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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
Office of the Arts
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Page updated Dec 4, 2013 8:42 AM

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Poet Laureate Program

In 2004, then Councilman Ludwig Gaines proposed the designation of a Poet Laureate for the City of Alexandria. In response, a steering committee of citizens and City staff was established to develop a protocol for selecting a Poet Laureate. On April 25, 2006, City Council received the proposal submitted by the steering committee. Following a public hearing on May 20, 2006, City Council unanimously approved the establishment of the Poet Laureate program.

The role of the City's Poet Laureate is to promote appreciation of poetry as an art form; to encourage creative writing and reading of all forms of literature; and to promote literacy through poetry. The Poet Laureate serves a three year term.

 Jean Elliot, Poet Laureate, 1979-1999 

Mary McElveen. Poet Laureate, 2007-2010 

Amy Young, Poet Laureate, 2010-2013 


Tori Lane
Alexandria's Poet Laureate 2013-2016

Tori Lane 2


Tori Lane is a poet, performer and mixed media artist living and working in Alexandria, Virginia. A year after graduating from Christopher Newport University with a BA in English, she began focusing on writing and working on interdisciplinary projects that include visual art, dance and music. Out of that work, Tori has done four solo performances and taken part in numerous collaborative projects, including For the Waking Dead, a zine series she spearheaded to raise awareness and support for sexual trauma victims, and A Yearlong Winter, a concept album with local band Rebecca Vs. Mexico. She has also put out a limited edition handmade poetry collection about teaching called She Liked Daisies Best and published Falling Season, her first full length collection through G & J Publishing. Tori dedicates her time to working with emerging artists of all disciplines, working with assault victims and teaching creativity and art classes for children. News about her work and her blog can be found at

Tori was appointed by City Council on April 9 as part of a National Poetry Month celebration.

Tori is the third Poet Laureate for Alexandria since City Council re-established the role in 2006.

Photo courtesy of Sally Brewer Photography 


DASHing Words in Motion 

Working with the Alexandria Transit Company and the Office of the Arts, Tori Lane, Poet Laureate for the City of Alexandria wishes to invite writers who live, work or study in the City of Alexandria to submit poetry for the “DASHing Words in Motion” project.

This poetry contest will bring recognition to writers, promote an appreciation of poetry as an art form, and provide inspiration to individuals using the DASH buses and trolleys. Winners will have their poems published on the Alexandria Transit Company’s DASH buses and trolleys in April 2014 for National Poetry Month. 

Frequently Asked Questions and the Submission Guidelines are now available.

Deadline for submitting entries for “DASHing Words in Motion” is Monday, January 6, 2014.

For more information about the “DASHing Words in Motion” project, the Poet Laureate Program or other programs of the Office of the Arts visit: or call 703.746.5588.

Drips and Drops

written for Alexandria Earth Day – April 20, 2013 

Drip, drip,

one more drop to make the flower open,

open wide it’s petal lips

and breathe the world in.

A few more drops to grow the tree

and the child climbing it’s branches,

moving up into the possibilities

and someday out into the world,

a world built on the simple drips

and drops of water that sustain, maintain,

today reminded of its name Important,

simple, complex, abundant, scarce,

the most precious Important we have,

bundled in drips and drops,

in lakes where skipped rocks plop

and in each person filled up with it

bottom to top.


–T.Lane, April 2013

An Old Town


I’ve taken to walking the little historic city at dusk,

feeling the cracks and ripples through my soles,

perspiring a bit in the tentative humidity of middle Spring.

Smokers cling to their outpost corners

and I breathe deeply of a private history as I pass.

On waterfront benches sit the pairs,

two by hand holding two,

as if they’d just emerged from the ark today,

not yet set about to repopulating a barren world

wiped clean.

I come here to wipe the slate clean,

forget a little, remember a bit

and distinguish between the two –

what’s a crack and what’s a ripple

that holds promise of new waves.

Drawn here, weakly in charcoal on a page,

easily smeared, distorted.

Drawn here by what flickers in the water’s ripples,

the few lights across the way

from my waterfront bench seat –

the solitude I keep with headphones plugged into ears

to drown out present time so I can reach back through the cracks

and ride a ripple for a moment in my soul.


–T.Lane, May 2013



1108 Jefferson St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703.838.6344

Office Hours
8 am - 5 pm

James B. Spengler