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 an Award Ceremony and Reading, open to the public and attended by the celebrity judge and previous poets laureate to read with and welcome the newest member of their esteemed ranks.

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, and the annual Caesura Poetry Festival. They may also hold the office of “writer-in residence” at the Indian Valley Arts Foundation. 

Breaking News | MCYPL is an Urban Word Affiliate

Becoming an Urban Word Affiliate has been a long-term goal for the MCYPL Program. As a humanities program established in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the resources and support from a national organization such as Urban Word, which runs the National Youth Poet Laureate Program, are undeniably helpful and appreciated. Through our partnership, the MCYPL Program has strengthened its identity as the official Youth Poet Laureate Program of Montgomery County and has subsequently been able to collaborate with Youth Poet Laureate programs from New York City to Seattle. With this encouragement and newfound community, MCYPL will continue to foster art in the American suburbs while providing local platforms for youths to access national opportunities. 

Some of these opportunities include the ability to compete in the Regional Youth Poet Laureate Competition, where one Northeastern Youth Poet Laureate will become a National Youth Poet Laureate Finalist; monthly workshops and craft sessions with esteemed poets such as Ada Limón and Mahogany L. Browne; various performance opportunities that will take our young writers all across the country; and more. MCYPL is honored to offer these opportunities to the youth in our poetry community. As the Youth Poet Laureate enacts change and inspires art through their service project in our local community, we hope they will continue to build their repertoire and carry on the spirit of the Youth Poet Laureate through these various initiatives even after their tenure has ended.

It is a great honor and milestone for the MCYPL Program to collaborate with Urban Word, which selected Amanda Gorman as the National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017. This partnership will continue our mission to create a facilitative literary hub in the suburbs and offer generous support for future Youth Poets Laureate who walk through our doors. We are incredibly excited and hopeful for the next few years, and we cannot wait to see the rooms we enter and the stages we take. 

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