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.

Reviews

“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

“Kim Roberts wants to talk back to the canon. That’s the point of putting together an anthology of historical poems, she says. As a local literary historian and a poet herself, she’s been thinking about the city’s literary culture since she first moved here three decades ago…The book is a very broad survey of what was being published and what was being read—you’ve got presidents and first ladies next to these writers whose names are now obscured.”

—Emma Sarappo, Washington City Paper, Sept. 24, 2020

By Broad Potomac’s Shore is an anthology of 132 poets who were active in Washington, DC from the city’s founding to about 1930, with a focus on women and minority poets, as well as writers’ work that may have been lost to time.”

—Holly Gambrell, “Local Author Love,” Northern Virginia Magazine, November 1, 2020

“As compared to New York, San Francisco or Chicago, Washington DC might not be among the first places the average person thinks of when it comes to poetry. But thanks to queer poet/historian/educator Kim Roberts that is changing. Beginning with her groundbreaking 2018 book A Literary Guide to Washington, DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Writers from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston, Roberts wisely turned our attention to the city’s rich literary history. For her new book, By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poets from the Early Days of the Nation’s Capital (University of Virginia Press, 2020), she narrows her expansive focus from all writers to just poets (132 of them), including a substantial portion of whom were queer. The result is an indispensable collection honoring and celebrating a too often overlooked literary hub, one that is finally getting its chance to shine like a beacon.”

—Gregg Shapiro, Baltimore OUTloud, November 1, 2020