Literary Programs

Page updated on Mar 22, 2021 at 2:21 PM

DASHing Words in Motion

Celebrating Poetry Month in Alexandria

KaNikki Jakarta, Poet Laureate, City of Alexandria, invites all Alexandrians to participate in National Poetry Month activities throughout the month of April.   Schools, local businesses, libraries, and recreation centers will promote poetry writing and reading and encourage broad participation in the month-long celebration. 

The Academy of American Poets designated April as National Poetry Month to celebrate poetry and its ability to enrich everyday life. To learn more about National Poetry Month and the activities celebrated throughout the country, visit

2021 DASHing Words in Motion Poets Named:

The City of Alexandria Office of the Arts and the Alexandria Transit Company joined forces to host a poetry contest “DASHing Words in Motion.”   The poetry contest encouraged quality writing by writers and poets 16 years or older, who lived, worked, or studied in the City of Alexandria.

The winning poets were selected from 40 submissions. The poets are: Zeina Azzam, Susan Clark Behnke, James Colby, May-Mei Lee, Betty Jo Middleton, Charlene Murphy, Devin Reese, and veeteebee.  KaNikki Jakarta, Poet Laureate’s poem, along with the eight winning poets, will have their poems displayed inside the DASH buses and trolleys in April and May.  Bios, 2021 DASHing Words in Motion Poets.

Schedule for FREE Literary events from the comfort of your home:

“Prep to Publish”
Saturday, April 24,1 p.m.-3 p.m.

Attend this writing workshop and learn how to prep your work to get published. The workshop will be led by KaNikki Jakarta, Poet Laureate, City of Alexandria. Reservations requested, please email

“National Poem in Your Pocket Poetry Reading”
Thursday, April 29, 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. 

KaNikki Jakarta invites residents to read poetry in celebration of the National Poem in Your Pocket day.  The 2021 “DASHing Words in Motion” Poets have been invited to also read their winning poetry that will be on the DASH buses and Trolleys in April.  This event is hosted by KaNikki Jakarta, Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association and the Office of the Arts. If you wish to read or attend, please email

For additional information about the Poet Laureate and other literary programs, visit the Office of the Arts’ website at; email the Poet Laureate at; or call Cheryl Anne Colton at 703.746.5565, email 

For reasonable disability accommodation, contact or 703.746.5565, Virginia Relay 711.

"DASHing Words in Motion" Winning Poets and their poems:

"2021 DASHing Words in Motion"

"2020 DASHing Words in Motion"

"2019 DASHing Words in Motion"

"2108 DASHing Words in Motion"

"2017 DASHing Words in Motion!"

"2016 DASHing Words in Motion!"

"2015 DASHing Words in Motion!"

"2014 DASHing Words in Motion!"

Poet Laureate Program 
KaNikki Jakarta
Poet Laureate 2019-2022 

The Office of the Arts announces the appointment of KaNikki Jakarta as the new Poet Laureate. Ms. Jakarta replaces Wendi Kaplan whose term as Poet Laureate ends at the end of March.

Ms. Jakarta is an award-winning Performance Poet who has toured the US and UK performing poetry. KaNikki founded, facilitated, and/or hosted 15 presentations in the last 17 years ranging from open mics, award ceremonies, conferences, and workshops. With over 26 years of writing and almost 2 decades on the poetry scene, KaNikki has opened for Jill Scott, Raheem DaVaughn, and Lyfe Jennings. She has authored 3 works of fiction, 2 poetry collections, a poetry cd, and a memoir. She aims to utilize her Public Relations/Marketing Degree and love for the arts to promote creative writing, reading of literature, and literacy with poetry. KaNikki is an advocate for the art of poetry and believes that positive poetry can connect people from all walks of life. She brings to the role of poet laureate a passion to create platforms of safe spaces to highlight the talents of other artists. Ms. Jakarta writes and recites what she calls “real life fiction.” She says, “If you think something I say on the microphone may change your life; you’re probably right.”

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.

Poetry by KaNikki Jakarta

A Community's Mission
Alexandria Connected
Alexandria The Beautiful
Benjamin Thomas Thompson - Tale of Two Names
Charles E. Beatley Library Birthday Poem
DASHing Words Poem - ON TIME 2020
Joseph McCoy Revamp
Mother Alexandria
NEVER FORGOTTEN, For the 1700 of Freemen's Cemetery
TAKING SOLACE IN SOLITUDE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              EVEN A TREE

DASHing Words in Motion

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.  

Past Poet Laureates:

Wendi R. Kaplan, 2016-2019
Ryan Wojtanowski, 2016
Tori Lane Kovarik, 2013-2016
Amy Young, 2010-2013 
Mary McElveen. 2007-2010 
Jean Elliot, 1979-1999 

For additional about the Poet Laureate and other literary programs, email the Poet Laureate at, call Cheryl Anne Colton at 703.746.5565 or email

For reasonable disability accommodation, contact or 703.746.5565, Virginia Relay 711.