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Local bards invited to summon their inner John Keats for county library’s poetry contest

Fairfax County Poet Laureate Danielle Badra’s recent Arab-American Heritage Poetry Reading included a workshop on Ghazal, an Arabic verse form (courtesy ArtsFairfax)

O, muse, send me your cleverest rhymes, your liveliest verses and most starry-eyed odes to nightingales.

So says Fairfax County Public Library, as time ticks down on its second annual poetry contest.

Launched on April 1, in time with the start of National Poetry Month, the Poetic Musings competition invites anyone who lives, works or studies in the county to submit a poem for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card, a certificate and a moment in the limelight.

The contest was first held in 2022 as part of the library system’s year-long celebration of literacy, FCPL Director Jessica Hudson says.

“We were thrilled with the participation last year!” Hudson told FFXnow by email. “FCPL supports literacy in all its forms, including poetry, and plans to continue with some of its Year of Literacy initiatives, including the poetry contest.”

Where last year’s contest focused on the theme of love, the 2023 version is accepting one or two-page poems written in the specific styles of free verse, rhymes or odes. Two teen and adult winners will be chosen from each style by a panel of judges that includes 2022-2024 Fairfax County Poet Laureate Danielle Badra.

Participants must be at least 15 years old and a resident, worker or student in the county. The window for online submissions will close on May 7.

The winners will be announced on June 5 and get a celebration on June 29 at Burke Centre Library (5935 Freds Oak Road), where they’ll read their poems.

In addition to the poetry contest, Fairfax County has been marking National Poetry Month with video readings by professional poets, local elected officials and other community members.

ArtsFairfax also collaborated with the Fairfax County Park Authority to kick off Badra’s “Poetry in the Parks” initiative with an Arab-American Heritage Month poetry reading last Saturday (April 15). The event at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly drew around 50 attendees, including 12-15 people who stayed for a workshop after the readings, the local arts agency says.

Upcoming “Poetry in the Parks” events include a Pride Month poetry reading at Ellanor Lawrence Park on June 24 and a “Poetry Beneath the Stars” event on Aug. 19 at Turner Farm Park in Great Falls.

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