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 new Poet Laureate position, we provide the tools to support artists working in the Humanities while inspiring a generation of new ones.
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
The Adult Moving Words Poetry Competition in open to metro-area poets ages 18 or over, has a January deadline and is juried by a professional poet each year. Six winners have their poems displayed inside ART busses from April through September. The 2018 Competition asked poets to respond to the theme “Ripped from the Headlines” and is currently in the process of being judged by Teri Ellen Cross Davis.
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.
Arlington’s current Poet Laureate is Katherine E. Young, the first individual to serve in this capacity. Young is the author of Day of the Border Guards (University of Arkansas Miller Williams Prize Series, 2014), which was named one of Split This Rock’s “eagerly anticipated” picks for 2014, one of Beltway Poetry’s “Best Books of 2014″ and an Honorable Mention for the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Brockman-Campbell Award. Young’s poems, translations and reviews have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, The Iowa Review, and many other publications. Young is also the translator of Two Poems by Inna Kabysh; her translations of Russian and Russophone authors have won prizes in international competitions and been published widely in the U.S. and abroad; several have been made into short films. Young is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts translation fellow.
Learn more about the position of the Poet Laureate and how to connect with Katherine here.
Echoes of Little Saigon
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.