Karren LaLonde Alenier

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A native of the Maryland side of Washington, DC, Karren LaLonde Alenier studied modern poetry and creative writing with Rudd Fleming at the University of Maryland. Fleming, who was a friend of Ezra Pound after Pound was confined to DC’s St. Elizabeth mental hospital post World War II, made an indelible impression on Alenier advising her and his other students to “listen to the music.” Little did Alenier know that after graduation from college in 1969 that she would become involved with poets such as Deirdra Baldwin, Mac Wellman, and James Howard Beall who would advocate such things as poet’s theater and Paris in the Twenties which led her in 2005 to the New York City world premier of her opera Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On, a collaboration with composer William Banfield and artistic director Nancy Rhodes of Encompass New Opera Theatre.

Along the way she participated in such DC-wide literary movements as Mass Transit where at the Community Book Shop on P Street, NW, she gave her very first public reading of her own poetry and met Michael and Lee Lally, Bernie Welt, Beth Joselow and others. She was also an active member of the small press scene having been the first author published by The Word Works (Wandering on the Outside, 1975), an original member of The Writer’s Center of Bethesda, and a founding president of the Poetry Committee of the Greater Washington, DC Area at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The Poetry Committee, a group that sprung from a long-standing informal gathering of poets at the Folger Library, was a clearinghouse for literary programs and special projects like massive book donations to public institutions like schools, hospitals, and prisons.

In 1985, she participated in Science and Literature: A Conference at the Library of Congress. Organized by J. H. Beall, this was a conference that brought together poets, scientists and technologists under the sponsorship of LOC Consultant in Poetry William Meredith and then Alenier took some of the themes of this conference to the Pittsburgh Penitentiary where she taught a weekend seminar on writing poetry under a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For The Word Works, Alenier innovated many programs including the outdoor [[Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series]] (1975-2010), the more recent Café Muse Literary Salon (1999-ongoing), the Arts Retreat in Tuscany, Italy (1996-2003), the Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition (1987-ongoing), and the Hilary Tham Capital Collection imprint (1989-ongoing). She also led the way for changing the Washington Prize from a single poem contest (1981-1987) to a book-length poetry manuscript book award (1987- ongoing).

Alenier was the first winner of the Billee Murray Denny Award (1981). For her book Looking for Divine Transportation (The Bunny & the Crocodile Press, 1999), she shared the 2002 Towson Prize for Literature with Barbara Hurd’s Stirring the Mud. She has written a second opera libretto Majoun, the love story of Jane and Paul Bowles as drawn from her latest chapbook On a Bed of Gardenias: Jane & Paul Bowles." In 2016, she launches her seveth collection "The Anima of Paul Bowles."

An active member of the ModPo community, she is leading an international online study group on Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons inside the ModPo discussion forum and blogging the proceedings at [Media:http://alenier.blogspot.com]

Written by Karren LaLonde Alenier

Beltway Poetry Quarterly: http://www.beltwaypoetry.com/poetry/poets/names/alenier-karren/


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