Poet Laureate

Poet Laureate Arlington, Virginia

Arlington County’s Poet Laureate serves as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts and works to advance Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms. The Poet Laureate represents Arlington’s commitment to fostering a creative environment that encourages collaboration, innovation, and community participation.

The Poet Laureate will build on Arlington County’s well-received literary programs, including the Moving Words Poetry Competition, now in its 20th year, bringing poetry to a wider audience and strengthening Arlington’s place in the region’s rich literary community. The Poet Laureate program will be managed as a partnership between the Division of Cultural Affairs in Arlington Economic Development and Arlington Public Libraries.

The Open Call for the 2023 Poet Laureate is now active, with a final application deadline of March 24, 2023 by 5:00pm. Applications are ONLY accepted through arlington.slideroom.com. Please sign up for a free account with Slideroom to submit your qualifications.

Learn more about the position of the Poet Laureate and former Poets Laureate


The Poet Laureate will:

  1. Write at least two original poems per year around a theme of their choice that supports the priorities of the Arlington County Board, by mutual agreement with Cultural Affairs staff.
  2. These poems will be presented at public readings. Occasions for the Poet Laureate to choose from will be brought to the poet’s attention as they arise throughout the year. Examples include the County’s Martin Luther King Day Celebration, Juneteenth, 9/11 Memorial Service, Columbia Pike Blues Festival, among many others.
  3. Serve as a juror for the annual Moving Words Poetry competition and contribute one poem each year to be displayed on Arlington’s ART Buses along with the winning poems.
  4. Facilitate community engagement programs, working with Arlington Public Libraries and Arlington Cultural Affairs staff, to engage the public with poetry and the literary arts and to bring poetry to a wider audience. Programs could include workshops, readings, events with students, and more. Minimum of two public engagement opportunities per fiscal year.

Eligibility, Review Criteria and Selection Process

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older, must reside in Arlington during the time of application and for the duration of the appointment, and must demonstrate a track record of experience publishing and/or presenting original poetry within poetry journals, magazines, websites, and/or programs that are not predominantly self-curated, personal websites, or personal blogs. Arlington County staff, Board Members, and Commission members are not eligible to apply. Former Arlington County Poets Laureate may reapply after one completed term out of office.

Review criteria:

  • Quality of published work
  • Comfort with performance of poetry in public
  • Interest in building community through poetry and serving as an advocate for poetry
  • Ability to represent Arlington County, its residents, and its commitment to the creative arts

Applicants must submit the following:

  • Ten pages of original poetry
  • A statement of no more than 250 words describing why the applicant is interested in receiving the appointment and how they envision fulfilling the duties of Arlington County Poet Laureate.
  • A resume of 1 to 3 pages listing all published works and related experience.
  • OPTIONAL: Links to 1 to 3 video clips of no more than 5 minutes each of the applicant reading their work aloud.

Applications will be reviewed for eligibility by staff from Arlington Cultural Affairs. Eligible applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges, including staff, literary professionals, and well-regarded poets from the region. The top three to four candidates will be interviewed in person before a final selection is made.

Terms and Honorarium

The selected Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term and receive an honorarium of $1500 per year to fulfill the duties of the post. Additional funds of up to $500 per year will be available for materials and other approved costs associated with the community engagement programs the Poet Laureate facilitates. The Poet Laureate will sign a contract with Arlington County outlining his/her roles and responsibilities as an independent contractor. Poems written for Arlington County will remain the property of the poet, but Arlington County will have the right to use the poems; any publication of the poems elsewhere will note that the poem is an original work written for Arlington County.

The selected Poet Laureate will be named in a public ceremony and have their name added to the plaque of Poets Laureate at Courthouse Plaza. 

Timeline and Submissions Process

Applications are due March 24, 2023 by 5:00pm. Interviews will be conducted in mid-April. The selected poet’s contract will begin July 1, 2023 to coincide with the beginning of Arlington County’s fiscal year.

Applications are ONLY accepted through https://arlington.slideroom.com. Please sign up for a free account with Slideroom to submit your qualifications.

Questions about this Call to Poets? Contact Dan Brady, Literary Specialist at dbrady@arlingtonva.us.

For technical questions about Slideroom, please visit https://support.slideroom.com/