway Poetry‘s co-editor features a talented group of women living in the DC area, who write out of diverse backgrounds and traditions but share a passion for justice, with poems that address gender, race, the economy, and religion (Fall 2015).

LogoRevFINALLow_CMYKTranslation Issue: 24 area translators featured, along with original poems in Vietnamese, Burmese, Chinese, Hebrew, Latin, French, Spanish, Polish, Bulgarian, Russian, German, and Faroese. Co-sponsored with the DC Area Literary Translators (DC-ALT) and guest edited by Nancy Naomi Carlson, Katherine E. Young, and Suzanne Zweizig. (Summer 2015).

First Books IV: Generous selections from nine recently-published, highly recommended First Books by authors with strong ties to DC and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic states (Spring 2015).

The Sonnet Issue: A range of sonnets by 67 authors, contemporary and historic, who live or work in DC, MD, VA, WV, and DE.  Includes traditional Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnets, variations on those forms (including envelope sonnets, hybrid sonnets, and nonce sonnets), and 14-line free verse poems that borrow from that eminent tradition. Guest co-editor: Michael Gushue (Winter 2015).

The Splendid Wake Issue: Part VI in our ongoing literary history series. 17 essays by 14 authors on DC poets, and poetry movements, presented in conjunction with the Washington Authors archives and “A Splendid Wake” wiki at the Special Collections, Gelman Library, George Washington University; guest edited by Myra Sklarew (Fall 2014).

Orbit: The Asian American Issue: 28 poems by 22 poets of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, co-edited by Regie Cabico and Gowri Koneswaran (Summer 2014).

Prose Poem Issue: 44 prose poems by 30 authors, edited by Abigail Beckel (Fall 2013).

The Resurrection Issue: Brings the work of eight DC poets back into print (Summer 2013).

First Books (III): Features seven poets with recent and recommended first full-length books (Winter 2013)

Poetic Ancestors: Part V in our ongoing literary history series, this issue includes 11 essays honoring past DC poets (Fall 2012)

Poets in Federal Government: 25 poets who are current or former employees of the Federal government of the United States “sing the office electric.” Co-edited by Michael Gushue and Kim Roberts (Summer 2012).

Floricanto: 26 poems that honor and celebrate America’s immigrant roots, written in response to anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama. This issue commemorates a landmark poetry reading held in DC in February 2011. Edited by Francisco Aragón (Winter 2012).

First Books (II): Features seven poets with recent and recommended first full-length books (Spring 2011).

Hughes1939Langston Hughes Tribute Issue: 34 poems inspired by Hughes’s legacy, commemorating his residence in DC in the early days of his career. Includes an essay and map of places in the city where Hughes lived and worked. Co-edited by Katy Richey and Kim Roberts (Winter 2011)

Mapping the City: DC Places II: Poems about the streets, neighborhoods, parks, monuments, and businesses of Washington, DC. With a fabulous interactive map by Emery Pajer that pinpoints 40 newly-published poems next to the 52 from the first DC Places Issue. (Fall 2010)

plan-b-logoPlan B Press Issue: Poems reprinted from books published by Plan B Press from its founding in 1999 to the present year, 2010. Guest edited by stevenallenmay (Summer 2010).

Literary Organizations Issue: Part IV in an ongoing series documenting the literary history of the DC region, this issue includes 14 essays that celebrate groups past and present that have nurtured writers in the region (Spring 2010).

Tenth Anniversary Issue: A Celebration of Guest Editors. New poems and reminiscences by the 15 writers who generously served as guest editors in the journal’s first ten years (Winter 2010).

A full listing of Tenth Anniversary activities can be found here.

US Poets Laureate Issue: featuring essays, interviews, and poems by select Laureates, edited by Dan Vera (Fall 2009).

It’s Your Mug 15th Anniversary Issue: Honoring the first spoken word venue in Washington, DC, this issue features 18 poets active in the series, with an introduction by Holly Bass, and photographs by Thomas Sayers Ellis. Edited by Toni Asante Lightfoot (Summer 2009).

First Books: Features five notable poets with recent first full-length books (Spring 2009).

Blg Museum UrnMuseum Issue: 33 poems about museums, historic sites, and their collections, co-edited by Kim Roberts and Maureen Thorson (Winter 2009).

Audio Issue: Twenty audio tracks of poems produced with music, or recordings of poets with distinctive, musical voices, co-edited by Kim Roberts and Katie Davis (Fall 2008).

Forebears: Part III in the ongoing series on DC’s literary history. Nine essays on individuals and locations important to their work (Summer 2008).

Split This Rock: Poems of provocation and witness by 17 poets, presented in conjunction with the Split This Rock Poetry Festival, co-edited by Kim Roberts and Regie Cabico (Winter 2008).

The Evolving City: 36 poems on subjects of construction and demolition, gentrification and preservation, and all the other ways cities change over time, co-edited by Kim Roberts and Teri Ellen Cross (Fall 2007).

The Science of Love: Five poets whose work explores “the multitude of ways that science can help us not only understand, but appreciate human compassion, bonding, intimacy, and relationships,” edited by Kwame Alexander (Spring 2007).

Profiles: Part II in the series on DC’s literary history. Interviews and essays celebrating eight poets with strong connections to DC, both current and past (Winter 2006)

DC Places: 52 poems celebrating specific sites in Washington DC, with an interactive map, co-edited by Kim Roberts and Andrea Carter Brown (Summer 2006)

Wartime: 46 poems written in response to the continuing War in Iraq, edited by Sarah Browning (Spring 2006)

Expanding Latino Identity: Five emerging and established Latino poets and three visual artists, edited by Naomi Ayala (Spring 2005)

The Bunny and The Crocodile: Five poets published by a notable local small press, in operation from 1979 to the present. Edited by Grace Cavalieri (Spring 2004)

Whitman IssueWW portrait from 1st edition: 38 poems inspired by Walt Whitman, published in honor of the sesquicentennial of the first printing of Leaves of Grass, co-edited by Kim Roberts and Saundra Rose Maley (Winter 2004)

This issue was published in conjunction with “DC Celebrates Whitman: 150 Years of Leaves of Grass.” Full description of festival events can be found here.

Memory and Influence: Part I in the series on DC’s literary history. Essays by current DC poets honoring the continuing legacy and influence of 16 DC poets who have passed away (Fall 2003)

Activist Poets: Five poets dedicated to organizing and enhancing the DC area’s literary community, edited by Hilary Tham (Fall 2002)

The “Woodshed”: Four poets who share a “devotion to the solitude of the creative writing process,” edited by Brian Gilmore (Fall 2001)

The Distinguishing Voice: Five poets whose work shares “such a distinctive voice that we recognize a poem of theirs whether or not we have read it before,” edited by Merrill Leffler (Fall 2000)

Past Archives

All web pages created from our founding in 2000 to our transition to this new website in 2012 still exist in our old format.  If an author’s name is not included on the list to the right, you can find their links below:

Winona Addision: Split This Rock Issue

M. Lee Alexander: Mapping the City

Abdul Ali: Evolving City Issue
Abdul Ali

Fareedah Allah: Mapping the City

Henry Allen

Eric Antonio: It’s Your Mug Anniversary Issue

Elizabeth Arnold

Jennifer Atkinson

Bonnie Auslander: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Wendy Babiak: Mapping the City

Vincent Balistrieri: Plan B Press Issue

Suzanna Banwell: Wartime Issue

Virginia Bell: Wartime Issue

Michele Belluomini: Plan B Press Issue

Rose Marie Berger: Wartime Issue
Rose Marie Berger: Museum Issue

David Bergman: Whitman Issue

Rei Berroa

Tara Betts: Floricanto Issue

Oscar Bermeo: Floricanto Issue

Star Black: DC Places Issue

Toni Blackman: It’s Your Mug Anniversary Issue

Linda Blaskey: Wartime Issue

Dean Blehert

Anne Blonstein: Plan B Press Issue

Taquiena Boston and Vera J. Katz on Owen Dodson: Forebears Issue

Tony Brewer: Plan B Press Issue

Kyndall Brown: Wartime Issue

Japheth Brubaker: Evolving City Issue

Rick Cannon
Rick Cannon: Evolving City Issue

Adelaide E. Cardozo: Mapping the City

Adam Chiles: Wartime Issue

Maxine Clair

Three DC Editors: Richard Peabody on William F. Claire: Profiles Issue
William Claire: Evolving City Issue

John Clarke
John Clarke: Whitman Issue

Shirley Cochrane: Mapping the City

Michael Collier

Three DC Editors: Richard Peabody on Caresse Crosby: Profiles Issue

Stephen Cushman: Museum Issue

Ramola D
Ramola D: Evolving City Issue

Philip Dacey: DC Places Issue

Myra Sklarew on Leon-Gontran Damas: Forebears Issue

Grace Cavalieri on Ann Darr: Forebears Issue

Heather Davis: Evolving City Issue
Heather Davis: Split This Rock Issue
Heather Davis: Mapping the City

Susan Deer Cloud: Floricanto Issue

Mark Defoe: Whitman Issue
Mark DeFoe: Evolving City Issue

Peter Desmond: DC Places Issue

Jean Donnelly

Twain Dooley: It’s Your Mug Anniversary Issue

Greta Ehrig: Evolving City Issue

Amani Elkasssabany: Museum Issue

Zachary Elkin on DC Scores: Literary Organizations Issue

Michele Elliott

Mario Escobar

Deborah Filanowski: Plan B Press Issue

Michael Fisher: Plan B Press Issue

Mark Fitzgerald: Evolving City Issue
Mark Fitzgerald: Mapping the City

Jane Flanders

Jade Foster: Mapping the City

Donna Foulke

Brandel France de Bravo: First Books

John Frazier

The Furies by Julie R. Enszer: Literary Organizations Issue

Julia A. Galbus on Gloria Oden: Profiles Issue

Odilia Galván Rodriguez: Floricanto Issue

Parris Garnier: Wartime Issue
Parris Garnier: Museum Issue

Bernadette Geyer

Simki Ghebremichael: DC Places Issue
Simki Ghebremichael: Mapping the City

Linda Girardi

Aracelis Girmay: Floricanto Issue

Robert L. Giron: Whitman Issue
Robert L. Giron

Ron Goudreau: Whitman Issue

Fannie H. Gray: Evolving City Issue
Fannie Gray: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Jack Greer
Jack Greer: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Jennifer Gresham

Piotr Gwiazda: Wartime Issue

Andrew Haley: Museum Issue

Jessica Haney: Evolving City Issue

Suzan Shown Harjo

Judith Harris

Leah Harris: Wartime Issue

Clarinda Harriss: Whitman Issue

Yona Harvey

Mary Beth Hatem: Mapping the City

Scott Hightower: DC Places Issue

Ailish Hopper

Tod Ibrahim

Gladys Ilarregui

Esther Iverem
Esther Iverem: Wartime Issue

Reuben Jackson
Reuben Jackson: Wartime Issue
Reuben Jackson: It’s Your Mug Anniversary Issue
Reuben Jackson: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Bernard Jankowski: DC Places Issue
Bernie Jankowski: Audio Issue

Valerie Jean
Jean on Georgia Douglas Johnson: Memorial Issue

Charles Jensen

Fred Joiner: Wartime Issue
Fred Joiner: DC Places Issue
Fred Joiner
Fred Joiner: Audio Issue

Joy Jones: Mapping the City

Taquiena Boston and Vera J. Katz on Owen Dodson: Forebears Issue

Sally Keith

Joseph Kerschbaum: Plan B Press Issue

Peter Klappert

Rosemary Klein: Whitman Issue
Rosemary Klein: DC Places Issue
Rosemary Klein: Museum Issue

Kendra Kopelke: Museum Issue

Christi Kramer: Wartime Issue

Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda: Museum Issue

Tom Lachman: Mapping the City

Gerry LaFemina: Whitman Issue

Joe Lapp: Wartime Issue
Joe Lapp: DC Places Issue

Hiram Larew

Mary Ann Larkin: DC Places Issue
Mary Ann Larkin: Museum Issue
Mary Ann Larkin: Plan B Press Issue

Joyce Latham: Evolving City Issue

Dorianne Laux: Floricanto Issue

Lyn Lifshin: DC Places Issue

Dehejia Maat: It’s Your Mug Anniversary Issue
Dehejia Maat: Mapping the City

Karren L. Alenier on Archibald MacLeish: Memorial Issue

Dan Maguire: Plan B Press Issue

Jim Mancinelli: Plan B Press Issue

Grisella M. Martinez: Evolving City Issue
Grisella M. Martinez: Mapping the City

Tonya Maria Matthews

C.M. Mayo

Richard McCann
Richard McCann on Ed Cox: Memorial Issue

Judith McCombs: Whitman Issue
Judith McCombs: Wartime Issue
Judith McCombs

Mark McMorris

Dianne Miller: Plan B Press Issue

Kathi Morrison-Taylor on Joaquin Miller: Forebears Issue

Robert Miltner: Plan B Press Issue

Mark Opsasnick on Jim Morrison and Beat Coffee Houses: Forebears Issue

Kathi Morrison-Taylor: DC Places Issue
Kathi Morrison-Taylor on Joaquin Miller: Forebears Issue
Kathi Morrison-Taylor: First Books

Elisabeth Murawski

Martin G. Murray on Washington Friends of Walt Whitman: Literary Organizations Issue

John Murillo

Erin Murphy: Whitman Issue

Bonnie Naradzay
: Whitman Issue

Ben Nardolilli: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Kenneth Carroll on Gaston Neal: Memorial Issue
Gaston Neal: Audio Issue

Marilyn Nelson: Floricanto Issue

Maureen O’Dea

Mark Opsasnick on Jim Morrison and Beat Coffee Houses: Forebears Issue

Joe Osterhaus

Sibbie O’Sullivan

Eric Pankey

Elisavietta Ritchie on Betty Parry: Memorial Issue

Marie Pavlicek-Wehrli: Wartime Issue

John Peacock: Evolving City Issue

Lisa Pegram: It’s Your Mug Anniversary Issue

Christabelle Peters

Meredith Pond: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Ilona Popper

Rod Jellema on Ezra Pound: Memorial Issue

Daniel Pravda: Whitman Issue

Gretchen Primack: Mapping the City

Princess of Controversy: Split This Rock Issue

John Claggett Proctor: Mapping the City

Daniel Gutstein on Dudley Randall: Memorial Issue

Ann Rayburn: Museum Issue

C.R. Resetarits: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Barbara Jane Reyes: Floricanto Issue

Melanie Rivera

Ken Robidoux: Whitman Issue

Luis J. Rodriguez: Floricanto Issue

Kathleen S. Rogers: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Charlie Rossiter: Mapping the City

Gibbons Ruark: Whitman Issue

Ken Rumble: Plan B Press Issue

William F. Rutkowski: Wartime Issue

Ann Ryan: Wartime Issue

Carly Sachs: DC Places Issue
Carly Sachs: Evolving City Issue

Abel Salas: Floricanto Issue

Martha Sanchez-Lowery
Martha Sanchez-Lowery: Mapping the City

Robert Sargent
Hastings Wyman on Robert Sargent: Profiles Issue

J. Scales: Mapping the City

Johnna Schmidt: Wartime Issue

Gregg Shapiro: DC Places Issue
Gregg Shapiro: First Books

Richard Sharp: Whitman Issue

Avideh Shashaani

Kate Powell Shine: Evolving City Issue

Evie Shockley: DC Places Issue

Edna Small: Museum Issue

Carmen Gimenez Smith: Floricanto Issue

Dean Smith: DC Places Issue

Rod Smith
Dan Gutstein on Rod Smith: Profiles Issue

Cheryl Snell: Museum Issue

Tanya Snyder: Evolving City Issue
Tanya Snyder: Split This Rock Issue

Alan Spears

Erika Stanley: Plan B Press Issue

Jennifer Steele: Wartime Issue

Gary Stein

Lamont Steptoe: Plan B Press Issue

Sharan Strange

Ellen Sullins: Plan B Press Issue

Mark Tarallo: DC Places Issue
Mark Tarallo: Audio Issue

Henry Taylor

Verna Taylor: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Truth Thomas: Mapping the City
Truth Thomas

Tammy Tillotson: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Susan Tichy: Split This Rock Issue

Hedy Treviño: Floricanto Issue

Lori Tsang: Wartime Issue

Pamela Uschuk: Floricanto Issue

Bill Vander Clute: Wartime Issue

Roberto Vargas: Floricanto Issue

Jane Alberdeston Coralin on Reetika Vazirani: Profiles Issue

Jason Venner: Plan B Press Issue

Ada Vilageliu-Diaz

Rich Villar: Floricanto Issue

Rebecca Villarreal
Rebecca Villarreal on Angelina Weld Grimké: Memorial Issue

Patrick Washington: It’s Your Mug Anniversary Issue
Patrick Washington

Jessica White: Plan B Press Issue

The Whitman Issue: Introduction and Table of Contents
Kim Roberts on Walt Whitman: Memorial Issue

Susan R. Williamson: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue

Rhonda Williford

Ellen Wise: Wartime Issue

Marcella Wolfe: Wartime Issue

Baron Wormser: DC Places Issue

Andrea Wyatt: DC Places Issue

Hastings Wyman on Robert Sargent: Profiles Issue

Andre Yang: Floricanto Issue

Brother Yao
Brother Yao: Mapping the City

Margaret Yocom: Museum Issue