• Gail Wilson Kenna

Planet Word…which is our planet's world of languages, is a new interactive museum…

Penelope Fitzgerald, were she alive, would love taking her grandchildren to this interactive museum in Washington, D.C. She would also enjoy hours in it by herself. Two hours on Friday at Planet Word were only enough to let me know that I will return and spend a long time there. In this photo I am inside one of the elevators!

And isn't this quote perfect for a lover of literature like me? Oh, the joy to be in a museum dedicated to words and books.

The third photo is of a unique globe, which must be seen to be believed, connected to computers below. Each one represents a different language. A native speaker addresses you and offers to teach a word or short phrase in that language. The challenge is to achieve correct pronunciation and be rewarded with lighted congratulations in the globe above. I was with Ilona Duncan, who designs and posts my blog. She speaks six languages and lighted the globe, regardless of the language she tried. Can't say the same for myself!

Ilona and I were in the nation's capital for the 50th Biennial of the National League of American Pen Women. As luck would have it, the speaker for the first night's Vinnie Ream Banquet was Ann Friedman, the founder and chair of Planet Word. Her own credentials are remarkable. But I will add that Ms. Friedman is married to Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columnist I greatly appreciate.

Who is Vinnie Ream? The first woman and the youngest artist to receive a commission from the U.S. government (think Civil War era). Ream's famous statue of Abraham Lincoln resides in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. On January 6th, 2021, the statue was often seen as a backdrop to violence occurring below it that infamous day.

I am proud to say that I took second place of three genres (fiction, poetry, nonfiction) in the 2019 Vinnie Ream competition, for an essay, "Three Artists in Arrested Time." The 2020 Biennial was cancelled due to the pandemic and those awards were given now, along with new ones for 2022.

Please know that next week I will write about Penelope Fitzgerald's Beginning of Spring, as promised this Monday.

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