Eighth annual DC Poet Project readings series and competition begins January 2024

Day Eight’s eighth annual DC Poet Project poetry series and open mic competition—with the ultimate prize of a $1,000 book contract—begins Friday January 19th, 2024.

The 2024 series feature 16 exceptional DC-area poets in five reading series events. Each event includes reading by the featured poets, and equal time for reading by open mic participants. Priority in the open mic is given to DC residents. The featured poets select one open mic participant at each event to receive a $250 cash prize, and those individuals are invited to compete in the culminating (sixth) reading series event to win a $1,000 book contract.

The 2024 DC Poet Project series is curated by Regie Cabico, hosted by Aaron Holmes, produced in partnership with the Anacostia Coordinating Council, and supported by the DC Commission on The Arts and Humanities and individual donors to Day Eight.

The 2024 DC Poet Project Reading Series Schedule

Friday January 19th, 7-8:30pm on zoom – My Body, My Choice – celebrating a woman’s right to choose and with featuring poets Teri Cross Davis, Kim B Miller, and Courtney LeBlanc. Click to register.

Friday February 2nd, 7-8:30pm on zoom – Celebrating Langston Hughes with poets Micah Powell, C. Thomas, and Pi-anir. Click to register.

Friday February 23rd, 7-8:30pm on zoom – Poems for a Burning World, featuring Holly Karapetkova, Taylor Johnson, Shaquetta Nelson, and John Johnson. Click to register.

Saturday March 9th, 1-2:30pm, Anacostia branch DC Public Library – My Mind is Home – celebrating the book Dipped in Cerulean by 2023 Poet Project winner Brandon Douglas, featuring Khadijah Ali-Coleman, Rebecca Bishophall, and Brandon Douglas. Click to register

Saturday March 23rd, 1-2:30pm, Anacostia branch DC Public Library – Horoscopes and Rabbit Holes – an event celebrating Asian American poetry with featuring poets Regie Cabico, Indran Amirthanayagam, and Pacyinz Lyfoung. Click to register.

Saturday May 4 2-4:00pm, Anacostia branch DC Public Library – The 2024 DC Poet Project culminating reading event, featuring the open mic winners as selected at the five prior events. Link to register – to come.

Bios for the featured poets in the 2024 DC Poet Project reading series

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full-length collections Her Whole Bright Life; Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart; and Beautiful & Full of Monsters. She is the Arlington County Poet Laureate, a Virginia Center for Creative Arts fellow, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Find her online at www.courtneyleblanc.com. 

Kim B Miller’s poetry is inspirational, her words are bold and she is unapologetically blunt. Kim is Prince William County, Manassas & Manassas Park, Virginia Poet Laureate Emerita. She is the First African American Poet Laureate for that region. Her poems have been published in African Voices magazine, an international haiku anthology, a DC newspaper, and Prince George’s Community College Literary & Arts Magazine and several other anthologies and websites. Kim is the 2023, 2022 and 2021 DMV Renaissance Awards Haikuist of the Year. Kim received the 2023 and 2021 DMV Best Business Award in the category of Arts & Entertainment. Kim is the 2019 Southern Fried Haiku Champion.You can find more information about Kim at www.kimbmiller.com

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of A More Perfect Union, 2019 winner of The Journal/Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize and Haint, winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry.  She is the 2022 recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award and the Poetry Society of America’s 2020 Robert H. Winner Memorial Prize. She has received fellowships and scholarships to Cave Canem, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Community of Writers Poetry Workshop, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and more. Her work has appeared in print, online, and in many journals and anthologies including: Harvard Review, PANK,  Poetry Ireland Review, and Kenyon Review.  She is the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series Curator and Poetry Programs manager for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. and lives in Maryland with her husband, poet Hayes Davis and their children.

Micah The Poet is a writer, poet, author, orator, DJ, and community activist and has been featured in the Washington Post, Capturing Fire Productions, Busboys & Poets & the Bowery Poetry Club. His first full-length collection of poetry, Things No One Else Wants to Say, was published by Capturing Fire Press. Most notable recent performances include The Mayor’s District of Pride Showcase at Lincoln Theater, The Whitney Museum’s 2022 Biennial, and Queer Family Pride Weekend. Micah the Poet captivates audiences with his colorful combination of words, music, and folklore.

C Thomas is a dynamic force of creativity, activism, and inspiration! As a Queer Black Non-Binary individual, they have harnessed the power of words and art to champion important causes such as Child Abuse Prevention, LGBTQIA rights, and Mental Health Awareness. Their journey has led them to become an award-winning poet, a dedicated teaching artist, and a prominent advocate for positive change. Recognized in 2015 as a pioneer of poetry by the National Underground Spoken Word Poetry Award (NUSPA), Christopher possesses the remarkable ability to both captivate audiences as a performer and as a host. Their magnetic presence has left an indelible mark on diverse platforms, from esteemed institutions like Angelina College, Georgetown University, Jefferson University, and Howard University to cultural spaces like Busboys and Poets, Studio 2001 Art Gallery, The Athenaeum, and the Torpedo Art Factory. They also lead the acclaimed discussion-based writer’s workshop, Writing to Wellness™, which empowers individuals to utilize poetry as a tool for healing while navigating trauma.

Pi-Anir the Poet (pronounced: Pioneer), is a “transplant’s transplant.” A Spoken word artist, Host, Teacher, Advocate, and Author from Chicago’s Westside, by way of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Her self-published work: “To the Goddess in My Garden; A Book of Poetry and Self-reflection.” is a part of her “Poetry with a Purpose” mindset. Pi-Anir believes that art saves lives and is passionate about spreading awareness through creativity about issues that affect the community. She has performed and hosted at venues across the US and in Iceland and Amsterdam. Pi-Anir has opened for such artists as Sunni Patterson and Maimouna Youssef (Mumu Fresh). She is currently the host of Sound Off, a monthly open mic series that encourages artists of all genres to let their voices be heard. Pi-Anir the Poet can be found on Instagram and Facebook at Pianirthepoet.

Holly Karapetkova is Poet Laureate Emerita of Arlington, Virginia, and recipient of a 2022 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. Her poetry, prose, and translations have appeared widely in print and online. She is the author of two books of poetry: Towline, winner of the Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize from Cloudbank Books, and Words We Might One Day Say, winner of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Prize for Poetry. She lives in Arlington and teaches at Marymount University.

Taylor Johnson is from Washington, DC. He is the author of Inheritance (Alice James Books, 2020), winner of the 2021 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His work appears in Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, The Baffler, Scalawag, and elsewhere. Johnson is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and a recipient of the 2017 Larry Neal Writers’ Award from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the 2021 Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging Writers from Lambda Literary. Taylor was the inaugural 2022 Poet-in-Residence at the Guggenheim Museum. He is the Poet Laureate of Takoma Park, Maryland. With his wife, Elizabeth Bryant, Taylor curates the Green Way Reading Series at People’s Book in Takoma Park.

Shaquetta Nelson, who publishes and performs under the name R.E.I.L (real), is the author of the book Ashes to Justice (Day Eight, 2022.) In her debut collection the DC-area spoken word performer and poet educator releases the demons of this world while holding onto love for her family of birth, and the family she’s found. Poet Joseph Rosss wrote, “The sorrow of abuse pulses under these poems. But so does the joy of double-dutch, a grandmother’s love, and the truth of rebirth.” R.E.I.L. started her poetry career at open mics in the D.C. area and at 16 competed in the Brave New Voices slam in New York City. A poetic performer, visual artist, and arts educator teaching in D.C. schools, R.E.I.L. seeks inspiration from past and present life experiences to help the lives of other unsung souls.

John A. Johnson, a native of Washingtonian, D.C., was the 2018 winner of Day Eight’s poetry competition, and is the Founder of Verbal Gymnastics Theater Company, and a three-time Artist Fellow of the DC Arts Commission. As a Poet/Playwright, he has written and produced 6 plays that reflect and celebrate the culture of his native city. Having earned his B.A. in theater form the University of the District of Columbia, Mr. Johnson uses his background in theater to create a unique, interactive experience when writing and performing. Nationally, he has performed in dozens, if not hundreds of Playback Theatre performances. He also performed Playback Theatre at the 2022 Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and the International Playback Theatre Conference in South Africa in 2023.

Brandon Douglas is 2023 winner of The DC Poet Project and the author of the book Dipped in Cerulean, published October 2023 by Day Eight. Father of two young girls, Douglas works as a poet educator in schools, detention centers, and community centers. He began writing raps in middle school and later melded poetry and hip hop into spoken word compositions. Prince George’s County poet laureate Khadijah Ali-Coleman described Dipped in Cerulean, “Navigates the waters of deep parental love, social justice, and the Black experience with gentle honesty, thoughtful reflection and jolting sensitivity.”

Rebecca Bishophall attended Trinity University graduating with a major in Communications in 2006. She has performed at Spit Dat open mic, and Afrocentric Book Expo, and works in member services for a non-profit organization. A loving mother who enjoys rainstorms, ramen and romcoms, she can be found writing, reading fiction novels, and singing along to soft rock. She is co-author of Breaking the Blank with Dwayne Lawson-Brown (Day Eight, 2022.) Poet Reuben Jackson described Breaking the Blank, “Crisp, riveting, and often tender meditations on love, parenting, and—to paraphrase the title of a National Public Radio program—This African American Life.”

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, Ed.D. is the 2023-2026 Poet Laureate of Prince George’s County, MD.  Born in Washington, DC, Dr. Ali-Coleman is a cultural curator with over 20 years of applied experience transforming places into arts and educational spaces. She is author of the poetry collection, The Summoning of Black Joy (2023), the children’s book Mariah’s Maracas (2018), and co-editor of the book Homeschooling Black Children in the US: Theory, Practice and Popular Culture (2022). She is also the award-winning singer/songwriter Khadijah Moon, and a multi-genre writer who is also a playwright and filmmaker. Dr. Ali-Coleman is founder of the multidisciplinary arts group Liberated Muse and co-founder of the national education research group Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars, LLC (BFHES). She currently serves as the executive director of the national organization, The Hurston/Wright Foundation, based in Washington D.C.

Regie Cabico is a Filipino American poet and spoken word artist. He won top prizes in three National Poetry Slams and his poetry appears in over 30 anthologies including Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, Spoken Word Revolution and Slam. Cabico is the recipient of three New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships and was artist-in-residence at New York University, and De Anza College. His work has been published broadly for more than twenty years; his debut book, A Rabbit in Search of a Rolex, was published November, 2023 by Day Eight.

Indran Amirthanayagam is a poet, editor, publisher, translator, youtube host and diplomat. For thirty years he worked for his adoptive country the United States on diplomatic assignments in Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America. Amirthanayagam produced a “world record” in 2020 publishing three poetry collections written in three different languages. He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has published twenty three poetry books; edits the Beltway Poetry Quarterly (www.beltwaypoetry.com); writes https://indranamirthanayagam.blogspot.com; writes a weekly poem for Haiti en Marche and El Acento; has received fellowships from the Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, The US/Mexico Fund for Culture and the Macdowell Colony. He is the IFLAC Word Poeta Mundial 2022. In 2021 he won an Emergent Seed grant. Amirthanayagam hosts The Poetry Channel https://youtube.com/user/indranam. New books include Powèt nan po la (Poet of the Port ) MadHat Press, 2023) and Origami:Selected Poems of Manuel Ulacia (Diálogos Books, 2023). Amirthanayagam’s first collection in Portuguese Música subterranea will be published in 2023 by Editorial Kotter in Brazil.

Pacyinz Lyfoung is a French-born and raised, Minnesota-grown, Hmong/Asian American woman poet, attorney and activist. She emerged as a poet among the Asian American Renaissance and the Hmong Literary Movement in MN. She has been published in many journals (such as the Gulf Review, the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, Bourgeon, and Cultural Daily) and anthologies (such as Bamboo Among the Oaks: Contemporary Writing by Hmong Americans; To Sing Along The Way: MN Women Poets from Pre-Colonial Days to the Present; The Forgotten River: An Anacostia Swim Club member anthology; How Dare We! Write: A Multicultural Creative Writing Discourse; They Rise like a Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets; and Seeds & Memory, a multimedia publication with associated multimedia arts events held in Brooklyn-NY). She started an Asian/Black solidarity art project, called Jade x Onyx. She is currently based in Washington-DC, and working on her poetry manuscript to be published by Sahtu Press, an independent Laotian American publisher.