Arlington County Names Second Poet Laureate

Published on June 24, 2020

Award-winning poet and Marymount University professor Holly Karapetkova has been selected as the second Poet Laureate of Arlington County. During her two-year appointment, which begins July 1, 2020, she will serve as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts, working to raise Arlingtonians' consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms.

Holly Karapetkova is the author of two award-winning books of poetry, Towline, winner of the Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize from Cloudbank Books, and Words We Might One Day Say, winner of the Washington Writers' Publishing House Prize for Poetry. Her poetry, prose, and translations have appeared recently in The Southern ReviewAlaska Quarterly ReviewBlackbirdPoetry Northwest, and many other places. She is a professor in the Department of Literature and Languages at Marymount University in Arlington where she lives with her husband and two children. Karapetkova's appointment follows that of Arlington's inaugural poet laureate, Katherine E. Young, appointed in 2016.

"Poetry is a dynamic form, taking the language of its time and pushing its expressive limits. With social media changing the way we use language," Cultural Affairs Director Michelle Isabelle-Stark said, "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."

WATCH: Recent reading by Holly Karapetkova

Arlington understands the power of poetry

Arlington has long embraced poetry as a civic art form. The Moving Words competition will seek submissions for its 17th season of placing winning poems by local poets on Arlington Transit ART buses. Karapetkova will serve as the competition's judge. The Poet Laureate also supports other literary programs and events throughout the year.

The Poet Laureate will receive an honorarium of $1,500 per year, provided through regular Cultural Affairs programming funds. The Laureate's name will be added to a commemorative plaque at the County offices at the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center in Courthouse Plaza. The new Poet Laureate will work with the County's Cultural Affairs staff to develop and facilitate public programs to engage Arlingtonians of all ages and backgrounds and bring poetry to a wider audience.

Poet laureates are a well-established tradition in the United States and abroad. Regional neighbors with poet laureates include the District of Columbia, Prince William County, Fairfax County, the City of Alexandria, and Takoma Park, Md. Virginia has had a state laureate since 1936. Since 1937, the United States has had an official poet through the Library of Congress.

Selection process

The open call for Arlington's second poet laureate was a competitive process. Judges Kim Roberts and Alexa Patrick, along with Cultural Affairs staff, reviewed the entries. Roberts is the award-winning author of five books of poetry, editor of two anthologies, and co-editor of the web exhibit DC Writers Homes. Patrick is a Cave Canem Fellow and holds teaching positions through Split This Rock, The University of the District of Columbia, and the Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University.

About Arlington Arts

Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development, delivers public activities and programs as Arlington Arts. The division's mission is to create, support, and promote the arts, connecting artists and community to reflect the diversity of Arlington. Cultural Affairs provides material support to artists and arts organizations in the form of grants, facilities and theater technology; integrates award-winning public art into the County's built environment; and presents high-quality performing, literary, visual and new media programs across the County.
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