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Community College Launches Search For Next Poet Laureate

Provided by Bucks County Community College: 

Bucks County Community College Professors Christopher Bursk (left) and Ethel Rackin (right), directors of the Bucks County Poet Laureate Program, have launched the search for the 2017 bard of the county. The winner will take over from 2016 poet laureate Laren McClung (second from right) of Bensalem, shown with 2015 poet laureate Tyler Kline of Chalfont. Credit: Submitted

The search is on for the 41st annual Bucks County Poet Laureate, according to Bucks County Community College professors Christopher Bursk and Ethel Rackin, directors of the longest-running poet laureate program in Pennsylvania.

Entrants must be a Bucks County resident over age 18 who has never previously served as poet laureate, explained Bursk, the 1978 poet laureate and a longtime professor at Bucks County Community College, which administers the program.

Each entrant must submit 10 original poems along with an entry form to the college’s Language and Literature Department. Entries must be postmarked by Wednesday, September 6 or hand-delivered to the office by Friday, September 8 at 4 p.m.

The winner of the competition will receive a $500 honorarium and a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners. He or she will also be honored with a reading and reception at Bucks County Community College with 2016 Poet Laureate Laren McClung and contest runners-up.

Two judges will blindly select the winner. The preliminary judge will narrow the entries down to a few dozen to be sent to the final judge, who will choose the winner and three runners up from the pool of finalists. The judges for the contest will be Barbara Daniels, preliminary judge, and Margaret Holley, final judge.

Daniels is the author of Quinn and Marie and Rose Fever. Her poetry has appeared in Mid-Atlantic ReviewSolstice and The Literary Review among others. She earned an MFA from Vermont College and received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Holley’s books include Walking Through the HorizonThe Smoke Tree – winner of the Bluestem Award, Morning StarBeyond Me, and Kore in Bloom. She is also the author of The Poetry of Marianne Moore: A Study in Voice and Value. Holley is the former director of the creative writing program at Bryn Mawr College.

There is no charge for entry. Poetry of any style, form, or length is welcome. All work must be original, published or unpublished, typewritten or word-processed on one side in black ink.  All entries must be accompanied by an entry form, which can be obtained at, at libraries and bookstores throughout the county, or by contacting the college’s Language and Literature Department at 215-968-8151.

Entries must be postmarked by September 6 or hand-delivered by September 8 to Poet Laureate Contest, Language and Literature Dept., Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Rd., Newtown, Pa., 18940.  For more information, contact Dr. Christopher Bursk at 215-968-8156.

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