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PGC Poet Laureate

Prince George's County Poet Laureate

Marissa Michel

Marissa Michel

Sistah Joy

Sistah Joy

Poetry Event Videos


The Prince George's County Memorial Library System invites poets and spoken word artists of all ages to participate in a monthly virtual open mic event. Each month is hosted by a special guest poet.

The Jacklyn potter Young Poets Competition

The Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition

The Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition provides an annual opportunity for two high school students to read their original work with an established poet in the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series. Selected by an independent judge, the young poets are then scheduled for a reading with honorarium in the Miller Poetry Series, a summer program occurring in June and July.

Click here to apply.

DEADLINE: Postmarked on or before March 15 of each year.

The contest was open to all ages for Prince George’s County residents. This year’s theme is “Summer/Vacation.” Poetry submissions were evaluated by a panel of PGCMLS staff and local poets in three categories: children, teens, and adults.

Elizabeth Stanley

Elizabeth Stanley, Featured Judge

Elizabeth Stanley has loved poetry since she was six.  She earned her B.A. in English at Gettysburg College, and a Master's degree at Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury, VT.  From 1998 to 2017, she produced and hosted the Bruce Stanley Poetry Series at Reading Area Community College, "Poetry @ 6," featuring local, regional and national poets, sponsored by the Foundation for RACC.  She served as president of Berks Bards, a volunteer poets group that promotes the living art of poetry in Berks County, with monthly readings at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, and hosts the annual Bard Fest in April, established in 1999.  She was a featured reader at the Scranton Arts Center; Lancaster Barnes & Noble; and for a FootHills book release in Corning, NY. Poems were published in Pen Street:City of Poems:2020 Anthology,;Fledgling Rag, Issue 7, Iris G. Press, 2008; and in The Sexuality Poems, FootHills Publishing, 2017.

Summer 2020 Poetry Contest Winners - Adults

“Any Place But Home”

Sam Jackson © 2020

School is out and time to get ready for some good old fun!
As I gear up for my favorite time of the year a lot of great pre-activities put my wheels in motion!
The packing, thinking where we will go, what to wear, how much money will I have to spend and how many wonderful things to see and do!

I am ready to get started and you know I will not sleep well until we are headed to our destination!
How will we get there? Driving of course because it allows us to stop in between to take a picture or two
As for me I will be just like the “Energizer Bunny” going, going until I am done! Then at night I will enjoy the calling of nature, birds singing, wind blowing, the moon smiling, and all the bright stars shining at me!

Rapidly musters the ominous dark
Streaks of blue beginning to spark
Flashes, splashes berating the ground

I need to get my camera, my pen & pad, and my favorite soft drink! All that will afford me to write & capture all the wonderful memories of my favorite summer vacation, “ any place but home”!

Now, am I the luckiest person to have a great family who can share in my favorite time of theyear but “love” makes it all possible! Thank you family for every opportunity to explore new and rewarding places and forever enjoying “any place but home”! Nothing but love and kisses to you all!

Dog Days

Will Staton © 2020

Stiflingly still sits summer air
Sweat like armor coats skin bare
Laziness fills the cloudless sky

In slivers of shade idles life
Heat shimmers as light off a knife
In humid azure not even birds fly

Rapidly musters the ominous dark
Streaks of blue beginning to spark
Flashes, splashes berating the ground

A sudden storm already gone
Remnants glistening on the lawn
Thick air suppressing every sound

Lightly I sip my glass of sweet tea
Settled beneath my favorite tree
From the earth the sun calls a haze

Light breeze tingling upon my lips
Just a waft, no reprieve, a mere blip
So little respite during summer's dog days


Warren Palmer II © 2020

I'm in need of a vacation, if you're reading this please help.
With COVID-19 in effect, I can enjoy where I reside and no place else.
I could really use a change of scene,
Sunny skies, blue water, the tropical type, you know what I mean.
For the last almost two months, I've been in staycation mode,
Enjoying "all you can eat" food and beverages,
not to mention, watching show, after show, after show.
I'm a husband and a father, my family and I make the best of our situation.
However, it seems as though we're running low on ideas to make this the. best.staycation....EVER!
Never did I think this experience would last this long,
Life sort of feels like a replay of your favorite song that has played too long.
Virtual parties are cool, but I do miss being in physical company of other family and friends.
Every now and then, being within reach of others or a hug could do the trick.
But, one thing I've been taught, is to be grateful for what you got and when I take a look around, I see I got a lot.
And if I'm going to be shut in with anybody, then there's nobody I'd rather be with than my wife and kids.
They know how to define the word 'live'.
We're in need of a vacation, if you're reading this please help.
With COVID-19 in effect, we can enjoy where we reside and no place else.
Approach every situation with a positive and adaptive mind, we find a way
So, let's make this the Best.Staycation.Ever, until... we can getaway.

Sandcastles in the Sky

Scott Hommel © 2020

We were supposed to visit Ocean City
in mid-July, as we did each summer.
I can almost smell Fisher’s, and Thrasher’s,
the boardwalk humming, a heart all her own
And “down the inlet” there’s No Vacancy,
but our bayside bungalow is now “home.”

As the waves whisper sultry, salt kisses
we fill our buckets and build battlements.
The golden hills glittering in the sun…
An Atlantic palace fit for royals.
Even in our castle’s wildest fantasy,
she is swept away in a twilight swell.
Still, better a few hours in the sun
before vanishing with the lunar tide
than to never have been built at all.

We were supposed to be in Ocean City,
in mid-July, the dog days of summer,
to raise the ramparts and dig out the moat;
knee-deep in gold and SPF-30.

Summer In MD

by Taylore Willis © 2020

Seeing how the garden grows, full of life it overflows
Under the canopy of lush forest green
My places of joy you are starting to know
Meandering streams lead to places unknown
Relax in a shady spot. Feel the warm evening breeze.

Intense heat and humidity, dissuade you not
New moments becoming memories the summer holds

Migrations of wildlife soon will begin
Despair not, Summer In Maryland will come again

Our Summer Vacation - The Wilds of the Backyard

by Robert Jones © 2020

Today is the day
We are going camping the new way
First we have to pick out the campsite
Everything must be done just right
The site is chosen without doubt
All duties handed out
Mine - vacuum the floor
My sister – get the snacks from the refrig door
My brother – moving furniture out of the way
The Front Room is already for the getaway
The TV turned to the outdoor show
For the sights and sounds of nature, you know
My brother – moving furniture out of the way
S'mores being made, a virtual treasure throve
My brother – moving furniture out of the way
Mommy calming our fears we had
When he flickered the lights
There was not need for the last rituals
Tents made out of bed sheets hang over chairs
Safe now from all the loins, tigers and bears
In the morning out to the jungles we went
(The Backyard)
We swung of the jungle vines til we were spent
(The Swings)
We swam across the great dangerous lake
(The Swimming Pool)
We climbed the mighty mountains
(The Fruit Trees)
We dug for buried treasures
(The Sandbox)
We hunted for our food with great pleasure
(The Freezer)
We cooked it in the pit of fire
(The Microwave)
Clothes so dirty were our camping attire
A wonderful 2 weeks of vacation
In the Wilds of our Backyard location

Summer 2020 Poetry Contest Winners - Teens

Earth's Treasure

by Ramatulai Kanu © 2020

Waves come crashing to grey sullen shores. Powerful and strong, it breathes and roars. Cascading and caressing each grain of sand, A warm embrace between sea and land. High above, a seagull soars high. Wings of purity spread to fly. Battling high against darkened cloud, In a wind that blows fiercely, flying graceful and proud. Beneath, the sand is soft and warm. Sculpted by nature, it's weathered the storm. A passionate battle between calmness and rage, A new chapter beginning; don't turn the last page. I listen again to the whispering waves, Music of nature calming and brave. Its power unknown, its stillness untamed, Mysterious and magical, a treasure earth claims.

"In Mayagüez"

by Marissa Michel © 2020

The men collapse into rusty metal chairs behind the bodega
and play dominoes in stiff, sticky air,

the sky as black as the dirt on sugar cane fields.

The next day the children wear white dresses stained
red with the juice of tart cherries.

Roosters screech in the fresh orange morning
making the same ruckus as us come Friday night.

The birds are black dots on a beach
of brown sand, flitting between shards of green bottles.

Buried in the sand, pages of torn fashion magazines
the Coca-Cola haired women read.

The same women that cut their tongues iwth the kitchen knife
after the onions and before the hot peppers.

The same women that go to the small wooden chapel with freshly ironed dresses and runs in their stockings chanting "el Señor es mi pastor" while a silver cross rises and falls on their chests.

Here even the furniture knows to stay out of the man's way
when he walks into his glass house.

The one at the top of the hill, blanketed by the green of trees and smell of chicken simmering in vegetable oil.

Yesterday a woman burnt her arm when she knocked over the pan
and tried to smoothe her pain the only way she knows how.

She ran the icy bath water until she couldn't feel

The cotton curtains flutter in the evening winds
when he leaves.

This is when we learn taht the best composer is the palm tree,
writing symphonies out of the rustling leaves
that carry the sighs and hums of our mothers.

Our mothers who pass down lessons like cooking recipes and belt lashes
saying the same words a thousand times Niñita, escuchame.
Listen girl, listen.

Dreams do not belong to us. Recuerda. Remember.

Once the grey eyed moon climbs back into the sky
the men can be found drunk in the shadows of our ancestors.

In stiff and sticky air collapsed in rusty metal chairs,
behind the bodega
in Mayagüez

Reminiscent Vision

by Mia Gonzales Jackson © 2020

Simple, sweet, special

No school!
Brief lesson time -
To keep
Young minds bright,
Brain wheels turning.

Excitment is stirring,
Ideas whirring -
Annual opportunities -

Library tips -
To start and sustain
Summer reading;
Race through
Inspiring books -
Sowing and weeding.

Long walks,
Quests to explore,
Feeling the
Gentle, distant breeze.

Admire nature -
Blooming flowers, green trees.
Free to imagine,
Lay in grass
On your back.

Dream of delicacies
That'll please -
Ice cream, or
Homemade snow cones,
Backyard barbecue,
Or even
Varieties of
Gourmet cheese.

With family,
And friends.
Together -
In the midst of celebration:
Rare reunions
To remember.

At home,
Enjoying the
Affluent air conditioning -
Another inspiring,
NPR story narration.

Later -
Readily watching
Lightning thunderstorms,
Or maybe
Digging with
Bright smiles,
Looking for worms.

Restful Nights,
Long days,
Fresh air.
That moments
Could staff still -
Just like that,
Right there.

Is simple,


by Noelle Jackson © 2020

in fear
and isolation

for the best
you know the End
is near

for the future
of the past

the present.
is a nightmare
a dream
to scare

you need it desperately
a vacation
a retreat

alone together
for what feels like
a never-ending cycle
going on


deserve a break
a chance
to wait
press pause
on time
on reality
for me
for you

tend to your
put yourself
for once

your eyes
of a different time
a different outcome
a different place

but don't forget about
right now it's a
imagination is the

it's your chance
an opportunity
to finally
all you need to do is

Summer Too

by Cecilia Fenstermaker © 2020

The sun sets at seven p.m.,
And twilight brings purple hazes
That mix with folding golden roses
Caressing the softness of dark
Blooming from lit streetlights
Perfectly sphered, in their own rooms
Ceaseless, waveless, still,
Not going anywhere. Not reaching for anything
Except down, to pet the ants that walk by
Marching along, going to their nowhere
In line for their nothing, no food to be found,
No spilled ice cream on the street, or
Melted popsicle that rained down.
It's something else raining down
Daily, not the rain, it's now the sweat
It's not the dust and ashed from fireworks
It's the silence, that not even the
Hissing cicadas try to break
Or the accordion frogs interrupt, when
A melody of voices is missing from the track,
Shaking them all, fearing, in silence.
Only the single bluebird may sing,
But it stretches for miles, reaching, straining
And there is not echo that calls back
It goes out and never comes in,
A one-way street down an open field.
So the crickets break in, like some irony
And the foxes cry out, tears streaming
And the river babbles louder, wheezing,
But finally the calendar turning his page
Raises his voice and quiets it all,
Calling for a reply to calm the night,
And he says,
"It's summer,"
But that means nothing
When there's no one.

Summer 2020 Poetry Contest Winners - Children

Inside my Heart

by Bryson Wood © 2020

Inside my heart lives...
One silly sister.
Two awesome parents
Three amazing cousins
Four loving grandparents.
Five thankful blessings.
Six sweet summers.
Seven laughing friends and
Sky full of stars.

Not a Predictable Summer

by Olaoluwa Oni © 2020

Chill, fire up the grill, take a break like the rabbit did in the race but stay focused like the tortise did to stay closes. School's over take a mental break. It's the time to develop and step up. It's Summer time! So find a good way to spend it. When you get back to school and start catching up with people. The frist question you probably get asked is how was your summer, what did you do. Well this summer I did have an interesting summer bu they're waiting for me to go into detail, not just great! Nothing much. You never want to be the one with the boring summer or predictable summer. Some might lie about their summer so the seem cool or someone who had a really bummer summer. Well I never lie about my summer that's why people think I'm so predictable, not this summer! Before I answer I get interrupted and hear, you probably went to your jock camp I interrupt and say "NOPE!" I actually took up a new hobby and joined a poetry camp, also got a job. Call me busy bee Bella if you will. Then I ask the person who interrupts me and she freezes like someone pushed the pause button on her. Then she says the most predictable thing ever. "I went to a dance camp" I shrug and say the same place you've been going for 5 years. Well I guess she's the one perdictable as an everyday schedule. Summers the time you can have a great experience, or explore or learn more. So flourish like a beautiful flower and cherish.

Summer in the Philippines

by Lauren Merillana © 2020

Summer in the Philippine is hot,
and I have my chilling spot.
My grandma's house is the place,
where every person has a space.
Even the chickens, yes yes, yes!
because they are the best.
I am with Ken Ken everyday,
and he lets me have my way.
And when I leave, I am sad,
because in the Philippines, I'm so glad.


by Naomi Wilson © 2020

Summer is the
Scent of freshly mowed grass
Green as a leaf

Summer is the
Taste of cool lemonade
After a hot, hot day

Summer is the
Splash of water
That hits your face
After a first dive

Summer is the
Long wait until dark
"Is it dark yet?" for Fireworks

Summer is the
Last taste of heat
The first taste of crispness
Come again soon

The Beauty of Summer

by Sanai Jackson © 2020

A season to enjoy an rejoice
A time to come together as a family
A time to relax and let your worries wash away like the beach shore

A time of freedom from your stress
Where all the weight of the world is off your back
And when you breath the fresh, you know it will all be okay

The best time to live and tan in the hot sun
When big puffy jackets aren't in style
A flower blossoms from the thick warm grass and a kids time to be a kid is now

Only 3 months before it's over, so don't waste it inside
Have fun and be happy about the time and place you're at that moment

Recommended Poetry for Kids

Recommended Poetry for Teens and Adults