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
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 “
This fall it was a delight to spend time with Chad Frame, MCPL’s 2017 poet laureate, on a ride to Northern Virginia Community College to share poetry with poet laureates from other counties and states at a biennial program In the Company of Laureates. Chad gave an impressive reading and served on a panel about the impact of poetry on social issues. Meeting this community two years ago connected Chad with Grace Cavalieri, Maryland’s poet laureate, who interviewed him for her series, The Poet and the Poem for the Library of Congress (link below).
Chad was instrumental in creating MCPL’s annual Caesura Poetry Festival, in keeping with his goal of building “literary citizenship”. He spoke of not having a literary community when young, which changed in college and graduate school (Chad received a MFA from Arcadia University). He believes that there is no need to live in a large city to be surrounded by literary culture. “It’s down to us at the local level to build community. Don’t relocate, renovate,” he advises.
To this end, Chad is quite active in writing, editing and connecting. He is Poetry Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing, a member of No River Twice, a performing improv collective and on MCPL’s advisory board. His poetry has been published in journals such as decomP, Barrelhouse, Rust+Moth, Menacing Hedge, Calamus Journal, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change and Rag Queen Periodical.
Chad likes to write with structure and mentioned his fascination with 10 syllable lines. He presented an excellent workshop on Cento at this year’s Caesura festival. With a strong Latin background, classical poets such as Ovid, Virgil and Catullus have been influences. He also named Mark Doty as a contemporary favorite. Chad has moved from intellectual explorations in his early poems to the personal and vulnerable. He’s currently working on two manuscripts, the first is Little Black Book, poems that are part memoir, part confessional. He’s also at work on a sonnets based on gay handkerchief culture of the 1970s, which addresses complexities of gay people in society.
Empty Parking Lot with You and Me and Ingmar Bergman
hot on your tongue, as if perfectly normal
to follow a first date’s subpar bistro fare
and Woody Allen’s latest with more
cinematic babble—it’s all been done before,
you say, every screenplay a réchauffé
stewed in its own juices, adrift in orange-green
static of peas, carrots, cliché. Long after
I forget your name, the feel of your clammy hand
in mine, and the dark façade of the closed Whole Foods
we pass, where you walk slightly ahead
to dodge a puddle and I’m not checking out
organic produce in the window, I’ll recall
Through a Glass Darkly, the way the August night’s
silence says everything I want to hear.
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