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April 12, 2023


Nicholas A. Brown

(301) 699-3500 x6241

Library Celebrates National Poetry Month
with Tribute to J. Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford

Largo, Maryland – Spring is a time for renewal and reflection, and the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System believes that poetry is a valuable medium of expression that all community members can access, create, and enjoy. The Library commemorates National Poetry Month this April with the fourth annual PGCMLS Poetry Contest, a series of poetry workshops and discussion programs for youth and adults, and a special event on April 24 at 6:30 pm (Hyattsville Branch Library) to celebrate the work of Inaugural Prince George’s County Poet Laureate J. Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford.

The Academy of American Poets established National Poetry Month in April 1996 as “...a special occasion that celebrates poets’ integral role in our culture and that poetry matters.” Since inaugurating the role of Prince George’s County Poet Laureate in 2018, Sistah Joy has galvanized the community of established and emerging poets of all ages in Prince George’s County, through the Office of the Poet Laureate, a program of Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council.

2023 Annual PGCMLS Poetry Contest

PGCMLS is currently accepting submissions for the 2023 “Joy to the Word” PGCMLS Poetry Contest. This year’s theme is heroism. Prince George’s County residents of all ages are invited to submit their poetry through April 30, 2023. Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of distinguished local poets, including Ladi Di, Sainey Ceesay, and Diane Wilbon-Parks. The submission form and guidelines are available at Contact with any questions. Made possible in part by the Friends of the Upper Marlboro Library.

    A Celebration of Poetry in Prince George’s County

    The community is invited to celebrate poetry during a special event at the Hyattsville Branch Library on April 24 at 6:30 pm. The event will commemorate the conclusion of Sistah Joy’s tenure as the Inaugural Prince George’s County Poet Laureate and launch the tenure of the new Prince George’s County Poet Laureate, who will be selected in the coming days. The event will feature readings and performances by:  Precious Foreman, 2023 Prince George’s County Youth Poet Laureate; Sistah Joy, 2018-2023 Inaugural Prince George’s County Poet Laureate; Hiram Larew, PhD, Poet; and Doc Powell, Djembe. A light reception will follow the program. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the program begins at 7 pm. Free, registration required (adults/teens). ASL interpretation provided.

    Poetry as Liberation – Presented by the Hurston/Wright Foundation 

    The Hurston/Wright Foundation and PGCMLS host a panel and performance on “Poetry as Liberation” at the Bowie Branch Library on Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30 pm. Moderated by Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, Ed.D., the panel features local writers (C. Alexandria-Bernard Thoams and KaNikki Jakarta) with compelling stories on how they have used their poetry to build awareness on important social issues, form community, impact change, and engage audiences. Free, registration recommended (adults).

    Featured Poetry Events

    The Library’s National Poetry Month series continues with workshops and an open mic event. 

    PGCMLS programs are free and open to the public. Registration is recommended or required for select events. Visit for more information.

    Graphics Package

    About the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System

    The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) helps customers discover and define opportunities that shape their lives. The Library serves the 967,000+ residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland through 19 branch libraries, a 24/7 online library, and pop-up services throughout the community. PGCMLS is a responsive and trusted community-driven organization. Programs, services, and outreach activities serve book lovers, immigrants and refugees, job seekers, children, young professionals, seniors, and families alike. PGCMLS is the recipient of the 2021 Urban Libraries Council Top Innovator Award for Workforce and Economic Development. Learn more at