The Humanities encompass oral history, spoken word, and literature which are the cornerstones of all societies and something we seek to celebrate and elevate in Arlington. Through our series of unique programs including the Moving Words competition and Arlington County’s Poet Laureate position, we provide the tools to support artists working in the Humanities while inspiring a generation of new ones.
The Nation’s 23rd Poet Laureate Joy Harjo joins Arlington Poet Laureate Holly Karapetkova and two other regional poets laureate whose poems will be projected onto large, highly-visible edifices as part of Visual Verse. Their work will be brought to life by noted artist Robin Bell.
Using the latest projection technology, Visual Verse brings a diverse array of poets literally into the public square. Poetry is an art form found in all cultures, languages and countries. As part of our ongoing response to COVID-19, Arlington Arts strives to foster community connection to arts and culture using delivery models that are safe in a time when traditional gatherings are not possible.
“We are excited to bring poetry directly to the Arlington community during this unprecedented time,” notes Arlington Poet Laureate Holly Karapetkova. “2020 has been a challenging year in so many ways, and we hope that Visual Verse can provide words of beauty, hope and solace for the people in our community and beyond.”
Drivers and pedestrians will be inspired by the towering words of four poets: United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo; Virginia’s Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria; 2020 DC Youth Poet Laureate, Marjan Naderi; and Arlington County’s Poet Laureate Holly Karapetkova. Allowing the public to partake of a shared literary experience in a safe, socially distanced manner, each Wednesday evening in December (6-9pm), the projections will occur at four different outdoor locations in Arlington:
December 2: Crystal City – 2011 Crystal Drive
December 9: Penrose Square – 2597 Columbia Pike
December 16: Lyon Village Shopping Center – 3133 Lee Highway
December 23: Shirlington Library – 4200 Campbell Avenue
Moving Words is a program that makes poetry a part of daily life for commuters riding Arlington Transit (ART) by replacing advertising placards inside public buses with poems by local poets and Arlington Public School students. This year-round, two-part program includes an adult and student competition. Moving Words was launched in 1999 during National Poetry Month and is sponsored by Arlington Transit, the Arlington Cultural Affairs Division of Arlington Economic Development, and the Arlington Public Schools Humanities Project.
Moving Words Adult
Moving Words makes poetry a part of daily life for commuters riding Arlington Transit (ART) by replacing advertising placards inside public buses with poems by local poets. Moving Words was launched in 1999 during National Poetry Month and is sponsored by Arlington Transit and the Arlington Cultural Affairs Division of Arlington Economic Development.
Call for Poems
Juried by Holly Karapetkova
Arlington County Poet Laureate and author of Towline (Cloudbank Books, 2016), winner of the Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize, and Words We Might One Day Say (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 2010)
Prizes: Six winning poets will have their poems displayed inside Arlington ART Buses for three months between January and June 2021, will receive $250 honorarium, and will be invited to give a public reading of their work.
Who: Poets who live in Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties and Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church cities of Virginia; the District of Columbia; and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland are invited to submit up to three poems of 10 lines or fewer for the Moving Words Poetry Competition. Poets must be 18 years or older. There is no fee to enter.
Deadline: November 15, 2020
For more information, please contact Dan Brady, Literary Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply, please complete the form here.
Moving Words Student
The Moving Words Student Poetry Competition features poems by ten Arlington Public School students inside the buses from October through March. The student competition is the culmination of the Pick a Poet project, a partnership between Arlington Cultural Affairs and the Arlington Public Schools Humanities Project, which places professional poets in APS classrooms.
Winning Poem Archives
Poems from the current competition can be found on ART buses traveling in Arlington County and using the links below. All poems from the previous ten years are archived on the Arlington County Commuter Services’ website.
Nauck Community Heritage Project
The Nauck Community Heritage Project completed in 2008 in partnership with the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development, asked historian Harold Anderson to document the oral histories of residents in the south Arlington Nauck community, also known locally as Green Valley. Nauck is a historically African-American community established over 150 years ago by freed slaves and is currently struggling to retain its traditional identity as it comes to grips with changes brought by gentrification and immigration.
In 2013, Arlington Public Art was one of 59 grantees selected by the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) Our Town program to develop a public art project in the planned Nauck Town Square. Oakland, CA-based landscape architect and artist Walter Hood will shape the final design of the plaza and will reflect the stories captured during the Nauck Community Heritage Project by in Nauck’s new town square expected to be completed in 2020.
Arlington County’s Poet Laureate serves as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts and works to advance Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms. The Poet Laureate represents Arlington’s commitment to fostering a creative environment that encourages collaboration, innovation, and community participation.
Award-winning poet and Marymount University professor Holly Karapetkova has been selected as the second Poet Laureate of Arlington County. During her two-year appointment, which began July 1, 2020, she will serve as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts, working to raise Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms.
Holly Karapetkova is the author of two award-winning books of poetry, Towline, winner of the Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize from Cloudbank Books, and Words We Might One Day Say, winner of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Prize for Poetry. Her poetry, prose, and translations have appeared recently in The Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Blackbird, Poetry Northwest, and many other places. She is a professor in the Department of Literature and Languages at Marymount University in Arlington where she lives with her husband and two children. Karapetkova’s appointment follows that of Arlington’s inaugural poet laureate, Katherine E. Young, appointed in 2016.
“Poetry is a dynamic form, taking the language of its time and pushing its expressive limits. With social media changing the way we use language,” Cultural Affairs Director Michelle Isabelle-Stark said, “it’s now easier than ever to write and share poems. Our new Poet Laureate will work with our community to awaken the poet in all of us.”
Read more about the Poet Laureate position here.
Download Echoes of Little Saigon a booklet by Kim A. O’Connell documenting the contributions of the Vietnamese immigrants to Arlington. Based in part on oral histories conducted with community members, this full-color booklet was produced by Arlington Cultural Affairs in collaboration with Arlington’s Historic Preservation Program and Arlington Public Library’s Center for Local History, with a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.