Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria’

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Alexandria’s Poet Laureate, Tori Lane Kovarik

Tori Lane

Photo By Sally Brewer, Courtesy of Tori Lane Kovarik.

By Victoria Gaffney

Poetry doesn’t just have to be about meters of iambs or trochees. It can be a piece of writing that, for whatever reason, has a strong effect on the reader. Language that appeals to the ear, brings something into focus or emotionally resonates are just some of the reading experiences to celebrate during National Poetry Month.

April is the month to revel in rhythmic language and evocative imagery, and Tori Lane Kovarik, Alexandria’s Poet Laureate, encourages everyone to partake in activities in the area. Some are as simple as hopping on a DASH bus or carrying a poem around in your pocket for the day.

After studying this medium in college, Tori Lane began to further explore her writing at Convergence, an eclectic space in Alexandria that blends artistic and spiritual endeavors. Lisa Cole Smith, executive director and pastor, nominated Lane for poet laureate and when Lane was selected, she was astonished. “I was not anticipating the city wanting me to be their representative,” she says. “As a young woman who is heavily tattooed and ‘edgy’ as they have told me, it’s fun to be a role model for poetry and being like: It can be cool. It’s not just Shakespeare and John Donne.” 

One of the main events of the month is the DASHing Words in Motion project, a collaboration between The City of Alexandria Office of the Arts and the Alexandria Transit Company. The contest, in its second year, chooses six writers age 16 or older who have written poems about transportation in some form. In April and May DASH buses and trolleys feature the work of Tori Lane and the six winners: Teddie Dyson, Les Friedman, Miles Liss, Wendi Kaplan, Mercedes Mill and Robin J. Moscati.

Throughout the month, the writers have been appearing on the trolleys and buses to read their poetry and have invited commuters to read works as well. Liss read with fellow winners Wendi Kaplan and Mercedes Mill a couple of weeks ago. To his surprise, commuters started standing up and reciting poems by heart. “It was a real communal experience,” Liss says. One woman with a Scottish brogue recited some Wordsworth and Robert Burns, while Liss’ mother recited Emily Dickinson’s “Exaltations.” Two 20-somethings were in the corner on their phones, but rather than the usual texting they were actually looking up works to read. “People got into it,” Liss explains. “It’s surprising how many people have a poem they carry around with them, or have committed to memory.” When asked how he celebrates this month, Liss laughed and responded that he works on his writing every morning. “Some people do jigsaw puzzles; I write poems.” For him every day of the year is a day to rejoice in this medium. 

Robin Moscati and Liss are reading Thursday afternoon, and Moscati and Lane will be reading all day on Saturday. On April 30, a Community Poetry Celebration will be held at Athenaeum (the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association) at 6:30 p.m. where the winners of DASHing Words in Motion will present their work. Attendees are encouraged to read poems as well. This event also happens to coincide with National Poem in your Pocket Day, which is just what it sounds like—people throughout the country will be carrying poems around with them.

Lane doesn’t just want to encourage this writing form in the month of April, however. “Let’s just infuse our entire Alexandria culture with poetry all the time,” she says. Next month she is planning to host an event at the Durant Center where guests can bring all different types of writing that feel like poetry to them. “We’ll talk about how poetry exists outside of this academic, structured, Shakespearean-type realm,” she explains. Rather than just considering this medium once a year, she hopes to encourage Alexandrians to participate in poetic pursuits year-round.

Hungry for Linkage: Administrative Professionals Day specials

Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

julie deshaies/

julie deshaies/

On Administrative Professionals Day, those hard-working, under-appreciated men and women can enjoy: 
… a free slice of cake at America Eats Tavern in Tysons (bring your business card). [AET]
… a free small bite at Copperwood Tavern in Shirlington. [FB]
$5 Martinis all day and BOGO appetizers from 4-6 p.m. at Brixx in Woodbridge. [FB]

Jackie’s, a new Fredericksburg restaurant, must change its logo, says Ohio’s Jackie O’s. [The Free Lance-Star]

Flying Fish in Old Town Alexandria closes. [Eater]

Kraft eliminates artificial coloring to its Mac & Cheese, but it doesn’t mean it’s any healthier. [The New Republic]

Bartending trends in Northern Virginia. [Arlington Magazine]

From Brunswick Stew to Elsie’s Magic Skillet, Chefs and Writers Agree: Eat in Virginia

Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Where Chefs Eat book

Photo courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Two new books—“1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die” by Mimi Sheraton and “Where Chefs Eat” edited by Joe Warwick—map out the world according to meals.

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Hungry For Linkage: Capitol City Brewing to host Second Annual Mid-Atlantic Spring Beer Festival

Posted by Editorial / Monday, April 13th, 2015

Capitol  City Brewing Spring Beer Festival

Photo courtesy of Capitol City Brewing.

By Nicole Bayne

It’s Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s in Alexandria tomorrow from 12-8 p.m. [Ben&Jerry’s]

Capitol City Brewing Company will host the Second Annual Mid-Atlantic Spring Beer Festival on Saturday, April 25. Local breweries to expect include Old Ox, Old Bust Head and Adroit Theory. [tickets]

Attend a Baseball Beer Dinner at Mad Fox Brewing Company today at 6:30 p.m. [Mad Fox Brewing Company]

How Virginia winemakers surpassed Thomas Jefferson in the creation of high quality wines. [WaPo]

Spencer Devon Brewing hopes to have its grand opening on April 24. []

Beyond the Supermarket

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Cafe

Photo courtesy of Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Cafe.

Before most farmers markets reopen in May, here’s where to find local produce, pantry items and provisions. —Susannah Black

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Rolling Stone retracts UVA rape story; Alexandria go $200M in debt to build Potomac Yard station

Rolling Stone retracts UVA rape story following Columbia U. report
(The Washington Post)

Skeptics doubt South Carolina sailor was lost at sea for 66 days
(The Washington Post)

110-foot tree falls on Springfield home

Alexandria go $200M in debt to build Potomac Yard station

Northern Virginia spring 2015 children’s consignment sale guide

Children's consignment sales Northern Virginia

Photo courtesy of Marko Poplasen/

By Micaela Williamson

Out with the old and in with the “just like new!” Spring is about new beginnings, and visiting one of Northern Virginia’s many local consignment sales is a great way to score deals on kids’ items. Plus, sign up to be a consignor and earn some cash to put away for a fun family adventure. Most consignors earn special perks, such as exclusive sales and early shopping hours.

One Sparrow Kids’ Consignment Sale
April 11

Trinity Children’s Consignment Sale
April 11

St. Johns Early Childhood Consignment Sale
April 17-19

Dani’s Duds
April 13-19

My Child’s Closet
April 18

Kid’s Closet Connection
April 23-25

Just Between Friends Consignment Sale
April 25-26

Just Between Friends Consignment Sale
May 2-3

Weecycled Wardrobe
May 7-9


Courtesy of Tiffany Brown, Mamaratzy Photography

Micaela Williamson is a coauthor of local travel guide Kid Trips Northern Virginia, an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award-winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

Posted by Angela Bobo / Monday, March 30th, 2015

Any Barnes Barre Tech

Photo by Erick Gibson.

Amy Barnes, owner of Barre Tech and Swēt Ride, shares her organic gym bag essentials and how to avoid falling into a fitness rut.

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MiraJean Designs

A holiday BuzzFeed post brought lots of attention to Kate Hougen’s one-year-old custom textile company this past year.

And keeping with the momentum, the Arlington-based designer is bringing her wares to more local stores with hopes to go national. –Lynn Norusis


  • “It [started as] a New Year’s resolution in 2013. I spent 2013 getting a collection of designs together and doing the groundwork. MiraJean Designs officially launched in 2014. It was an idea I had for a long time, and I finally decided I had to stop thinking about it, talking about it and just do it.” / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.

  • Favorite design right now? Ginko Love. There is a huge, beautiful ginkgo tree round the corner from us. It’s one of my favorite trees. One day in fall there was a huge gust of wind, and in one day all of the ginkgo leaves fell off the tree. It was like the yellow brick road; the road was covered in yellow ginkgo leaves, and it was so beautiful. That tree continues to inspire me. / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.

  • A lot of work and research went into finding a manufacturer because Hougen’s main mission was to keep the line and everything about it—from fabrics and inks to marketing and shipping materials—eco-friendly. Inks are all environmentally friendly, they involve no-harm chemicals, and they also do not involve a lot of water. Fabrics are natural, and several are organic: “There is an organic cotton knit that I work with for the throw blankets, which is really soft. I call it eco-luxurious; you just want to wrap yourself up in it.” Even the marketing materials are printed on recycled paper using soy or environmentally friendly inks, and the mailers are compostable. / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.

  • The idea for custom art started with Mira, now 10. “[She] would come home with paintings, and we would hang them on the fridge. How could I turn it into something functional? Taking her artwork, photographing it turning it into custom textiles.” / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.

  • For her own designs, Hougen looks to children’s artwork, nature and coastal towns for her inspiration. And just like a child’s piece of art, all of Hougen’s designs start as a painting. / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.


The name MiraJean Designs was inspired by Mira, Hougen’s daughter, and Jean, her mother, “the two people in my life that have inspired me. My mother encourages me to pursue a career that you love and is meaningful. My daughter is just very creative, very artistic and loves art.”

Available in local stores: Covet and La Maison Home and Gifts in Arlington; Reunions in Alexandria; and this spring: Red Barn Merchantile in Alexandria, Hardwood Artisans in Shirlington and Two the Moon in Arlington

Price range: custom yard of fabric starts at $95; pillows and throws $125; poufs $225, tea towels $28 in set designs

(March 2015)

Don’t Sit Baby in the Corner

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

notes on dining with an infant.

Illustration by Libby Burns.

Smile, leave a big tip and other notes on dining with an infant. –Whitney Pipkin

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