Deliberating Poet Laureate panel members, from left, included Alice Mergler, Parkside Middle School teacher; Mark Shaaber, CEO, SCS Integrated Support Solutions and Prince William Veterans Council Chairman; Cathy Hailey, Creative Writing teacher, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Sr. High School and  Dr. Eric Pankey, Professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing, George Mason University. The 11-member panel reviewed nominees’ poetry samples and proposed community projects before selecting Prince William’s first Poet Laureate. Photo by Northern Virginia Community College.
On Saturday, 14 local poets will go about their usual morning routine – reading the paper, drinking coffee, walking the dog. By 6:00 PM, one of them will be named the first Prince William Poet Laureate.
Guy Lambert of WPGC 95.5 is expected to make the announcement broadcasting live on Saturday, June 14 at the culmination of the “Poetry & Jazz on the Lake” event, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Tackett’s Mill Lakeside, 2228 Tackett’s Mill Drive, Lake Ridge, Virginia.
Emcee Lambert plans to introduce each nominee to the public and invite them to read their poetry live on the air, with jazz accompaniment by Common Ground. In the second hour, the first Prince William Poet Laureate will be announced. All 14 nominees will be honored as a newly-formed Prince William Poet Laureate Circle. DJ Double L is also providing music. Food and wine will be available for purchase. Admission is free to the public.
The Selection Panel
A panel of 11 prominent Prince William poets, scholars and business leaders met May 30 at Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge campus, at the invitation of Provost Dr. Sam Hill, to make their selection after an individual review of 14 competitive nomination packets (poetry samples and proposed community projects with names removed).
Panel members included: Alirio Aleman, poet, novelist and Spanish-language journalist;  Lindsey Barszcy, student, and Cathy Hailey, creative writing teacher (Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School); Carlos Castro, entrepreneur and founder of Todos Supermarkets; Dr. Constance Gilman, Director, Prince William Public Library System;  Marie Khalili Nasiri, author and business owner (State Farm Insurance, Manassas), daughter of Khalilullah Khalili (historian, poet, philosopher and statesman of Afghanistan);  Sergeant Major Michael Mack, Wounded Warrior Regiment, Marine Corps Base Quantico; Alice Mergler, English and drama teacher, Parkside Middle School;  Eric Pankey, poet, professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing, George Mason University; Mark Shaaber, Chief Executive Officer, SCS Integrated Support Solutions, Manassas, and Founder and Chairman, Prince William Veterans Council; and LeeAnn Thomas, poet, Assistant Professor of English, Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge Campus and board member of the Northern Virginia Review.
About the Laureate Position
The Prince William Poet Laureate is expected to promote local residents’ awareness of poetry and heighten appreciation of the art form, forge a meaningful connection between poetry and the community and undertake a project or series of projects that make poetry more available and accessible to people in their everyday lives. The Laureate will serve a two-year term and receive an annual honorarium of $500 from The Clearbrook Foundation, a non-profit soon to be taking space at the Tackett’s Mill Center. The Laureate is expected to participate in selected public gatherings in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Plans will be made to engage new members of the Prince William Poet Laureate Circle, as well.
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