2024 Celebrity Judge
Poet, community arts practitioner, founder of the Healing Verse Poetry Line and co-administrator of “ConsenSIS” a year long project to survey, gather, and memorialize Black women poets in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Mayson was born in Liberia and raised in North Philadelphia and Germantown. She earned her BA in Political Science and Master’s Degrees in Social Services and Business from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and Villanova University School of Business respectively. The author of two self-published poetry collections, Mocha Melodies and She Was Once Herself, Mayson also released the music and poetry projects SCAT and This Is How We Get Through, in collaboration with jazz guitarist Monnette Sudler. A Cave Canem, Pew, and Aspen Words fellow, she was awarded a Leeway Transformation Award and is a Pennsylvanian Council on the Arts grantee. Mayson is a licensed clinical social worker and Chief Operating Officer at a community mental health agency in Kensington. Other notable community based projects include residencies and collaborations with the Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Mural Arts, Jefferson University Humanities, and community venues, schools, and institutions. She is a member of the Greene Street Artist Cooperative in Germantown and was the 2020-2021 City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate. In 2021, she received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.
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.
2023 Montgomery County Poet Laureate
Jenny Burkholder is a writer and teacher who lives and works in Elkins Park. Her poetry chapbook, Repaired, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. Her poems have been published in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, North American Review, and The Maine Review, among others. Her creative nonfiction has been published in Epiphany, The Healing Muse, and So to Speak. Her awards include an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, the Glimmer Train October Poetry Open award, and a finalist for The James Hearst Poetry Prize. She teaches and practices yoga at Blue Banyan Yoga Studio & School in Philadelphia. You can read her poems, creative nonfiction, and blog at overexpressed.net.
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.
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 including our most recent addition, the Montgomery County Youth Poet Laureate Competition.
We are proud to announce Evan Wang as the Youth Poet Laureate for 2022 王潇/Evan Wang is a young writer and performance artist from Pennsylvania. His work is forthcoming or has been published in VIBE, Philadelphia Stories, National Poetry Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is...
Montgomery County Poet Laureate Competition
Poet Laureate Adjudication
A “celebrity judge” is called upon to adjudicate manuscripts for both the Youth and Adult Poet Laureate Competitions. Manuscripts are assigned numeric values to maintain anonymity to determine the winner in a fair and objective way. The winning poet receives a cash award and a year of opportunities to enhance their public profile as featured poets in 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 April.