Moving Words Poetry Competition

Moving Words Poetry Competition


January 12, 2018 by 12:00PM.

All entries must be received on or before the deadline.



Six winning poems will be displayed inside Arlington Transit’s ART Buses for three months between April and September 2018 where they will be seen by thousands of riders. Each winner will also receive a $250 honorarium and will be invited to give a public reading of their work in April 2018. Winning poems will be also posted on this site and will be archived on the website.


This year’s competition asks poets to respond to the theme “Ripped from the Headlines.” This theme is meant to be interpreted broadly and asks poets: What issues are you seeing (or not seeing) in today’s news that move you to write? How do poets respond to important issues and events of our time? What impact do the headlines have on you?

This year’s competition will be judged by Teri Ellen Cross Davis, the author of Haint, published by Gival Press and winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is a Cave Canem fellow and has attended the Soul Mountain Writer’s Retreat, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is on the Advisory Council of Split This Rock (a biennial poetry festival in Washington DC), a semi-finalist judge for the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Out Loud and a member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. Her work has been published in many anthologies including: Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade, Growing Up Girl, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC,Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets & Emcees, The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks and Not Without Our Laughter: poems of joy, humor, and sexuality. She is the Poetry Coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. and lives in Maryland with her husband, poet Hayes Davis and their two children.


Poets who live within the DC Metro transit area (the Northern Virginia counties Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun and the cities Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church; the District of Columbia; and the Maryland counties Montgomery and Prince George’s) and who are over 18 years old are eligible to enter (those under the age of 18 may be eligible to enter the Moving Words Student Competition). Poets who have previously been selected for Moving Words must wait two years before submitting entries again. There is no fee to enter.



  1. Poems must be 10 lines or less, including stanza breaks (but not including the title).
  2. Each poet may submit up to 3 poems for consideration. There is no reading fee.
  3. All poems must be typed. You must submit a SINGLE Microsoft Word or PDF file that contains each poem on a separate page of the document. File Name must be in the following format: Last Name_First Name (dot) PDF or Last Name_First Name (dot) DOC (example: Doe_John.pdf)
  4. The first page of your Microsoft Word or PDF file must include your name, address, phone, e-mail address, and the poem titles in the order in which they appear. DO NOT put your name on the pages with the poems. Poems will be judged anonymously.
  5. Submit only in Microsoft Word or PDF format. Poems submitted in the body of an email will not be accepted.
  6. Poems must be submitted via e-mail to; paper copies will not be accepted.
  7. Excerpts from longer poems are eligible, but the poet must provide only ten or fewer excerpted lines. Do not send the full poem.
  8. Previously published poems are eligible, but the copyright must have reverted to the author; author must own copyright for poems that have been previously published.
  9. Poems are intended for a general audience; we cannot consider poems with content that general readers might find objectionable or offensive.


MOVING WORDS is a program of the Cultural Affairs Division of the Arlington County Department of Economic Development and is sponsored in part by Arlington Transit. For more information please email


Entries must be submitted to: