Fairfax Poet Laureate Danielle Badra’s
“Poetry in the Parks”
2022-2024 Poet Laureate Partners with Fairfax County Parks to Host Public Engagement Activities
Fairfax, VA (February 21, 2023) – As a poetry and literary arts ambassador for Fairfax County, Poet Laureate Danielle Badra will launch a new series of public programming called “Poetry in the Parks” this spring. In close partnership with ArtsFairfax and Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), Badra begins her new initiative with three distinct events that invite area poets and parkgoers to consider the relationship between nature and poetry. By inviting guest poets to share their work in a natural setting that is at once intimate and expansive, Badra hopes to inspire park attendees to reflect on the environment around them and engage in reading, listening to, and writing poetry.
“Through poetry workshops, readings, and activities in the Parks, I want to illuminate how language and our natural environment can be a source of comfort and creativity. I derive a great deal of my poetic inspiration from nature and it is my hope to impart this same inspiration to the people of Fairfax County,” says Badra.
Linda S. Sullivan, ArtsFairfax President and CEO, adds, “Like a concert hall or theater venue, a local park can be both a place to gather and a well of inspiration. Danielle’s idea to bring poetry to County parks demonstrates how the arts can be accessible to all residents and enliven our spaces through unique shared experiences.”
“Fairfax County Parks present widely diverse subjects for creative expression for artists in all their varieties. From the natural wonders and wildlife of our streams, forests and trails to the introspective stories of our rich local history at our parks and historic sites, we have a wealth of inspiring material and experiences available to individuals of all ages, abilities and interests. We’re very proud to be a part of this partnership that accentuates this natural relationship between the arts and the parks,” said Jai Cole, Executive Director of the Fairfax County Park Authority.
Poetry in the Parks Programming
Arab-American Heritage Month Poetry Reading
Featuring Zeina Azzam, Rayan Afif, and Danielle Badra*
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Chantilly, VA
Saturday, April 15, 2023
To celebrate National Poetry Month and Arab-American Heritage Month, hear the works of local Arab-American poets Rayan Afif, Zeina Azzam (Alexandria Poet Laureate 2022-25), and Danielle Badra (Fairfax Poet Laureate 2022-24). Following the reading, parkgoers are invited to participate in a poetry writing workshop to learn and practice the Ghazal, an Arabic verse form with an intricate rhyme scheme. Download Event Flyer
Pride Month Poetry Reading
Featuring Sunu Chandy, Kim Roberts, Holly Mason Badra, and Malik Thompson*
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Chantilly, VA
Saturday, June 24, 2023
June is Pride Month, celebrated each year to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, which launched the queer liberation movement in the United States. Featuring some of the region’s most prominent LGBTQ+ poets, this reading lifts up a variety of voices and experiences to honor the rich legacy and contributions of poets and poetry in the queer community.
Poetry Beneath the Stars
Turner Farm Park
Saturday, August 19, 2023
Have you ever found yourself gazing at the stars and wonder, Where do I fit in to this great expanse? How was this most magnificent artwork created? Fairfax Poet Laureate Danielle Badra invites stargazers to contemplate the cosmos through poetic form. Attendees will be provided with examples of star-gazing poetry and then given writing prompts to generate poems of their own while staring up at the marvelous milky way. This event will include a telescope viewing in the Roll Top Observatory, weather permitting. Rain date is Saturday, August 26.
The first three events of more initiatives to come, these readings and workshops are programmed in close partnership with ArtsFairfax and FCPA. As with all FCPA programs, Poetry in the Parks was designed with accessibility in mind for visitors with disabilities.
*See below for participating poets’ bios.
About Fairfax Poet Laureate Community Projects
The high honor of the Fairfax County Poet Laureate is to serve as a poetry ambassador and promote the appreciation of literary arts throughout the county, region, and state. To raise the visibility of poetry, the Fairfax Poet Laureate must create and execute a community service project to engage new audiences, create new opportunities for poetry to be shared, and encourage the creation of poetry and other literary works.
As the inaugural Fairfax County Poet Laureate, Nicole Tong amplified living poets on Twitter (@PoetryLivesHere), created digital content in celebration of National Poetry Month, and partnered with George Mason University MFA poetry students to conduct a residency at the County’s Juvenile Detention Center.
About Fairfax Poet Laureate Danielle Badra
Danielle Badra received her BA in Creative Writing from Kalamazoo College (2008) and her MFA in Poetry from George Mason University (2017). While there, she was the poetry editor of So To Speak, a feminist literary and arts journal, and an intern for Split This Rock. Her poems have appeared in Mizna, Guesthouse, Cincinnati Review, The Maynard, Outlook Springs, 45th Parallel, The California Journal of Poetics, Duende, The Greensboro Review, Bad Pony, Rabbit Catastrophe Press, Split This Rock, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and elsewhere. Dialogue with the Dead (Finishing Line Press, 2015) is her first chapbook, a collection of contrapuntal poems in dialogue with her deceased sister.
In addition to teaching undergraduate composition, literature, and poetry at George Mason University, she has led writing workshops at The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Split This Rock Poetry Festival, OutWrite DC, and in high schools. She has been a featured reader for Split This Rock’s Sunday Kind of Love series, a judge for Brave New Voices in DC, and a participant in Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.
Her manuscript, Like We Still Speak, was selected by Fady Joudah and Hayan Charara as the winner of the 2021 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize and published through the University of Arkansas Press fall 2021. It was named a semi-finalist for the Khayrallah Prize and listed in Entropy’s “Best of 2020-2021: Poetry Books & Poetry Collections.”
Badra, who is of Syrian and Lebanese heritage, was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and currently resides in Fairfax, Virginia.
ArtsFairfax is the nonprofit designated as Fairfax County’s local arts agency. Dedicated to the belief that arts are essential to a thriving community, the ArtsFairfax mission is to expand support for and access to arts and culture opportunities for Fairfax County’s more than 1.2 million residents. By offering informational, financial, and programmatic services, ArtsFairfax promotes the role of arts and culture to deepen social engagement, create a sense of place, and fuel economic growth. Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) since 1964, ArtsFairfax provides these services to all who contribute to and experience arts in Fairfax County, and is funded in part by the County, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as corporations, foundations, and individuals.
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About the Participating Poets
Rayan Afif is a Lebanese-Egyptian-American playwright, poet, and artist based in Fairfax, Virginia. Their poetry and art has been seen in their school’s literary art magazine: Reveille. Their work stems from their activism. Rayan uses their personal stories to explore art as a conversation starter – whether that be through their writing, visual, or theatrical work. Their art is a blank canvas hoping to initiate a much larger conversation.
Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian American poet, writer, editor, and community activist. She is the poet laureate of the City of Alexandria, Virginia, for 2022-25. Her chapbook, Bayna Bayna, In-Between, was published in 2021 by The Poetry Box and her poems appear in literary journals, anthologies, and edited volumes such as Pleiades, Mizna, Barzakh, Passager, Gyroscope, Cutleaf Journal, Streetlight Magazine, Bettering American Poetry, Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by and for Refugees, Making Levantine Cuisine: Modern Foodways of the Eastern Mediterranean, and Gaza Unsilenced, among others. Zeina is a mentor for We Are Not Numbers, a writing program for youth in Gaza. She holds an M.A. in Arabic literature from Georgetown University, an M.A. in sociology from George Mason University, and a B.A. in psychology from Vassar College. www.zeinaazzam.com
Sunu P. Chandy (she/her) is a social justice activist through her work as a poet and a civil rights attorney. Sunu’s collection of poems, My Dear Comrades, was selected for the 2021 Terry J. Cox Prize, for publication by Regal House in Spring 2023. Sunu’s work can also be found in publications including Asian American Literary Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Poets on Adoption, Split this Rock’s online social justice database, The Quarry, and in anthologies including The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood and This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation. Sunu also serves as the legal director for the National Women’s Law Center and on the board of the Transgender Law Center. Sunu was proud to be included as one the 2021 Queer Women of Washington and one of Go Magazine’s 100 Women We Love: Class Of 2019.
Holly Mason Badra received her MFA in Poetry from George Mason University where she is currently associate director of the Women and Gender Studies program. Her poetry, essays, reviews, and interviews appear in The Rumpus, The Adroit Journal, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, The Northern Virginia Review, Foothill Poetry Journal, UA Poetry Center Blog, CALYX, So to Speak, and elsewhere. She has been a panelist for OutWrite, RAWIFest, and DC’s Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here events as a Kurdish-American poet. Holly is currently on the staff of Poetry Daily and lives in Northern Virginia with her wife and dog.
Kim Roberts is a 2023 Poet-in-Residence at the Arts Club of Washington, along with Malik Thompson, Sunu P. Chandy, and two others. She is the author of A Literary Guide to Washington, DC and editor of two anthologies of DC poets, most recently By Broad Potomac’s Shore, selected by the Centers for the Book for the 2021 Route 1 Reads program. Her sixth book of poems, Corona/Crown, a cross-disciplinary collaboration with photographer Robert Revere, will be released in Fall 2023 by WordTech Editions. http://www.kimroberts.org
Malik Thompson (he/his) is a Black queer man from Washington, DC. He is a bibliophile and baked goods connoisseur. He works as a bookstore manager for Black, queer-owned Loyalty Bookstores in Petworth, DC, and served for two years as co-chair of OutWrite DC, an annual LGBTQ+ literary festival. Malik has received fellowships from Lambda Literary, Tin House, and the DC Commision on the Arts & Humanities, and his poems are featured in Split This Rock’s The Quarry, the Queer Cookies Cookbook, and DC Queer Pride Poem-a-Day, among other publications.