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Poetry: The 2nd Annual PGCMLS Poetry Contest!

The Library is hosting the 2nd Annual PGCMLS Poetry Contest. Poets submitted poems during the month of April and winners will be notified by May 15.

The awards ceremony will be held during the Open Mic event on May 26 from 7-8:30 pm, where winners will be asked to perform their poems.

Laura Stewart Webb

Laura Stewart Webb, Featured Judge

Laura Stewart Webb lives in Southern Maryland with a giant Irish Wolfhound named Fintan. She is active in the community through her work for a local behavioral health organization, as a poet and writing group facilitator, and as a volunteer mediator. A few of Laura's creative projects have recently been featured at Calvert Library, in PAX: an Anthology of Southern Maryland Poetry, Maryland Bards, and PLANET POETRY.

Brian Donnell James

Brian Donnell James, Featured Judge

Brian Donnell James is the 2020 "United Nations" FAO World Food Day Poetry First Prize Winner, for his poem ”Testimony” which was read before a virtual audience of nearly a thousand attendants and broadcast worldwide. He is also a 2020 National Poetry Writing Month Award Winner, and placed second in the 2020 Write by the Rails Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Virginia Writers Club. He is a poet, writer, and public speaker who has been published in Africa, Europe, and throughout the United States in several poetry anthologies, journals, and magazines.

He has spoken at several universities including George Mason University, Penn State University, Howard University, Montana State University, and Northern Virginia College, among others. His video performances and text has been discussed and analyzed as a part of an honors colloquium sponsored by Dr. Hiram Larew at Oregon State University and the University of Georgia. He has served as a poetry judge for Penguin Random House, We Need Diverse Books, and Poetically Correct. Brian has also spoken as an advocate for children's welfare on a wide spectrum including subjects ranging from adoption and autism to teenage homelessness. He has been a featured poet/speaker at the Hunger Free Communities Summit and the Global Learning in Agriculture Conference to combat food insecurity and fundraising charity events for the Covenant House, Feeding America, and Fighting Pretty (cancer support).

Poetry Event Videos

Prince George's County Poet Laureate

Marissa Michel

Marissa Michel

Sistah Joy

Sistah Joy

2nd Annual Poetry Contest Winners


Calista Ogburn©, 2021

turning pages, burnt coffee
i lose myself in adventures.
carrying my home in the palm
of my hand,
this book holds stories i read at
two a.m.

the words cover my body,
creating a safe space for love.
desperately searching for the
metaphors that once
reminded me of why books are

it welcomes guests in,
characters from fantasy worlds
to true love kisses
influential writers to wandering
long lost lovers to broken

my home is built with fictional
a foundation of stories
ingrained into the pillars.
the sun flows through the
and grows the bookshelves into

turning pages, burnt coffee
i find myself at the library,
lying next to books.
making a home between the

Home Away From Home

Tanya Mensah©, 2021

in my younger days, I sensed that we were
destined. I love holding you close. the faint smell
of ink and gently-worn pages filling the
air, the added thrill of discovering a beautiful worn
bookmark or a handwritten note tucked
in between your pages. the children settle down
for storytime and the librarians assist
patrons with hushed voices while i
slowly wander to the adult non-fiction books.
i am never lost here, this is my
home away from home. an unseen force guides my
hand towards your colorful spine and i
have to pick you up or forever wonder
“What if..?” i will not lose this
opportunity, so i hold you close, hungry
for your knowledge and for the chance to gaze
deeply into your soul. i am a willing recipient
to all that you generously offer those who cherish
your words, your secrets, your wisdom, your
experiences. gratitude overflows from my
heart. time has never diminished
our desire to seek one another,
to understand one another.
when can we meet up again?

The Joy of Books and Libraries

Agnes Conaty© , 2021

I love the feel of books:
At my fingertips:
They are like magic potions
That open up portals
Of worlds undiscovered,
Adventures to be pursued,
Where time and space collide.

I share the passion for words,
From poetry and prose;
Of places I have not been to,
Of ideas to behold;
Daring ventures, brave and bold,
The saga of real heroes
Amazing feats and stories
Never shall grow old.

There in the corner of our street
Our library awaits:
It beckons curious children
For story time again,
I long for the cozy lounges
By its fireplace, nice and warm
Browsing through its magazines
The pandemic came to halt.

If I had a crystal ball
I would have a single wish:
To reopen every library
In every town and city;
Greetings from friendly faces
Clean and comfortable spaces:
Our hopes are built from every nook
And pages of a good book!

Corey Flintoff

Nineveh And Timbuktu©, 2021

Waiting at the checkout,
Balancing your stack of books,
You peek, first into one volume
Then the next,
Too eager to wait, even for that brief exchange
When the card-reader’s laser line
Will put them safely in your care.
Each page you turn is a leaf on a tree whose roots
Stretch all the way to Nineveh,
To the clay-tablet collection of Ashurbanipal.
Or Alexandria, that lighthouse library
Whose very ashes carried human dreams
Down through the turbulent ages.
Every page you turn draws its magic
From that time when wise women and bards
Deemed that the lore of humankind
Had grown too vast
For even a multitude of tongues to tell.
It fell to clay, papyrus, parchment and paper
To make their words immortal,
And to libraries, to save and share them.
This book you hold, silly or profound, ephemeral or ageless,
Descends from the yearnings that gathered
The scrolls of the Dead Sea,
And preserved the wisdom of Africa
In the desert libraries of Timbuktu.

A Library Haiku

Austin Leo Conaty©, 2021

A digital world:
Words transcend humanity-
Books are immortal.

Silence has spoken
The power of written notes
At all the bookends.

I surely miss these:
Dewey decimal system
Old typewriter fonts.

Book marks and bargains
A dollar comic book sale-
It’s windfall again.

How do I love thee-
Like ice cream cones and sundaes:
Laurel Library!

Love poem to the Library

Jorrin Ellison©, 2021

Glasses loosely hang around her neck
As I beckon a question from my mind

My eyes wander around the room
Looking at tons of colorful spines
Of books.
I glow as I bask in the light
Pages of books illuminating my path to creativity and knowledge

My eyes switch to peer over the counter as she types away
Searching for the Goosebumps book I asked for
My mom standing tall behind me
Her flashing smile reassuring thee
That I can speak
With my eyes full of wonder I ask
“How did you guys get all of these books?”
The lady at the counter gleams.
“Magic” she replies.
And young me
Knowing the enchantment I had seen from the worldbuilding
In much literature prior
I believed her

And now looking back I admire her commitment to
Water the astonishment in a young kid

Now my inner child,
Guiding me through life,
Perspires wonder within me.


Khalisa Brown©, 2021

A fluttering heart, racing—“no running!”—speed walking to the teen section, feet pattering on the carpet floor
I really miss piling up a stack of books and sitting down at one of the high tables
My fingers become a vessel to my mind,
Absorbing well-placed words and turning them into pictures
I see purple lights, pink streamers falling down. It’s homecoming, and I am floating off of aching feet.
I close the book and keep it at my side, adding it to my mental checkout list.
In the reference section, I wander to Italian beaches, plucking ripe oranges in Capri.
Japanese cherry blossom petals fall on my collarbone and at my feet. These vacations I take in between two worn covers stay with me the longest.
Finally, I scour the section of verse, always looking for poets I’m acquainted with, always walking away with one I am not.
I open to reassuring words and sceneries that are love letters written just for me. Maybe, if I stare at the page long enough, the cadence and wit will transfer to me.
I see Mom looking for me. One laser beam, and these books are mine for a month. Now it’s time to go.
A Slurpee is calling my name!

Oh, Belle

Muntaha Hossain©, 2021

All it takes, is a look,
from Belle,
Belle, sweet Belle,
she’s one to adore.

Oh, Belle,
you sure light up a room.
You're as quiet as a bee,
kids brighten up at once,
happy to see,
it’s you at last.

Oh, Belle,
you’re a sight to behold.
You’ve got your arms full of books,
a careful glint in your eye.
You’ve been to Mars and back,
thoughts dripping off the page.

Oh, Belle,
you’re brighter than the moon.
You’ve got knowledge to spare,
hope left to share,
room for more.

All it took, was a book,
from Belle,
from the Library
Belle, sweet Belle,
thank you for your care,
thank you for being there.

Patchwork: PGCMLS Praise

Mia Gonzales Jackson©, 2021

Bits and pieces of scattered memories all encased into a quilt for library honor. As a self-proclaimed old-timer this adolescent remembers and relishes a present, past, future history blended together for all to see - this prose-written “thank you” to to my library for the roots it grows from read to rover, a once-better playground, steel drum demonstration in the basement below ground, echoing sound of laughter, sushing, whispering in the isles. No more Dewey decimal system or organization by genre categorization - now - but I remember before the physical contents of shelves were ordered by author, back when the children’s area was home to fewer toys and smooth laminated colored paper bears behind the desk were ticket entries into the world of storytime, and paperback books sat in two-foot block wooden special shelves our little hands could reach into; My mind always wanders inside a place in which I lose track of time so easily and it all fuses together. Light from windows and elegant design beautiful fountain outside, drive-thru window reflection, swinging in vines with leaves of knowledge shown in the old painted windows and oh-so-tall checkout counter, the days when a DVD-spitting checkout machine mesmerized me and checking out VCR tapes didn’t raise eyebrows, computers were isolated in corners. And still, there is currently so much more outreach, online events, electronic content, and opportunity. I have come to appreciate annual events such as Summer Reading, but more so the local libraries’ long-lasting role, it’s impact in guiding me to make goals, to open my eyes, to stay informed throughout all time.
My branch used to have librarians I recognized, I knew their names and they knew mine, but now it’s different, yet still the same in that there’s still satisfaction In this place in which Literacy reigns My library is my home, my community pride, my resource, my Mother willow.
Let the birds of the library tree carry seeds away, out into the world promising today to bequeath love of all libraries to generations of eternity breeding saplings to endure the future to come.


Joseph Conaty©, 2021

Learning and Comprehending
Accomplished best as a team
Supporting Endeavors of mine
My library reigns supreme

What I love about my Library
What happens nowhere else
Is that I’m taught about the world
Even without the bookshelves

Instead I am taught
That I bring value as I am
To give others love and hope
And to always be a good man

So I must reaffirm
From the depths of my heart and mind
That my community library
Is the best you’ll ever find


Neil Chibber©, 2021

I walk into the library
A chill goes down my back
All of those books there
just inviting me
The all knowing
Gives me a wise smile
All the knowledge at her fingertips
Books about pirates and rocket ships
Fairies and goblins
A new adventure awaits
I love this library
A place of
A place of
lost in a world magical world


The Library

Rebecca Appiah©, 2021

The library
My sanctuary, my quiet place
A collection of books
That put a smile on my face
Thousands of different worlds
Enclosed in the pages of the books
That I can only find in the library
Feelings of sadness and anger
They all disappear at the library
Never is there a tear shed in the library
For the books are so lively and filled with adventure
Who would have time to cry?
They say, “You’re such a nerd, you like the library.”
No matter what they say, I never care a bit
I love the library so much, I barely hear it
When they make fun
And call names
I’m much too busy in the library with my books
To even care
Then on one fateful day, we all came home to stay
And were told that the library would be closed
Devastated I was
All because
Of the library
Stuck in the house
I yearned
For the library
All the books I could no longer return
To the library
It felt as if I had lost a best friend
The sadness felt like it had no end
Oh, the library
I miss it so
The pandemic has come, and my library has to go
All that is left is the memory
Of the wonder-filled times
Sitting in a small nook, nose in a book
At the library


Precious Adebiyi©, 2021

For me,
My library is a great place
For information and space
This is a place where history can recreate
The library is home to books
That you might have overlooked
Of character that is in storybooks

My Library has Inspiring stories about people of a different race
To borrow these books you have to wait
When you read this book that fills you with knowledge
You never know if you might use this knowledge in college
It can help you learn new things also

There are many library books you can learn about
Like history books that bring mystery
Like Books that tell us about histories victories
Like Vice president Harris journey of victory

My library experience was amazing
The books in My local library are marvelous
There were so many books to read
I was so pleased I could not believe


Magdalena York©, 2021

305.8; Teaches about race, ethnicity, and hate.
323.34; Women’s rights must remain at the fore.
306.76; Sexuality and orientation finally in the mix.
346.013; No equal access, no equality.
Our country might move in the right direction
If we spent some more time in the 300s section

The Wonderful Library that Persevered

Victoria Lee©, 2021

A lot has happened since last spring
The library closing, Covid, and not much to read
But the library stayed strong through it all
Providing eBooks and audiobooks, which I do love indeed

I especially loved the handpicked book bundles,
Waiting eagerly for them to arrive
I discovered, among many, Falcon Quinn, The Storm Runner, etc.
With these handpicked books, my brain does thrive

Through the library I’ve found many great books
Redwall, the Ranger’s Apprentice, Brotherband and more.
Thanks to the library and its resilience,
I have all the books that I could ask

My Adventures

Sarah Won©, 2021

Books always call for adventure,
Trapping a tiger,
Slaying a dragon,
Riding a phoenix,
And swimming

Into a deep dark sea
The world is wide,
And I am an adventurer.
Traveling all over the world,

Without moving a muscle.
This is my library.

The palace of secrets,
The keeper of dreams
The mountain of knowledge,
And a quiet place to be

What a joy it is,
To open a book
To solve a code,
To complete a quest
Or reveal
A secret…

How simple it is!
Browse, borrow, read and return!
No stress,
No guilt.
Just a fun book to read!
I stack my books high,
As excited as could be.
Oh what adventures await,
Would you uncover them with me?


Livia Luu©, 2021

When I enter my secret sanctuary
And take a book from its shelves
I’m off with the canaries
And where folklore dwells

The library is my palace
The place I love so dearly
The place I can avoid distress
And whose knowledge I can hear so clearly

From Dickinson to Allan Poe
How much there is! How much to know!
And my library I love you so
For you teach and take me places I’d never go

Your books are like an open door
Graphic novels, words galore!
I laugh out loud and cry for more!
So entertaining I’ll never bore!

But alas I am out of books
I’ve checked every corner and every nook
But when I’m allowed to come again
Expect me to get books. More than ten


Eva Garnett©, 2021

I feel like this needs to be heard
For this feeling is trapped, like a bird
I love the library
I love it so
So when it all closed down
I caught The Frown

I love diving into my books
Sitting in all the possible nooks
Adventure and Romance, leaving me hooked
A world where I can catch a break
Like plunging into a perfect lake

At the library, there’s games and toys
All to touch
The books,
The movies,
And all of such
Fiction, fantasy, cookbooks and more
Stories unlimited
All in store
I love how my library is just around the block
Open for me around the clock

I love the library
I love it all
I love it whether it’s big or small
I love it old; I love it new
I’d like to know; do you love it too?


Lexi Centeno©, 2021

A place of every magic world
Where I can run away,
On a beanbag I'll get curled
And read through the whole day.

The shelves I search for a good book
And one is quickly found,
By each page, by every look,
I'm for adventure bound!

The library is so much fun
It is my favorite place,
I head there when my work is done
With a smile on my face!

On the Shelf Together

Naomi Wilson©, 2021

crack open a book
The spine is still stiff
The pages are bleach-white
It smells crisp
It takes me to a factory
Where pages are
And hurried along quick conveyor belts.

I crack open a book
The pages threaten to fall out of their binding
They have yellowed
It smells musty
It takes me to an old study
Where a white-haired old man
and sends away bits of paper in red envelopes.

Baby Book and Grandfather Book.
"Where is baby Unicorn now? Is she under the bush?" says the Baby Book.
"Children should be seen and not heard," says the Grandfather Book.

I close the Baby Book.
It snaps shut.

I close the Grandfather Book.
Its binding starts to tear.

Now they are on the shelf

My love for my library

Soumya Ishaani Alimineti©, 2021

My library is fun
There so much to do,
Like painting pictures
And playing chess too.

The best part of story time
Is when we laugh and giggle
At a funny rhyme.

My library lets me use the app Mango
Where I practice my French on the go
My tutor is so proud every week
She says my pronunciation is magnifique.

I want to tell you a little tidbit,
My library once gave me a cool stem kit.
When I followed the directions to the dot,
I built a walking, plastic cup Wigglebot.

Even though there’s so much to love,
My favorite thing is sitting in a cozy nook
With a new friend reading a library book.


Caiden Abang©, 2021

As we fly,
in the sky,

We see love
Like a dove,

But when it tries to go away
This Library will always stay.

Library Love!

Amelie LaPorte©, 2021

I Love my library!
I want a book but
Not any Book, a good book
Reading a book is
Like I’m in a story All day
So Read to yourself
Read to Your Mom.

My Librarian and Me
Ms. Amy, Oh so nice, the good books we read
Are Vital to us
To lEarn, to laugh, to love.


Andrew Servance©, 2021

I really really like books
Books that I make
Books where I bake
Books with sounds
Books with big hounds
All kinds of books
Book with fish
Books with Oddish
Books with anything in there
Especially books with our Dad

Recommended Poetry for Kids

Recommended Poetry for Teens and Adults