Thursday, November 26, 2009

Our Views: Seeing D.C. as poetry

With its long-winded lawmaking and posturing news conferences, Washington, D.C., seems more a city of prose than poetry, but a new virtual tour should remind Americans the nation’s capital also has inspired a number of bards.

Sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, the interactive tour, available for free online at, reveals Washington, D.C., through the eyes of many American poets, including Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Elizabeth Bishop, among many others. From the halls of federal buildings to neighborhood side streets, the tour features poems written in and around the District of Columbia, as well as original photographs by poet Thomas Sayers Ellis.

Most of us think of poets as creatures of Washington, D.C., only at inaugural time, when they’re sometimes recruited to offer a poem as part of the ceremony.

But the Poetry Foundation’s virtual tour should help throw light on a city that, for all its foibles, also is worthy of poetic inspiration.

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