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BCCC hosts Bucks County Poet Laureate competition


The 46th annual Bucks County Poet Laureate contest has begun, according to Bucks County Community College (BCCC) professor Ethel Rackin, director of what is the longest-running poet laureate program in Pennsylvania.

The contest is open to Bucks County residents over age 18 who have not previously served as poet laureate, said Rackin, who teaches language and literature at BCCC, where the program is based.

Each entrant must submit 10 original poems of any style or length along with an entry form to the college’s Language and Literature Department. Entries must be submitted online by Friday, Sept. 9.

The winner will receive a $500 honorarium, a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners, and be featured at a fall reading and reception at Bucks County Community College with the previous year’s poet laureate, Nicole Steinberg, and contest runners-up.

All work must be original, published or unpublished, typewritten or word-processed, one poem per page, in black ink. The poems and entry form must be submitted online at

There is no charge to enter the contest, but there is a limit of one entry per person.

Two judges will blindly select the winner. The preliminary judge will narrow the entries down to a few dozen for the final judge, who will choose the winner and three runners-up from the pool of finalists.

The final judge will be Tsering Wangmo Dhompa. Raised by her mother in Tibetan communities in Dharamsala, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, Dhompa earned a B.A. and an M.A. from Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi, an M.A. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and an M.F.A. in creative writing from San Francisco State University.

She is the author of poetry chapbooks “In Writing the Names” and “Recurring Gestures” and “Revolute,” and full-length collections “Rules of the House,” “In the Absent Everyday” and “My Rice tastes like the lake.” Dhompa’s nonfiction book based on her life is called “A Home in Tibet,” published in the United States as “Coming Home to Tibet: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Belonging.”

Preliminary judge will be Shawn R. Jones, who grew up in Atlantic City, N.J. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, “Womb Rain” and “A Hole to Breathe.” Her work has appeared in Tri-Quarterly, New Ohio Review, River Heron Review, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and her poetry collection, “Date of Birth,” has won the 2022 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry and is forthcoming from Persea Books in 2023.

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