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Arlington’s Poet Laureate receives $50K fellowship to promote poetry among youth

Arlington Poet Laureate and fellowship recipient Dr. Holly Karapetkova (courtesy of Marymount University)

She’s a poet and wouldn’t you know it, her verse skills have earned her lots of bills.

Dr. Holly Karapetkova, the county’s Poet Laureate and an English professor at Marymount University, received the American Academy of Poets Laureate Fellowship on Tuesday (Aug 2).

The $50,000 prize Karapetkova received is set to fund one of her projects to publish an anthology of poems from young residents in Arlington, with submissions currently open to local high school students, according press releases from Marymount University and Arlington County.

The theme is set to focus on resilience and the anthology is expected to be published in spring next year, according to a submission form.

Besides publishing the poems, Karapetkova’s project also includes holding readings and workshops with the selected poets, alongside designing lesson plans for instruction.

The poet is collaborating with two nonprofits from the area for this project. One is the D.C.-based Words Beats and Life, which uses hip hop to educate young people on the arts. The other is the publisher Day Eight, which is also based in the District.

The project has also received funding from Arlington Arts, according to Marymount’s news release.

Karapetkova was “honored” and thanked the academy for awarding her the fellowship, adding on social media that she would work to “lift up the voices of [her] county’s amazing young poets.”

“In times of distress, poetry provides a language for our hurt and frustration and an outlet for our expression of grief and anger. It can provide a means for healing,” Karapetkova said in a statement.

She has been Arlington’s poet laureate since 2020, the second after Katherine E. Young, who was appointed in 2016.

During her time in the post, Karapetkova organized the exhibition Visual Verse in 2020, where poems from different poet laureates were projected onto the side of buildings around Arlington for a month. She also judged a poetry competition and participated in readings at different music festivals.

The Poets Laureate Fellowship was launched in 2019 by the academy, which aimed to support the fellows’ public poetry programs and the nonprofits collaborating with them, according to its news release. This year, a total of 22 poets laureate of different cities and states were chosen. In Virginia, apart from Karapetkova, the poet laureate from Alexandria, KaNikki Jakarta, was also chosen.

Arlington County lauded the laurels bestowed upon its laureate.

“This Award will help support our Poet Laureate’s efforts to amplify the voices of the next generation of poets in Arlington and is a priceless gift to our community,” said Arlington Cultural Affairs Director Michelle Isabelle-Stark.

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