By Broad Potomac’s Shore

Published in 2020 by University of Virginia Press

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A comprehensive anthology of poems by both well-known and overlooked poets working and living in the Washington, DC from the city’s founding in 1800 to 1930. Roberts expertly presents the work of 132 poets, including poems by such celebrated writers as Francis Scott Key, Walt Whitman, Henry Adams, Frederick Douglass, Ambrose Bierce, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar as well as the work of lesser-known poets—especially women, writers of color, and working-class writers. A significant number of the poems are by writers who were born enslaved, such as Fanny Jackson Coppin, T. Thomas Fortune, and John John Sella Martin.

The book is arranged thematically, representing the poetic work happening in our nation’s capital from its founding through the Civil War, Reconstruction, World War I, and the beginnings of literary modernism. The city has always been home to prominent poets—including presidents and congressmen, lawyers and Supreme Court judges, foreign diplomats, US poets laureate, professors, and inventors—as well as writers from across the country who came to Washington as correspondents. A broad range of voices is represented in this incomparable volume.


“This is a marvelously rich and satisfying project—a comprehensive treasure trove of poems by poets living in Washington, DC, during its first one hundred years as the nation’s capital. Roberts has resoundingly achieved her goal in this collection, which includes sample poems by well over one hundred poets. An impressive job of research and a valuable contribution to our understanding of Washington’s literary history.”

—Christopher Sten, Literary Capital: A Washington Reader

“Kim Roberts, once again, shows her skills as Washington D.C.’s literary historian. Impeccable research and a heart for the past make Roberts’s work shine bright, bringing voices to the page from the shadows. It’s our great good luck to make the acquaintance of these distinguished poetry ancestors from the early days of our Capital.”

—Grace Cavalieri, The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress