Kim B. Miller of Dumfries has been named the next poet laureate of Prince William County for the 2020-2022 term.
The Prince William Arts Council and the Poet Laureate Circle crowned Miller during a ceremony Oct. 24 at the Clearbrook Center of the Arts in the Tackett's Mill Center, which was also streamed live online.
Miller is a long-time resident of Prince Wiliam, but her poetry and influence are known beyond the county’s borders, the organizations said. She has been a substitute teacher in Prince William schools since 2017 and taught parenting classes for the county since 2015. She also has been involved in Poetry Behind Bars for Women Inmates and as a poetry specialist for “DC Scores,” a program for students in elementary, middle and high schools in Washington.
Her poetry has won numerous awards, and her Haiku poems have been published in numerous magazines. She has authored two poetry books and a parenting book and is the 2018 champion of the poetry slam: “Put your Money Where Your Mouth is.”
The other five nominees were Jesus Torres, Katherine M. Gotthardt, Jo Ann Lord Koff, John L. Dutton and Inger McPhail. The nominees’ original poetry was 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.
Nancy Kyme and Alice Mergler, poet laureate committee chair, presided over the ceremony.
A poet laureate is an old-world tradition heralding to a time when towns and villages celebrated their local poets, authors and bards. In 2014, Prince William became the first 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.
While she was poet laureate, Potell’s project reached hundreds of county residents with her daily direct mailings of poems.
The Poet Laureate Circle is composed of outstanding poets and past nominees who help the poet laureate promote poetry through the media and collaborations with schools, cultural organizations and community institutions. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors also declares an official Poet Laureate Day every October
The past and present nominees’ projects are also recognized every two years when an outstanding member of the Poet Laureate Circle is awarded a traveling trophy.
Dutton, a Prince William teacher, host of “Spilled Ink” and past recipient of the trophy, awarded the trophy this term to Gotthardt for her work with the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club and their project “Poems Around Town,” conceived by Jan Rayl. The project encouraged more than 60 businesses to display local writers’ poems in their shops last fall.
A new Poet Laureate is chosen every two years, and nomination forms for the next cycle will be available on the Prince William County Arts Council website in the winter of 2022. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, must have lived in the area for at least two previous years and must maintain residence in the Prince William 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.