Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Manassas Museum Book Talk: The Washington Arsenal Explosion

The deadly explosion that took the lives of the women at Fort McNair is the subject of The Washington Arsenal Explosion, Civil War Disaster in the Capital - a free book talk. Join Erin Bergin Voorheis, the author's wife and editor, as she talks about her late husband's book on Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m. at the Manassas Museum.  On June 17, 1864, dangerous working conditions and a series of unfortunate events led to the deadly explosion of a Federal arsenal at Fort McNair, where young women made cartridges to assist the war effort. Author Brian Bergin wrote about the little-known event, detailing the poor working conditions, the investigation into the avoidable events leading to the tragedy, and the reaction of a community already battered by the Civil War. The women lived in the close-knit poor Irish neighborhood called the Island; and when they died, their funeral was one of the largest ever seen in that district.

Brian Bergin had a deep fascination for history and story-telling. To better understand historic places and people, he recreated Lewis and Clark's journey from Missouri to Oregon, biked the C&O Canal from Cumberland, Maryland, back to his home in Arlington, Virginia; and hiked inShenandoah National Park to learn about the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Erin Bergin Voorheis is a freelance technical writer and editor. The Washington Arsenal Explosion, Civil War Disaster in the Capital is available at Echoes, The Manassas Museum Store.


For information, contact

Patty Prince
Communications Coordinator

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book Reviewer Needed

In the Fray magazine is looking for someone to review Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, a memoir by Susannah Cahalan. A former New York Post reporter, Cahalan recounts her battle with a mysterious illness that made her experience everything from hallucinations to violent psychotic episodes. Meanwhile, her rare condition perplexed most doctors who tried to make a diagnosis.

If interested, please email with three links to your previous work.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2.21.13 Meeting Notes

OFFICERS. Cindy Brookshire – President/Treasurer; Linda Johnston – Projects Manager/Liaison to Virginia Writers Club; Katherine Gotthardt – Liaison to the PWC Arts Council; Carol Keily – Keeper of the Membership List

WRITERS PRESENT. Maureen Arvai, Tom Basham, Cindy Brookshire, Carol Covin, June Forte, Katherine Gotthardt, Ressurrection Graves, Jolea Harrison, Linda Johnston, Rodney Jordan, Steve Pendlebury, Robin Tucker, Dan Verner; guests Runetta Hynes and Rona D. Lewis

OLD BUSINESS. Treasurer’s Report. Voted to give $100 to the PWC Library Foundation from our royalties on New Departures and keep $51.80 in reserve. Leigh Giza will arrange presentation/photo. PWC Arts Council/Arts Alive! 2013 is April 13 from noon to 8 pm @ Hylton Performing Arts Center. Katherine Gotthardt, Claudia LeFeve and Ressurrection Graves are planning Write by the Rails’ participation, which includes book sales/signing tables (in shifts), readings in a performance space and children/youth activity. To participate, email GMU Fall for the Book Festival – is Sept. 22-28 in Fairfax. Save the date of Thurs., Sept. 26 for a possible GMU-PW campus event – guest writer TBA.

NEW BUSINESS. Book Nook Columns. Dan Verner has been orchestrating online Book Nook columns for Prince William Living magazine. If you have a suggestion of an ad sponsor so the column can appear in the print magazine, email Dan at Changing Monthly Meeting to Another Night? Discussion was half-hearted so we tabled it for now. Write by the Rails Directory. Robin Tucker will compile a member directory for our chapter, similar to the one on While you’re there, take a look at our chapter information -- thanks to Linda Johnston for adding that.

SPEAKER. Ressurrection Graves was our speaker on marketing yourself online. Some highlights: If you have a blog, be yourself and people who are attracted to your writing will find you. No one wants to buy an unknown author’s book – build your audience. Be the solution to someone’s problem. Make your story connect with the reader. Preserve the valuable information in your book – don’t blog it away. Use new, value-added information for your blog. Use key words /tags, provide links to related stories and always end with something the reader can download or buy. Radio is the best medium for writers to sell their books, but leave your listeners hanging. Thanks, Ressurrection!

UPCOMING EVENTS. Write by the Rails Meet and Greet, Tues, Feb. 26 from 2-4 pm at Panera, 4300 Merchant Plaza, Lake Ridge “Authors Alley” at Annual Spring Craft Show, Sat., March 16, 9 to 3 pm Gar-field HS (14000 Smoketown Rd., Woodbridge – across from Potomac Mills Mall) email for details. Bull Run Regional Library is sponsoring its Second Annual Local Author Fair on May 4. Application deadline is March 22. Contact Dolores Bowman at 703-792-4546. Manassas Museum is looking for local authors for book sales/signings at Manassas Railway Festival, June 1 and Civil War at the Junction, Aug 24 & 25, Contact Doug Horhota, Programs Coordinator, Manassas Museum system, or 703-257-8265.

NEXT MEETING. Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 7 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street, Manassas. Speaker: Filmmaker Tom Basham from Nokesville will talk about his feature films, screenplays, children’s book and movie review blog, BashMovies. Save the date for the Thursday, April 18 meeting (same time and place). NVCC Woodbridge professor and past VWC president June Forte plans to share The Art of the Interview – getting your subject to open up, what questions to ask, and more.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Poet Sonia Sanchez to Appear at NVCC Manassas Campus

On February 25 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., the Manassas Campus of Northern VA Community College (6901 Sudley Road Manassas, VA 20109-2305) will host “An Evening with Sonia Sanchez” in Colgan Theater. The event is free and open to the public with free parking in the student parking lots (Lot B).

Sanchez is a renowned poet and prolific writer. She is the author of more than 20 books including “Homecoming,” “We a BaddDDD People,” “Love Poems,” “I’ve Been a Woman,” “Homegirls and Handgrenades,” “Under a Soprano Sky,” “Wounded in the House of a Friend,” “Like the Singing Coming off the Drums,” “Shake Loose My Skin” and “Morning Haiku.”

Her book “Does Your House Have Lions?was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medalist and a Ford Freedom Scholar from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. She is the recipient of the 2004 Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer of the Year and the National Visionary Leadership Award for 2006. She also received the 2005 Leeway Foundation Transformational Award and the 2009 Robert Creeley Award.

She has received a National Endowment for the Arts award, the Lucretia Mott Award for 1984, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women and the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. She won the 1985 American Book Award for “Homegirls and Handgrenades,” the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities for 1988, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom for 1989, a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for 1992-1993 and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award for 1999.

She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University and she held the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University. Currently, Sanchez is one of 20 African-American women featured in “Freedom Sisters,” an interactive traveling exhibition created by the Cincinnati Museum Center and Smithsonian Institution. In December 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter selected Sanchez as Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate, calling her “the longtime conscience of the city.”
To learn more, contact Assistant Professor of English Chalet Jean Baptiste at

Monday, February 11, 2013

Free Book Talk at the Manassas Museum

Although much is known about Frederick Douglass, the once-fugitive slave whose speeches inspired many to support abolition, little is known about the final years he spent in Washington, D.C. Author
John Muller will speak about those years during a free Book Talk at TheManassas Museum on Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.

Muller's new book, Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C., The Lion of Anacostia, explores the last eighteen years of the orator's life at Cedar Hill in Anacostia. The ever-active Douglass was involved in local politics, aided in the early formation of Howard University, edited a groundbreaking newspaper, and lectured to benefit the poor. In an unusual twist of fate, he served as Marshal of the District and was responsible for bringing fugitives to justice.

During this time, his wife of forty-four years, Anna Murray, passed away; and eighteen months later, he married Helen Pitts, a white woman. Unapologetic for his controversial marriage, Douglass continued his unabashed advocacy for the rights of African Americans and women and his belief in American exceptionalism.

John Muller is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, historian, playwright and policy analyst. A former reporter for the Washington Times, he is a current contributor to Capital Community News, Greater Washington and other Washington, D.C. area media. His writing and reporting have appeared in Washington History, the Washington Post, the Georgetowner, East of the River, the Washington Informer, Suspense Magazine and Next American City (online). His book is available at Echoes, The Manassas Museum Store.

Patty Prince
Communications Coordinator

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Write by the Rails Meets Feb. 21; Guest Speaker: Ressurrection Graves

Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, meets Thurs., Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West St, Manassas and is open to the public.

After a brief business meeting, our speaker will be author, healer, educator, activist, life skills expert, empowerment speaker and relationship mentor Ressurrection Graves. 

She wrote her first book while homeless.  Her second book, due to release in 2013, deals with child sexual abuse grooming, which she is currently petitioning to make a felony. 

To attend Ressurrection's next Open-Mic at the Hilton in Arlington/Shirlington Somebody Say WORD event please click here, or check out one of her seminar events here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Political Poet Poetry Competition in Honor of Emily Dickinson

The Political Poet Poetry Competition in Honor of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
April is National Poetry Month, and The Political Poet ishaving a poetry competition in honor one of the most celebrated female poets,recluse and humanist, Emily Dickinson.

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." Emily Dickinson

The competition is free, no entry fee, but limited to three poems per person. Poems of any length, style, form, structured or free verse. Your poem(s) must be in English. Any subject matter is acceptable, but anything deemed derogatory to anyone due to race, religion or sexual preference will be removed. By submitting to this competition, poets are verifying they are your poems your original work, and you must not assign or license to any other party any copyrights or other rights in your poems. Poems should not contain material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, pornographic, harassing, threatening, harmful, and invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable. In other words, your poems must be suitable to be posted on an unrestricted web site that minors access.

Contest open to individual persons who are 18 or older as of the time of their initial entry. Current and former employees, contractors, directors, and officers of The Political Poet, or Dark Butterfly Publications, their immediate family members (parent, child, sibling, and spouse), and those living in the same domicile therewith are ineligible. Sorry, contest is open to United States residents only. Poets living outside the USA can submit poems for posting consideration, but they are ineligible for prizes. Minors under the age of 18 can now submit poems to the competition, but all entries must follow previously posted guidelines and be accompanied with a signed statement granting permission from one of the minor’s parents or legal guardians. Prizes won by a minor will be shipped to the parent or legal guardian.

The amateur category is being introduced this year. If you are not a previously published poet then your entries qualify for our new amateur category to encourage new poets and students. Your entries will still be considered for the regular competition, but only unpublished poets qualify for the new prize. Please notate your entry as AMATEUR POET for this additional consideration. The Political Poet defines published poet as anyone previously paid for their poetry, sold chapbooks or won monetary prizes in competitions where their work is then featured. If in doubt, ask for a ruling by email stating your question to in the subject line state POETRY CONTEST QUESTION.  

Email submissions to and put THE POLITICAL POET COMPETITION in the subject line, or send submissions by regular mail to The Political Poet, PO Box 90, Falmouth, KY 41040.

Include your name, address, email, and phone (optional) with your submission(s). Deadline for submissions is March 22, 2013. Finalists will be notified by March 31, 2013, and their names posted on The Political Poet blog along with honorable mentions.

The top 6 actual poems will be posted on The Political Poet web page throughout April, 2013.

1st place gets $50.00
2nd place gets $25.00
3rd place gets $15.00
4th and 5th place get signed copy of Star Child and 13 More Twisted Tales.
1st place Amateur category gets $25.00 and signed copy of Star Child and 13 More Twisted Tales.
Estimated prize values including postage: 1st ($50.00) 2nd ($25) 3rd ($15.00) 4th/5th ($11.95) 1st Amateur ($36.95)

Friday, February 1, 2013


by George Harris

Recently the grandfather of a young person I know died. While the loss of a grandparent is not as devastating as the loss of a parent, it is a significant, life-altering event. With the passing of grandparents, we lose a connection to a time that existed even before our parents were born. We lose a connection to a history we can only read about in books, a history that lived in the faces and actions of our grandparents.

Grandparents come from the time “before”—and in this particular case, the time was before the Great Depression, World War II, before television, before the Korean War, before the Vietnam War, before cell phones, the internet, computers and such things as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all of the other social media. Some people didn’t have indoor plumbing or telephones and I am certain that their grandchildren wonder how their grandparents got by without the many “modern conveniences” they have today. They came from a time when gasoline was 29 cents a gallon, and you could buy a good steak at the local butcher shop for 22 cents a pound and everybody’s favorite comfort food, Campbell’s Tomato Soup, was four cans for a quarter. Still around today, but much more expensive, Kellogg’s Cornflakes were three packages for 25 cents. Today, those same cornflakes sell for about $3.79 for a 12-ounce box.

Grandmothers (Granny, Grandma, Nana) were often the ones we turned to for solace, particularly if we were having problems with our parents. In many instance, Grandmothers raised us or were always there as the fill-in babysitter. My maternal grandmother lived just doors away for a good part of my life and she was the one my mother often turned to for a home remedy or a recommendation as to how something should be handled.

Grandfathers (Grandpa, Granddad, Pop-Pop), on the other hand, were often very stoic. But they might be your fishing partner or the one who took you to a ball game. And in many cases, they were an early employer if they hired you to cut their lawn. They might have even have taught you to whittle, or play ball or golf. Maybe.

Then one day you look around and your grandparents are old, really old. Their hair has turned white or, in the case of grandfathers, it may have disappeared altogether. Their faces are suddenly filled with wrinkles and their gait is no longer strong and steady. And they may be a little crankier that you remember from earlier days and their hearing is now electronically aided. And they always seem to be wondering what they did with their glasses. But they are still our grandparents, our connection to the time “before”.

And then, often suddenly, they are taken from us. And our connection to their history is broken. But even this does not mean that they are gone from our memory. They are there and they are in our genes—they are part of us just as we are part of them. And although they are gone from our sight, they are with us and they are loved. On another day, we will be grandparents who are those people from the time “before”. And we will pass on our memories, our genes and our love before we are also gone.