Washington Writers' Publishing HouseWashington Writers' Publishing House

Grace Cavalieri

Grace Cavalieri has written fourteen books and chapbooks of poetry, as well as several plays. She has produced and hosted “The Poet and the Poem” from the Library of Congress on public radio, now in its 31st year. She also holds the positions of Book Review Editor for The Montserrat Review and poetry columnist for MiPOradio. Among honors, Grace holds several playwriting awards, the Allen Ginsberg Award for Poetry, a Paterson Prize for Poetry, the Pen- Syndicated Fiction Award, the Bordighera Poetry Award, the Folger’s inaugural Columbia Award, and CPB’s Silver Medal. Among production awards, in 2007 her play “Quilting the Sun” was awarded the key to the city of Greenville, SC. Her book What I Would do For Love, a collection of poems in the voice of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), is the basis for her new play, “Hyena in Petticoats.” Her forthcoming book of poems is ANNA NICOLE. (2008, a Menendez Publication)Visit the author’s website: www.gracecavalieri.com

Interview with Grace Cavalieri

Q: How and when did you find out that your book was being published?

Well I was a founder, so it was self-indulgent but we founders did our books among the first batches

Q: What was it like seeing your book in print for the first time?

Beautiful. The cover was by the graphics artist who founded the press with John McNally and me and the visual was part of our initial concept.

Q: What kind of poet/ fiction writer do you see yourself as? Is there a particular genre or subject matter you find yourself revisiting often?

I think I am a relationship poet/playwright and fiction writer. Human relationships.

Q: When did you first realize that you were a writer? Can you pinpoint a specific time in your life, or did you always know that you wanted to write?

BORN that way. Most writers were. Wrote as a child. Most writers did.

Q: Can you discuss your writing practice? Are there particular places or times of day that you find most conducive to writing?

Early morning is best, but I collect imagery all day.

Q: What is it about your writing style that makes you unique?

Surrealistic and narrative at once.

Q: What do you think the WWPH has done for the Washington literary scene?


Q: How involved are you in the DC literary scene now?

I have had the pleasure of presenting 2000 poets on radio in 30 years, 20 from WPFW weekly, I have published 50 with THE BUNNNY AND THE CROCDILE PRESS, and I host a cable show featuring writers.

Q: What people have most inspired your work? Why?

Women poets, all.

Q: What is your favorite book? Why?

BELOVED …mystical

Q: Who are your favorite authors and why?

I still like EDNA ST VINCENT MILLAY. Courage.

Q: What is the best writing advice you ever received and from who?

William Stafford: If you have writers block, lower the bar.

Q: What is the strangest job you ever had?

Taking seconds labels off sheets to sell in store and pasting firsts (at age 15).

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world to write, where would you go? Why?

Italy. It is my heritage.

Q: What is your favorite DC: restaurant, coffee shop, bookstore?

4912 (Wisconsin). The best fried tofu.


The powers in Barri Armitage’s poetry emerge from inner bedrock and wellsprings that nearly all readers and writers would profess to yearn for, to live from. But, in truth, most of us would be garbled or silenced by the personal tragedy she has channeled into some of the finest elegiac writing of recent years-and subsequently into love poems that can achieve marvelous effects, as well as sociopolitical works that refused to sacrifice poetic excellence for polemic and rhetoric. To an uncanny degree, we join with the poet’s experience and emotional wisdom, spiraling in tandem to emulate those fundamental bonds her title evokes.”
—Stephen Corey, Associate Editor, The Georgia Review

Double Helix is a book of powerful transfiguration, a record of loss slowly and finally digested so as to become the substance of healing.
—Katherine Soniat, Poet, Teacher, Virginia Tech

I am persuaded and moved, especially by the wrenchingly beautiful sequence whose genesis is a daughter’s accidental death. Through quiet, accurate language, the poet’s pain is rendered with terrifying clarity. These are poems of survival, even of celebration, in the face of irredeemable loss.
—Susan Ludvigson, Poet, Teacher, Winthrop University

I love the courage of Armitage’s poems, the risks, the splendor, as in these lines from the title poem: Like the widow who ‘shared her food / with Elijah… lately it seems, the more I bake, / the more the oil rises in the jar.’
—Walter McDonald, Poetry Editor, Texas Tech University Press

Barri Armitage’s poems strike me as a charmed echo of the eighteenth century, in clarity, fluidity, and rationality.
—Jack Zucker, Editor, The Bridge

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