Danielle Badra, MFA ’17, has been named Fairfax Poet Laureate by ArtsFairfax, a two-year position serving Fairfax County, Virginia. She is the author of the chapbook Dialogue with the Dead (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and of the collection Like We Still Speak (University of Arkansas Press, 2021), winner of the 2021 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. Badra replaces the inaugural laureate Nicole Tong, MFA '07, who held the position 2020-2022.
In addition to writing and presenting inaugural and final poems during her tenure, as well as poems for special county-specific events, the poet laureate also creates and runs a community service project.
"The project I proposed is called 'Poetry in the Parks,' which absolutely aligns with my hopes and dreams for this position," Badra explains. "I am a passionate parks goer and outdoors enthusiast and I derive a great deal of my poetic inspiration from nature. It is my hope to impart this same inspiration to the people of Fairfax County. The Fairfax County Parks, Northern Virginia regional parks, National Parks, all of the parks in this county are fabulous sources for meditative nature excursions. From the Potomac and Bull Run rivers to Burke, Accotink, and Fairfax Lakes, to the incredible swampy ecosystem of Huntley Meadows, the nature in Fairfax County offers up countless opportunities for inspiration."
Badra hopes to install "poetry plaques" at vista points throughout the county's regional parks, where a poem and a prompt will be provided.
"I also plan to schedule poetry readings and poetry workshops in the parks. I'm hoping to even offer a poetry beneath the stars event. Beyond just basking in the beauty of the parks as inspiration, I hope that getting people outdoors and meditating on nature will inspire park-goers to also be responsible environmental stewards who will advocate for their plot of earth and keep it clean for future generations to enjoy."
Badra and Tong weren't classmates at Mason, but they did appear together on a panel about chapbooks during Badra's first year at the university.
"It is an honor to be following in her footsteps," Badra says, and she's enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead.
"Honestly, I'm just psyched to have the opportunity and the support from ArtsFairfax and Fairfax County to bring this community service project to life. Of course, it is a wonderful personal achievement to be named the poet laureate, but that is just another accolade. The fun part for me is going to be getting folks out in nature to write and reflect on the world around us."
Find out more about Danielle Badra and her work at her website.
October 31, 2022