Announcing Finalists in the 2021 Poet Project

The DC Poet Project is a poetry reading series and open mic competition. At each event in the series, the featuring poets select one open mic reader as the winner. Those prior-event winners are all invited to perform in the culminating event, this year scheduled for May 22, 2021 at 7pm. Each year the project publishes a book of poetry by the winner.

The finalists in the 2021 Poet Project are:

Paul Grace Neal, selected from the Poetry of Activism event featuring John Johnson and REIL

Paul Lynn Grace-Neal was ordained as a Reverend of the Potomac Association of the United Church of Christ (UCC) in 2018 and was the first Minister of Transgender Education, Resources, and Community Outreach of The Community Church of Washington DC UCC. Currently, he serves at Empowerment Liberation Cathedral in Washington, DC focusing on education and eradication of the Opioid Epidemic. He is also a Licensed Practical Nurse, Certified Peer Educator, an advocate for the HIV and Trans communities, and Spiritual father of two. Paul graduated from Hampton University with a BS in Marketing in 1989 and Wesley Theological Seminary in 1993 with a Master of Divinity. He earned a Practical Nursing Diploma in 2003. He is a Board Member for the Transgender Education Association of Northern Virginia and is a proud Brother of Alpha Omega Kappa Fraternity, Incorporated.

Pacyinz Lyfoung, selected from the Nature Poetry event featuring E. Ethelbert Miller and Naomi Ayala

Pacyinz Lyfoung is a French-born, Minnesota-grown, Hmong/Asian American woman poet. She made her first foray into Asian American poetry through the Inroad for Asian Pacific Islanders program at the Loft Literary Center taught by Sherry Quan Lee. In more recent years, she sought to hone her poetry craft through several community programs such as Voices of Our Nation (VONA), Winter Tangerine, Split this Rock, the Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Workshop, and during the pandemic of 2020 through the weekly BIPOC Writing virtual workshops. Her poems have been published in journals including the Asian American Renaissance Journal, Paj Ntaub Voice, the Journal of Southeast Asian Education and Advancement, the Stonecoast Review, and Another Chicago Magazine, and the anthologies Bamboo Among the Oaks, To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present, and the upcoming They Rise like a Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets. This summer, she will teach a virtual poetry workshop on Southeast Asian American poetry at the Loft in Minneapolis-MN.

Dale Brown, selected from the Poets Laureate event featuring Kim B. Miller, Holly Karapetkova, and Grace Cavalieri

Dale S. Brown is the author of I Know I Can Climb the Mountain (1995), a book of poetry and fiction describing the author’s experience growing up with disabilities. She is also author of four non-fiction books and many articles, including one published in the Washington Post. More than 200 of her poems have been published in literary magazines and newspapers, and she has read her poetry at The Folger Library, Martin Luther King Library, Georgetown Hospital and many other venues. She reads each year for Poetry Café, a program of the Arts and Humanities Division of Georgetown University.  Her most recent featured reading was for Words Out Loud in 2020.

Jenn Koiter, selected from the Poetry of Faith event featuring Jane Schapiro, Lori Tsang, and Luther Jett

Jenn Koiter’s poems and essays have appeared in several journals, including Smartish Pace, Bateau, Barrelhouse, and Ruminate. Jenn has taught at colleges and universities, worked for a cultural nonprofit, worked in corporate marketing, and volunteered to help end human trafficking in India and Nepal. She lives in Washington, DC with three gerbils named Sputnik, Cosmo, and Unit.

Jeffrey Banks, selected from the Queer Poetry event featuring Marlena Chertock and Malik Thompson

Jeffrey Banks, poetically known as ‘Big Homey’, has been featured in national media such as Essence Magazine, the CBS Early Show and Black Enterprise Magazine. His album, Exposed-The EP, is the poetic testimonial of the trials and victories of a Christian Believer. He was a 2018 finalist in Day Eight’s DC Poetry Project, and winner of a grant award from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to travel with fellow DC area poets to Paris, France. He is published in short-run anthologies in conjunction with DC Public Libraries (2009), the National Association for Poetry Therapy (2019) and Paris Lit Up (2020) and is co-founder of an organization that shares the poetry of Black fraternity and sorority members. He is a minister and 2009 Master of Divinity graduate of Howard University.

The 2021 DC Poet Project is supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and produced in partnership with the DC Public Library and the Anacostia Coordinating Council.

Check out books by past year winners: 2017 winner Susan Meehan’ s Talking to the Night, 2018 winner John Johnson’s Love for Her, 2019 winner Kevin Wiggins’ Port of Exit, and 2020 winner Mecca Verdell’s Things to Unlearn.

Join Day Eight Saturday night May 22nd, 2021 at 7:00pm to hear poetry by five exceptional local poets, and vote to select the winner! RSVP on Facebook here, or register for the zoom link on eventbrite here.