Carly Volpe of Doylestown named 2018 Bucks County Poet Laureate

    Carly Volpe, of Doylestown, has been named the 2018 Bucks County Poet Laureate, officials at Bucks County Community College announced.

    Carly, a BCCC alumna who has been writing since she was young, rose to the top of dozens of entries in the 42nd annual contest, said Dr. Christopher Bursk, co-director of the poet laureate program administered by the college.

    The contest is sponsored by the Bucks County Commissioners.

    Carly was honored with a poetry reading and reception on November 18th at Bucks’ Newtown campus and will receive a proclamation from the County of Bucks and a $500 honorarium.

    Encouraged to pursue any artistic inclination as a child, Carly’s first published pieces could be found in her junior-high literary magazines and punk zines.

    She continued to write and make art and has studied and workshopped in her local vibrant community of artists and poets.

    “Poetry can be the most effective way to express an acute emotion. And that is why I began down this path so long ago; I had big emotions in a small body,” explained Carly. “As a child I wanted to write and began doing so fairly young. I wanted all the words to explain the feelings that filled me up to near bursting. So many of my poems still echo that voice – a young girl looking for a way to speak her truth.”

    She has also won BCCC’s Stan Heim Poetry Award, and has published her first book of poetry and illustrations, “Until the Roof Lifted Off.”

    A Bucks County native and mother of two, she works to provide direct care for adults who have intellectual disabilities. “Being able to provide the assistance and advocacy for individuals which enables them to better access their communities is incredibly rewarding,” she added.

    Two judges blindly selected the winner and runners-up.

    Grant Clauser, the 2010 Montgomery County Poet Laureate and author of four books, served as preliminary judge.

    The final judge was Gerry Lafemina, former director of the Frostburg Center for Literary Arts and a nationally recognized author of 14 books of poetry.

    Gerry, a professor of creative writing at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland, had high praise for Carly’s work.

    “These poems are marked by their compelling imagery, whether it be ‘small rabbits freshly born,/pink eyes still closed to reality’ or ‘brassy ornate affectations,/kitschy light fixtures fickle in their working order.’ Such details, coupled with the poet’s use of language, are often surprising but not jarring and always emotionally charged,” Gerry noted. “What I appreciate most, though, is the subtlety of their pathos. Time and again these poems pulled me into their world, into their dramas, both large and small, and asked me to feel the way the best poems do.”

    The judges also named three runners-up in the contest.

    They are Maureen Joyce Connolly of Richboro, Elizabeth Austin of Newtown, and Melinda Rizzo of Quakertown.

    The Bucks County Poet Laureate program – the longest-running such program in Pennsylvania – is another way that BCCC contributes to the cultural heritage of the region.

    For more information, contact program co-directors Dr. Christopher Bursk at 215-968-8156 or Dr. Ethel Rackin at 215-497-8719.

    PHOTO CAP: Carly Volpe