Prince William Poet Laureate to Be Announced at ‘Poetry & Jazz’

From left, selection panelists Dr. Eric Pankey and LeeAnn Thomas review nominees' poetry samples. (Photo courtesy of Northern Virginia Community College.)

Fourteen local poets will go about their usual morning routines Saturday – reading the paper, drinking coffee, walking the dog, but by 6 p.m., one of them will have been named the first Prince William Poet Laureate.

D.J. Guy Lambert of WPGC 95.5 F.M. radio is expected to make the announcement while broadcasting live at the culmination of the “Poetry & Jazz on the Lake,” which will begin at 3 p.m. at Tackett’s Mill Lakeside, 2228 Tackett’s Mill Drive, Lake Ridge, Virginia.

Lambert plans to publicly introduce each nominee, invite them to read their poetry live on air; Common Ground will be providing with jazz accompaniment. After which, all 14 nominees will be honored as the newly formed Prince William Poet Laureate Circle.

D.J. Double L will be providing music throughout much of the event. Food and wine will be available for purchase, and admission is free to the public.

Write by the Rails and Prince William Art Council members expect it will be a fun and memorable experience for all.

About the Laureate Position

The Prince William Poet Laureate is expected to promote local residents’ awareness of poetry; heighten appreciation of the art form;  forge a meaningful connection between poetry and the community; and undertake a project or series of projects that make poetry more accessible to citizens in their everyday lives.

The laureate will serve a two-year term and receive an annual honorarium of $500 from The Clearbrook Foundation, a non-profit soon to be taking space at the Tackett’s Mill Center. The Laureate is expected to participate in select public gatherings in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Plans will be made to engage new members of the Prince William Poet Laureate Circle as well.

The Selection Panel

To select the county’s first poet laureate, a diverse panel of 11 prominent Prince William poets, scholars and business leaders met at Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge campus on May 30 at the invitation of Provost Dr. Sam Hill. They made their selection only after carefully reviewing 14 nomination packets in which poetry samples and proposed community projects were included, and candidates’ names had been removed.

Deliberating Poet Laureate panel members (L-R), Alice Mergler, Mark Shaaber, Cathy Hailey and Dr. Eric Pankey. (Photo courtesy of Northern Virginia Community College.)

Panel members included: 

  • Alirio Aleman, poet, novelist and Spanish-language journalist;
  • Lindsey Barszcy, Woodbridge Senior High School (WSHS) creative writing student;
  • Cathy Hailey, creative writing teacher at the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts at WSHS;
  • Carlos Castro, entrepreneur and founder of Todos Supermarkets;
  • Dr. Constance Gilman, Director of Prince William Public Library System;
  • Marie Khalili Nasiri, author and business owner ofState Farm Insurance, Manassas, daughter of Khalilullah Khalili (historian, poet, philosopher and statesman from Afghanistan);
  • Sergeant Major Michael Mack, Wounded Warrior Regiment, Marine Corps Base Quantico;
  • Alice Mergler, English and drama teacher at Parkside Middle School in Manassas;
  • Eric Pankey, poet, professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University;
  • Mark Shaaber, Chief Executive Officer, SCS Integrated Support Solutions, Manassas and Founder and Chairman, Prince William Veterans Council;
  • and LeeAnn Thomas, poet, Assistant Professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge Campus and board member of “The Northern Virginia Review.”
The Prince William art community hopes to see you at Poetry & Jazz on the Lake! 

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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