Arlington Seeks First-Ever Poet Laureate

Published on April 05, 2016

Where art thou, first official poet of the County?

Applications are now being accepted--April being National Poetry Month--with the final deadline of May 12 at 5 p.m. The laureate's two-year term will begin July 1.

The poet selected Arlington's inaugural laureate will be an advocate for the literary arts, create works of special civic significance, hold public readings, officiate at special events, carry out community engagement programs and help judge Arlington's annual Moving Words Poetry competition. Poet Laureate Logo

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, reside in Arlington and have established at least a five-year record of achievement in writing and publishing verse. Full eligibility requirements and terms are available online.

"Poetry is a dynamic form, taking the language of its time and pushing its expressive limits. And social media is changing the way we use language," said Michelle Isabelle-Stark, director of the Cultural Affairs division of Arlington Economic Development (AED). "It's now easier than ever to write and share poems.  Our new Poet Laureate will work with our community to awaken the poet in all of us."

Regional neighbors with their own poet laureate include the District of Columbia, Prince William County and Takoma Park, Md. Virginia has had a state laureate since 1936. The United States has had an official poet through the Library of Congress since 1937.

Submissions for Arlington laureate selection will be reviewed by award-winning poet and playwright Grace Cavalieri, host of the Library of Congress podcast "The Poet and the Poem."

The County's Poet Laureate program is managed as a partnership between AED's Cultural Affairs division and Arlington Public Library.

Laureate to receive honorarium

The laureate will receive an honorarium of $1,500 a year, provided through regular Cultural Affairs programming funds and the generosity of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library.

Arlington loves poetry

Arlington has long embraced poetry as a civic art form. The Moving Words competition, now in its 16th year, places winning poems by local poets on Arlington Transit ART buses so riders can travel well beyond their intended destinations.

For National Poetry Month, AED's Cultural Affairs division and the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization have teamed up to conceive "The Poet is IN" pop-up booths. The program puts noted regional poets in public places like farmers markets and libraries, to create free, customized poems for customers right on the spot.

With the new Poet Laureate program, Arlington becomes even more of a haven for the lyrical arts.

In the words of the Bard: "And as imagination bodies forth/The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen/Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing/A local habitation and a name."