Palestinian American Zina Azzam has been chosen as Alexandria’s poet laureate, and will take over the post filled three years ago by KaNikki Jakarta, who was honored with a proclamation on Tuesday night (April 5).
“I’m really delighted to be here and to I’m really honored to have this position,” Azzam told the Alexandria City Council. “I’ve got big shoes to fill and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Azzam is a volunteer with Grassroots Alexandria and is the author of poetry collection “Bayna Bayna, In-Between“. She has a master’s degree in Arabic literature from Georgetown University and her professional credits include stints as the publications editor at the Arab Center Washington D.C., senior program manager for
Mayor Justin Wilson presented outgoing Poet Laureate KaNikki Jakarta with a proclamation honoring her for her work over her three-year term, which concludes at the end of April.
“You have been a wonderful poet laureate,” Wilson told Jakarta. “It seems like just yesterday that we were appointing you. I don’t know what the heck happened here in time, but you have been a wonderful ambassador for our city and just set the perfect tone for so many different events on so many different occasions.”
Jakarta wrote 25 poems in those three years, spoke at numerous annual events and conducted poetry workshops.
“Thank you very much for appointing me to be poet laureate,” Jakarta said. “It’s been very interested in these Covid times, being able to pivot. It has been an honor to honor other people before me and to bring history and words to that.”
Azzam was chosen by a literary task force made up of representatives from the Alexandria Library, a local book store, the Alexandria Transit Company, and the Office of Historic Alexandria. If unable to fulfill her three year term, the task force recommended that poet Elias Yabarow act as an alternate.
The poet laureate program began in 1979, and there have been seven poets to hold the position:
- KaNikki Jakarta, 2019-2022
- Wendi R. Kaplan, 2016-2019
- Ryan Wojtanowski, 2016
- Tori Lane Kovarik, 2013-2016
- Amy Young, 2010-2013
- Mary McElveen. 2007-2010
- Jean Elliot, 1979-1999
Photos via Zoom
Know anyone that’s a poet at heart? The City of Alexandria is opening applications to be the new poet laureate.
The poet laureate’s job, according to the press release, is to promote appreciation of poetry as an art form, encourage creative writing and reading, and promote literacy through poetry. The position has a three-year term starting on April 1, 2022, succeeding current poet laureate KaNikki Jakarta. The ceremonial role will also involve presentations of poetry to various audiences.
“Individuals can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else,” the city said. “To qualify, nominees must distinguish themselves in the field of poetry through their body of work; be a resident of the City for a minimum of one year and maintain residency through the three-year term of service; and be 18 years of age or older.”
Entries are juried by a task force that will provide a recommendation to the City Council. The nomination forms are available online.
TikTok captures promotion for first Hispanic Alexandria Fire Department battalion chief — “‘Hi dad, it’s Nicholle,’ the voice said before listing all the other people in the room. ‘It is my honor to announce your promotion to battalion chief.'” [7News]
Emergency alert at 10 a.m. announcing 16+ eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine — “On Monday, April 19, around 10 a.m., #Virginia will be issuing a Wireless Emergency Alert System message alerting everyone 16+ that they are now eligible to register for a #COVID19 vaccine under phase 2. More information: bit.ly/3mXUfTC#VaccinateVA” [Twitter]
Police honor good samaritan who identified crash suspect — “The Alexandria Police Department honored a man and his family with the Chief of Police Award on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, for their assistance in a deadly pedestrian crash from last year.” [Twitter]
DASHing Words in Motion Poetry Bus honors 10 Alexandria Poets, Poet Laureate — “On April 15, ten local poets were honored by the Alexandria Transit Company and The City of Alexandria Office of the Arts for their poetry submissions. Their winning submissions are posted inside each bus of the entire DASH bus fleet and on the Office of Arts website.” [Zebra]
Today’s weather — “Considerable clouds early. Some decrease in clouds later in the day. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 68F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Clear (in the evening). Low 47F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New job: Group fitness instructor — “This is an exciting opportunity for the right person to be an inspiring member of our team and help us to continue to share the Row House brand and experience to all people, everywhere. Coaches are hired as employees (not independent contractors) as we invest in your development and growth as a rowing-based fitness professional.” [Indeed]
Police Provide Guidance on Indecent Exposures in Del Ray — “The Police department encourages anyone who is a victim or witnessed these incidents to call 9-1-1. If you live in the neighborhood, please review your security cameras and call police if there is suspicious activity.” [City of Alexandria]
City Hall Walk-in Payment Hours Expanded — “Beginning Monday, March 1, in-person services are now available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]
Little Theatre of Alexandria Presents ‘The Revolutionists’ — “Come watch as four sassy women lose their heads in this irreverent, girl-powered comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.” [Gazette]
‘Port City Publius’ Bashes Anti-Establishment Facebook Group — “The group is a tinpot dictatorship in which comments and posts that don’t share the narrow worldview of the moderators are routinely deleted and removed, and the offending poster evicted from the membership. This authoritarian intolerance for diverse and divergent viewpoint–not to mention an outright manipulation of the discourse in the group (‘IT’S CANCEL CULTURE!!’ comes the ironic scream from the cover of the CPAC brochure most of these people probably have laying on their kitchen counter)–is pretty hypocritical for a group allegedly concerned with integrity.” [Port City Publius]
Former Delegate Krupicka Publishes Poetry Book — “”It took a while, but I fell into routine of writing poems inspired by grace and the need for grace in life. Fast forward a few years and I had a good number of poems. Enough for a collection. Well, here it is. This project took close to five years in total to write, edit and then get the nerve up to publish.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “Cloudy. Periods of rain early. High 54F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 70%… Some clouds early will give way to generally clear conditions overnight. Low 27F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Full Time Nanny for 1 Child — “We are looking for a nanny who can watch and care for our five-month-old daughter while both parents are working from home, ideally one who can start as soon as possible. Nanny would be responsible for ensuring that the baby gets fed, has playtime, and takes naps on a reasonable schedule; takes her outside as weather permits; and helps ensure she is hitting her developmental milestones. We are taking our COVID precautions seriously, and since the nanny would effectively become part of our bubble, we would want to work with someone who is also diligent about our daughter’s safety. The nanny must also be Infant CPR certified.” [Indeed]
Alexandria’s course toward social justice might be long, but hope remains for a better future. That’s the message behind the Alexandria Choral Society’s (ACS) Refuge project, and if all goes as planned the five-movement piece will be performed live next May by members of the T.C. Williams High School choir.
“There’s a lot of mileage that you have to go on that journey for a better future,” Refuge composer Jonathan Kolm told ALXnow. “There’s an uplifting arc of hope, but one that is tempered by difficult circumstances that we find ourselves in.”
ACS Artistic Director Brian J. Isaac said that the piece has been labeled a “crowdsource commission,” because portions of the texts that will be sung by the choir have been chosen by the ACS members and fans in Zoom chats. The texts from the fifth movement will be chosen next month.
“Right now, we plan to present this live in May,” Isaac said. “But if it’s not safe to do so, we will likely release a portion of this and maybe a teaser of one movement or a portion of one movement in a virtual format, and then perform the entirety of this work with T.C. Williams as soon as we possibly can.”
A portion of ticket revenue from the concert will be donated to a social justice charity in Alexandria.
The first four movements will include the following texts:
- “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
- “Night” by Louise Bogan
- Three Senryu poems by Hokkai, Rokaku, and Ichiryu
- “Litany For Survival” by Audre Lorde
Photo via Alexandria Choral Society/Facebook
Beyer Says Trump Will Use Death of Justice Ginsberg to ‘Steal’ Election — “Last night Trump said he wants to use the federal courts to cheat in November by denying Americans’ lawfully-cast mail-in ballots. This is an open admission that Trump hopes to use the Supreme Court to steal the election.” [Twitter]
Photo: Patagonia Taking Shape in Old Town Theater Space — “Progress continues at former Old Town Theater location – soon a Patagonia.” [Twitter]
Tropical Smoothie Cafe Coming to Bradlee Shopping Center — “Tropical Smoothie Cafe will open its doors at Bradlee Shopping Center, replacing a spot formerly occupied by B&C Jewelers, which had been a staple at the center for decades before closing in recent months.” [Alexandria Living]
Police Use of Force Forum on Tuesday — “Now, Congress and state legislatures, including Virginia’s, are reviewing and/or passing new laws to address prevention and accountability. So, it’s critical that the public understand what’s being considered.” [Facebook]
Del Ray Poetry Fence Appears on PBS — “What gets me out of bed in the morning is curating my poetry fence for my community… People tell me they come to my poetry fence for solace and inspiration, that their children gorge on cherry tomatoes I plant in the parking strip, [with] a sign ‘Fast Food: Help yourself to tomatoes’ next to my Little Free Library.” [Facebook]
NOAA Predicts Warm Winter — “While last year there was some uncertainty without a El Niño or La Niña conditions, this year NOAA scientists are seeing La Niña conditions that are predicted to last into winter. That means Northern Virginia has a slight probability of warmer-than-normal conditions.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s Weather — “Sunny (during the day) . High 67F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph… A mostly clear sky (at night). Low near 45F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: IT Manager — “New Virginia Majority (NVM), Virginia’s leading civic engagement organization, builds power in working-class communities of color across the Commonwealth. We seek conscious and skilled individuals with a deep commitment to racial and economic justice to join our team. Women and people of color are encouraged to apply. We are equal opportunity employers” [Indeed]
Former Councilman Bob Calhoun Dies — “Bob Calhoun, a former Republican state senator and city councilor, died on Aug. 6 of prostate cancer. He was 83.” [Alex Times]
ACPS Staffer at John Adams Elementary Registration Site Tests Positive for Coronavirus — “The site has currently been closed for cleaning and ACPS will follow all guidelines for ensuring that our facilities are clean and safe prior to reopening. The risk to anyone who was in contact with this individual at the school site has been deemed low, due to the specific circumstances of this case, including proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and physical distancing.” [Facebook]
Alexandria Libraries Reopening on Monday — “The library will move into phase three of its reopening plan by allowing the public to access physical locations. Curbside pickup will remain available on days when libraries are open, and curbside-only service will be offered on Fridays.” [Patch]
Poet Laureate Seeks Poems for BLM Display at Athenaeum — ” We continuously celebrate the creativity of our diverse population in the DMV region and plan to launch an online digital gallery, Speak Your Truth | Black Lives Matter, an exhibition that aims to represent the depth and diversity of the DCD/MD/VA region and its reflections on the activities associated with BLM. ” [Facebook]
Commonwealth’s Attorney Seeks Candidates for Advisory Board — “The purpose of the Board is to provide the Commonwealth’s Attorney with diverse community input and ideas regarding criminal justice reform, and strategies for addressing criminal activity. The Board will consist of five to 10 people who live or work in the City of Alexandria.” [City of Alexandria]
Casa Chirilagua Fundraiser Starts Monday — “For every gift of $50 you will receive a stationary set of 8 original notecards made from Teens Club students’ art (up to four sets). Check out these beautiful cards and keep an eye out for the giving link starting on Monday next week!” [Facebook]
National Night Out Canceled — “Due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and in order to protect the health of our residents and employees, the City of Alexandria has cancelled the National Night Out 2020 celebration scheduled for October 6, 2020.” [Facebook]
Today’s Weather — “Scattered showers and thunderstorms. High near 85F. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Fitness Manager — “As a Fitness Manager with XSport Fitness, you are the face of the Fitness Department! You are a leader to your personal training staff as well as an assistant to the club General Manager. You will be responsible for building a high-performance team and the financial performance of your club’s fitness department.” [Indeed]
Creative writing nonprofit Heard is still finding ways to make noise. The three-year-old nonprofit had to shut down a number of its creative writing and art classes for the homeless, domestic violence survivors, and the incarcerated because of the pandemic. Now inmates at the Alexandria Detention Center will soon have back their creative outlet with Zoom classes.
“The jail did contact me and said they are in the process of getting more access to televisions and Zoom capabilities,” Collins told ALXnow. “And they asked me to put a proposal in so we could continue to offer creative writing poetry and visual arts classes.”
Heard now has a dozen community partners, including the Alexandria Domestic Violence Shelter, Community Lodgings, the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center and the Arlington County Detention Center. It’s also in the process of adding Casa Chirilagua to its mix of clients.
Instructors include former Alexandria Poet Laureate Wendi Kaplan, former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Tina Kantiano, and TV journalist Alexandra Rockey Fleming.
Heard sponsors an annual writing contest at the Alexandria and Arlington Jails, and also teaches creative writing, journalism, poetry, visual arts, improvisation, etiquette, dance and public speaking.
Collins, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, said she is inspired by the level of creativity exhibited by Heard’s students.
“I always thought their stories were valid, that marginalized communities needed a platform and deserve to be heard,” she said. “There is no commonality among people in detention centers, aside from the fact that they’re incarcerated. There are people with advanced degrees, people who never made it through high school. They are some of the cleverest people I’ve ever gone across, and I base that on reading their written work.”
The untitled piece below the jump was written in August 2019 by Stephen Y. in the Alexandria Jail.
T.C. Senior Wins $40K Scholarship — “What does it feel like to get a SURPRISE ZOOM CALL from U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Lisa Collis, and daughters Gillian, Eliza & Madison…telling you that you are the first recipient of the Collis Warner Family Scholarship worth $40,000? Just ask T.C. Williams High School Senior Foziya Mohammed! Mohammed received the call this afternoon…’I am shocked and excited! I was nervous I thought this was a call about some kind of problem with my scholarship application. I’m not nervous anymore! Thank you so much. I would tell all of the younger students at T.C. that hard work pays off!'” [Facebook]
Police Respond to Domestic Violence Service Call — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a weapon violation in the 1400 block of South Highview Lane. A helicopter is assisting and expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]
Local Reporter Gets Coronavirus Test — “To my surprise, the ER wasn’t crowded and I got in fast. With the social scene dead, the emergency room would be the most interesting thing I’d do that week. I kind of like the ER. You’re waited on, there’s a lot of hustle and bustle, and you generally feel you’re safe. Although this time was slightly different. The nurse wore a hazmat suit.” [Zebra]
Hops N Shine Hosting Virtual Beer Tasting Tonight — “This will be a Zoom meeting broadcast onto Facebook live for all to see. We welcome you to join us on Zoom to chat about how things are going for breweries, cideries, and restaurants around town, or if you just want to watch you can check it out on Facebook.” [Facebook]
T.C. Seniors Make Fox 5 DC Appearance — “T.C. Williams High School seniors TJ Horton & Amiya Chisolm on Fox 5 DC with Principal Balas this morning talking about the Titan #Classof2020 documentary we’re making. Don’t miss out – record your stories this Friday, May 1!” [Facebook]
New Job Posting: Virtual Insurance Agent — “The Financial Crisis Prevention Center is seeking highly motivated Benefits Analysts to meet with federal employees about their retirement benefits, supplemental insurance, annuities, and fringe benefit discount programs. Hiring immediately part-time and full-time sales representatives. Licensed and unlicensed positions available.” [Indeed]
Carpenter’s Shelter Gets Face Mask Donation — “Thanks to Elegance By Roya Bridal – Alexandria for these beautiful masks made by their atelier and donated to the shelter for the protection of our residents. We are appreciative of your, and all of our donor support for needed items such as masks, Clorox cleaning wipes, and sanitizer.” [Facebook]
Oakville Triangle Plan Comment Deadline is Today — “As a reminder, the online feedback portal for the applicant’s second online engagement posted on April 16 will remain open through tomorrow, April 30. Please take a few minutes to view the second presentation and provide comments.” [City of Alexandria]
Del Ray Cakery Makes Flower-like Cookie Bouquets — “Mother’s Day bouquets! 3 choices DM if interested. $15 each.” [Facebook]
There’s a 500-Piece Lee Fendall House Museum Jigsaw Puzzle — “Feeling PUZZLED about how to spend your time? How about a springtime image of Lee-Fendall House? These 500-piece puzzles are $18, and all proceeds support our preservation and education work. Message us on Facebook, email [email protected]
Old Town Book Club Goes Online This Saturday — “In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.” [Old Town Books]
Alexandrian Creates Haiku Contest for Sister’s 70th Birthday — “Poring over the poems was the closest they were going to get to a family reunion. They picked their three favorites and sent the entire batch to the family to enjoy.” [Washington Post]
Teacher Runs 20 Miles to See Students — “My daughter really misses school and interacting with her friends and teachers, so when Ms. Shannon surprised her Ellie was overwhelmed with excitement. She couldn’t believe that it was actually Ms. Shannon in person.” [Zebra]
T.C. Williams Class of 2020 Making Documentary — “The class of 2020 is making Titan history. Across the city of Alexandria, Titan seniors will be recording their stories all on the same day, May 1. Here’s how it will work: On May 1, anytime between 12:00AM-11:59PM, seniors will answer these questions in 3 short videos of up to 60 seconds each: What do you love? What do you fear? What do you hope for?” [ACPS]
The Greater Alexandria Virtual Community Job Fair Starts at 1 p.m. — “No need to dress up and leave your house to look for a job, with our virtual job fair we bring the employers to you!” [Indeed]
Sheriff’s Office Swears in New Deputies… At a Distance — “Congratulations to our new deputies who were sworn in today and many thanks to their families who joined us remotely. Sheriff Dana Lawhorne congratulated the recruits and thanked their families, and Clerk of Circuit Court Greg Parks emphasized the tremendous responsibility that comes with public service. He then administered the oath of office to Deputy William Powell, Deputy Dianna Gethers, Deputy Daniel Canniff, Deputy Austin Grant, Deputy Francis Laigo, and Deputy Michael Spitzer. Welcome and good luck to all!” [Facebook]
Pork Barrel BBQ Delivers 50 Meals to Alexandria Hospital — “Thanks to @porkbarrelbbqdelray and @feed_the_fight_alx for sending 50 meals to our heroes at @inovahealth Alexandria!” [Facebook]
DASH Employees Undergo Additional Safety Measures — “We’ve implemented temperature checks for all DASH employees before they start their shifts as an extra precaution to protect the health of our staff and passengers. Stay home. Stop the spread. Buses are for essential travel only.” [Facebook]
ACPS Superintendent Virtual Q&A Today at 3 p.m. — “As we embark on our new journey learning and working remotely, I want to let you know that you are not alone at this difficult time. We will provide you with updates, information and tips every day so that you have the resources to help ensure the continuity of learning among our young people.” [ACPS]
T.C. Student Wins Category in State Science Fair — “Congrats T.C. Williams High School junior Michaela McCormack, winner of the Behavioral and Social Sciences category at the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair. Her research, “Too Cool for JUUL,” tested how sleep and risk-taking are affected by pod-based e-cigarettes (vaping) in both humans and fruit flies. Michaela competed virtually against hundreds of Virginia students from 12 regions across the state.” [Facebook]
ACPS School Nurses Send Message to Kids in Photo Collage — “Ask any student, school nurses are some of the most loved members of our ACPS staff. To remind students just how much they are missed, ACPS created this cheerful photo message. Please share with your children!” [Facebook]
The Hyatt Centric is Still Open in Old Town — “We are open and serving those who need a hotel during this time. We miss our guests and can’t wait to see you soon.” [Facebook]
WEBA Hosting Virtual Business Training at 11 a.m. — “Recovery will be different for each business, we need to start planning now.” [Facebook]
Lawyer Launches Soap Company — “About 18 months ago, she decided to leave law practice and pursue making solid soap bars in environmentally-friendly packaging – and that was how ‘Do Good Soaps and Suds’ was born.” [Alexandria Living]
The Old Town Shop Offers Virtual Tour — “Need to get “out” of the house today? Take a virtual walk through The Old Town Shop & check out our vast array of unique local gifts! Mother’s Day is coming up soon, too. 🌷🌸 We offer safe in-store shopping, over the phone orders, curbside pick-up daily from 12-5pm & shipping.” [Facebook]
It’s Poem In Your Pocket Day — “City of Alexandria Poet Laureate KaNikki Jakarta invites residents to read poetry in celebration of the National Poem in Your Pocket day. The 2020 ‘DASHing Words in Motion’ Poets have also been invited to read their winning poetry that will be displayed on the DASH buses and Trolleys throughout the month of April.” [Facebook]
Wholistic Hound Academy Offering Online Dog Training — “Arousal: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly is a timely 3-session class that can help you and your dog to better co-exist while you work from home, while the kids are home from school, and at a time when your lives are a little more stressed and chaotic during this temporary new normal.” [Facebook]