Art Council Elects Firefighter as New Prince William Poet Laureate

| October 30, 2018 | 0 Comments | Arts & Entertainment

L-R Poet Laureate Emeritae Kathy Smaltz (2016-18) and Prince William Poet Laureate Natalie Potell (2018-20) at the October 2018 crowning ceremony at NVCC in Woodbridge.

Natalie Potell, a Manassas resident, and Fairfax County Firefighter, was crowned the Prince William County Poet Laureate for 2018-2020, October 8th, at the Woodbridge NVCC Campus.

Kathy Smaltz of Nokesville, a Prince William County teacher, previously filled the two-year term.

This year’s candidates included Bennie Herron, Chalet A. Jean-Baptiste, Cherryl T. Cooley, David Wayne Martin, Jennifer Budlong Cole, John Dutton, Katherine M. Gotthardt, Kim Bois-Miller, Kitra MartinDavis, and Tom Basham.

Nominees underwent a competitive nomination process and a review by a panel of judges. The panel chose Potell from among the eleven nominees based on her submitted poems and her poetry project involving the community.

Poetell proposed to choose a different poem by a different author and mail it to two randomly chosen county residents every day for two years. Potell’s poetry project will be a tribute to her recently deceased pen pal and the memorable letters he left behind.

L-R: left to right, Tom Basham, Kathy Smaltz, Natalie Potell, Kim Bois-Miller, John Dutton, Cherryl T. Cooley, Bennie Herron, Katherine Gotthardt.

October 8 was also the official Poet Laureate Day as proclaimed by the Prince William Board of Supervisors. The day was designated to recognize poetry as an art form, to embody the heart and soul of our community, and to officially herald all eleven nominees.

In addition to the poet laureate, all nominees were “chosen and tasked to promote poetry, heighten local appreciation of the art form, and to undertake an individual project designed to make poetry more available and accessible to Prince William County citizens in their everyday lives.”

As such, all attending nominees at the crowning ceremony were inducted into the Poet Laureate Circle in recognition of their writing talent, community spirit, and personal commitment in promoting awareness and appreciation of poetry.

John Dutton, a 6th grade Language Arts teacher at Belville Middle School, was awarded a special ‘project trophy’ for his poetry events entitled ‘Spilled Ink.’  Dutton hosts this open-mic event for the written word every fourth Friday at Jirani’s in Manassas and every second Friday at Lakeside Cafe’ and Grill in Lake Ridge.

The Prince William County Poet Laureate initiative began in 2014 when Dr. Robert Scott and Alexandra Hailey were crowned for a two year term.

The Prince William County Poet Laureate serves to promote an awareness of poetry and to heighten appreciation of the art form and will forge a meaningful connection between poetry and the community by participating in public gatherings, initiating engaging dialogue with residents, and by undertaking a project which makes poetry more available and accessible to people in their everyday lives.

Candidates must be eighteen years of age or old, must have lived in the area for at least two previous years and must maintain residence in the Prince William County area during the full two-year term to receive an honorarium of $500 per year.

The Prince William County Arts Council would like to thank The Clearbrook Foundation and Woodbridge NVCC campus for sponsoring the Prince William County Poet Laureate   For more information about the Poet Laureate Circle, or to contact Ms. Potell or any of the other Nominees for a speaking engagement, please contact Alice Mergler:

OBJECTIVES and DUTIES of the Poet Laureate:

  • Bring recognition to the history and tradition of poetry, celebrate present contributions, and support advancement of the literary arts for the Greater Prince William area and its residents.
  • Inspire and encourage others in an understanding and sharing of poetry and other personal creative expressions.
  • Promote poetry and other literary endeavors through the media and collaborations with the schools, cultural organizations, and community institutions.
  • Represent the Prince William County area in the wider regional creative arts community.
  • Create new literary work which is grounded in the creative arts culture of the Prince William area.
  • Contribute to the Prince William Arts Council Web Site and its monthly Newsletter.
  • Participate in the Poet Laureate Circle activities and public readings.
  • Participate in PWC Arts Council events including Arts Alive and Seefeldt Awards.
  • Participate in the Prince William Poet Laureate Day programs, officially named by Prince William County, and celebrated on the Sundayprior to Columbus Day.
  • Create and present at least one outreach or educational project that connects literary arts with the Greater Prince William community.
  • Help to develop school initiatives, i.e. student workshops and/or presentations at Prince William County Schools and college campuses in the Greater Prince William area.

Note: Kathy Smaltz, Katherine Gotthardt and Tom Basham have worked as contributors for Bristow Beat. 

Submitted by Nancy Kyme of the Clearbrook Center of the Arts at Tackett’s Mill and the Clearbrook Foundation. 


© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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