Mary Jo LoBello Jerome of New Hope has been named the 2019 Bucks County Poet Laureate, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.

Mary Jo LoBello Jerome of New Hope has been named the 2019 Bucks County Poet Laureate in the 43rd annual contest. She’ll be honored with a reading and reception on Sunday, November 17, at Bucks County Community College in Newtown. She will be joined by runners-up Tricia Crawford Coscia, Lynda Gene Rymond, and Melinda Rizzo, outgoing poet laureate Carly Volpe, and preliminary judge Chad Frame.

About the Winner

Mary Jo LoBello Jerome is a retired educator who began writing poetry as a teenager. She rose to the top of 90 entries in the 43rd annual contest, said Dr. Ethel Rackin, director of the poet laureate program administered by the college. The contest is sponsored by the Bucks County Commissioners.

Jerome said she’s honored and humbled to have won such a prestigious competition. Like many poets, she describes her creative process as one that’s constantly in motion.

“I am constantly writing, making notes and observations, and reading,” she noted. “The power and beauty of words can literarily take my breath away, or as Emily Dickinson described poetry, I can feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off.”

In addition to the poetry reading and reception in her honor, Jerome will also receive a proclamation from the County of Bucks and a $500 honorarium.

Jerome’s poems and stories have been published in The Stillwater Review, River Heron Review, Schuykill Valley Journal, US1 Worksheets, Little Patuxent ReviewShort Story, and Center magazines. The inaugural winner of Doylestown’s Main St. Voices poetry competition in 2015, she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net award. She is currently working on a collection of poems.

She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has written for the New York Times, Scholastic Publications, and numerous other magazines. A former high school English teacher and associate professor of writing at regional colleges, Jerome, along with her husband and two daughters, lived in Rotterdam, Tokyo, and Blairstown, New Jersey, before settling in New Hope nearly a decade ago.

Judging Process

Two judges blindly selected the winner and runners-up. Chad Frame was the preliminary judge who narrowed the entries down to a few dozen for the final judge. Frame is a former Montgomery County Poet Laureate whose work was featured in The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress Series and in many journals. Melissa Stein was the final judge. Stein is the author of the poetry collections Terrible Blooms (Copper Canyon Press, 2018) and Rough Honey, winner of the 2010 APR/Honickman First Book Prize.

Bucks County Poet Laureate Reception

When: Sunday, November 17 at 2 p.m.
Where: Room 142 of Tyler Hall at Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Rd., Newtown, Pa., 18940

Admission and parking are free.

Bucks County Poet Laureate Program

The Bucks County Poet Laureate program is the longest-running such program in Pennsylvania. It is another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. To read more about the entry process, click here. For more information, contact program director Dr. Ethel Rackin at 215-497-8719.


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