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By Broad Potomac's Shore

Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation's Capital
Edited by Kim Roberts

BUY Paper · 356 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813944753 · $27.95 · Oct 2020
BUY Cloth · 356 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813944746 · $35.00 · Oct 2020
BUY Ebook · 356 pp. · ISBN 9780813944760 · $27.95 · Oct 2020

Following her successful Literary Guide to Washington, DC, which Library Journal called "the perfect accompaniment for a literature-inspired vacation in the US capital," Kim Roberts returns with a comprehensive anthology of poems by both well-known and overlooked poets working and living in the capital from the city’s founding in 1800 to 1930. Roberts expertly presents the work of 132 poets, including poems by celebrated DC writers such as Francis Scott Key, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ambrose Bierce, Henry Adams, and James Weldon Johnson, 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 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,author of 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' 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, Maryland Poet Laureate

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' works that may have been lost to time.

NoVa Mag

Roberts has done a masterful job of bringing to life more than 130 poets who were born before 1800 through 1900 and who lived and worked in Washington. In her thoughtfully crafted introduction, she sets the stage, describing how DC institutions and historical events affected society and the arts in the nation's capital. Then, chronologically and by theme, she presents concise by lively biographies for each poet—sometimes including contemporaneous descriptions from newspaper obituaries—and samples of their works.

Karen Lyon · Hill Rag

As befits our complicated history, the poems present a remarkable range of themes about America, from grand to intimate, from wildly celebratory to scathingly critical.

Washington Post Book Club

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