Arlington County Names Courtney LeBlanc New Poet Laureate

Published on July 06, 2023

Courtney LeBlanc

Courtney LeBlanc has been selected as the third Poet Laureate of Arlington County. During her two-year appointment, the award-winning poet will serve as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts and will work to raise Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms.

Courtney LeBlanc is author of the full-length collections Her Whole Bright Life – winner of the Jack McCarthy Book Prize (Write Bloody, 2023) – Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat, 2021), and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2020). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press, and is a fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts (2022).

Ms. LeBlanc’s appointment follows that of Arlington’s previous poets laureate, Katherine E. Young and Holly Karapetkova.

Laureate to Receive Honorarium

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 in Courthouse Plaza. Arlington County’s Poet Laureate program is managed by the Cultural Affairs division of Arlington Economic Development.

The Poet Laureate will work with Cultural Affairs staff to develop and facilitate public programs to engage Arlingtonians of all ages and backgrounds and bring poetry to a wider audience.

"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," 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."

Arlington Understands the Power of Poetry

Arlington has long embraced poetry as a civic art form. In years past, AED’s Cultural Affairs division, Arlington Public Library and the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization teamed up to conceive "The Poet is IN" pop-up booths for National Poetry Month in April. The program puts noted regional poets in public places like farmers markets and libraries, to create free, customized poems for citizens right on the spot.

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 poet laureate was a competitive process, with candidates needing to be at least 18 years of age and residents of the County. Entries were reviewed by Cultural Affairs staff and judge Celeste Doaks.

Doaks is the author of several books of poetry including Not Without Our Laughter: Poems of Humor, Joy, and Sexuality; Cornrows and Cornfields; and American Herstory, which was the winner of Backbone Press’s 2018 chapbook competition and named the best chapbook by Maryland Poet Laureate, Grace Cavalieri.

About Arlington Arts

Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development, delivers public activities and programs as Arlington Arts. Our mission is to create, support, and promote the arts, connecting artists and community to reflect the diversity of Arlington. We do this by: providing material support to artists and arts organizations in the form of grants, facilities and theater technology; integrating award-winning public art into our built environment; and presenting high quality performing, literary, visual and new media programs across the County.

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