Photo Credit: Robin Bell
Dr. Holly Karapetkova is accustomed to seeing her works of poetry appear in printed books and online – but this month, her award-winning poems have been promoted in a more unique way that’s both powerfully modern and illuminating.
Using the latest projection technology, Arlington County’s “Visual Verse” series brings a diverse array of poets literally into the public square by projecting their poems onto large, highly-visible edifices. Dr. Karapetkova, Professor of Literature & Languages at Marymount University and the County’s Poet Laureate, was featured in the series, along with U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria and 2020 D.C. Youth Poet Laureate Marjan Naderi. The work of these four poets was brought to life by noted artist Robin Bell.
“Poetry is an art form found in all cultures, languages and countries,” explained Arlington Arts staff. “As part of our ongoing response to COVID-19, Arlington Arts strives to foster community connection to arts and culture using delivery models that are safe in a time when traditional gatherings are not possible.”
Through Visual Verse, drivers and pedestrians in various areas of Arlington County have enjoyed the shared literary experience in a safe, socially distanced manner while being inspired by the towering words of poetry. The projections have taken place each Wednesday evening in December, and have already occurred at Crystal City, Penrose Square and the Lyon Village Shopping Center.
This Wednesday, Dec. 23, from 6 to 9 pm, the final Visual Verse event is scheduled for Shirlington Library at 4200 Campbell Avenue. It will also be livestreamed on the Arlington Arts Facebook page from 7 to 7:30 pm.
“We are excited to bring poetry directly to the Arlington community during this unprecedented time,” Dr. Karapetkova noted. “2020 has been a challenging year in so many ways, and we hope that Visual Verse can provide words of beauty, hope and solace for the people in our community and beyond.”
In her role as Arlington County’s Poet Laureate, which she began this July, Dr. Karapetkova serves as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts, while also working to raise local residents’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms. She also supports other literary programs and events throughout the year, including “Moving Words.” As a judge in that competition, she helps determine which winning poems by local poets will be placed on Arlington Transit ART buses.
Karapetkova is the author of two award-winning books of poetry – Towline, winner of the 2016 Vern Rutsala Poetry Contest from Cloudbank Books, and Words We Might One Day Say, winner of the 2010 Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Award. Her poetry, prose and translations have appeared widely in print and online in places such as The Huffington Post, The Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Nashville Review, Poetry Northwest and a variety of other outlets. She is also the author of over 20 children’s books.