Berks County Poet Laureate
The Berks County Poet Laureate Competition, held every two years, is a Berks County tradition that Reading Area Community College is proud to uphold for more than a decade. The next Berks County Poet Laureates will be announced at the culmination of BardFest, a series of poetry readings held throughout Berks County throughout the month of April in celebration of National Poetry Month.
The Berks County Poet Laureate and Berks County Scholastic Poet Laureate must be Berks County residents. The Berks Scholastic Poet Laureate must be a student attending a Berks County high school. The new poet laureates will read their winning work at the culminating event, the Poet Laureate Celebration, held in April 2021, at in the Miller Center for the Arts.
The Eighth, and current, Poet Laureate is Jayne Relaford Brown. Past Berks County Poet Laureates include Sandra Fees, Nancy Yeager, Maria McDonnell, Craig Czury, and Heather Thomas. The Fourth Scholastic Poet Laureate is Devanshi Patel, with past Scholastic Poet Laureates from Wilson and Governor Mifflin, including Samantha Gurnavage, a graduate of Wilson High School. Alexandra Papoutsis, a graduate of Wilson High School, and Sian Carter, a graduate of Governor Mifflin held the role formerly.
A poet laureate steering committee of community members of poets, readers, and writers will judge the semi-finalists and a poet of national merit will judge the finalists.
Ninth Berks County Poet Laureate Competition is NOW accepting submissions.
A $500.00 honorarium will be awarded to the winner.
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Eighth Berks County Poet Laureate will be announced in April 2021.
Deadline for Electronic Submissions:
- Contest Rules
- Tips for submitting your poetry
- Complete the online entry form and upload your submission here.
Deadline for Mailed Submissions:
Proudly Sponsored by Reading Area Community College
In collaboration with: Barrio Alegria, Berks Bards, Berks County Public Libraries, and Pagoda Writers Group.
Eighth Berks County Poet Laureate Jayne Relaford Brown
Jayne Relaford Brown is the author of My First Real Tree, a book of poems from FootHills Publications. Her poems have appeared in several literary journals including Blueline,Cider Press Review and Alligator Juniper, as well as in anthologies that include All We Know of Pleasure, El Vuelo del Aguila/The Flight of theEagle: Poetry on the U.S. MexicoBorder, and as the title poem in I AmBecoming the Woman I’ve Wanted. Her poem, “Finding Her Here,” has been widely distributed as a poster, translated into Mandarin and Russian, and was commissioned as a choral work by Anna Crusis Women’s Chorus.Jayne received her Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing/Poetry from San Diego State University, and has been a college writing teacher since 1988. She retired last May from Penn State Berks, where she taught creative writing and composition.
Fourth Scholastic Poet Laureate Devanshi Patel
Devanshi Patel, a graduate of Wilson High School, has followed her love of writing since middle school, often writing both fiction and poetry. She has earned several distinctions for her writing, including a Silver Key in the Scholastic Writing Awards for a poem, Woman of Color, and an Honorable Mention for a screenplay, By the Will of the Gods.