Katherine Falk of Newtown has been named the 2017 Bucks County Poet Laureate, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.
Falk, who has been writing all her life and discovered poetry while in college, rose to the top of 93 entries in the 41st annual contest, said Dr. Christopher Bursk, co-director of the poet laureate program administered by the college. The contest is sponsored by the Bucks County Commissioners.
“I like to bring poetry to people who ordinarily would not be exposed to it,” said Falk, such as when she worked in the Poets in the Schools program, helping students from Kindergarten through 12th grades discover and write poetry. It was through that work that eventually led her to the poetry community in Bucks County.
“I had worked with a young girl who died, and her father was so moved by her poems that he went back to school, got a masters, and is now teaching poetry at the college level,” recalled Falk. “He put out a book of his poems and his daughters poems. A neighbor of mine had read the book and said, ‘you really should meet Chris Bursk.’”
Falk began joining the workshops facilitated by Bursk in 2007. Before that, she studied poetry at the graduate level with U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and completed other graduate coursework in poetry at The College of New Jersey and Rutgers University.
Falk won the H. MacKnight-Black Poetry and Literature Prize and also won Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve’s first poetry contest. Her haiku was a runner-up out of 40,000 entries for Japan Airlines’ haiku contest. Her poems have been published in Freshet Anthologies, Schuylkill Valley Journal and U.S. 1 Worksheets.
Falk is a philanthropy consultant for nonprofit organizations in this country and abroad. She has been a leader in the Youth in Philanthropy Movement and is actively working for the successful re-entry of formerly incarcerated citizens.
Falk will be honored with a poetry reading and reception at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 12 at Bucks’ Newtown campus, Bursk said.
Two judges blindly selected the winner. The judges were Barbara Daniels, author of Quinn and Marie and Rose Fever, as preliminary judge, and Margaret Holley, whose books include Walking Through the Horizon, The Smoke Tree and Morning Star, as final judge.
The judges also named three runners-up in the contest. They are Jenny Isaacs, Wendy Fulton Steginsky, and Tricia Coscia. They’ve been invited to read at the November 12 reception, along with 2016 Bucks County Poet Laureate Laren McClung of Bensalem.
In addition to the inaugural reading and reception, Falk will be honored with a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners and will receive a $500 honorarium.
The 2017 Bucks County Poet Laureate reading and reception takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 12 in room 142 of Tyler Hall on Bucks County Community College’s campus at 275 Swamp Rd., Newtown, Pa., 18940. Admission and parking are free.
The Bucks County Poet Laureate program – the longest-running such program in Pennsylvania – is another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. For more information, contact program co-directors Dr. Christopher Bursk at 215-968-8156 or Dr. Ethel Rackin at 215-497-8719.
I live in the still life of the table
with its orange jacquard cloth
and blue-jeweled vase of flowers,
my actual home, where I drink water
with my four French friends,
facing the Manet on the wall,
sister zinnias, burgundy Marie-Laure
and pink and white Agnes,
both with their gold zinnia crowns,
Laurine, purple tulip, with black and white
pistils and stamens, alternately arranged
bluish-green leaves that reach to us all,
Marie-Claude, long-stemmed rose,
deep red as thunder, as Bach’s
Piano Concerto in D-Minor,
I, white freesia, that loves
the way we lean to each other
when our stems need cutting,
the way we prop each other up
especially when the air swings cool
and the vibrations around us, hot.