Submissions are no longer being accepted. Thanks for the more than 50 poems submitted!

To enhance our city’s culture and celebrate the power of poetry, we are searching for a Poet Laureate of Johnstown.

Many towns, cities, and countries appoint writers to represent their communities and to help foster an appreciation for the art of poetry.  You can learn more about the Poet Laureate of the U.S.A, for example, by visiting our nation’s Library of Congress (  Here in Johnstown, we hope this initiative will enrich local residents with creative energy and give people the opportunity to learn about one another through poetry.


The winning poet will be proclaimed Poet Laureate by the Mayor of Johnstown during an award ceremony.  The Mayor’s proclamation will be followed by a brief, public poetry reading by the Poet Laureate and a parade or party in downtown Johnstown.  Also, the local CamTran buses will showcase the Laureate’s submitted poem as well as poems from other community members who applied to this contest.  The Tribune Democrat will publish the poem with a feature article about the Poet Laureate.


If you are between the ages of 11 and 111, we invite you to submit a poem.


We are accepting submissions now until January 31, 2020.

How and when a winner is chosen

A panel of community members including: professor and author Eric Schwerer (University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown); artist Asa Ana; Kecia Bal (Community Foundation of the Alleghenies); Catharine Berret-Fornoff (Pennsylvania Highlands Community College); and Ashlee Kiel (Highland Community Library) will review the poetry submissions and select ten finalists.


Next, two judges—nationally renowned poets Jim Daniels and Toi Derricotte—will choose one winner from these ten finalists. 



We do not prefer any poetic style, subject matter, or length—we simply seek the best poem we can find. Send us a poem that is on fire, full of color, cuts to the bone, or sets us free. The poem does not have to rhyme.We invite all voices, including residents of under-served neighborhoods, youth, and residents of color.

Throughout their lifelong appointment, the Poet Laureate of Johnstown will agree to

  • serve as an ambassador for poetry in their community through public readings and community initiatives, beginning with a poetry reading at the award ceremony

  • collaborate with other cultural leaders and organizations in Johnstown to promote poetry in the community

  • encourage Johnstown residents to take part in the poetry community and nurture an appreciation for poetry as an art form

Appointment Duties


  • The submission deadline is January 31, 2020. Entries received after this date will not be considered.

  • Candidates age 11 or older are invited to submit one (1) published or unpublished poem for consideration, so long as the candidate owns the copyright to their poem.

  • The submitted poem must be the candidate’s original work.

  • Winner will be notified late spring of 2020 and proclaimed Poet Laureate of Johnstown in a ceremony later in 2020.

  • If selected, the winning poem will be published in the Tribune Democrat along with a feature article about the poet. The winning poem will also be displayed in CamTran buses. A free magazine or book of the poems will be published.

  • If selected, candidate agrees to take on the duties of Poet Laureate of Johnstown as described above.

  • All entries will be considered for display in CamTran buses along with the winning poem. Entries will not be used, copied, or distributed for any purpose without the candidates express permission.

  • Candidates retain copyright ownership of work.

  • We do not prefer any poetic style, subject matter, or length—we simply seek the best poem we can find. The poem does not have to rhyme.

  • Poets from the following zip codes: 15901; 15902; 15904; 15905; 15906; 15907; and 15909 will be considered first, but folks from the surrounding areas or who have moved away will be considered.

  • Please include a brief autobiographical statement of no more than 500 words.

  • We have a strong preference that poems and autobiographical statements be typed.

  • Submit your poem and autobiographical statement in the form below, or as a .doc attachment to

  • If you do not have access to a word processor and email, you may mail your submission and autobiographical statement to:

       Eric Schwerer

       223a Biddle Hall

        University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

        450 Schoolhouse Road

        Johnstown, PA, 15904

By submitting your poem you agree to the following: I am 18 years of age or older or I have a parent or guardian’s consent to enter.

I agree to allow usage of my poem, in whole or in part, as specifically stated in the guidelines. I understand that my poem, in whole or in part, will not be used, copied, or distributed in any manner not stated in the guidelines without my express permission, though the committee may request use of my work for additional purposes.

Ages 11+


The Poet Laureate of Johnstown is an art project in cooperation with the City of Johnstown, CamTran, University of Pittsburgh Johnstown and the art collective, Collaborative Craft.


Tel. 412.480.7246

© 2023 by Asa Ana + Collaborative Craft