By: Robert L. Giron

Potomac Review Poetry Editor Robert L. Giron recommends this local exhibit on modern American poets.

Whoever said Washington is only for politicians has not kept up with its culture. What I am referring to is the literary tradition and wealth of talent this metropolitan area breeds. There are so many poetry readings and events happening around town that it is impossible to attend them all.

For now, one can take a Metro ride to the National Portrait Gallery to view the soon-to-close exhibit: “Poetic Likeness: Modern American Poets.” Fortunately, the Gallery is open until 7 PM.

Walt Whitman, the first poet that made my heart beat, opens the exhibit. You will find photos and short passages of poems by him and nearly 45 other poets. Sadly, many of our best poets and more current poets are not included but one would need gallery after gallery for such an exhibit–but hey I wouldn’t mind a bit. All the masters are there: Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Allen Ginsberg, Audre Lorde, John Ashbery, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams … the list goes on.

Suffice to say that you will find yourself wanting to read more poetry and breath the air these poets have partaken. Perhaps even touch them if you could. I will never forget visiting Whitman’s home in Camden, New Jersey. I touched his bed post and felt an electric charge. I was so moved that the poem I eventually wrote about this percolated for years until it was ready to pop out: A brew of poetry.

So it seems fitting to close with Whitman’s words from “A Pact” (1916):

It was you that broke the new wood,
Now is the time for craving.
We have one sap and one root—
Let there be commerce between us.