Press Club

Arlington Seeking Poet Laureate for 2020-2022 Term

Arlington County is looking for a new top poet.

The selected poet would be the second laureate in the county’s history, succeeding Katherine E. Young, who ended her term in 2018. The new poet laureate would serve from 2020 to 2022, and will receive an honorarium of $1500 per year, according to Arlington Cultural Affairs.

Applicants must be published poets, with a track record of publishing their original work in poetry journals, magazines, and/or websites, that are predominantly not self-curated, personal websites or personal blogs. Interested poets must be 18 years of age or older.

The poet laureate will have several duties to carry out. One of those duties is to write and present two original poems on a subject that relates to issues relating to the county. In 2016, for instance, Young presented a poem about a thunderstorm in Ballston that felled a prominent tree.

The new poet laureate will also serve as a juror for Arlington Transit’s Moving Words Competition and facilitate community engagement programs with the Arlington Public Libraries and Arlington Public Affairs staff.

“The poet selected [as] Arlington’s poet laureate will serve as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts and will advance Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms,” Arlington Cultural Affairs said in a press release. “He or she will represent Arlington County’s commitment to fostering a creative environment that encourages collaboration, innovation and community participation.”

The county is accepting applications until March 24 at 5 p.m. The poet laureate’s term is set to begin on July 1 of this year.

The full county press release is below, after the jump.

We are pleased to announce that Arlington County is seeking its official Poet Laureate for the 2020-2022 term. With the final application deadline of March 24, 2020 by 5:00pm, the selected poet laureate’s two-year term will begin July 1, 2020. The poet selected Arlington’s poet laureate will serve as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts and will advance Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms. He or she will represent Arlington County’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.

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. 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.”

Applications will be reviewed for eligibility by staff from Arlington Public Libraries and 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.

Arlington’s Supports the Literary Arts

This program builds upon the successful term of the inaugural Poet Laureate, Katheryn E. Young (2016-2018). But Arlington has long embraced poetry as a civic art form. The Moving Words competition, now in its 20th 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 creating free, customized poems for customers right on the spot. Through its Arts Enterprise Institute, Cultural Affairs partners with entities such as The Writer’s Center and The Writer’. With the new Poet Laureate program, Arlington becomes even more of a haven for the literary arts.

Laureate to receive 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.


The Poet Laureate will:

  1. Write at least two original poems per year around a theme of their choice related to Arlington County priorities such as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Affordable Housing, Environment, and more.
  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, 9/11 Memorial Service, Arlington Naming Centennial events, 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.

Timeline and Submissions Process

Applications are due March 24, 2020 by 5:00pm. Interviews will be conducted in mid-April.  The selected poet’s contract will begin July 1, 2020 to coincide with the beginning of Arlington County’s fiscal year. Applications are ONLY accepted through 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 [email protected] For technical questions about Slideroom, please visit

Image via Arlington County

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