Patricia Gray

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Patricia Gray is a poet and writer and a DC native. She grew up, however, near Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1983, she received the MFA degree in creative writing from the University of Virginia, where she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. Gray moved to Washington in 1984, taught a modern poetry class at the Smithsonian, took a writer-editor job at the Library of Congress, and directed Dylan Thomas’s “Under Milk Wood,” for the Takoma Park Repertory Company. The play was so popular, it was extended an extra week.

During the 1990s her poems appeared in Minimus, Poet Lore, So to Speak, The MacGuffin, The Denny Poems 1995-1996, the Billee Murray Denny Poetry Anthology, The Washingtonian, Pudding Magazine and in a number of other publications. In 1990, she organized and coordinated the May 4, Marianne Moore Second-Day Stamp Ceremony at the Library.

In 1994, Gray created the Poetry at Noon (PAN) reading series at the Library to offer a noon-time literary oasis for Capitol Hill staffers, tourists, and others. Each reading was based on a theme, such as “Love” or “Fathers and Sons,” etc., and poets were asked to read not just their poems, but a couple of poems by other poets. “I secretly hoped that lawmakers and government workers could step out of the ordinary for an hour and return to work with a slightly altered perspective, perhaps with a broader view,” Gray said. The series continued as originally designed through the spring of 2011.

At the turn of the century, Gray’s personal poetry career took off. In 2000 she received an Artist's Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and in 2001, her popular chapbook, Rich with Desire was published and immediately sold out. In 2002, she received an Artist Fellowship from DC and a grant to attend Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. After her collection, Rupture, was published in 2005, she was a guest reader and panelist at the 2005 Southern Women Writer’s Conference. She participated in Bread Loaf again in 2006 and was a featured writer at the 2006 South Carolina Book Festival. Gray became head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress that same year, and received another Artist Fellowship in poetry, as well as honorable mention in the Ann Stanford national poetry competition and in the New Millennium Poetry Prize competition.

Additionally, in the first decade of the 21st century, she served on the the U.S. Holocaust Museum planning committee for what became “Speech and Silence: Poetry and the Holocaust,” held on April 9, 2000 and featuring Czeslaw Milosz, Ira Sadoff, and others. In 2001 she moderated a panel discussion in Galway, Ireland on “Freedom in Irish Poetry,” with Roy Foster, an Oxford Yeats scholar, Declan Kibard of University College, Dublin, and Robert Welch, poet and professor of literature at the University of Dublin. In 2004-5, she served on the planning committee for the DC Celebrates Whitman: 150 Years of Leaves of Grass programs.

Gray teaches at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, and has given many readings locally, plus in California from LA to San Francisco. She also took a reading tour through the South, stopping in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Florida. Her poems have been published widely including in Ekphrasis, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Best of Potomac Review, Full Moon on K Street, in Poets Cookbooks, in a DC Poets Against the War anthology, and in,, Innisfree Poetry Journal, in Poetry East, Shenandoah, Poetry International, The Kentucky Review, and in Mississippi Arts and Letters.

Beltway Poetry Quarterly:

Written by Patricia Gray in 2013

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