The Literary Hill

Can You Say “Nuzzled” in Spanish?

“Drum roll, please …” writes Dia Michels, president and director of Platypus Media. With its extensive catalog of books and other materials geared toward families, the Hill publisher has long been a go-to source for parents and teachers in search of healthy childrearing models. Now they’re breaking new ground with a bilingual book that Michels calls “a literary safari.”

“Nurtured and Nuzzled (Criados y Acariciados)” takes kids to age five on a bilingual journey, in English and Spanish, that celebrates the bonds between parents and children. Accompanied by illustrations so soft and warm you want to reach out and pet them, the book shows how babies are cared for, nurtured, and loved in a variety of different settings, from foxes in a meadow to tigers in a snowy den, and ends with a beaming human family seated in their own cozy den. The text, in simple English on the left with a Spanish translation on the right, describes all the guiding, cuddling, and sheltering pictured on the pages.

As Michels observes, “the bilingual market is a growing segment of elementary education,” and Platypus Media has added to the available offerings with a lovely and loving new book. “Nurtured and Nuzzled” is illustrated by Mike Speiser and has a free, downloadable teacher’s guide by Sue Garcia in English or Spanish at Connect with Platypus Media on Twitter (@platypusmedia) or Facebook.

Verona Via Jersey

Local playwright Wayne Nicolosi had a different vision of “Romeo and Juliet.” What if Romeo was a bumbling architect hired to design a balcony for an attractive Italian-American vamp? And what if she was having an affair with Mario, the handsome contractor engaged to build the balcony? And further, what if this ill-fated love triangle all took place in that hotbed of passion, New Jersey?

“The Tragedy of Mario and Juliet,” a new play by producer/director Nicolosi, was performed at The Corner Store on Capitol Hill in February. Nicolosi’s DC-based production company, Dead Cat Productions, has also staged “The Interview” and “Glengarry Glen Ross,” a Washington Post Editor’s Pick at DC’s Capital Fringe Festival. Visit their Facebook page at dcdeadcats.

Something to Shout About

A local nonprofit is providing a megaphone for unheard voices. Shout Mouse Press partners with organizations to help design custom book projects that benefit the communities they serve. “We believe everyone has a story to tell,” says Shout Mouse. And yet many of these authors – because of color, limited resources, illness, or age – are not being heard. Now, thanks to Shout Mouse Press, they have a voice.

Among the groups helped by Shout Mouse are Beacon House, which provides tutoring and other services to children around the Edgewood Terrace community in Ward 5; the Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop, an initiative that uses books, creative writing, and peer support to awaken the potential in DC youth incarcerated as adults; and Writers in Schools, a PEN/Faulkner Foundation program that inspires students by bringing authors into DC classrooms.

Shout Mouse Press also publishes books for Reach Incorporated (, a literacy program that engages teens to tutor younger students. Then, during the summer, the teens write books designed to reflect the lives and concerns of their charges. For more visit

On the Hill in January

The Hill Center hosts a discussion with poet, translator, and journalist Dunya Mikhail, moderated by Ron Charles, editor of The Washington Post’s Book World, March 2, 7 p.m. Free but register at or 202-549-4172.

The Folger Shakespeare Library presents “I Feel Your Pain,” a PEN/Faulkner reading with novelist Mitchell S. Jackson (“The Residue Years”) and essayist Leslie Jamison (“The Empathy Exams”), March 21, 7:30 p.m.; and co-sponsors a reading in response to the Phillips Collection’s “Seeing Nature” exhibition with poets Mark Doty and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, March 10, 6:30 p.m., at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. or 202-544-7077

The Library of Congress presents talks by Zambian writer and 2015 Caine Prize-winner Namwali Serpell, author of “The Sack,” March 14, noon; and Hayden Herrera, author of “Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi,” March 24, 7 p.m.; a reading and discussion by novelists Bonnie Jo Campbell and Emily Mitchell in celebration of Flannery O’Connor’s birthday, March 25, noon; and a poetry reading by Allison Hedge Coke, the 2015 Witter Brynner Fellow, introduced by Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, March 9, 4 p.m.

The Smithsonian Associates continues its “World War I: A Literary Legacy” course with a discussion of the play “Journey’s End” by R.C. Sherriff, March 8. 9, 6:45 p.m.; and presents “The Purple Crayon and the Red Scare: More Than a Children’s Story,” a discussion about an illustrator and writer active during the Cold War, March 15, 6:45 p.m.

Next Month Here

Don’t miss April’s Literary Hill column, when we’ll review a brand-new novel by author Frederick Reuss, “Maisie at 8000 Feet,” about a little girl who discovers she can fly; and a new book of poetry, “The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller,” by a writer whose thoughtful essays you enjoy here in the Hill Rag.

The Lyon’s Share

Dear Readers, imagine how excited we were at the news that Capitol Hill is getting a new bookstore. Then picture us jumping for joy when owner Laurie Gillman agreed to be part of the Literary Hill BookFest! East City Bookshop, at 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Suite 100, will have its grand opening on April 30 (National Independent Bookstore Day) and on May 1, when they’ll also be at the BookFest handling sales for some of our authors. (How they’ll be in two places at once is yet to be determined, but, having met Gillman, I have no doubt she’ll manage it somehow.)

Gillman tells us that her store will offer new books of all kinds for all ages, as well as book-related items, gifts, art supplies, and toys. She’s also got space on the lower level for events such as readings, author talks, book clubs, and story times. East City Bookshop will provide the perfect complement to our existing bookstores, Capitol Hill Books, Riverby Books, and The Fairy Godmother – and promises to become a lively gathering place for Hill booklovers of all stripes.

For more visit Be sure to greet East City at the Literary Hill BookFest on May 1 in the North Hall of Eastern Market. Find the BookFest at www.literaryhillbookfest or on Twitter or Facebook #LHBF16.

The Poetic Hill

Carolyn Joyner is a DC poet whose work has been featured in many publications and anthologies including Obsidian, Beltway Quarterly, Amistad, Gathering Ground, Mass Ave. Review, and the 2004-05 Cave Canem collections. A former WriterCorps and River of Words Project instructor, she was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Cave Canem, and in 2010 co-hosted Poet’s Corner, a program on local radio station WPFW. She earned a master of arts degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and was awarded an Artist Fellowship grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in 2013. While her pantoum below focuses on what “happens every year” in October, the “icy surge” she speaks of knows no season.


The Now of Aunt Marie
Days of heat dissolve
in the cool damp of fall.
Walking alone, I know the time is now.
Now happens every year in October.
In the cool damp of fall,
now breaks the seal of memory’s crowds.
Now happens every year in October,
slowly snaking the bends and turns of me.
Now breaks the seal of memory’s crowds;
it freezes Aunt Marie in a final frame,
slowly snaking the bends and turns of me.
A shiver rushes through unsuspecting veins.
It freezes Aunt Marie in a final frame;
my walk becomes a run.
A shiver rushes through unsuspecting veins,
forced from a heart that knows all too well.
My walk becomes a run.
I want to leave behind the icy surge
forced from a heart that knows all too well,
in October when coral leaves wither and fall.
I want to leave behind the icy surge,
the cold I felt some twenty years ago
in October, when coral leaves wither and fall,
when Aunt Marie chose secretly to do the same.
It is the cold I felt some twenty years ago,
in autumn, when living things retreat to be reborn,
when Aunt Marie chose secretly to do the same,
to fly from a bridge, fall away like summer.
In autumn, when living things retreat to be reborn,
I see the fire of a dance fade to a flicker,
to fly from a bridge, fall away like summer,
whose days of heat dissolve.

If you would like to have your poem considered for publication, please send it to (There is no remuneration.)

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