From ChickenBones: A Journal for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes    (October 2003)

Memory and Influence: A History of DC Poets
Presented by Beltway: An On-Line Poetry Quarterly
Edited by  Kim Roberts

 Beltway is an on-line quarterly journal of poetry by authors who live or work inside the beltway in the greater DC metro region. That's a narrow geographic range--but a wide range of voices.  The editor, Kim Roberts, consciously tries to include poets from different traditions (academic, spoken word, experimental, etc.) and with different levels of experience (from internationally recognized folks such as Pulitzer-Prize-winner Henry Taylor to authors who have not yet published books). This range provides a dynamic mix that showcases the best poetry from the Beltway area and encourages a sense of community.

Issues run for three months, after which time web pages go into the site Archives. (The Archives serves as a growing anthology.) Five poets are typically featured in each issue.

African-American poets (and poets of color generally) are well represented, though that is not Beltway's exclusive focus.  (Nonetheless, approximately 64% of contributors to date are people of color.)  Some of the most interesting younger African-American poets right now are associated with Cave Canem, the summer writing institute, and a very large percentage of those writers seem to live in the greater DC area, so one sub-group of Beltway writers are Cave Canem alums. 

A special issue of Beltway currently on-line examines the lives and legacies of DC poets who have passed away, but whose influence and importance to the DC literary community and to American letters remains strong.  Contributors from whom essays were commissioned include some of the area's best loved writers:

E. Ethelbert Miller on STERLING BROWN

Brian Gilmore on WARING CUNEY


Rebecca Villarreal on ANGELINA WELD GRIMKE

Kwame Alexander on LANGSTON HUGHES


Myra Sklarew on MAY MILLER

Kenneth Carroll on GASTON NEAL

Dan Gutstein on DUDLEY RANDALL

Features include biographical information, reprints of poems, photos, and suggestions for further reading. 

This issue was made possible by the generous support of the DC Humanities Council, The Word Works, Inc., and several individual donors.

Contact: Kim Roberts, the editor, at or see  


Copyright 2003 by Rudolph Lewis