Selection Panel Names Two Prince William Poet Laureates
Dr. Robert Scott of Haymarket, Alexandra “Zan” Hailey of Manassas Share Honors
For the next two years, Dr. Robert Scott of Haymarket, a novelist, poet and English teacher at Osbourn Park High School, and Alexandra “Zan” Hailey of Manassas, an undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University will share the position of Prince William Poet Laureate.
The announcement was made by Guy Lambert live on WPGC 95.5 on Saturday, June 14 at the culmination of the “Poetry & Jazz on the Lake” event, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Tackett’s Mill Lakeside, 2228 Tackett's Mill Drive, Lake Ridge, Virginia.
According to the 11-member selection panel, both candidates simply blew them away with their individual creative strengths. For Dr. Scott, it was the project he proposed: using a website, a series of community seminars and a great deal of pavement pounding, Dr. Scott plans to encourage budding and seasoned Prince William poets to submit poems for inclusion into a permanent “10,000 poem exhibit.”
For Zan Hailey, it was the power of her submitted poems, such as “Around the Yellow House.” Though still a college student, Zan has already published her work, garnered an award, mentored young writers through the Northern Virginia Writing Project and even created an on-line collection of poetry from all over, using Band-Aids® as a prompt. She is a graduate of the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School.
Around the Yellow House
The train passesundefineda heavy
heartundefinedbeating down the tracks.
A U-turning rickety pick-up,
matte black finishundefinedbrings dogs
to a bark across the block.
Afternoon planes flyundefinedstreaking contrails
that connect cumulonimbus clouds.
And a letter from an uncensored inmate
was left in my mailbox while I was out
walking a fuchsia petaled path,
where wild Dogwoods fade pink
with the gold of magnolias,
leaving a perfume alley trail.
A squirrel bats its tail like a duster
on a bookshelfundefinedtake in the day.
Open it slowundefinedpocketknife blade
soundly tearing a slitundefined“Dear Wonderful.”
©2014 Zan Hailey
“The selection of Alexandra Hailey and Robert Scott speaks highly of the quality of education offered in Prince William County Public Schools,” said Eric Pankey, poet, professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing, George Mason University who served on the selection panel along with poets Alirio Aleman and LeeAnn Thomas, business leaders Carlos Castro, Marie Khalili Nasiri and Mark Shaaber, teachers Alice Mergler and Cathy Hailey, library system director Dr. Constance Gilman, Sergeant Major Michael Mack, Wounded Warrior Regiment, Marine Corps Base Quantico, and high school student Lindsey Barszcz.
In fact, seven of the 14 poet laureate nominees are current or past teachers or students in the Prince William County Public School system. The 12 other poets will now form a Prince William Poet Laureate Circle to assist in joint community poetry projects. They are:
1. Phebe Ciemny, Woodbridge: student, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts Woodbridge Senior High School
2. Joe De Cesare, Woodbridge: marketing assistant, Fort Belvoir Federal Credit Union & stagehand, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas
3. Brittany Crow, Woodbridge: student, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School
4. Melody Lane Ashtara De Furia, Manassas: Northern Virginia Community College, Woodbridge Campus Business Office
5. John Dutton, Woodbridge: Language Arts teacher, Beville Middle School
6. Paulette Garner, Manassas: Language Arts teacher, Parkside Middle School
7. Katherine Gotthardt, Bristow: author, editor, blog and website developer
8. Neil Hailey, Manassas: student, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School
9. Bennie Herron, Manassas: educator
10. Dora Muhammad, Woodbridge: author, editor and performer
11. Renee Ordoobadi, Bristow: student, Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Woodbridge Senior High School
12. Heather Stevens, Manassas: author, artist and performer
As Prince William Poet Laureates, Scott and Hailey each will receive an annual honorarium of $500 from The Clearbrook Foundation, a non-profit soon to be taking space at the Tackett’s Mill Center. Each will participate in selected public gatherings in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. In their first joint decision, the laureates invited WSHS student Lindsey Barszcz, who served on the selection panel, to join the Prince William Poet Laureate Circle.
For continuing information on the Prince William Poet Laureate program, visit the Prince William County Arts Council website at www.pwcartscouncil.org and click on “literary arts.”
The Prince William County Arts Council is a membership organization serving the Greater Prince William Area, including Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Our mission is twofold: 1) To promote and support local artists and arts organizations and 2) To enlighten and educate audiences about the arts in the Greater Prince William Area. For more information about the Arts Council and its member groups and artists, visit www.pwcartscouncil.org or contact Sheyna Burt, Chair, Board of Directors, Prince William County Arts Council at 703-927-3999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Write by the Rails
Write by the Rails is the newest chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. The group formed in August 2011 and since then has grown to 150 members through a Facebook group and our website. We have accomplished a great deal in a short time. We are a member of the Prince William County Arts Council and have become an active organization within the community.
Write by the Rails aims to raise the profile of the local literary community and explore ways we can nurture, cultivate and help that community grow. Here are a few of our accomplishments:
- Became the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club;
- Published an anthology, New Departures, by Write by the Rails members;
- Created and distributed an information brochure;
- Created a website and blog;
- Worked with local schools to promote writing
- Sponsored the "Rising Writers Workshop" for young writers in March 2014
- Conducted readings, discussions and book signings at the Arts Alive! festival sponsored by the Prince William Arts Council;
- Hosted a "How to Market Your Book" panel discussion with local, experienced authors;
Group members gather twice a month at "meet and greets" in various locations in the county. Monthly meetings are held on the third Thursday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street in Old Town Manassas.
News, plans, members' writings and more will be posted on the homepage, www.writebytherails.org and look for us on Facebook.