Art and Poetry Live in Alexandria

Art and Poetry Live in Alexandria


Wendi R. Kaplan

As we wind up 2016 and launch into a new year, I think of the poetry and art that many Alexandrians have shared with us. I am grateful to be part of this beautiful city that is filled with artists and creative souls. For truly it is creativity that widens our perspectives, deepens our understandings and strengthens our connections.

Some highlights of December were working with the extraordinary Bridget Tomich, a TC Williams teacher who has launched the Poetry Out Loud program at the high school. This is a terrific competition that challenges students to memorize and recite poetry. The first winner of the TC competition is Alexis Figueroa Mata who shared two poems, “Zacuanpapalotis” by Brenda Cardenas and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou. Her recitations were fluid and deeply moving.

The Arabesque program highlighted the arts and culture of Arab-Americans. I was honored to share poetry there, along with Palestinian poet, Samar Najia. The beautiful art of contemporary Arab artists is on display at the Durant Arts Center on Cameron Street through Jan. 12. This wonderful work is sponsored by the Alexandria Office of the Arts.

In Del Ray, the fabulous Nancy Belmont created another outstanding and moving community art installation called Be The Light. In addition to her cooperative sculpture, she invited artists, to share music and poetry and, yes, light, on one cold evening that lit up Mt. Vernon Avenue. Kate Moran with her beautiful voice, and the young and talented Marian Morton lavished us with their music, and Gina Rollo White shared mindful, light filled words to the gathered group. I contributed the poem below.

Dear Light

Thank you.

Thank you for the way

you paint the sunset

with golds and reds.

For the way you awaken me,

simply by peeking through my window—

Like this morning,

brushing the sky with hues

of cerulean, sapphire, indigo, denim,

sharing secret names for blue,

that, for me, were new and

drew streaks of Renoir

both outside of me

and inside of me.

Thank you for the morning

I crested the hill, and found

the bright, full Frost Moon

waiting like a queen at the top,

deciding she would stay—

no matter

that the sun had already risen.

Thank you for the flames

we light in December,

reminding us of

past and possible miracles.

My wish for you dear Alexandrians is a 2017 filled with poetry and words and art that bring you fountains of light and love.

You can reach me at

Wendi R. Kaplan is poet laureate of Alexandria.