Last night I attended this groundbreaking event, which was held at The Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington DC, and hosted by the project’s driving force, Kim Bridgford.
It was delightful to be reunited with so many of my fellow timeliners (from last June’s West Chester seminar)—Barbara Crooker, Marilyn L. Taylor, Patricia Valdata, Kathyrn Varnes and Kathryn Voorhees—for such a varied celebration of women’s poetry. After a brief introduction by Kim, we were treated to two songs from the hauntingly lyrical Somi. This was fittingly followed by a tribute to Lucille Clifton, presented by friend and former student Carleasa A. Coates. Alicia Ostriker delivered a fine keynote address, after which the names of the original timeline contributors, and all the women poets in attendance, were called by Kim and Marilyn respectively. Annie Finch read a spirited poem created specially for the event, which invoked the muses as well as pretty much every dead woman poet of any renown. Then the Timeline was officially launched with a ceremonial click of the mouse. (You can find it here on the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets’ Timeline website.)
Following another two of Somi’s original songs and a brief intermission, Rhina P. Espaillat headed up the list of featured readers—I confess I am a little in awe of her, although she spoke to me (for the first time ever) with much grace and kindness. Then Molly Peacock gave her usual exuberant performance, and finally we enjoyed a dramatic recital by Terri Witek.
During the course of the evening I was also able to speak to Mike Peich, whose sponsorship originally got the project going, Mike Juster (current featured poet at The Barefoot Muse), Eratosphere moderator and fine poet Maryann Corbett, and recent Donald Justice Award winner Ned Balbo, among others.
All in all, it was a fantastic evening for women’s poetry, and the timeline will continue to roll out. (If you are interested in contributing an essay on a woman poet to the database, please query Kim at email@example.com.)