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ELEGIES for New York Avenue by Melanie Henderson December 4, 2013

Filed under: Art - The Product,Melanie Henderson — anotefrommel @ 3:04 pm

ELEGIES for New York Avenue

poems by

Melanie Henderson

ISBN: 978-1-59948-330-6, ~96 pages

Cover/List price: $14 (Only $12 if purchased from the MSR Online Bookstore)

November 2011.

* * * WINNER of the 2011 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award * * *


Melanie Henderson’s verse in Elegies for New York Avenue is the blessed sound of the street and stoops of Washington D.C., the lives of the special people on the porches and parlors, the unseen, but the people who are the world, and are the city that is loved so well here. Her first collection of word is more than a triumph; it is one long magical song that showcases a poet with a big heart and an even bigger literary vision that heals and holds up together.

—Brian Gilmore

“Delicious in their sheer sonic energy, the poems in Elegies for New York Avenue take us on a headlong, heady rush through story and memory, portrait and lyric, lament and celebration, every line sounding the way for another, linking again and again to a surprising intimacy and reality. The mosaic of neighborhood and family that Henderson creates is spellbinding. Each piece, each person, each emotion is emblazoned in these poems by precise words and honored by an attention both tender and fierce. These poems throw off sparks. Catch them!”

—Joan Houlihan

In her debut collection, Elegies for New York Avenue, Melanie Henderson carves out a totem of love and loss from the mercurial landscape of memory. Her elegies are lamentations for the living—childhood friends that no longer haunt the avenue, a brother mixing beats with Go-Go and hip hop heat, altars for aunties and cousins, portraits of a father slipped into the shadow of a gun and the promise of a son—that tease and trace history, worrying the present’s past in lyrical, lilting, pristine poetry. Henderson does for DC what Bearden did for Harlem. In her verse, she collages in a lost world of Black pride, struggle and integrity into a precarious present palpable as hope.

—Tony Medina


2013 Pushcart Prize Nomination

Filed under: Art - The Product,Melanie Henderson — anotefrommel @ 3:20 pm

Melanie Henderson received a nomination from I. Giraffe Press/Iris G. Press/Fledgling Rag for the 2013 Pushcart Prize along with the following writers:


YONA HARVEY/”Cutthroat :: The Rising Cost of Fuel”



ALAN KING/”Freeze”

AMANDA NEWELL/”Vacation Photo, Gulf of Mexico”

DAINA SAVAGE/”Separation”


“Nostalgia” is a section of a 4-part poem entitled BONES written after the discovery of old African burial sites in Georgetown, D.C., September 2012)



It’s not any different
than Southwest Washington,
or any other old black hood.


Georgetown is marble and
brick over blood and bone.
The tragedy is not its newness


—or even its color. It’s a failure
of courtesy not to speak to us:
ghosts on lampposts, right brown


shoes sturdy on left knees,
elbows propping up hatted heads
from the chin; it’s a failure


to remember we built those old
rock churches, and monuments,
those houses crumbled to erect


condos that block out light.
Take off your hat when entering
this city; there are spirits around you.


“Wish You Were Here” November 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — anotefrommel @ 9:11 pm
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It’s been just over a week. I have felt every second, yet recall most of it as a blur. I feel something other than sad—  Devastated? No, not quite. I don’t think there is a word for losing a friend in body and knowing this is how it will be for the rest of your waking days. As Marlene would say, I have “ugly cried,” I have wept, I have been silent, I have been brave, weak, tired, restless, terrified, peaceful, and tearful all over again.

In recent years, I was lucky if I saw Marlene more than once a year (and some years, I was that lucky ;) But, we witnessed each other nearly everyday, sometimes via phone calls late at night. She’d be up working tirelessly touching and retouching photos for a client. Those phone calls only ended as one of us would start to make less and less sense because the morning was upon us; via gchats randomly throughout the day, some that made us guffaw and snortle with laughter. My goodness how we laughed until I had to beg her to cut it out because my cheeks hurt. Apparently, she was the remedy for my out-of-shape laughter muscles.

Our exchanges became integral to my daily life. We challenged each other. Walked each other through trials with tough love and that truth we sometimes didn’t want to hear. No matter the content of our conversations, we always knew every word was composing something much more eternal than mere chatter. We had been building sisterhood, constantly reminding each other of the magic and powers of such a thing. She taught me so much about friendship—things I thought I knew, but hadn’t quite mastered and still haven’t. We were constantly growing each other up and making the other a little less silly. But man, we were so silly after we got through the tough stuff, whatever that may have been at the time.

Tomorrow, I and the masses of people she touched with her big heart, quick wit, and breadth of talents will say ‘goodbye’ to her. I just cannot think of how I can. I know she will never call me again. Her name will never pop up on my g-chat screen. She will never post “I love you, Sis” followed by a slew of hearts on my FB page. She will never drop into town and opt for the couch, a glass of Malibu and pineapple, and endless talk. I know this, yet I still just cannot imagine it.

She posted the following picture on my page this year with the caption “Wish you were here.”

“Wish you were here” by Marlene Lillian Hawthrone

Tonight, she just doesn’t know what I would give to hear her laugh again.

There is just something special about the family we choose.

I miss you, Sis, and will love you always <3


The Sister I Chose. October 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — anotefrommel @ 12:18 am

Marlene Hawthrone (November 26, 1982 – October 24, 2012)

I am waiting for the phone to ring,

to hear Nina sing about birds flying high,

a sun up in the sky. I am waiting

to hear the rapid fire of your day,

what dawning of love lit in brightly

colored wedding gowns and matching

suits got snagged in the teeth of your lens.


I am waiting to hear how you touched

and retouched a new human who had

no warning of your impossible wit, or spirit,

waiting for you to carve out a second

of your day and hand it to me within

the vast limits of four sealed lines.


I am waiting to swap secrets of great shame,

sass and delight, secrets so big, only hearts

as big as ours could promise to bury them

with our skins singed in the fire of growing older,

and a little less silly.


I am waiting to claim again with you some

greatness, to lift each other out of failure & defeat

with many hard, long sermons delivered

from the valley of sisterhood, I am waiting

to hear ‘I love you. Goodnight.’


I am waiting to meet your curly-haired

offspring years from now while you dote

on my little one’s zest as if Rumi is pulling

back your ‘fro and whispering in your ear.


I am waiting for you to live for you, to leave

behind anything and everyone who thinks

they can hold or direct the secret light in your eyes.

I beg they let you see less of them and more of you.


I am waiting for you to show up and disappear,

promise and change your mind; You have become

a firefly, and I, a wistful child waiting for your

promised and indeterminable green glow.


A Poetry Reading by Nikky Finney and Melanie Henderson June 22, 2012

Filed under: Events and Readings,Melanie Henderson — anotefrommel @ 11:41 am


Reading Series: Award-winning visiting poets, Nikky Finney and Melanie Henderson, June 27th, 6:30 pm June 6, 2012

Cambridge, Mass. – The MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University welcomes community members and the public to enjoy the work of its distinguished faculty, students, and award-winning visiting writers from June 22 to 30, 2012.



The Reading Series features two exceptional visiting poets on Wednesday, June 27 at 6:30 pm: Nikky Finney, winner of the 2011 National Book Award and Distinguished Writer in Residence for Lesley’s June residency; and Melanie Henderson, a program alumna whose debut collection won the 2011 Main Street Rag Poetry Award. Read more…



Nikky Finney (Photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths)


About Nikky Finney

Nikky Finney won the National Book Award in 2011 for Head Off & Split (2011). Prior to winning the top literary prize, Finney published The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985).

She also edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney is a Professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky.






Melanie Henderson (Photo: Marlene Hawthrone)


About Melanie Henderson

Melanie Henderson graduated from Lesley’s MFA in Creative Writing Program in 2010, and soon thereafter won the prestigious the 2011 Main Street Rag Press Poetry Award for her debut book of poetry, Elegies for New York Avenue. Her poems have appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Drumvoices Revue, jubilat, Reverie, Torch, Tuesday; An Art Project, and The Washington Informer, among other publications. Melanie Henderson lives in Washington, DC.


The Next Verse Poets: Live! in the Capitol City April 18, 2012

Filed under: Events and Readings — anotefrommel @ 10:38 am
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