The 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

2022
Final Judge
E. Ethelbert Miller
Preliminary Judge(s)

To be announced

2021
Final Judge
Maritza Rivera
Preliminary Judge(s)

Susan K. Scheid
Chelsea Iorlano

2020
Final Judge
Patricia Gray
Preliminary Judge(s)

Jose Padua
Susan Scheid
Cort Bledsoe

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