Alexandria, Virginia Gets a New Poet Laureate


Alexandria Commission for the Arts Appoints Wendi R. Kaplan as New Poet Laureate

In May, recently appointed Poet Laureate Captain Ryan Wojantowski passed away leaving a vacancy for someone to complete the three-year term as Poet Laureate. The Alexandria Commission for the Arts announced at their June 21 meeting, the appointment of alternate Poet Laureate Wendi R. Kaplan to fulfill the role as Poet Laureate for the City of Alexandria.

Ms. Kaplan has been an Alexandria resident and community activist since 1982. She has been writing and reading poetry as long as she can remember. Ms. Kaplan’s poetry reflects her observations of the world, of nature, of people and of the exquisite awareness of the extraordinary in the present moment.  

Ms. Kaplan is also a clinical social worker and certified poetry therapist who has worked in community services and has her own psychotherapy practice. She has taught at The American University and at The George Washington University School of Medicine. She weaves poetry through all of her work, from teaching and facilitating groups to her community activism. Ms. Kaplan writes “Poetry Musings,” a quarterly column for the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work newsletter.

Ms. Kaplan brings a deep and abiding love of poetry to her position as Poet Laureate. She enthusiastically shares poetry with family, friends, colleagues and community. She understands that in good times and hard times poetry brings joy, support, connection, and awareness. Ms. Kaplan brings poetry to people of all ages and teaches them to express themselves in writing, knowing that poetry gives people a voice, even when they feel they have none.

Ms. Kaplan believes that poetry illuminates life and that we are all poets. She looks forward to serving Alexandria by creating poetic conversations and events for people to find and share their poetic voices.

The role of the City’s Poet Laureate is to promote appreciation of poetry as an art form; to encourage creative writing and reading of all forms of literature; and to promote literacy through poetry. The Poet Laureate serves a three-year term.

City Council re-established the Poet Laureate program in 2006 and selected Mary McElveen to fill the post. Ms. McElveen served as Poet Laureate from 2007-2010. Ms. Young served as Poet Laureate from 2010 -2013; Tori Lane Kovarik served from 2013-2016; and Ryan Wojtanowski served from March 2016 – May 2016. Prior to McElveen’s appointment, Jean Elliott, an Alexandria resident, served as the City’s “Poet in Residence” from 1979 until her death in 1999.

For more information, contact Cheryl Anne Colton, Regional Program Director, with the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, at 703.746.5588.

(Flickr Pool photo via Matthew Dailey, on Flickr)

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