History of the Festival

The Parkmont Poetry Festival encourages and celebrates the voices and verse of student poets from public, private, and charter schools from all eight wards of the District of Columbia. We honor the promise of diverse young writers, the importance of reflection, the value of community, and the beauty of language.

Founded in 1982 by Ron McClain and Judy Lentz of Parkmont School in Washington, D.C., the Parkmont Poetry Festival grew out of a vision of encouraging Washington youth to write and showcase their often-submerged talents in poetry. Each year, students in grades 6-12 from public, private, and charter schools in the District of Columbia are invited to submit up to two original poems to the Festival. Three judges (who are locally and nationally respected poets) select semi-finalists, and then the winners: 20 middle school poets and 20 high school poets.

The winning poems are published annually in a booklet, and the winning poets come together on a Saturday in April to read their poems aloud at the Festival Reading, which will be held at a location in Northwest Washington, DC.

The Parkmont Poetry Festival has hosted over 1,200 winners, and has encouraged over 16,000 students across Washington to submit poems. Each year, we have more schools involved and the enthusiasm over the Festival builds.

Judges for the Parkmont Poetry Festival have included such national notables as Lucille Clifton, Carolyn Forche and Nikki Giovanni. Local luminaries including E. Ethelbert Miller, Reuben Jackson, and Naomi Ayala have also been judges for the Festival.

Festival Coordinator and English Teacher, Kim Schraf, says of the festival, “In a world of texting and tweeting, we at Parkmont welcome the opportunity to honor the importance of reflection and the beauty of words.”

The Festival has been an important model of collaboration between public, private and public charter schools because it promotes respect between people of different communities. The Festival inspires participants and fosters self-expression and self-esteem by recognizing and celebrating the finalists and by publishing their work.

Judges

2020

Final Judge

TBD

Preliminary Judge(s)

TBD

2019

Final Judge

Reuben Jackson

Preliminary Judge(s)

Greg McBride

Louisa Newlin

Martha Young

2018

Final Judge

Anne Harding Woodworth

Preliminary Judge(s)

Elizabeth Acevedo

Michael Gushue

Patrick Washington

2017

Final Judge

Sarah Browning

Preliminary Judge(s)

Hiram Larew

Ailish Hopper

Susan Kay Scheid

2016

Final Judge

Teri Cross Davis

Preliminary Judge(s)

Quique Aviles

Hiram Larew

Marianne Ross

2015

Final Judge

Kwame Alexander

Preliminary Judge(s)

Mary Ann Larkin

Patric Pepper

2014

Final Judge

Ruth Forman

Preliminary Judge(s)

Regie Cabico

Faye Moskowitz

2013

Final Judge

Anne Harding Woodworth

Preliminary Judge(s)

Carlos Parada Ayala

Jean Nordhaus

2012

Final Judge

Thomas Sayers Ellis

Preliminary Judge(s)

Holly Bass

Ailish Hopper

2011

Final Judge

E. Ethelbert Miller

Preliminary Judge(s)

Naomi Ayala

Nancy Arbuthnot

2010

Final Judge

Ed Skoog

Preliminary Judge(s)

Regie Cabico

Elizabeth Rees

2009

Final Judge

Jennifer Pierson

Preliminary Judge(s)

Laurie Stroblas

Reuben Jackson

2008

Final Judge

Reuben Jackson

Preliminary Judge(s)

Michael Gushue

Ailish Hopper

2007

Final Judge

E. Ethelbert Miller

Preliminary Judge(s)

Naomi Ayala

Luther Jett

2006

Final Judge

Reuben Jackson

Preliminary Judge(s)

Nancy Arbuthnot

Nan Fry

2005

Final Judge

Faye Moskowitz

Preliminary Judge(s)

Kwame Alexander

Gigi Bradford

2004

Final Judge

Cornelius Eady

Preliminary Judge(s)

Kwame Alexander

Kim Roberts

2003

Final Judge

Reuben Jackson

Preliminary Judge(s)

Naomi Ayala

Sydney March

2002

Final Judge

E. Ethelbert Miller

Preliminary Judge(s)

Nancy Arbuthnot

Brandon Johnson

2001

Final Judge

Nikki Giovanni

Preliminary Judge(s)

Jane Alberdeston Coralin

Sydney March

2000

Final Judge

E. Ethelbert Miller

Preliminary Judge(s)

Joel Dias-Porter

Holly Bass

1999

Final Judge

Ann Caston

Preliminary Judge(s)

Hayes Davis

Margaret Doyle

1998

Final Judge

Faye Moskowitz

Preliminary Judge(s)

Brian Gilmore

Lori Tsang

1997

Final Judge

Cornelius Eady

Preliminary Judge(s)

Nancy Arbuthnot

Joel Dias Porter (DJ Renegade)

1996

Final Judge

Jonetta Rose Barras

Preliminary Judge(s)

Jeffrey McDaniel

Elaine Magarrell

1995

Final Judge

Carolyn Forché

Preliminary Judge(s)

Nancy Arbuthnot

Jacklyn Potter

1994

Final Judge

Linda McCarriston

Preliminary Judge(s)

Donna Denizé

Chris Llewelyn

1993

Final Judge

Reuben Jackson

Preliminary Judge(s)

Nancy Arbuthnot

Laurie Stroblas

1992

Final Judge

Maxine Clair

Preliminary Judge(s)

Nancy Arbuthnot

Jean Johnson

1991

Final Judge

Sam Hamod

Preliminary Judge(s)

Gigi Bradford

Laurie Stroblas

1990

Final Judge

Faye Moskowitz

Preliminary Judge(s)

Gigi Bradford

Laurie Stroblas

1989

Final Judge

Beth Baruch Joselow

Preliminary Judge(s)

Gigi Bradford

Laurie Stroblas

1988

Final Judge

E. Ethelbert Miller

Preliminary Judge(s)

Gigi Bradford

Laurie Stroblas

1987

Final Judge

Eloise Greenfield

Preliminary Judge(s)

Jonetta Rose Barras

Laurie Stroblas

A.L. Nielsen

1986

Final Judge

Sharon Bell Mathis

Preliminary Judge(s)

Jonetta Rose Barras

A.L. Nielsen

Laurie Stroblas

1985

Final Judge

Jonetta Rose Barras

Preliminary Judge(s)

A.L. Nielsen

Laurie Stroblas

1984

Final Judge

Nan Fry

1983

Final Judge

Lucille Clifton

Preliminary Judge(s)

Nan Fry