Established in 1923

The Poetry Society of Virginia


In 1923, a group of poets met in at the College of William and Mary and founded an organization they named The Poetry Society of Virginia. Since then, the PSOV has worked to advance the cause and appreciation of poetry throughout Virginia. The Society stages annual contests, holds local and regional events, publishes an anthology of prize-winning poems, and is instrumental in assisting the Governor of Virginia with the selection of Poet Laureate.






“David Mills’ book, Boneyarn (The Ashland Poetry Press) is a compilation of masterful, well-researched poems that, in the author’s words, stand ‘in remembrance of the 15,000 unnamed enslaved and free blacks, indentured whites, and Native Americans interred in New York City’s Negro Burial Ground, America’s oldest and largest slave cemetery: 1712 – 1795.’ (Today, the cemetery is known as the African Burial Ground.) At times, in this collection, Mills enters a speaker’s body and soul by focusing on the intense pain endured. The highlighted figures range from an enslaved cook to an indentured teen, employed as a chimney sweep apprentice. The author’s command of the persona poem is exceptional. Like the work of such notable poets as Ai and Robert Browning, Mills’ monologues are ingenious and profound. (…) Collectively, the poems in Boneyarn enlighten the reader’s awareness of a soul-stirring historical time that should never be forgotten.” Dr. Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Final Judge, Virginia Poet Laureate, Emerita, 2006-2008

About the author:  David Mills holds a BA (cum laude) from Yale University, an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and an MA from New York University. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The American Antiquarian Society, The Queens Council on the Arts, and many other organizations. He has recorded his poetry for ESPN and RCA Records, and he lived in the landmark Harlem home of Langston Hughes for three years. His work has been widely published in such journals as Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Main Street Rag and Jubilat, and his previous books are The Sudden Country, The Dream Detective, and After Mistic. He wrote the audio script for MacArthur-Genius-Award Winner Deborah Willis’ curated exhibition: Reflections in Black:100 Years of Black Photography, which showed at the Whitney and Getty West Museums.


First Finalist:

A Fine Yellow Dust

By Laura Apol (Michigan State University Press)


Second Finalist:

Anything Happens

By Cheryl Wilder (Press 53)


Semi-Finalists (in alphabetical order, by author)

Wasteland Honey by Robert Clinton (Circling Rivers Press, 2021)
At the Bottom of the Year by David Craig (Angelico Press, 2021)
Sweetgum & Lightning by Rodney Terich Leonard (Four Way Books, 2021)
Dolls by Claire Millikin (2Leaf Press, 2021)
Flying Yellow by Suzanne Rhodes (Paraclete Press, 2021)
Somewhere to Follow by Paul Willis (Slant Books, 2021)

Congratulations! And our gratitude to the authors of the many excellent books submitted to the competition, as well as their presses.

Virginia's Poet Laureate, Luisa A. Igloria



by Luisa A. Igloria


A thousand bodies lining the bridges.

A thousand bodies walking with purpose

everywhere, into the heart of their burning

city. It's summer and we are taking

heads, toppling monuments of despots

and slave-holders off their plinths,

tipping them into the river where they

make a big plonk before disappearing

into the oily depths of the river.

Now we are our own living,

breathing monuments: in the midst

of the rallying crowds, a man

and woman still in wedding

clothes, kissing; gleaming boy

in graduation toga; girl

standing regal in a dress, facing

a line of police officers, hair

whipping back more than the wind.

Published with the permission of the author

The Poetry Society of Virginia is Preparing to Celebrate it's
Centennial Anniversary

Colorful Balloons

Click HERE to see how you can help

Happy Birthday Cake

2022 Poetry Society of Virginia Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to all of this year's winners!!!

2022 Poetry Society of Virginia Student Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to all of this year's student winners!!!

Collected Poems from the Poetry Society of Virginia: Poetry Virginia 2021

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2021 PSV Annual Poetry Contest! We are thrilled to present our yearly book of winners, including upper school students.

So, why publish a book of winning entries? Publishing not only validates poets, it gives others a sense of what wins. Having said that, we rarely use the same judges for the same categories. The standard is simple: whether the poem is strong, not whether it is to the judge’s taste.

The book is also entertaining, elucidating and useful as a work of its own.

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Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria

& the Poetry Society of Virginia Announce

the 2021-2022 Young Poets in the Community Cohort

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In Memoriam

Rest in peace, Bob Kelly, June 10, 2021, age 97


Rest in Peace, Ann Marie Boyden, Age 82