2021 Celebrity Judge

Ernest Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert is the author of  Sixty SonnetsAll of You on the Good Earth, and  Caligulan, which was selected as winner of the 2017 Poets’ Prize. His fourth collection,  Last One Out, appeared in March 2019. He lives in Philadelphia where he works as a rare book dealer and book critic for  The Washington Post and  The Wall Street Journal. His poem “Mars Ultor” was included in  Best American Poetry 2018, and his poems appear in  Yale ReviewAmerican Poetry ReviewHarvard ReviewParnassusSewanee ReviewHudson ReviewBoston ReviewThe New RepublicAmerican Scholar, and the  London Review.

Over 20 Years of Poetry & Community

The Montgomery County Poet Laureate (MCPL) program was founded by Joanne Leva of Lansdale, PA, to recognize and promote excellence in poetry and support the growth and visibility of the poetry community. Since its inception in 1999, MCPL has expanded the many programs available to experience and learn about poetry in part through the Poet Laureate’s community service projects.

David Gaines

Winner of the 2020 Montgomery County Poet Laureate Competition

David Gaines is a writer, actor, and educator born and raised in uptown Philadelphia. As a product of a traditional baptist household and a child of hip-hop culture, Dave uses his poetry to analyze and unpack how the performance of religion and gender intersect within his personal life and the greater Black community.

Caesura Poetry Festival & Retreat

The Annual Caesura Poetry Festival & Retreat is a weekend of inspiration and relaxation for the poetry community. This year we are going to host a virtual event, expand to a whole week and include books with your ticket purchase. The event will feature workshops, poetry readings and an opportunity to enjoy time with other members of the poetry community. Follow us on  FB & Instagram for up to date details.

1st Thursdays at Farley's | On Pause

The First Thursday Poetry Reading Series is usually hosted on a monthly basis September through May at Farley’s Bookshop in New Hope, PA beginning at 7 PM. The readings are followed by a Q&A with the poets and an open reading (one poem per poet), so bring a poem (yours or that of a favorite poet) to share.
Due to th current covid restrictions we are unable to host our readings at Farley’s but look forward to hosting them again in the future. 

Forgotten Voices | On Pause

The Forgotten Voices Group and Workshop are hosted on a monthly basis at the Indian Valley Public Library. 


Join Philadelphia Stories editors and top-name poets for the LitLife Poetry Conference, hosted annually in early April. Enjoy a day of master classes, discussions, readings, and more — including a celebration of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate and Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize winners.

Our Mission

The mission of MCPL is to bring poets together to share their thoughts and ideas about poetry and expose the community to rich poetic traditions. We invite the community to partake in the myriad of free programs and projects lead by our very own Poets Laureate. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the MCPL program regards poetry as a local public art form and offers both awareness of and involvement in an artistic and cultural outlet.

About Us

The Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program was started in 1998 by Joanne Leva.  As a member of the Indian Valley Arts Foundation, Joanne recognized the value of personal expression through the literary arts and poetry and saw an opportunity to benefit the community, offer broad-based education for people of all ages and improve the access to cultural outlets leading her to form the MCPL.

The Poet Laureate competition includes a community service directive with a program developed by each Poet Laureate to elevate the literary arts in the community, expand their own personal experience and increase overall awareness of the program. As a result of this initiative, MCPL has expanded the many programs available to experience and learn about poetry.

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Montgomery County Poet Laureate Competition

Poet Laureate Adjudication

Three recognized poets, two from the Delaware Valley, and a third “celebrity judge”, are called upon to adjudicate and assign numeric values to the top 25 manuscripts. These values are calculated to determine the winner in a fair and objective way. The winning poet receives a $500 cash award and a year of opportunities to enhance their public profile as featured poets in local events throughout the area in addition to their community outreach project.

What is a Poet Laureate?

A Poet Laureate is an individual who composes poems, who has the ability to express poetic ideas in beautiful language, and has been identified as having the highest degree of excellence in poetry. Submissions open in the Fall through February. Winners are announced in Apri

Caesura (Virtual) Poetry Festival

Thursday, October 1 thru Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Poetry Festival & Retreat will go digital this year to protect everyone involved in the event while still offering a great experience for the poetry community here in Southeastern PA and beyond. We’re also extending the event to an entire week to ensure participants can attend as many events as their schedule will allow. You can enjoy an entire week of poetry performances, workshops, inspiration, and education featuring some of the most well-known poets in the area and beyond. 

Thanks to our Sponsors!

Thanks to our Community Partners!