Provided by Nancy Kyme
On Oct. 24, 2020, the Prince William Arts Council and the Poet Laureate Circle crowned Kim B. Miller of Dumfries as the Poet Laureate of Prince Prince William County for the 2020-2022 term. The ceremony took place at the Clearbrook Center of the Arts in the Tackett’s Mill Center via live Zoom streaming.
Kim B. Miller is a long time resident of Dumfries and Prince William County; her poetry and influence are known beyond county borders. She has been a substitute teacher for Prince William County since 2017 and taught parenting classes since 2015. Kim has been involved in Poetry Behind Bars for Women Inmates and a Poetry Specialist for ‘DC Scores,” a program for students in elementary, middle and high schools in DC. Her poetry has won numerous awards and her Haiku poems have been published in numerous magazines. She has authored two poetry books, a parenting book, and is the 2018 champion of the poetry slam, “Put your Money Where Your Mouth is.”
Nancy Kyme and Alice Mergler presided over the ceremony and introduced the six nominees: Jesus Torres, Katherine M. Gotthardt, Jo Ann Lord Koff, John L. Dutton, Kim B. Miller, Inger McPhail, and their family members. Through a competitive process, the nominees’ original poetry had been judged by an expert panel for creativity, emotional impact, and literary quality. Their projects were also judged for originality, appeal, and a clear path for implementation.
What is a Poet Laureate?
A Poet Laureate is an Old World tradition from a time when towns and villages celebrated their local poets, authors, and bards. In 2014, Prince William County became the first and only county in Virginia to have a Poet Laureate when the Arts Council crowned Dr. Robert Scott and Alexandra Hailey for a two-year term. Kathy Smaltz carried on as the next Poet Laureate, followed by Natalie Potell.
Natalie Potell’s project reached hundreds of Prince William residents with her daily direct mailings of poems. If you were the recipient of one of her mailings over the past two years, the Poet Laureate Committee chair, Alice Mergler, would like to hear from you at [email protected] Mergler’s intent is “…to help us gather the full impact of her project to inspire and encourage others in an understanding and sharing of poetry.”
Poet Laureate Circle
The Poet Laureate Circle is comprised of outstanding poets and past nominees. They literally surround the Poet Laureate with their untiring efforts to promote poetry through the media and collaboration with the schools, cultural organizations, and community institutions. Our Board of County Supervisors also recognizes the importance of poetry to the language arts. They declared an official Poel Laureate Day every October to recognize poetry as an art form, to embody the heart and soul of our community. The day officially herald Poets Laureate as “chosen and tasked to promote poetry, heighten local appreciation of the art form, and to undertake an individual project designed to make poetry more available and accessible to Prince William County citizens in their everyday lives.”
The past and present nominees’ projects are recognized every two years when an outstanding member of the Poet Laureate Circle is awarded a traveling trophy. John L. Dutton is a Prince William County teacher, host of “Spilled Ink” and past recipient. Dutton awarded the trophy this term to Katherine M. Gotthardt for her work with the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club and their project “Poems Around Town.” This project was conceived by Jan Rayl and encouraged more than 60 businesses to display local writers’ poems within their shops throughout Prince William last fall. Gotthardt says the project was such a success, she envisions gaining the support of even more businesses in the coming year.
A new Poet Laureate is chosen every two years. Nomination forms for the next Poet Laureate will be available on the Prince William County Arts Council website in the winter of 2022. Candidates must be eighteen years of age or older, must have lived in the area for at least two previous years and must maintain residence in the Prince William County area during the full two-year term to receive an honorarium of $500 per year. All nominees are inducted into the Poet Laureate Circle in recognition of their writing talent, community spirit, and personal commitment in promoting awareness and appreciation of poetry.
Kim B. Miller, the new reigning Poet Laureate of Prince William County, can be reached at [email protected] for personal and internet appearances.