40th Annual Parkmont Poetry Festival: Saturday, April 30, 2022.

Parkmont Poetry Festival Turns 35

The eloquence of young poets from middle and high schools across Washington, D.C., chimed in spring as the Parkmont Poetry Festival marked its 35th year. A large audience of students, family members and supporters turned out in April for the Festival Reading, held at Zion Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, located on Blagden Avenue within sight of Parkmont School.

A distinguished panel of judges — published poets Susan Scheid, Ailish Hopper, Hiram Larew and Sarah Browning — reviewed 523 poems from private, public and public charter school students, and selected 40 winners. Among them were poems from five Parkmont School students: “Smile” by Jeff Djoyoadhiningrat; “November” by Christopher Campbell; “Dear Mr. White Man” by Jason Leiva Martinez; “She is only a mirror” by Emma Schenbaum; and “Words” by Antonio Smith-Pinelo. The winning poets each received a $40 gift certificate, a Festival T-shirt, and their work was collected in the annual Festival publication, which gave special thanks to Judy Lentz, who turned an idea to encourage youth creativity into an enduring celebration. Judy coordinated the event for 25 years and remains a committed contributor and member of the Poetry Advisory Committee.

In its fourth decade, the Festival shows the staying power of the theory behind it. “A major challenge of living, in some ways, is living with your own internal conversation,” says Festival Co-Founder and Parkmont Head of School Ron McClain. “Poetry becomes this invitation to look at that conversation and mine it for a remarkable set of treasures. Being able to use that as a platform to bring people into community with each other seemed like an incredibly great endeavor.”

The Festival, coordinated since 2008 by Parkmont English teacher Kim Schraf, has received support from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Parkmont remains grateful to the continuing and new supporters whose aid in-kind and in currency over the years make this special event possible.

Our 39th annual festival was held on Saturday, May 1 as a Zoom webinar. Please enjoy this recording of the event. These wonderful young poets make the screen feel as intimate as the live room, and their poetry is vibrant and thrilling!
In our 38-year history, 2020 marked the first year that we did not assemble in fellowship and solidarity to support our winning poets as they shared their verse at the podium. In lieu of our in-person Festival and Reading, originally scheduled for Saturday, May 2, the 38th annual Parkmont Poetry Festival celebrated our 40 winners by compiling videos of each poet reading their winning verse.
2018 Finalist Judge Anne Woodworth was unable to attend the Festival, but sent along her gift to the 40 winning poets: a new composite poem created out of excerpts from all of the winning poems; she called it a “convolute.”
Videographer Elizabeth Dausch created a documentary that serves as an introduction to the Parkmont Poetry Festival. View it to learn the origins of our Festival.