Student named Prince William County poet laureate

Student named Prince William County poet laureate

Alexandra "Zan" Hailey, an English major and creative writing minor in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences, has been named one of the first two poets laureate of Prince William County, sharing the honor with poet, author and high school English teacher Robert Scott.

"I was in awe," said Hailey, 22. "I didn't expect to win. I expected that someone who had been writing for much longer would win."

Hailey and Scott will serve as the county's poets laureate for two years. As part of the position, created by the Prince William County Arts Council, they will receive an annual honorarium of $500 from the nonprofit Clearbrook Foundation and will participate in public events in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Hailey said she also plans to teach a class in Prince William County that will incorporate poetry and art.

An 11-member panel selected Hailey and Scott as the poets laureate, choosing Hailey on the strength of her submitted poems, such as "Around the Yellow House," which she read at the recent Poetry & Jazz on the Lake event in Lake Ridge when the winners were announced.

"Out of a field of 14 nominations, Zan's poetry rose to the top through hours of intense literary analysis," said June Forte, chair of the Poet Laureate Steering Committee. "The Poet Laureate Selection Panel considered her five submitted poems to be 'flawless.'"

Hailey said she hopes to one day be named the U.S. Poet Laureate, as she wants to share her love of poetry and help grow the medium's audience.

"I care about poetry and I think that people often don’t read it because, maybe they don't understand or they don't get it, or maybe because it just doesn't interest them," she said. "But it's so easy to read. And it's very meditative. It takes just a couple minutes to read a poem."

Around the Yellow House

The train passes—a heavy
heart—beating down the tracks.

A U-turning rickety pick-up,
matte black finish—brings dogs
to a bark across the block.

Afternoon planes fly—streaking contrails
that connect cumulonimbus clouds.

And a letter from an uncensored inmate
was left in my mailbox while I was out
walking a fuchsia petaled path,

where wild Dogwoods fade pink
with the gold of magnolias,

leaving a perfume alley trail.
A squirrel bats its tail like a duster
on a bookshelf—take in the day.

Open it slow—pocketknife blade
soundly tearing a slit—“Dear Wonderful.”

 

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Alexandra "Zan" Hailey, a senior at VCU, reads her poem, "Around the Yellow House," at the Poetry & Jazz on the Lake event in Lake Ridge, where she was named a Prince William County Poet Laureate. Photo by Jan Rayl from Write By the Rails, Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writer's Club.
Alexandra "Zan" Hailey, a senior at VCU, reads her poem, "Around the Yellow House," at the Poetry & Jazz on the Lake event in Lake Ridge, where she was named a Prince William County Poet Laureate. Photo by Jan Rayl from Write By the Rails, Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writer's Club.