Montgomery County Poets Laureate

The Annual Montgomery Poet Laureate Competition is the foundation upon which the MCPL Program was built. The competition is the ultimate expression of the program’s mission; creating an ever expanding community of poets, supporting their work and providing opportunities for poets to elevate their visibility while also benefiting the community with their service project, many of which continue long beyond their tenure.

How does the competition work?  

Each year MCPL recruits a celebrity poet with a national reputation, who along with two additional local Delaware Valley poets, adjudicate the submitted manuscripts.   

The newly selected Montgomery County Poet Laureate is honored with an award in the amount of $500 along with a personalized statement about their work, which is shared through MCPL and other local organizations.  

The Award is presented during the LitLife event at Rosemont College in Bryn Mawr. The winner will be given an opportunity to read their work and speak to the audience composed of attendees of the day’s event which also features workshops and poetry readings including a Poetry Workshop conducted by the Celebrity Judge of the competition.

Who can compete?  

Poets of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to submit their poetry for review and adjudication in the annual competition. Poets must also be residents of Montgomery County. The window for submissions generally opens in early December and closes mid-February with the winner to be announced at the end of March.  

The role of the Poet Laureate  

The Poet Laureate functions as an ambassador for poetry in Montgomery County from April 1 of the year of his/her naming to March 31st of the following year. This role includes working with MCPL’s Executive Director, Joanne Leva, to develop a schedule of readings, workshops and a community service project,  which is the cornerstone of the MCPL program. Community Service projects have created permanent resources and ongoing programming for our organization. 

Appearances may include the Forgotten Voices Poetry Group, Farley’s Bookshop First Thursday Poetry Reading Series, the Philadelphia Poetry Festival and the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. The Poet Laureate is asked to attend LitLife (both the year they are named, as well as the following year to discuss the experience). They may also hold the office of “writer-in residence” at the Indian Valley Arts Foundation. 

Paul Siegell, 2021 Montgomery County Poet Laureate

Poet Laureate 2021

Paul Siegell

Paul Siegell is the author of Take Out Delivery (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018), wild life rifle fire (Otoliths, 2010), jambandbootleg (A-Head, 2009), and Poemergency Room (Otoliths, 2008). He is an award-winning creative director at The Philadelphia Inquirer and was a senior editor at Painted Bride Quarterly from 2007-2019. In 2015, Paul’s work was selected for the Pennsylvania’s Center for the Book’s Public Poetry Project. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has contributed to American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Rattle, and many other fine journals. Since 2020, Paul has lived in Willow Grove with his wife, daughter, and dog, and the coolest neighbors a family could hope for.

ON THE PRECIPICE OF THE BLISS ABYSS
05.05.07 – CHICKIE WAH WAH, NOLA
ADMIT ONE (OR, THE TROMBONE POEM)

I found these poems the most engaging and memorable of the four (finalists). They are composed in an astonishingly nimble style, using a ludic method, in which the speaker confronts troubling matters with a disarming sense of humor and even an affinity for play, a style that communicates subtly and gratifyingly with the reader, who is moved in ways that are at first impossible to pin down. These poems enjoy a rare sense of personality, effortlessly embodying a genuinely contemporary sensibility, alive to artistic possibilities amid otherwise overwhelming waves of stimuli, ultimately able to overcome dejection and frustration with grace, compassion, and wit.

Ernest Hilbert

2021 Celebrity Judge

Past Poets Laureate

MCPL 2017 Glenn McLaughlin

MCPL 2012 Liz Chang

MCPL 2011 Amy Small-McKinney

MCPL 2010 Grant Clauser

MCPL 2009 Doris Ferleger

MCPL 2008 Elizabeth Rivers

MCPL 2007 David Simpson

MCPL 2006 Deborah Fries

MCPL 2005 Sean Webb

MCPL 2004 Theresa Mendez-Quigley

MCPL 2003 Nicole Greaves

MCPL 2002 Jon Volkmer

MCPL 2000 Margaret Almon

MCPL 1999 Yolanda Wisher