Calling all poets! The search is on for the 43rd annual Bucks County Poet Laureate, the longest-running poet laureate program in Pennsylvania. Bucks County Community College administers the program with Professor Ethel Rackin, a professor of language and literature, as the director.

The Entry Process

To enter, you must be a Bucks County resident over age 18 who has never previously served as poet laureate. Submit 10 original poems, along with an entry form, to the college’s Language and Literature Department. The poems can be any style or length and must be typewritten or word-processed on one side in black ink. Obtain an entry form at this link, at libraries and bookstores throughout the county, or by contacting the college’s Language and Literature Department at 215-968-8150. Entries must be postmarked by Wednesday, September 4 or hand-delivered to the office by Friday, September 6 at 4 p.m.

There is no charge for entry.

The Judging

Two judges will blindly select the winner. The preliminary judge will narrow the entries down to a few dozen for the final judge, who will choose the winner and three runners-up from the pool of finalists.

The 2019 final judge will be Melissa Stein, author of the poetry collections Terrible Blooms (Copper Canyon Press, 2018) and Rough Honey, winner of the 2010 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, selected by Mark Doty. Chad Frame, a former Montgomery County Poet Laureate will be the preliminary judge. Frame has had his work featured in The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress Series and in journals such as decomP, Barrelhouse, Rust+Moth, Menacing Hedge, Calamus Journal, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change.

What’s more, Stein will come to Newtown to launch the 2019-20 Wordsmiths Reading Series. Stein will read from her works at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 20, in Tyler Hall at Bucks County Community College, joined by 1991 Bucks County Poet Laureate Hayden SaunierThe event is free and open to the public.

Pictured at last fall’s reception to honor the 2018 laureate are (left-right) Professor and 1978 laureate Chris Bursk, 2009 laureate Bernadette McBride, Professor and program director Ethel Rackin, 2017 laureate Katherine Hahn Falk, and 2018 laureate Carly Volpe.

The Winner

The winner will receive a $500 honorarium and a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners. There will also be a reading and reception at Bucks County Community College with 2018 Poet Laureate Carly Volpe and contest runners-up.

Send entries to Poet Laureate Contest, Language and Literature Dept., Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Rd., Newtown, Pa., 18940.  For more information, contact Dr. Ethel Rackin at [email protected] or call 215-968-8150.

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