City of Alexandria Searches For Poet Laureate

The City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts is in search of a Poet Laureate to promote an appreciation of poetry as an art form, encourage the creative writing and reading of literature, and promote literacy through poetry. The individual will serve as Poet Laureate for three years and receive a modest honorarium.

All nominations must be submitted to the Office of the Arts, 1605 Cameron St., Alexandria, VA 22314 by 5 pm on Monday, November 26, 2012. The new Poet Laureate will be named in March of 2013.

Individuals can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else. Nominees must be distinguished in the field of poetry through a body of work, published or unpublished. Nominees are limited to individuals who live, work or study in the City of Alexandria. Individual must live, work or study in the City of Alexandria for a minimum of 1 year prior to applying and through the 3-year term of service. If selected, individuals must be able to fulfill Poet Laureate ceremonial role, including presentations of work appropriate for all audiences and should be a minimum of 18 years of age. Members of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts and City of Alexandria staff are ineligible for nomination.

Amy Young, the City’s current Poet Laureate, is a resident of Alexandria and has read, studied and written poetry since she was a child growing up in Washington, DC. For the last 11 years, she has led the Writer’s Lab for 11 and 12 year olds with learning disabilities at the Lab School of Washington. She has also taught writing workshops at night for learning disabled adults. Amy has studied poetry in George Mason University’s Master of Fine Arts program and has been trained to lead intensive writing workshops for people from all walks of life.

Ms. Young was appointed to a three year term in April 2010 by the Poet Laureate Selection Panel. Since that time, she has initiated several new programs including the Arlandria Young Poets Club, “Dog Days of August” and Map Alexandria through Poetry and Photography.

Prior Ms. Young’s appointment, Mary McElveen was appointed to a three year term in April, 2007. Ms. McElveen was very active in the community, visiting schools, teaching poetry classes, creating and reading poems for City events, and bringing her love of poetry to many other places and events. Her appointment inspired interest in Poet Laureate programs in several other communities, including Fairfax County, VA and Santa Clara County, CA, which just appointed a Poet Laureate. Mary also worked with Office of the Arts to involve businesses, civic associations, libraries, schools, and recreation centers in National Poetry Month and Put a Poem in Your Pocket Day activities.

The City of Alexandria’s first and only Poet Laureate of record was Jean Elliott, a 78-year-old Alexandria resident. The Alexandria City Council voted Elliot as Poet in Residence and honored her by placing a plaque on her S. Fairfax St. home in 1979. She passed away in 1999.

The Commission and the Office of the Arts, a division of the Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities, work together to promote and cultivate the arts in the City of Alexandria. For more information, visit or call 703.746.5588.

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